7/3/20: Liberation from Belief and Myth #poetry
My father loved me, but he didn’t like me
He liked the parts of me that I created to please him
and had to dispense with later to honor my natural and honest reality
DON’T CRITICIZE YOUR COUNTRY
he barked at me
at an early age
He scared the shit out of me
He was an Italian immigrant
He changed his name
He “believed in America” like the character who delivers the opening monologue of “The Godfather”
That was myth number one — America
“I believe in America”
the first line of “the Godfather”
My life has been a crucifixion
on a cross
of belief and a drive to understand the truth
I’ll get back to America
the main point is even bigger
the main point is belief — not faith
Belief in something that is more authoritative and powerful
who always has your best interests in mind and would never hurt you
Like a father
but as much as a father loves you
and I was lucky, my father loved me
He still has his own agenda
he still has lies that he uses to justify his life
to rationalize his sins
to maintain his power
to give him meaning
I was taught to believe in things
(belief is different than faith)
and I was born to question
The conflict of my life
is a conflict between nature and nurture
I always enter innocently into relations with persons, places, ideas and things
in a romantic way
I always start idealizing the object of my affections
and becoming disappointed
I embraced new meanings of living
again and again
only to be disappointed
The importance of everything disappears
My dead parents are something much different to me now than they were when I was younger
Previous desires and passions seem silly
Even fundamental things
like money and society and community
I am a pretty smart guy
but I just learned
that Mount Rushmore was created in the same spirit as Confederate War Memorials
The sculptor was a white nationalist
the mountain was defaced
it was a natural Native-American spiritual shrine
Mount Rushmore is a myth
constructed to subjugate a conquered people
A reminder of who was in charge
My father always admired who was “in charge”
even though he was rarely was
I’m sure it drove him crazy that I would argue with him
and wouldn’t listen to him
yet also never fully broke free
You can’t leave family
even when you are totally estranged
The chains of DNA are unbreakable
I am the product of my parents
and of every myth that I ever believed in
and the un-taught, un-influenced essence of my peculiar humanity
I stand naked before the world
an eternally unknown
participating in reality
moving fearlessly with faith
beyond the reach of the authorities
Here’s a list of myths
that I felt and feel driven to understand
MY FAMILY see above — real love and individual agendas.
“FRIENDSHIP” not what I thought it was, a kind of spiritual connection that can’t be invented. When souls expand or contract, friendships end. Friendships are finite, and when they end the result is a solitary state. A friend is alone when he or she meets you. A friend doesn’t have to be like you, but they have to see and support who you are — and vice versa. When the acceptance ends, so does the friendship. Any soulful connection requires surfing the transformations of the other — staying connected based on past iterations of one’s character is mere nostalgia and/or socializing.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH like America, the beauty of its founding principles is largely betrayed by its history, and includes an endless “do the right thing” debate.
THE JESUITS really smart, too seduced by power. The movie, “The Two Popes” shows this dynamic — Pope Francis’ journey outside of the power structure after trusting it and experiencing the inevitable betrayal — but what compromises has he made today?
EDUCATION No one teaches anyone anything. Primary and secondary education socialize to belief system myths and teach basic skills — often poorly. This combination of propaganda and incompetence causes a lot of problems.
HIGHER ED Colleges brand themselves as citadels of brilliant excellence and high character but fail miserably on both counts. Witness the damnable re-openings planned for the nations’ universities which are stupid and immoral without exception. The operative word here is “brand”. Higher Ed is a cake and eat it too proposition — claiming to be high minded leaders, operating like craven exploitative business.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP Look at the pandemic. Business is asking people to go to work for it, consume for it and die in the process. People are saying no. Narcissism and selfishness marketing itself as noble, increasingly revealing itself as anything but even to people who don’t pay attention until their lives are endangered.
THE LAW One of the great ideas, betrayed by the greed and ego of the professional class that administers it. Only a few lawyers understand THE LAW’S purpose. Most manipulate THE LAW, again, to serve their own base agendas.
MOVIES Only occasionally good. For years I went for the solitude (I usually went to the movies alone) . I could sit in the dark and dream with my eyes open. I’d chew an unlit cigar after I finished my tub of popcorn. The usual mediocre movie was just pleasant color and noise — light and sound flickering over me. A good movie was a bonus — like drawing a $25 lottery ticket. Now that I wouldn’t be caught literally dead in a movie theater, I don’t miss the movies at all. Occasionally, a good movie is playing on our TV. Usually, old movies provide the same banal soothing sound and light in our living room as they did in the multiplex.
PSYCHOLOGY At a certain age, psychology is replaced by existentialism. For example, I began this piece writing about my father. My act of writing had no emotional content for me. It would have years ago. I look at my relationship with my parents now in a detached, kind of clinical way. I do still feel psychic pain related to other relationships, and I will act out on it from time … but if some memory or current circumstance engenders rage or sadness or anxiety in me, I see that as a flashing light inviting me to reflect upon and understand what is bothering me. Emotion leads to understanding, if you let it. Feeling keeps coming up because there is always something to understand. I don’t practice therapy. I learn.
IMPROVISATION There aren’t any rules. There aren’t any heroes. Improvisation is what I say it is when I do it — just as writing is. Improvisation is a myth destroyer that is often sold as a belief system. I am improvisation. I have nothing now to do with the teachers who loved me years ago, or the hacks that nominally were nurtured in the same tradition but pursued goals antithetical to my conscience and values that I was born to pursue.
SECOND CITY I was part of this place and I identified with it. I don’t any more. It is just lines on a resume. What remains of Second City for me is how I was different than SECOND CITY. Like every other job that I ever had, my experience while working at that job is what I take away from it. The institution makes no difference whatsoever. What I did is what matters, either with SECOND CITY’S support or in spite of what it wanted. My biography is what matters to me, not SECOND CITY’s history. I resent the conformity of the theater’s informal alumni association, and appreciate the friendship of some individuals that I met there. The moments when SECOND CITY transcended that tendency to conform, are the moments that remain important to me personally. I don’t care about the rest of it.
ART This is the word that I chose to call my freedom. Liberated from BELIEF, I take the responsibility of creating my own meaning. I take on the quixotic task of understanding myself and the world on my own terms.
SUCCESS I resent the idea. Why should anyone assess anyone else’s life? I’m proud of my life and work, but my pride just exists as a boundary-setting mechanism. When it comes to assessing who I am and what I do, I just want to be left alone. I don’t want to hear other people’s opinions about my value — unless of course they are friends who support my soul. What good are these evaluations? All artists are battered by negative assessments of people incapable of understanding what the artist is doing. And it is a battering because making art requires a good amount of sensitivity. It’s hard. All the ignorant kibbitzing is like rattling a table while a jeweler cuts a diamond. It is VERY ANNOYING. So I do everything that I can to avoid negative people, and when I have to I lash out at them. I used to try to be above it, and not say anything, but I have learned that I feel better when I tell them off. I don’t lay them out for their benefit, but rather for my own. I shout them down. I don’t blame them for their ignorance. I do blame them for their invasion of my privacy and freedom. They can be bothered that I reject their MYTHS. They should keep it to themselves and not mess with my freedom. And feeling better is important, because it is necessary to keep going. And keeping going is connection to PROCESS and PROCESS is what is important — not SUCCESS. I have no tolerance for discussions of SUCCESS. SUCCESS is an insult to, and imposition upon, my freedom.
WORK Real work doesn’t feel like work. I spend hours and hours on my writing and don’t resist a second of it — no discipline is required. Teaching and house cleaning and other chores require discipline and are necessary. I don’t want to call them work — how about NECESSITY? I just want to write and think now, everything else is a distraction. I have FAITH in ABUNDANCE, but not a belief in it. I feel OPTIMISM this morning, but I know that OPTIMISM is not trustworthy. HOPE accepts the feeling of OPTIMISM, in the full knowledge that things don’t always work out — but it doesn’t matter because it is all about PROCESS. PROCESS is what important. The right thing at the right moment is what matters — not the success of it.
MONEY is now an abstraction — just a way to organize power and control which is redistributed when the powerful fuck up — which is happening at the moment. The rich are slowly realizing that they have to give much of the money that they have stolen from the rest of us back to us in order to save the economy. If they don’t surrender money they’ll lose everything. So MONEY is bullshit — it flows — no one holds it permanently —- MONEY is not the bedrock of reality that I BELIEVED it was my entire life —- MONEY was the incontrovertible fact — you had to enslave yourself to a certain extent to survive — now if MONEY wants to live, it has to support YOU — and if the rich don’t catch on — it’s all over for them too.
and AMERICA — I write in detail about all of these themes and probably more, and AMERICA is as big as any of them. For today, let’s look at Mount Rushmore — that statement of idealism as an assertion of white supremacy elevated to MYTH and converted into a BELIEF in an AMERICA that never existed — the product of a murderous nurturance in opposition to our nature, and the liberation from MYTH and BELIEF for me, is my ART, the WRITING of THE RICK BLOG.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas