December, 2012

Discordia – Lesson One

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Here I am a Discordian.  Want to know what the religion is about, in as far as it is a religion?  Read The Book.

Alright, if you’re even slightly of a conventional turn of mind, or you like order, or you can’t jump around in thought, of you like linear reading, or any  number of other reasons to do with not like complete chaos, you might not make sense of it.

I’ve been a Discordian for a while in a very non-serious way, as is the case with many followers of Discordia, but coming to Huddersfield, an ethnically and religiously diverse community, (and a very happy one as far as I can see), bought the question of religion into sharp relief.  For the first time in many years I got asked what religion I was, because here it matters to people; you might be of any religion, any, but people think it is a suitable topic for conversation.

Alright, so much for my personal view of the local demographic.

I am a Discordian.  Discordians, as far as I can tell are extremely diverse in their beliefs, and might schism in their own heads about the religion.  I take it very seriously now, it has been a source of great wisdom, once penetrated, for me, and I have come to believe deeply in the lessons it gives us.   I am an unorthodox Discordian, because I take it seriously, as an experiment in finding wisdom; it has not failed me yet.

This then is lesson one.

Exclude no-one.

Let us examine why…

There is a card that Discordians sometimes give out, depending on their mood, penchant for chaos whatever…

The bearer of this card is a genuine and authorised Pope of Discordia

Pope of Discordia Card

Now what an extraordinary thing we have here; this card says that the bearer of the card is a Genuine and Authorised Pope.  We use the term pope to mean the head of a religion, a person with a direct connection God, or Goddess, or Gods, or Goddesses.  It should be clear that each bearer of this card is the head of their own religion, and that they touch the mind of God, (using a short cut term this time).

This is an early card, so it says

So please treat Him Right Good Forever

Later Cards amended the “Him” to “Him/Her” in recognition of the idea that the language clearly discriminates, something that any decent Discordian would not want, and we know this, because of the text on the bottom of the card.

Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorised pope.

In other words, irrespective of being given the card, everyone, absolutely everyone, is included.  I guess astronauts can take some time off if they are in space; but Discordia does not exclude anyone, for any reason.  Anyone can be, and is part of Discordia.  One could disown it, and that would be their choice, and as embracers of chaos, we, Discordian would praise it, because that would be righteous.

So are we forcing people to be part of the movement?  Certainly not, that would go against the very heart of Discordia.  That, in my view is why we have the Pope card; it recognises those we think have embraced, or might embrace, or be appalled by, the Discordian movement.  We do not exclude on any grounds.  Think about that.  Think about the idea that we do not exclude, think of the worst possible cases; heck we would not have excluded Hitler and his cronies.  We wouldn’t have excluded Ghengis Khan.  We don’t do that.  Rememer also, now that you’re a bit feeling a bit appalled that would not have excluded Mother Theresa, or Gandhi.  We are all humans beings, with a little prodding the worst of us might have been better, and the best of us might have been worse.  Chaos makes us all bedfellows in this respect.

This idea has a consequence.  It is important in my view.

The most powerful way to get people to hate, to destroy people, to kill, maim, commit genocide, rape for military purposes, (a foul deed, as if rape wasn’t bad enough), and generally be bad to large groups of other people is to invoke the idea of “other”.  they are not us, they are not in our tribe and thus less than human.  Reduced to the single underlying idea, this is reduction of empathy; it turns out for example that it is important in the training of soldier to desensitise them to battlefield killing…

I’m transcluding this from

Originally Posted by Excerpt from “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”, Melanie Joy
Unnatural Born Killers

There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating humans’ seemingly natural aversion to killing. Much of the research in this area has been conducted by the military; analysts have found that soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy’s head, or not to fire at all.Studies of combat activity during the Napoleonic and Civil Wars revealed striking statistics. Given the ability of the men, their proximity to the enemy, and the capacity of their weapons, the number of enemy soldiers hit should have been well over 50 percent, resulting in a killing rate of hundreds per minute. Instead, however, the hit rate was only one o two per minute. And a similar phenomenon occurred during World War I: according to British Lieutenant George Roupell, the only way he could get his men to stop firing into the air was by drawing his sword, walking down the trench, “beating [them] on the backside and … telling them to fire low”.1 World War II fire rates were also remarkably low: historian and US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall re-reported that, during battle, the firing rate was a mere 15 to 20 percent; in other words, out of every hundred men engaged in a fire-fight  only fifteen to twenty actually used their weapons. And in Vietnam, for every enemy soldiers killed, more than fifty thousand bullets were fired.2

What these studies have taught the military is that in order to get soldiers to shoot to kill, to actively participate in violence, the soldiers must be sufficiently desensitized to the act of killing. In other words, they have to learn not to feel — and not to feel responsible — for their actions. They must be taught to override their own conscience. yet these studies also demonstrate that even in the face of immediate danger, in situations of extreme violence, most people are averse to killing. In other words, as Marshall concludes, “the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be ‘conscientious objectors'”.3

1: Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in war and Society. New York: Back Bay Books, 1996, 12.
2: Grossman, Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door. New York: Broadway Books, 2005.
3: Grossman, 15.

[Spellings corrected]

When empathy is removed, we can kill others, let them die.

I haver to say that the saddest fact of my life is that I avoid adverts about dying people in Africa, because if I empathise too much, nothing else will be important to me, and I will have to leave, because they die, and it is criminal how little the rest of the world does about it.  In Mexico Drug Lords run amok, and we do nothing; the world over Women are Raped, their rights repealed; we do nothing.  I cannot be empathic for everyone because I would have to do something.  Ultimately I would have have to rule the world with an iron fist, in surveillance state the like of which the world could not possibly imagine right now, and it can imagine much; because I want people to be good, but we value our freedoms too much, and so humans are free to make war, rape and pillage.  However much chaos I embrace, those are bad things, and yet I embrace chaos, because NO MATTER what I think, people are going to keep doing their thing.

Can I reject all those people?  No, because each and everyone is a Pope of Discordia, each and every one has a hope of redemption, each and every one is of me, and I of them, however reluctantly.

Lesson one.  Discordia is inclusive.

Notes on lesson one; sometimes inclusion is hard, if one cannot embrace it, it is because the human condition is hard, and chaotic.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Merry Christmas.

I’m a bit rubbish at Christmas, and this year more than ever. But this year, for me, has been an important year for growth and connectivity with friends. I have reinvented myself, and Jenny Oldroyd and I have reinvented our relationship in many ways.

I have become closer to some friends, made blissful visits to some friends, and struggled to visit others. So be it, embrace chaos.

So here I have a gift for you, and it is words because words are all I have, but they are from my heart, and thus, I give to you all what is precious to me.

Get back, daemons, for my army of the just is with me,
Go to your hole, you foul creatures, for you cannot hurt me,
I am blesséd.

My army is the square of their number,
For their shield of love is not their love for me,
Which I see, mine eyes have been opened.

My army is strong, for their love for each other,
As hand in hand they march against you, O daemons,
As they cover me in their impenetrable cloak of love.

And here are the call to arms. O daemons,
That ye shall hear and be afeared.

We love you, just as you are,
But if you shall change,
Then we shall still love you.

We know you love us,
With all your heart, each and everyone,
And our hearts, they are more for it.

We know you think of us every day,
Even if you are distant and away on the planet of your life,
You are not alone, and thus, nether shall we be.

And should you call, then my love, we shall come,
and should we call, my love, then you will be there,
For you are of us, and we of you.

So be afeared my daemons, for you face my army,
And my friends and lovers, stand tall,
Stand tall agin your daemons,
Stand tall, for I am your warrior, your daemonslayer,
And am invincible, my friends, in the armour of your love.

Patrick and Dave

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

No Haiku, just a memory of two men who died recently.

Dave Brubeck.  I saw him a few years ago in concert, some silly ass afterwards, an autograph hunter, precluded more than a word, and I have blurry picture to remember the event by, better than nothing at all.  he played a new piece at the concert, Um, I think it was called London Calling.

Brubeck started my deep love of Jazz.  I’d always liked it, but Brubeck fired something in me that I had not known was there.  I know so much more about Jazz now, and still I know hardly anything at all, because really, there is so much to know.  I’d heard the pieces of his music, Unsquare Dance, Take Five, Kathy’s Waltz from that seminal album, and I never grow tired of listening to it, got to know the music of other members of the quartet, particularly Paul Desmond (d.1977), and as I penetrated the Jazz world I realised, a few years ago, that most of my musical heroes, unlike Brubeck and Desmond, are black.  I had never known, because I had not seen pictures.  Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and so many others, they define for me what is cool, that laid back music and beat of what came to be the “Birth of Cool”, (and you should look at say, this, if you want to see what I mean).

In the end though, for me, I keep coming back to Brubeck, the Goddess know I love trad jazz and jazz funk, but Brubeck and Desmond took my already deliberate, purposeful listening to music and moved to to a higher level.  Brubeck got in my soul, and he’s never leaving.

He’s going to have to make room though…

I never met Patrick Moore, apparently I used to do a rather good impersonation of him when I was drunk, alas, that situation no longer obtains, I’m too cheap a date, and my impersonating days are long past.

I read early, very early, (um, get over this), and so by the age of I don’t know, four, I was reading his books, his fiction, his commentary about the stars.  He was a prolific writer.

I am also half way through his self written biography in which which he settled something it had never occurred to me was an issue.  He never married because his sweetheart was killed in the War, THE War, the second big one.  He was so forthright about it, and so simply stated that there was never anyone else for him, that I was instantly struck by the profound love he must have had for his girl, and I cried for days for this loss, and as I write this, I am tearing up even now.

Patrick Moore was in my life, as in the lives of so many others, as someone who could explain and fascinate, who could make the complex simple, and the very complex comprehensible by mere mortals.  He started, for me a lifelong fascination with science and space.  He lived a good long life, and was a funny and intelligent man.  I don’t have the words to properly articulate all the feelings I have about his passing, but I would have the world know this; I have been the greater for his existence, and all unknowing he has contributed so much to my life, and I will miss him for the rest of my days.


For Daisy

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Waves wash upon sound
Echoes of a life ascend
The heavens await

We weave our basket
Bereft of hearts silken thread
Love remains, inside