The Rick Blog Annotated Part Six 12/8/20 to 12/27/20: #writing #TheRickBlog #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #discernment

The Rick Blog Annotated Part Six 12/8/20 to 12/27/20: #writing #TheRickBlog #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #discernment #liberation

A happy time of clarity about the past, the appearance of the seeds of a more conscious future, enforced captivity facilitates beneficial reflection, maturation as a writer … shortest “Part” to date, a powerful month

There is no joy if you care what people think

You will see no truth if you care what people think

You will speak no truth if you care what people think

You will be of no service if you care what people think

You will never have a home if you care what people think

You will never create if you care what people think

Your nation will never be free if you care what people think

You will never be happy if you care what people think

You will never have a life if you care what people think

If you suffer because people think ill of you, or get overly excited because people praise you, but still live from your essence and don’t betray yourself for the approval , or to avoid the disapproval, of others, you can be saved

If you recognize the shadow of what people think that falls over the divine purposes of your soul, and you remain true to what you know is right, you will be free

If your persist in your freedom, it will become progressively easier to not care what people think as you get older

If you care what people think, you will sell yourself short as a salesman or an entertainer, trapped on a hamster wheel of performing, pretending and persuading, never doing anything of substance, addicted to the purposeless pursuit money, fame and power, ignorantly perceiving life as an exclusively quantitative affair, exiled from quality, trapped in a hell of keeping score, never experiencing life at all

If you care what other people think you will live in a panic of fear, and in an unending agitated manic episode over-reacting to the satisfaction and frustration of your desires

If you care what people think you will always be a stranger to yourself

If you care what people think you will hate people, only caring about their reaction to you and not seeing them at all

If you care what people think you will never see or do anything new

If you care what other people think you will never know reality

If you care what other people think you will be incapable of loving anyone or anything

There is no joy if you care what people think.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/8/20: Not a Review of “Mank” #poetry

I don’t feel like writing a review about Mank

Writers change the world

and don’t get the credit

The thing they are known for

if they are known at all

is their last big aria on the stage of the world

surrounded by people of influence

and mistaken to be the peer of influence

rich people buy the talent that they don’t have

and then claim it as their own

Other poor boys of lesser ability

lie and smear and interfere

enjoying every setback the writer suffers

wincing each time the spotlight comes his way

The rich and powerful eventually mock the writer

He is a sellout after all

They had the gift of cornering markets

He could only write

just one more item on the rich merchant’s shelves

and then they, the rich

cut him loose

He’s nothing without them

they mock him as a loser

He lost this precious gift that they envied once

and tried to destroy

But the gift is indestructible

it is stolen from the writer

or he gives it away …

but it is inexhaustible






Writers rule the world and nobody knows it

Least of all the writers

They wind up on beds and in bathtubs and reclining in recliners

drinking too much

eating too much

smoking too much …

Writers are existential philosophers

mistaken for political commentators

or movie critics

Only fellow artists know who they are

takes one to know one

They sense the wounds

if not the details

Here’s how it starts …

Writers innocently love other people

and get disappointed

and then they write …

they write to diagnose what hurts …

“Mank” is a love letter to writers

the strange ones

the ones who are different from the tradesmen, the fakers, the office politicians and the hacks

Real writers …

But the most interesting part

the Second Act for writers

the part that I would find useful

is always missing (at least up to now — for me)

The perspicacious reader intones, “There are no second acts in American lives”

Oh blow it out your ass

What arrogance to define American lives

or any other life

The only story with a solid ending is an obituary

and even that is missing what could’ve been




Blow it out your ass twice

Artists can succeed

Penniless van Gogh

with his bleeding ear

saw Paradise

His suicide is a minor detail that misses the point

No, it isn’t — van Gogh’s suicide is the same as Mank getting an Oscar and never writing again

It took eleven years for him to drink himself to death

van Gogh was too good for Hollywood and Mank was about to be

They didn’t have to kill themselves

They just had to kill their unrequited love

The art galleries of Paris

and the backlots of the movie business

were just too small

That Second Act is a story that I find interesting

The Act that comes after the bosses and rivals and audiences are disempowered

And I intend to write it.

In the First Act

the writer is captive to the powerful oppressors

Oppressors who would have no capacity for keeping the writer down

if he could clearly see them …

But of course, he can’t see them

His blindness has much to teach the writer




The charlatans

The serio-comic oppressors

The masters of the real world

The ones the writer allows to rule him …

the ones …

who toy with him

who aren’t as sensitive

who aren’t as good … men and women made of trash … they invent themselves

they are built, they don’t grow

they fashion their destinies into quilts made of material covered in small pox

They aren’t as smart as the writer

And they aren’t as honest as the writer

They will never be

But they control him

and seemingly everyone else

They are masters of the dark arts of power

and possession

They possess the writer like demons

They smother him

and intend to kill him

They feel shame every time that they look at him

He is everything that they betrayed in themselves

or everything that they thought that they could be but didn’t have the stuff to achieve …

He can’t rebel near the end of Act One

not yet

in at least one sense, not ever

You see …

He loved them

in a romantic way

the romance died

but the love remained

and he murdered them in words

exposed them to everyone including themselves

first he talked out his protests

and then he wrote them down

and then they erased him from every group photo

and he was finally free

The movies always end with the character who represents the writer

walking alone into the sunset

or dying a noble death …

or a tragic suicide …

in each case the writer is a human sacrifice

He doesn’t redeem the audience

He lives out the audience’s failure in a bloody ritual of self-destruction

even the sunset walk is a premature death

its stage direction says DISSOLVE

The suicidal writer gives the audience the sentimental ending that they crave

They talk a lot about Jesus

but they aren’t interested in ascents into heaven

they prefer Moses and the Promised Land denied

that way they can admire themselves for their idealism

their impossible-to-commit-to-idealism

and keep dreaming their impossible dreams …

but what does the free and clear writer

the writer who has no more need for bosses or rivals or sentimental audiences (art caters to no one and is simply overheard; the writer is no longer a well for every nomad approaches it, but has become a cauldron that nourishes the best men and women — the ones who who come to the writers’ words as they come to everything else — with an openness to faith and truth — the writer hands out the awards and the pink slips now — the writer takes command — not with petty machinations of control or material power — simply by the shining example of his own life, no longer a problem to himself — exploring himself and the world — this time unencumbered)

do next?

That’s the story that I want to see

Part Six begins …

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

ca. 1941 — Orson Welles Acting a Scene from — Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

12/8/20: Loose Cannons and Outsiders #poetry

The petty meanness of the group

the community

the profession

the company

the association

glorified cliques one and all

macho and femme mean girls

Ant colonies

Snuffing out all individuality

and progress

for their own purposes

not in service to their thing

but using their thing for money, companionship, status, power.

The loose cannon is still in the tribe

He loves the splendid artifices of the Group as much as anybody

He is a natural reformer surrounded by luddite reactionaries

Each innovation and each improvement is met with punishment

The loose cannon can take all of the punches

He is in a conflict between his muse and his people

He thinks he is noble when crucified.

The outsider is more evolved, and never let in.

This frustrates the outsider but also suits him fine.

He’d like to belong, he reckons

but he can’t stop feeling superior

because he is superior.

Unlike the loose cannon

the outsider’s muse wins every time.

He’ll take enforced solitude and obscurity over compromise.

The great loose cannon matriculates to the role of outsider.

The ordinary loose cannon is a mediocrity of no consequence

His impotence ends in silence.

Th great loose cannon needs a push to go off on his own

and he always gets it

The unconscious choice

He becomes insufferable

a crusader against all that doesn’t matter

and the Group exiles him

once he becomes irredeemably defiant


He goes too far.

Blessed day.

Once the exile is on the outside

no longer loose cannon

now outsider

with no hope of reentry

his membership revoked

as if he was never there

at that moment

a miracle happens

the Group disappears

as if it was never there

Apparitions of the Group dance in the outsider’s brain

until its finally memory is silenced

and life becomes something else.

(Not for all — Some old loose cannons and outsiders die of broken hearts

They can’t see any existence that does not include membership in the Group, too bad,

but others find a new way of relating to the world,

and those good swimmers are the sperm that inseminate new worlds)

Proud outsiders

Masters of their own fate

living off the land

encountering help, power, money and love as needed.

The Group is Fear

where Fear was marinates into Courage

wounds heal into super-powers

Co-dependence is long gone as an option

Nothing lost and Everything gained

and Interdependence is something else again.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/10/20: My Answer to “The Social Dilemma” #poetry #essay #socialmedia #art #criticalthinking #education #humanity

The earnest creators are very smart. I have the answer to their dilemma.

Social media collects all kinds of data on people and then uses that data to manipulate behavior. Social media users are thus pawns of all manner of salesmen and autocrats. They are brainwashed to want, fear and believe what corrupt and nefarious forces want them to believe in order to expand those forces’ wealth and power.

The makers of this film posit that the ordinary human is no match for the billions (trillions?) of algorithms and thousands of genius engineers who engage our attention online and alter our behavior in the real world. These manipulators condition us to live for likes and dislikes, and thereby chase vapid popularity and lose our souls. Our supposed masters of artificial and human intelligence force feed us alternate realities that lead us to buy and vote for products and policies that are disconnected from our true wants and needs.

The documentary uses ominous music on its soundtrack. The film argues that social media is robbing us of our authenticity, and our powers of self-determination. Social media creates our lives of addictive co-dependency, and our totalitarian society.

I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news first. Great masses of people have always stupidly followed dishonest salesmen and violent dictators. The technology of subjugation has just improved exponentially, just like the technology of everything else has moved forward — if not at as fast a pace.

We aren’t born human. Our learning curve is the longest of any animal. The upside is that we have the most potential of any creature. The downside is that we have to work hard to reach our zenith, and bad luck or foul play can prevent us from ever reaching the promised land.

The good news is that we don’t have to be concerned with social approval, and we can learn how to discern what is true and false, fact and fiction, real and fake. We are capable of understanding ourselves and assessing the nature of the world.

I self-publish on social media and I don’t pay attention to likes and dislikes. I don’t spend time looking at advertisements and “posts” that don’t interest me.

It took me seven years, but I have perfected a course that connects participants with each other —- in a real way — by writing, speaking and talking to one another in detailed exchanges which require time, focus and attention

encourages participants to explore what they truly think and feel through journalling — by just encountering the blank page and initiating content, and not getting snared in endless reactionary loops


teaches skills of organization, analysis, research and critical thinking enabling the human powers of discernment and decision making.

I didn’t create this course as an answer to the dilemma of social media. I created the course as an answer to the dilemma of society. I saw people exiled from their own happiness and creativity, unable to interpret the world and prey to all kinds of malevolent pressures which mobilized them against themselves.

I taught the course in business schools because that is where I had the opportunities — but it could really be offered anywhere.

Or better yet, a person could get the same benefit simply by reading my writing. The process that the course teaches is one that everyone has to figure out for themselves, and watching others who have gone before you is the best way to learn —- as long as you get busy and work at it yourself.

Below is the syllabus that I used the last time I taught the course. The Roe book on Business Ethics is interchangeable with many other collections of cases.

No one else can teach this course because it is written in my voice. It wouldn’t translate if someone else attempted to use this same material. Personal connection is key here.

Our society holds technology in too high regard. Technology will never be our master unless we let it. Our humanity — our ability to think, create, communicate and connect — is the most potent thing in the universe — talk about soft power.

It requires commitment and hard work to be excellent and free. Our intelligence and our character cannot be sold to us. They are not matters of obedience.

All authority and responsibility for your life reside in you. No one can take your life away from you unless you let them.

No group, leader, marketer or ideology can tell you what to want, what to think and feel, and what the nature is of reality and truth.

It is your burden, honor and joy to figure those things out for yourself.

Don’t let the fact that you are reading my words on social media distract you from the words themselves. These words could just as easily be on a legal pad, or a painter’s canvas or in a book.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas


Richard Thomas

Classroom assignment and time: Corboy Law Center Room 207, Tuesdays 6 pm – 9 pm First class meeting February 25, 2020; Last class meeting May 5, 2020

Office Hours: By appointment

Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx

Email: xxxxxxxxxxxx




Course Description:

This course has two important main learning objectives.

  • Students will further develop their conscious “Ethical Presence” — habits of behavior that foster their ability to function ethically as professionals.
  • Students will further develop their skills of ethical decision making.

The course develops analytical, practical and creative skills which students can apply in their roles of ethical leadership beyond the classroom.

School of Business

Learning Materials:

Text: Business Ethics: A Conversation (2nd ed), Roe, George

Redding, California: BVT Publishing

Text: Ethical Presence Manuscript, Thomas, Richard

Chicago, Illinois: Self-published, Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

This text can be found at this link: 20-ethical-presence-manuscript-for-mgmt-441-loyola-quinlan-school-of-business/

*See schedule below for further supplementary readings (links provided on syllabus), or further short readings that don’t appear on the syllabus may be assigned in class.


Grading Scale for Masters Students

97-100 = A

93-96 = A-

89-92 = B+

85-88 = B

81-84 = B-

77-80 = C+

73-76 = C

70-72 = C-

Method of Evaluation/ Marking Scheme:

Attendance — Reduction by one full grade for each absence exceeding two absences:

Attendance will be recorded at the beginning of each class. University policy allows two class absences. Every class that you are absent that exceeds the two allowed by University policy will result in the loss of a full grade in your final grade. This is not meant to be punitive. No mitigating circumstances will be considered. Full attendance is strongly encouraged to achieve one’s greatest benefit from, and success in, the course.

Technical Requirements for Written Assignments

Written assignments need to be typed, in the following format: Font size 12 point, spacing 1.5, left and right margins set at 1.5. The pages need to be numerated.

Assignments must be printed one-sided. Written assignments will not be accepted via electronic transmission. They must be handed in to the instructor in class at the assigned time.

Multiple-paged written assignments must be stapled.

Written assignments will not be accepted via electronic transmission. They must be handed in to the instructor in class at the assigned time.

Failure to follow these technical requirements will lead to a reduction of the grade for an assignment at the discretion of the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to refuse to accept, at his discretion, any written assignment that does not comply with these requirements.

Professionalism — 10 points (or reduction of fewer or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor):

Your personal conduct and behavior in class and in your execution of out of class assignments represents 10 points out of 100 if you conduct yourself in a professional manner. To the extent that you do not behave professionally, your final grade can be reduced by fewer than 10 points, 10 points, or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor.

The basis of the evaluation of your professionalism will be the extent of your compliance with the following requirements broadly found in most codes of professional conduct — lawyers’ rules, accounting codes of ethics, codes for nurses, insurance agents, realtors etc., corporate codes of conduct and employee handbooks, to name a few illustrative examples.

We will discuss these concepts periodically throughout the course, but here is a brief thumbnail to illustrate the expectations:

The Five Pillars of Professionalism

  • Competence – when a professional agrees to perform a task or series of tasks, which you have done by enrolling in this class, she agrees to be able to perform the tasks competently. The competence can be fully developed at the outset, or the professional commits to “getting up to speed’ acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to complete the tasks satisfactorily. You have an ethical duty to master the activities, assignments, requirements and procedures of this class.
  • Diligence: The opposite of diligence is neglect. You agreed to take this course. You have an ethical duty to fully complete the assignments by the required dates, to be on time for class, to be attentive and engaged when in class, to fulfill all of your obligations when

working in groups … basically to conscientiously fulfill all of your obligations to the work of the class, your classmates and the instructor.

  • Communication: Keep any person — classmate, instructor or external third party, fully aware of any aspect of your work that they have a right to know.
  • Honesty I: Always tell the truth. Don’t lie.
  • Honesty II: Don’t steal. Don’t take anyone else’s personal or intellectual property. Don’t plagiarize.
  • Civility: Ethical conclusions are subjective. It is likely that at times you will hear values expressed by the instructor and/or classmates that you do not agree with, and perhaps in some circumstances that you also won’t respect. You don’t necessarily owe ideas respect. You do owe all human beings respect. Bullying, mockery or other insulting behavior will not be tolerated.

Class Participation and Performance— 10 points (or reduction of fewer or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor):

During class we will discuss a number of cases, and explore different avenues of thought. It is important that all students come to all classes prepared and ready to fully participate in the class discussions, and group and individual presentations. The participation portion of the grade it is not simply quantity but also the quality of your contribution.

Ethical Presence Journal and Speech — 15 points Ethical Case Portfolio — 15 points

Final Paper and Speech — 50 points

MGMT 441 Tentative Course Schedule

I might make changes during the course to take advantage of emerging news and issues. However, I won’t move an assignment date forward in the schedule.


CLASSES 1 and 2: February 25 and March 10* We will be on Spring Break on March 3.

Introduction & Course Organization and Introduction to Ethical Presence

Pre-class assignments: Read pages 2-13 of the Ethical Presence Text*; Read Part IV of the Ethical Presence Text — Connecting. Read Part VI of the Ethical Presence Text — Career Discovery and Advocacy

*A note on the text: it is written from a human point of view. It is written in a personal voice. You should respond to it with a personal voice. I am a lawyer. I’ve been an improvisational actor and a college professor. I’ve worked in marketing. I’m a Bears fan. I like going to the movies. I love my wife. I was one of the caregivers for an elderly mother with advanced dementia. I’m a lot more than that. And I am no different than you. You are wonderfully diverse, with all sorts of passions, dreams, talents, personality traits and values. All of that can shine through the most mundane and difficult ways that you practice your respective professions. When I was an improvisor I was known for my discipline and organization. When I did trials as an attorney, I was known for my quick thinking and creativity. You are perfect just the way that you are.

There is an old maxim of improvisational acting, “Wear your character as lightly as a hat and coat.” The practice of your profession is a very complex, elaborate and demanding hat and coat. When you meet all of the requirements of your work and shine with soulful authenticity, you take care of yourself, other people and whatever God you believe in.

No talent is required to create art and a life of art. Hard work is required. But it is a labor of love. When you find the joy of what is, you burn away all pain and conflict and serve yourself, your spirit and others.

The process is difficult, and so worth it.

Writing Assignment: Write your first entry of your Ethical Presence Journal. Focus on these three entities: yourself, the world and any desires, fears, frustrations that obstruct you from finding complete congruence between yourself and the world. Write about the entirety of your life — not just your work. Write about what brings you joy and satisfaction — coaching Little League, playing in a band, driving your kids to school, cooking———————————————————— whatever interests you.

Write about what you want financially, how and who you want to serve, and what feeds who you

are as a person. We often see our inner life and the need to fit in and succeed in the world as in conflict with each other. That misconstrued and non-existent conflict is the source of unhappiness in executives and other professionals. This course stands for the proposition that the pursuit of one’s happiness — a pursuit that is hard and satisfying work — is the source of our humanity and our presence. We will learn in this course that ethics and creativity are one in the same. When the practice of our business is viewed as an art, you accept the fact that being a professional is part of who you are, and that all of the other parts of who you are determines how you practice your profession.

All human beings are exactly the same. The heart of mankind is a unity. All human beings are also unique beings. All human beings express their humanity in individual and unique ways. Even in professions that have very structured cultures, and are about conforming to rules and methods, very different human beings interact in ways specific to themselves and each other.

Vocation is found where the heart’s desires meet the world’s needs. No one can teach you the particular impulses of your heat, or how to navigate the specific needs of the world that you are called to address. No one can teach you all of that but you. You teach yourself that by self- overhearing. And by listening to how others react to what you do, not from the perspective of their approval/disapproval but in order to evaluate the effects of your choices. That is the purpose of the Ethical Presence Journal.

You will write an Ethical Presence Journal entry as homework for every session of the course.

This is in part an art class. The art of living and the art of professional and ethical effectiveness, living and working with honor, are one in the same.

Learning objectives: developing career discovery and advocacy skills, written communication skills, storytelling skills

Hour One: Course Introduction — Syllabus and Expectations

Hours Two and Three: Group Discussion/Lecture about Ethical Presence, and the 6 Pillars of Ethics — which we will apply to every activity of this class and hopefully beyond.

Any formal or informal code of conduct for any profession, address these fundamental aspects of the ethics of personal character:

  • Competence
  • Diligence
  • Communication
  • Honesty (Don’t lie)
  • Honesty (Don’t steal)
  • Civility

I’ll lay out the base descriptions of EP and the Pillars. We will do an exercise. Each person must speak. The next person must accept what was said by the prior talker and either amplify it or

make a distinction. Then another talker can jump in and we repeat the process. If no one jumps in we keep going with talker — accept———————————————— amplify or distinguish. Confused? Good. This course is

about creating and FIGURING THINGS OUT.

Learning objectives: Developing Communicating Skills, Connecting Skills, Team Building Skills, Oral Communication Skills, Giving and Taking Skills

Hours Four, Five and Six

You will be asked to give a two-minute speech based on your first Ethical Presence Journal entry. Be sure to introduce yourself in the speech————————————————————— name, what you do, where you live, family –

— anything you want us to know about your life and work. Don’t write out a speech. Improvise the speech based upon your first journal entry. You will also be asked to participate in a discussion responding to every other student’s speech.

On the final day of class, you will give a speech based on your cumulative journal entries for the course. I will be available to meet with you and discuss your journal with you whenever you wish to do so. Don’t be frustrated when things seem unclear in your process. The trick is to live the questions and wait for the epiphanies of clarity.

This course is a chance for you to pause and reflect about what it is to be a human being who works professionally.

Experience Observe Reflect Apply

It is important that you commit to the process of this course. That very process will make you a happier, more effective, and more skilled at meeting your ethical professional requirements.

My role is simply to introduce and guide you to creative process. I have no tips or answers for you. But you do.

Learning Objectives: Developing Public Speaking Skills, Listening Skills, Communicating and Connecting Skills, Empathy Skills, Career Discovery and Advocacy Skills

CLASSES 3 and 4: March 17 and March 24

Introduction to Ethical Decision Making—- Making Ethical Case Treatments

Pre-class reading assignments: Read Part V of the Ethical Presence Text—- Making and

Presenting a Case. Read the Heinz Dilemma, pages 4-8 of Roe. Read Chapter Three Ethical Theory in Business in Roe.


Writing Assignments

due Class 3 on March 17— Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Heinz Dilemma in Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

due Class 4 on March 24 — Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 3 Problem on Page 39 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry for each week. Hour One: Case-making skills lecture

Hours Two and Three: You will make a presentation of your Ethical Case Treatment of the Heinz dilemma. Be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case

-making boot camp.

Hour Four: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Three Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.

Hours Five and Six: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Three Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.


says what you are going to do and how you are going to do it and what you will recommend in headlines so decision makers know where you

are going. You EARN the right to present your case by showing that you have a clear vision of your argument. Headline what the facts, issues, analysis and recommendations are. Don’t be


Facts are concrete details of the case presented with completeness and specificity. What happened? Relevancy and

Primacy!!!! When you present facts you EARN the right

to identify the issues because you show mastery of the situation and you can identify what the problems are.

Issues lay out problems or other considerations and mirror recommendations. What are the Problems; questions? When we lay out

the issues we EARN the right to analyze the situation and look for answers.

Analysis looks at the facts in light of the highest level

abstract thought; connect those facts to highest level abstractions that one can find: for ex: laws, theories, histories, experience; concepts,

philosophies: and uses Critical Thinking(Critical Thinking is reasonable thinking. It

is NOT blind acceptance of any proposition not supported by reason (logic) and by the evidence (objective facts).


•  Involves premises and conclusions; sometimes views facts in light of higher-level thought.

  • Premise-based logic is like a staircase. Each step lies the foundation for the next step.) to give those facts coherent meaning A

thorough analysis EARNS the right to make decisions or recommendations.

Recommendations will say what you think decision maker(s) should do in light of your analysis.

Recommendations answer the questions and problems addressed in the


Conclusion mirrors introduction; sums up.

We’ve shown you—headlines of issues, facts, analysis and recommendations. Since you have completed all of your steps you have

EARNED the right to display your argument with

more than organized reason; you can be emotional, philosophical and cast your argument to a higher plain with broader implications than simply the case before you. You can appeal to the decision maker’s

higher angels and ask THEM to transform and do something. THE WHY

Learning Objectives: Developing Skills — Case-making, Public Speaking, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Organization, Applied Ethics

CLASS 5: March 31

Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Five Corporate Social Responsibility in Roe. Writing Assignments

Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 5 Problem on Page 60 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

Hand in the progress of your Ethical Presence Journal written over the first six weeks of the course. (You need only print one copy to hand in at the beginning of the class). These documents will be returned to you at Class 6.

Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Five Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.

Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Five Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.

CLASS 6: April 7

Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Six Corporate Governance and Ethical Leadership in Roe.

Writing Assignments

Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 6 Problem on Page 71 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.

Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Six Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.

Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Six Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.

CLASS 7: April 14

Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Seven Moral Rights in the Workplace in Roe. Writing Assignments

Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 7 Problem on Page 86 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.

Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Seven Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.

Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Seven Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.

CLASS 8: April 21

Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Eight Diversity and Discrimination in Roe. Writing Assignments

Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 8 Problem on Page 100 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.

Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Eight Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.

Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Eight Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.

Class 9: April 28

Hand in your completed Ethical Presence Journal (20- page minimum) for the course. Prepare a 4- minute speech summarizing your experience

Hours One through Three: Ethical Presence Journal speeches

Class 10: May 5

Hand in your completed portfolio of all of the cases that you have written up for the course. AND

Final Paper dueMay 5

For final paper:

Read Chapter Nine Ethics in a Global Environment in Roe.

Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 9 Problem on Page 110 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.

Prepare a 4- minute Ethical Case Treatment speech for the Chapter 9 problem. Hours One through Three: Chapter 9 Ethical Case Treatment speeches

12/13/20: Not So Great Escapes — Phil Rosenthal’s Sentimental Journeys, and a Fantasy of a Loving and Enlightened America at “The Prom” #poetry #essay

If Anne Frank had Netflix, she would have been more comfortable

She still would have died.

Outside of the glass sliding doors of our condo’s balcony

there is a lovely little private park

with benches and sidewalks and flowers and trees

and the other buildings of our complex

5 stories

2 stories

Town homes and units

It’s dangerous to go out into the park or hallways

The air is contaminated

and the people are largely unaware

and beyond the ruins of our failed community

a neutron bomb has killed and disabled the people

while the inanimate objects stay intact

the public health disintegrates

our democracy implodes

and our economy ceases to function …

Grim reality seems not so grim

when you ignore it

but if a tree falls in the forest it still falls down

whether you deign to look or not

40% of Mexico City lives in poverty

I googled it

Phil Rosenthal, the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond” just sees the beautiful architecture, the colorful markets and the hospitable people

of Mexico City

“Raymond” was my late father’s favorite TV show

Dad was abandoned when he was seven

a waif Italian national living in France

shipped from his impoverished family

a widowed mother and seven siblings in Paris

to a fascist school in Italy

Reunited with his mother in America

in Rochester, New York

when he was seventeen

My father’s childhood had 3 major themes


family dysfunction

and political oppression

Soccer was the healthy part

it cleared the toxic fumes of cigarettes and asbestos from his auto shop from his lungs

and prolonged his life

eventually it wasn’t enough

and he died because that is the way it goes

the sweet parts of living are eventually consumed by the cancers

and your terror at the prospect is human, but really not that admirable

but I forgive you

I chide you for your own good

and you can do whatever you damn well please

I have and want no authority over you

but you can do a lot better

You are underachieving in the most important part of the course …

Soccer was Dad’s version of Anne Frank’s diary

The field where he could unapologetically participate in his humanity

Beyond dysfunction

and fascism

“Raymond” was a sitcom about a family that worked

a dysfunction that functioned

about people who were reassuringly fucked up

and redeemed by unconditional love

Phil Rosenthal genuinely seems to love puppies and babies

Puppies and babies are easy to love

Adults are a different story

and the distances between us aren’t traversed in the span of a sitcom episode

The show bored me as I watched my father watch it

with a slightly dopey expression on his face

in re-runs

over and over again

behind a TV table

after the 6 o’clock news …

I was never abandoned

and I grew up in what seemed to be a free country

at least for people from my neighborhood

so I wanted the truth

no skin off of my nose

Suffering wasn’t so immediate

or so I thought

genocide and slavery were abstractions mixed with my personal bad memories

the times that I was bullied or cheated or insulted or ignored

Innocence bars one from empathy

You have to understand your own pain to feel another’s

Sentimentality makes you impotent in the face of the world’s suffering

As I grew older

and was exiled from one group after another because of my strangeness

the weird chemistry of my gifts and sorrows

I understood that I suffered indirectly from the abuse that wounded my father

and suffered wounds of my own

My life wasn’t plantations, “Indian Wars” and concentration camps

but comparisons aren’t helpful

If its human it bleeds

the salty blood in our mouths from bloody noses

tastes of our atonement with All

Humanity is a brotherhood of pain.

Phil Rosenthal’s family on Raymond has issues

but it’s all OK

Life is handled

Everything’s fine

Phil Rosenthal says that his Mexico City “takes (his) breath away”

One of his culinary guides

a successful restauranteur

says in a charming, smiling, upbeat manner

a writer might call his attitude “cavalier”

that in Mexico a person can do whatever they want

but if they fail they get no help

from anyone

Mexico is, as the guide puts it, “the American Dream paired with a Mad Max movie”

A truck without a muffler rumbles by Phil and his friends in the streets

And that slight remark is the last and only time we hear of Mexico City’s troubles

we never see them

Phil Rosenthal prefers the food, the sunsets and the architecture

On a Zoom call with his parents and wife back home

Phil holds court

They tease him

but he is clearly the Godfather

His brother stands in the background and says nothing

Only called into the frame when his mother beckons him

Phil obliges

noblesse oblige

Phil hired the brother as a producer

His mother is pleased

Phil is the star

The Rosenthals are a genuinely happy family

their love lives in a place of denial

what they pretend that they don’t know won’t hurt them

they reckon

Phil says in another episode that he would never be as great a writer as Joseph Conrad or W. Somerset Maugham

Of course that is true

Sentimentality doesn’t accept the world

It is a wish conceived in great pain

To love this world as it is

not as one would wish it to be

is the heroic action of art

Over three thousand people die each day in an American plague

and it just doesn’t register

We Americans can’t even muster compassion for our own pain

let alone anyone else’s

We want trips to fairy tale Mexico Citys

Which brings us to “The Prom”

where gay show people sing song songs of peace, love and understanding with reactionary pseudo-Christian rubes

where narcissists become empaths in a matter of days

where all parents love their children even if they make mistakes

and all children forgive their parents

and recognize that they are human

where bigots listen to social justice warriors and say “you know you’re right”

where everybody gets the girl or boy or boy and girl of their choice

and the job that they want

where enlightenment is a collective affair

where everyone deep down wants tolerance and honors diversity


where ignorance isn’t recalcitrant


as if the Civil War and World War II settled anything

as if you don’t still have memories that make you cry

as if the wound of being a person doesn’t always hurt whenever you touch it

as if you don’t watch “The Prom” and Phil Rosenthal because you want out

you want to dull the pain

as if Anne Frank’s diary

and my dad’s soccer

and Joseph Conrad and W. Somerset Maugham

and this blog

aren’t the real answers

Life is not a thing to be escaped

Life has enormous potential to take your breath away

Life has a magnificent power

that transcends cruelty and ignorance and suffering

with great culture and science and beauty and wit

but the suffering is always there

If you gloss it over

or say its not much

just a Mad Max movie adjacent to the American Dream

then you won’t see the dead and dying

the hungry

the oppressed and abused

you will be uncaring

you will render yourself incapable

of performing the acts of love that you crave

Faith without works is dead

but works without faith are worthless

We waste our lives avoiding

pain and glory

I’m an American

I believe in the pursuit of happiness

I experience a wonderful world

in the stanzas of the bleak desperation of our lives.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/14/20: Joseph Epstein Needs a Doctorate #poetry #essay #DrJillBiden

In 2005 my father had open heart surgery and I was beginning to explore what it meant to be a serious writer, and more deeply commit to a life of art. I was struggling with the common difficulty for many artists — how to create with artistic purity while maintaining financial self-sufficiency. My father’s cardiologist connected me with Joseph Epstein, a writer from Evanston who is often published in the Wall Street Journal. I met Epstein at a coffee shop near Northwestern University.

He was really a big asshole. He ridiculed me. Artistic purity isn’t his thing. His whole thing is about money for Joseph Epstein. He told me he was writing a short book about Fred Astaire because someone who paid well approached him to do it, and he could grind it out fast. I’m usually very sensitive to disrespect and mockery — even when it comes from big assholes, but Epstein’s barbs didn’t hurt me at all. He was too big of an asshole for me to care. As he spoke I thought about the “art” work that hung in the lobbies of big corporate law firms. The paintings aren’t art of course. They are just interior decorations. Epstein churns out seemingly aesthetic, pseudo-intellectual anti-art for amoral sharks who could care less about aesthetics or the intellect but want to keep up appearances.

There’s narcissism and there’s greed, and then there is Joseph Epstein, an insecure pisher who dances for the darkness, an organ grinder’s monkey for the self-regarding rich. Epstein is emblematic of one of the distortions of capitalism — the losers who beg for a dollar from their vain greedy masters, and ejaculate if the bosses throw a hat tip in their direction.

It turns out I have good company in the radioactive glow of Joseph Epstein’s disdain. He is now semi-famously disdainful of our First Lady in waiting, Dr. Jill Biden. Epstein published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about Dr. Biden that is as idiotic as it is insulting.

The piece itself, is very revealing — about Epstein, not Dr. Biden. Or I should say the first few paragraphs of the column are revealing, the Wall Street Journal asked me to pay to read the rest of it. I declined for ethical reasons. I believe it is very bad for Joseph Epstein to be paid for his writing and I can’t support that harm to him. His masters are amused when he destroys himself and they find his ridiculous arguments useful. If we have learned anything in the last four years of our experiment in unapologetic in-your-face fascist public posturing, it is the autocratic usefulness of the inane talking point. It is a great demonstration of narcissistic power to say something of no merit and be taken seriously and prevail.

Joseph Epstein is a useful idiot of the fascist-industrial complex.

Here is dear old Joe in some of his own words from the editorial page piece with my translations …

Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: Translation — I’m a misogynist, women have rejected me as a lover; women have eclipsed me in my career.

a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Translation — this is a small matter, but it is very important to me personally. This piece is about me and my insecurities.

Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. My comment (not translation)— I’m a lawyer, a Juris Doctor, and my credentialed education has taught me something doesn’t “sound and feel” fraudulent. It either is fraudulent or it is not. The law defines fraud, and evidence proves or does not prove its existence. This insensitivity to facts and the law and the process of reason, and the worship of your own untested impressions is very consistent of Epstein’s support of a proven fraud in the last election. Epstein projects an actual indictment away from his hero and on to the partner of his adversary to deflect from his own complicity with fascist deceit and misrepresentations.

Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” Translation: I would rather look down on people than lift them up. I condescend to anyone who has any objectives in life besides amassing money. I think that no activity is serious that doesn’t satisfy the desires and goals of the wealthy and powerful. I’m mean and selfish because I don’t have the intelligence and imagination to pursue anything of more value (and secretly I know all of this and I hate myself and the world because of it.)

A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc. Translation: This wise man was my businessman father who mocked me when I said I wanted to be a college professor and I didn’t have the guts to confront him.

I taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree. Translation: I knew somebody.

I have only a B.A. in absentia from the University of Chicago—in absentia because I took my final examination on a pool table at Headquarters Company, Fort Hood, Texas, while serving in the peacetime Army in the late 1950s. Translation: I am insecure because I don’t have an advanced degree, and the teachers at Northwestern who had those degrees acted like they were better than me and I believed them.

The Ph.D. may once have held prestige, but that has been diminished by the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences. Getting a doctorate was then an arduous proceeding: One had to pass examinations in two foreign languages, one of them Greek or Latin, defend one’s thesis, and take an oral examination on general knowledge in one’s field. At Columbia University of an earlier day, a secretary sat outside the room where these examinations were administered, a pitcher of water and a glass on her desk. The water and glass were there for the candidates who fainted. A far cry, this, from the few doctoral examinations I sat in on during my teaching days, where candidates and teachers addressed one another by first names and the general atmosphere more resembled a kaffeeklatsch. Dr. Jill, I note you acquired your Ed.D. as recently as 15 years ago at age 55, or long after the terror had departed. Translation: A degree does not indicate how smart someone is, and people don’t recognize how smart I am because I don’t have a degree. I don’t either. I resent my lack of recognition from others and myself. People make such a big deal out of these titles, and they are bullshit. God, I wish I had one. I want the status — who cares what it actually means. I’m so sick of being a non-commissioned officer!

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager in 2016, whined before a Senate committee that he would like to be the Senator from New Hampshire, and that he didn’t go to Harvard or Yale like some Senators before him.

What is the fascist narcissist to do about Phds? The fascist is anti-elitist, dismissive of education and actual knowledge. The narcissist is hyper-concerned with status and the approval of others.

This article isn’t fake news.

These extreme right wingers are fake people, in self-imposed exile from their humanity. They could try earning an advanced degree if they care about titles. Caring about a title is not a crime. They could try actually working on something of value instead of posturing ass-kissing of the wealthy. They’d be surprised by what focus and giving in to some stirrings of integrity will do for their self-esteem.

And here is my personal note to the silly mean asshole, Joe Epstein who failed to discourage me in a coffee shop in Evanston several years ago.

Joe, I’m a Juris Doctor. I finished law school. I passed the bar. I worked as an ethics trial lawyer, and as a college professor with the rank of Clinical Assistant Professor, higher than your Lecturer status from the limited perspective of academic qualifications. My Juris Doctorate didn’t make me a good teacher, but I was one.

You publish in The Wall Street Journal. I self-publish on this blog, but I am the real writer. You are all of the above. I hope you fascist narcissists get your self-loathing out of your system soon. You are hurting a lot of people who aren’t as strong as I was on the day I had the misfortune of interacting with you, or Dr. Jill Biden, or all educated and accomplished women, or girls who want to be educated and accomplished women, are today.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/19/20: August Wilson Gets to His Black Bottom #poetry

August Wilson is better than Arthur Miller

As good as Eugene O’Neill

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

the bottom of the black man’s pain

which is the human pain

the bottom of the essence of personhood

how it rebels, defies, distorts

the artist as black man

following the requirements of an inner voice

angry with the community

doing it her way

the entertainer as black man

shaking her ass for the master

smiling and dancing

surviving and having fun

the religious man as black man

finding her dignity in a God

while denied it by white men

the fratricidal man as black man

hurting and mocking and threatening and raping and murdering her brothers and sisters

in futile attempts to escape frustration and feel power

the blessed moments of unity

atonement with each other

in the ecstasy of song

All the shadows and angels of mankind

refracted through a raw black prism

a flesh and blood prism

all the colors of people of color

all the colors of people

locked in a proscenium box

fighting it out

the past as prologue

the past as map


I thought that I write more like Joan Didion than August Wilson

I don’t need the actors or settings

all of the work that Wilson did

to master a genre

who needs the genre I reckon

and that’s right for me

but that was August Wilson’s way

he took the white man’s way

the Greeks at the Parthenon

and he turned it into a black thing

then turned it inside out into a human thing

Joan Didion took the personal essay

and made it a way to describe the world

I kind of do that but it’s different

my style is more verbal than literary

but what difference does it make

what difference does it make \

if we are black or white

or man or woman

or playwright or monologist

what makes a writer is what you try for

writers are crazy

they think they can understand themselves

and the world

and history

They think they can understand

a woman on the news drones on new age fake wisdom about forgiveness

as if it was a choice

you can’t just decide to forgive

you have to go through things

and get down to the black bottom

you just have to see what is happening

understanding is better than forgiveness

the writer is an explorer

in a sub-atomic submarine

on a fantastic voyage

impossibly trying to sail down

down to the bloody black bottom of a bottomless wound

wounded by racism

wounded by capitalism and exploitation

wounded by betrayal

wounded by violent treachery

intended to separate us from our true gifts

tantalized by moments of free expression

we take only a few breaths in a lifetime

and the writers write about that

all of the real writers

no matter where they are from

or where they write

or who reads or listens or looks

write about that

the fight for breath

Jesus and Marx and Freud and Darwin

and especially the real artists and writers

who go to a bottom

not found in any of the big ideas

a bottom

in the glorious tragedy of human existence

Real writers wake from dreams and nightmares

and are free

accepting all of the world’s frustrations and opportunities

serene in who they are

August Wilson was a happy man when he finished a project

shedding a tear for his own suffering and the world’s

singing his song his way

undeterred by exploitation and thieves

To understand rather than care about being understood …

what a wonderful world

that men and women look at

as if they were wearing poorly prescribed eyeglasses

There is an abundance

beyond society and history

and especially beyond whatever you decided to serve

as your personal philosophy

instead of taking the arduous and rewarding journey

of descending into the black bottom.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/25/20: Sweet Pain — Sound of Metal, Small Axe – Mangrove, Best Worst Thing that Ever Could Have Happened #poetry #essay

Art asks something of you



Paul Raci is a friend of mine

I can’t say I know him that well

or know that much about him

His parents were (are?) deaf

he does theater and music

has for years

I knew him years ago

I remember him signing a show that we did for a deaf audience at Second City

one hundred years ago

He is nice and deep

He encourages my writing

appreciates it

admires it even

mutual admiration society

artists love artists

when Paul Raci first appeared on the screen as I watched “Sound of Metal”

I nearly cried

Art is perfect

Paul was perfect holding that dog

talking about Luis Aparicio and the 1959 White Sox

walking on the grass

up the wooden stairs


this was a communication of struggle, processed suffering, empathy and love

social, familial, friendly


What is teaching?

See Paul in this movie

What is acting?

Real acting — not performance

see Paul in this movie

What is it like to be impaired?

What is your impairment — we all have them —

that you may deny

if so, art makes demands

which you can ignore at your own peril

what is your impairment like?

See this movie

What is your job in life? While you chase money and fame and bullshit

while you hop on planes infected with COVID-19 because you just have to get home for the holidays

what is your job that you ignore as you careen through the world as a self-destructive homicidal maniac

making a big deal out of football games and whether you got asked to the Prom?

See Paul in this movie

He’s run his course

he runs it

he runs it well

I can only imagine what it is like to have deaf parents

what it is like to love them dearly

and be loved by them

how hard that is

hw beautiful that is

deaf parents on the south side of Chicago

deafness clashing with theater and music

discordant harmony

what it is like to have pain turn into purpose

and still be painful

Paul is being discussed for major awards

every once in awhile real value is recognized

and if you think that I am writing in any way to bask in the reflected glory of a friendly acquaintance

you have to work harder

and maybe think for a second what it is like to be me

how tortured I feel

to be misunderstood

by everyone

including me

and how I struggle

that word again

to be understood

to connect

to not be doubted

to be respected

to be accepted

it’s not deafness

it sounds petty and whiny

and it may not even be real

it may just be the twisted wood of my psyche

an unfortunate result of the collision of my sensitivity and my fate


fragile new beings crushed by cruelty

not a big deal once you get it

but you have to work your ass off to get it

Paul understands

Paul knows that the real work is about getting your head right

getting your soul right


deep deep Paul Raci

the depth learned by wrestling with deafness

and the surprising discovery of more important matters

than what you can hear

Paul writes nice little comments on some of my pieces

because he can recognize pain

and when it is transcended

transcendence is Paul’s thing

Sound of Metal is a document

It will help impaired people forever

So my friend Paul has touched eternity

and I get that beautiful joy/sad feeling

Sad for all he has gone through

Joyful with all he has done with adversity

and joyful that he recognizes and understands mine

What are you going to do with that?

I find the opening sequences of Sound of Metal almost unbearable to watch

or more precisely hear

Art should be that way sometimes

Almost unbearable

I’ve got new headphones for my TV

My honey makes a lot of noise with her cooking and grandchildren and social work and saving the world

(I don’t know why I have attracted good people around me at this point on my life — I really don’t do shit for anybody — what is most admirable about me is what I don’t do — I have integrity out the ass — and I demand excellence, demand it goddam it! —- and my understanding of what excellence is has changed a great deal over the years — sometimes I live in a choice like an election — Biden or Trump and its that easy — Paul Raci and my honey or ignorant venal hacks — an alternating current of love/admiration or disgust … oh and there is the third grouping like the guy Paul helps in Sound of Metal — the open ones who are trying)

Oh yeah — the headphones — I watch a video about my model

and this kid is talking about sound mixing in movies

how these headphones pick it up better than my TV

I just bought them to get some focus in the eye of Hurricane Paula

I never appreciated sound mixing as an art before

but whoever did sound mixing on Sound of Metal should pick up awards when Paul gets his

What’s it like to be deaf, mother fucker?

I don’t know — but I never asked myself before

Sound of Metal is a story

I’ve seen and heard just about every story by this late date I reckon

It’s the people who tell them that are new.

Small Axe — Mangrove is harrowing

British director Steve McQueen sound and sight mixes racism

and it upsets me

injustice another impairment

McQueen did “Twelve Years a Slave”

I never want to see that movie again

It changed me

I never knew what black people went through

I still don’t

I never knew what slavery and Jim Crow

I still don’t

until Mangrove I never knew what West Indian people have gone through in the UK

I still don’t

McQueen made me watch

and feel

not intellectually

not in terms of ethics and policy

but as a wound

I watch Steve McQueen movies in a pool of blood

I don’t know what black people have gone through

but McQueen has imagined a way to make me imagine it

and he called up personal memories I’d rather avoid

I see every bully that I’ve ever dealt with

and suffer the lazy meanness of the ignorant

the animal people who never matriculated to humanity

the ones who live in their stomachs and genitals

and never make the ascent to their hearts and minds

the will to power destroying sand castles

the ones who don’t understand that how we treat each other is more important than what we get or what we do

We’ve all been treated unfairly

We are all haunted

by the ghosts

the ghosts

we aren’t born human

we have to nurture our humanity

our humanity

in ourselves and others

Art asks so much of you

We are all impaired

The disabilities of our souls

the limitations of our bodies

the obstructions of our own ignorance

the courage in our struggles

our perseverance

Lonny Price’s Best Worst Thing That Ever Happened

is a documentary about people who made a play

about people struggling

that word again

struggling to make art and make careers and make lives

some succeed some fail all get hurt some learn some learn more than others

the play was Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along”

the play was a flop when it opened

it ended Prince and Sondheim’s creative marriage

and sent Sondheim into exile from the Broadway theater community that

“rewarded making money or being a starving artist, but couldn’t accept both”

Everyone failed, some triumphed

everyone learned

or died an early death

the walking dead

Art asks something of you

you have to leave your fucking fairy tales

about how indestructible your hearing is

about how everyone will be fair to you

and nice

about how you can chase your dreams

buffeted by a gentle breeze of warm applause

oohs and ahs

Life hurts

do something with it

Success is a side dish

achievement is something else again

and it always involves

the transformation of pain

into art

which is nothing less

than the redemption of oneself and the others who hear you.

A play isn’t deafness or racial violence

but it is something

and it asks something of you

there is gold far beneath the surface

more gold the farther down you go

the journey is an ordeal

major surgery

ending in healing, consciousness, enlightenment and love

only to start all over again.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Merry Christmas.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

12/27/20: Restless Morning #poetry

Mysticism is art without craft

I’m on to something real

searching for a concrete thing upon which to alight

looking for that thin diaphanous thing

that thing like an insect’s wing

translucent and negligible

just enough of the world

the fucking world

you can’t search for it

you have to wait

look at this documentary

maybe this will work

maybe this will be just enough to give me words

all I need is words

not this thing though

making excuses for a writer

he has great love and compassion and cruelty and meanness

don’t we all …

he was too much of his time …

his popularity was based on his expression of a zeitgeist

he was a mirror of his people

his fucked up people

(I won’t give you his name … I don’t want to give you that much world this morning … this is an experiment … how little of the world can I give you … you don’t need any more world … and I think my connection is weakening to the exact proportion that I need)

don’t work

don’t fix things

don’t rebel or smash the windows of the rich

don’t rebel at all

you’re not fifteen years old

don’t be a patriot

a patriot believes in an American ideal and fights for it

democracy, decency, freedom

or feels helpless

and finds the power of the powerless

and fells empires like trees

but even nobility can be reactionary

and acting is not re-acting except in Hollywood

If you want to change the world

change yourself

be whatever you are

when you listen to the dictates of your inner voice

Gandhi said all the wars should be fought in the theater of the mind

go into a room and face yourself

and write write write

live with your multiple personalities

everyone you ever met

that felt good bad or indifferent

feel wounds that healed decades ago

rip them open

observe all of your reactions

recognize an equality between yourself and the world

and decide that the world can’t make up your mind for you

and you can’t dominate the world either

be alone in the public

write your life like a non-fiction novel

make your outer life a subtle expression of your real life

this writer in this documentary needs drugs

he needs conflict

F. Scott Fitzgerald saw the system as rigged

he just looked at it

and became its victim

writing screenplays unworthy of his talent to survive

and this guy in the doc

wants to smash the system

there is another way

the world is a man made thing — MacArthur Genius Grants and Pulitzer Prizes and Viet Nam Wars, the Best and the Brightest

Creation comes from God

and there is an abundance

you get what you need

people money opportunity

it’s not the Big Rock Candy Mountain

It’s kind of like an ashram

but if you rely upon a community instead of just be there, it all goes bad

the world that manmade contraption is just a thing to understand

creation is something to be

The job is to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s

and don’t mess with Mr. In-between

This is a psychedelic poem

I don’t take drugs or need them

except the meds of reality

I knew what to do on the day I was born

and I’ve done it and do it

I had just one little problem which caused me great pain

I naively thought everybody was the way I am

but many people hated what I am

and came after me

the Frankenstein monster chased by the ignorant villagers

insanely going from village to village hoping things would be different

periodically making progress in exile

I understood each trial

and then released it back to the damnable world

and returned to creation

Can you tell things are going really well for me right now?

I have love, I have money, I have my writing, I have an open road, I have a release from my pain …. I understand … I am separate from the world

how can you have a relationship with something that you are a part of?

You can’t

How can you unite with something you belong to?

You can’t

We’re born dependent and wild

we’re born who we are in need of other people to survive

then we get antsy

and rebel with romance and our own ideas

struggling to breathe

then we age

and know we are going to die

and experience a little loneliness and learn it doesn’t feel good

we’re introduced to envy

and see other people getting things —- money and fucks and fame and power

that’s envy ONE

and see other people creating in ways that we think we might

that’s envy TWO

Envy TWO is useful

it’s a reminder of the little acorn in your soul that emerged when you your mother’s pain changed to her fulfillment and joy

Envy ONE is your brand of oppression — it’s a reminder of the abuse that you felt as a result of your father’s frustration

So you put on your work gloves and an apron

work work work work

co-dependent with other struggling sad sacks

the work makes you unhappy as a rat in a labyrinth when you do it for Daddy

and it’s useless in the pursuit of your true calling as mama’s pride and joy

poor bifurcated you

you breakdown and breakout

and you become an outlaw

fuck them all

you are happy by yourself

wandering the streets and bookstores and theaters of New York

carrying yourself as an aristocrat at your telemarketing job

searching for home



some politician says that women don’t have to find their voice, they just have to express it

right no searching

but wrong — she makes it sound easy

right, you don’t find a voice

no searching

but you wait for it

you die to the world and come to birth from within


not to the world

but to



the Pandemic is a chance for co-dependent adults to become outlaws

and for outlaws to become lovers.

Of course, the world will be filled with assholes who ignore what is going on and will kill millions of people

for nothing

for a couple of bucks and a second of soon to be forgotten power and glory …

but it will be quite a few years before the consciousness of man eliminates all stupid and selfish assholes

and Paradise is Now.

Have a great New Year.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

One thought on “The Rick Blog Annotated Part Six 12/8/20 to 12/27/20: #writing #TheRickBlog #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay #discernment

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