Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, Raise the Double Standard"

And another couple lines from the same great band:

"I would tell you that personal revolution
"is far more difficult
"and is the first step in any revolution"

- "Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury" and "Music and Politics" by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphophrisy, off of their Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury album.

I got out of the bath a little more than a half hour ago. Correction to an entry a couple days ago: When talking about the water dial on the bath, I kept on talking about it as if it had 180 degrees. That would make it a triangle, which it is not, as implied by the word 'dial.' I should have been using a 360 degree scale for describing the different settings on the bath dial. Please try to translate a circle as something with 180 degrees when reading that passage from a couple days ago.

Oddly enough, talking about this bath stuff and quoting the The Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy have some connection. I believe that I have implicitly touched upon hypocrisy here and there when expressing my guilt of complicity with modernism and modernism. I have yet to find a way to express myself when it comes to the topic or even the specific matter of hypocrisy that I want to address. Part of it has to do with the fact that I could piss off some people close to me. I don't really want to dive into pissing off friends through my Blog like I've been pissed off by what some other people have written on their Blogs about me. That would just be hypocritical!

Another quote:

"Hannah Arendt, in her analysis of totalitarianism, remarks that the striking thing 'about Nazism and Stalinism is the robot-like behaviour of both victims and executioners, both evidently feeling that they had no choice. . .but merely obeying forces greater than human wills' (Canovan, 1974:18). Just as Bauman links such totalitarianism to other, apparently more benign, forms of social organization, so too can it be linked to market utopias. For these, too, tell us that there are forces greater than human will and individual action: their presumption is to tell us that in the face of market forces there is no choice."

- Christopher Grey and Christina Garsten, "Organized and disorganized utopias: an essay on presumption" in Utopia and Organization, ed. Martin Parker (Oxford, UK and Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing/The Sociological Review 2002): 22.

I may have inserted that last bit for the cool factor, for which I would have done something somewhat illegal, so I will have to try to make it as relevant as possible and minimize as much as possible in relation to this whole entry so as not to break copyright law by too much. But yes, this quote here has some relevance to the topic I wish to address. I must approach this topic in a roundabout, centrifigual type of way, though, because I don't totally know what I mean to say. I guess maybe I have a good idea of the things I want to say, but I have them up in my head and mind in a very inarticulate manner. . .so inarticulate that I have some trouble living these principles that I try to live. . .these principles of fighting against hypocrisy and trying to have non-violent loving indepedent community power.

The topic at hand starts with a simple statement that a few friends of mine make. I won't state it literally, but the statement pretty much expresses their feeling of powerlessness and that, in this world, as one person, they can't amount to much for affecting change in this world and acting as a force of change. . .so they end up becoming armchair politicians, making certain judgments or posing particular questions. . .all the while, when challenged in way that goes against their conception of the world or challenged in a way that would encourage them to take political action or force them to make a change in their personal habits, they fall back on saying how powerless they are as one person. . .especially a person without much money or can't get a job that they enjoy. . .let alone a politician who makes a good amount of money and has people's attention or a corporate CEO who has a bunch of money, resources and the power to lobby politicians or influence the people in the world.

Then there's the matter of energy use versus the comfort level that people live. Mentioning something about not needing to use an air conditioner or a fan in an air conditioner one night to someone. . .that they could just sleep without the covers. . .and this from someone who complained about the fact that the teens in today's world don't understand the value of liberty in our society and the importance of the media to keeping that liberty and that these youth would fully willing give themselves over to the people in the government because it works and the world exists as they like. This person basically says that they will continue to use the energy available because it's there. . .once it goes away and becomes scarce, then they'll adjust. And we know when that will happen. . .when we've become indentured servants and live in poverty because the energy companies will jack up the prices as the energy sources become more and more scarce.

Just look at the gas prices today! People love to say that the recent jack up in prices come from the fact that refineries around New Orleans have gone kaput. Notice the gas prices go down recently? Any coincidence that pretty much the Labor Day vacationing in the States has pretty much ended. . .commuting and traveling has pretty much gone back to normality. Also. . .has anyone noticed that gas prices have gone up since China has entered the oil-buying market? We love to blame the refineries and OPEC for the price fixing and the closing distance until we get to the point at which we've pretty much used up half the Earth's available easy to get petroleum supply and other fossil fuels so that it becomes more expensive to extract the raw energy from the Earth. Then there's the crazy oil and gas prices to heat our homes for the winter. My shop teacher in high school put the fact pretty succinctly: "Gas prices for cars go up in the summer while heating gas prices go up during the winter."

IT'S SUPPLY AND DEMAND PEOPLE! The population of the Earth keeps going up and the supply keeps going down because we keep consuming these raw materials that take an unpredictable amount of time and really unknown ways of producing more of the materials. This "law" pretty much says that as more people want something and get more means to get that something while the supply of that thing remains or the same or continues to deplete, the price of that thing will go up. And with the sudden entrance of China into the petroleum economy and as the First and Second (and possible the Third) Worlds become more affluent, the price of the things that we want go up and up and up!

In the end, that means, the more that we (meaning you and I) use these limited resources, the more the price of these resources will increase and that harder we have to work to have access to these resources until these resources go away. . .then, someone will have a horde of the resource, and they'll protect like in the apocalyptic world of Mad Max, or they'll pretty much extort us and take all that we own just so we can have the smallest bit of oil. . .it'll be like we're walking through a desert, getting burned by the sun, water sweating out of our pores along with essential minerals neededfor our survival. Oil will become like water in this situation once we've become utterly dependent and addicted to it.

I consider myself something of an environmentalist. I fear that burning these fossil fuels will destroy the ozone layer, heat up our oceans, burn the glaciars, screw up the saline ratio in the jet streams of our oceans. . .but I have more of a fear of becoming a slave to others through the raw materials for energy. I never really thought about something until I just wrote the last couple sentences: the factors of our environment and our situation with the fossil energy resources look to have some relation to each other along with our slavery to using these fossil fuels for energy. The more we burn these fossil fuels, the more that we destroy our Earth and the more that we become addicts and slaves to it and the more that we hunger for the things that these energies give us and the more we destroy our home, our world, our womb, of sorts. We're destroying ourselves while enslaving ourselves.

Would you want to destroy your mother through the use of the resources that she supplies you? For awhile, we lived as parasites, depending on her to supply us with energy. Some of us even stole the energy from her that she could have used for herself. Eventually, though, she kicked us of her, and to some degree, we probably wanted to get out of there, too. It would get too constricting and small in there. . .very uncomfortable.

Now to circle back to the hypocrisy part and to show how my baths touch upon the topic. I need my baths. A cold bath would not fulfill my needs. Currently, in this home, we burn either natural gas or oil to heat up the water for my bath. Right now, I type on a laptop that, again, requires oil or some other kind of raw material to run. I have a light going in this room. I have music playing in the other room, which uses a Bose speaker system, a Yamaha receiver and a JVC DVD player. I even have the room light going in another room for no reason except that I simply forgot to turn it off. Outside, I have the porch light going for when the Girl gets home. I watch quite a bit of TV and watch a lot of DVDs. We've got a TiVo. .. a VCR. . .a cable box. . .all them that pretty much go all day long. I've taken a lot of trips lately. . .up to Montreal, Quebec, stop and go traffic in Boston. I use paper money. I use public transport and sometimes even take joyrides. In a couple days, I'll get on a plane to fly on over to Chicago. In a couple weeks, I'd like to drive on up to Northern New Hampshire and meet up with someone who can clue me in on what it means to be a copy writer and hopefully get some connections for networking purposes. Then on top of all the energy that it takes to just run these things, think about the energy and raw materials used to create the objects that do these things and also the energy that it takes to refine raw fuels into fuel usable by us.

As I speak and criticize of ways to reduce the problem, bring up the problems in the world and talk to people about the problems, I am part of the problem. Over the years, I have realized that I fear to just jump out of the problem. Jump out of the Modernism, and not because I feel responsible for reducing the problem (which I've started to rationalize lately and feel the need to do), but I fear doing so because outside of Modernism looks so different and scares me. I fear jumping out of the world that I know and the habits that I've gathered through my life. . .Modernism provides me with a comfortable life until the resources run out and using those resources destroy the world in which I live. Not only that, I also fear that Modernism has become so prevalent that even if I tried to escape, Modernism would eventually find me and destroy me because I allowed myself to fall behind.

Well. . .I have typed for a good amount of time now. I've written quite a bit. I've probably given you enough to think about for now. . .especially since I really haven't made any articulate claims or had any big rational conclusions. Just some stream of thought. I will continue to think on this one. I personally believe that the liberty side of things has to do with my thesis and novel. . .the protothoughts I have here will probably find more refinement as I put them into the novel. Nonetheless, I realize that day after day, I can't move forward against my habits and against the self-destruction inherent in Modernism all by myself. My friends have voiced it. They are just one. As one, they don't have the power to make a difference. I am just one. Not only that, I don't really have much potency as power to make a difference. Realizing that you or I don't have power, though, or necessarily the best of habits, I know that if we work together and maybe if we find other people, we can probably start chiselling chips away at the great Monolith of Modernism.

Anyone in?


Shaw Israel Izikson said...

U know I b in

The_Lex said...

Hell yeah! I've got someone with me on this one.

Mr. Ibis said...

First, a quibble the band is the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy. A not-terribly clever twist.

Hipocrisy is not inherent in being part of the problem. If you acknowledge that you are part of it, despite not doing anything about it, then at least you have avoided being a hipocrite. So it is possible to criticise a system from within.

I'm not sure what you mean by "Modernism" but I'm not sure it's inherently destructive/enslaving. The modernism of the fifties was destructive, because it was naive. And while the world as a whole has not learned the lessons of that early modernism (as far as radical changes in resource usage), it is fair to say that we are at least in Late Modernism or Post Modernism. These time being marked by and understanding, by at least a few, that we are interconnected and the status quo is non-sustainable.

It is not necessary to abandon modernism (if that is even possible) to negate its effects. You can live a modern lifestyle while making no net impact on the environment. It takes focus, and some money (but not that much) and you can even have a net positive, sell the extra electricity from your solar panels back to the grid. Save money and cut coal burning at the power plants.

The status quo trains us to think inside the consumption box, and the powerlessness box. A little thought and some net research and you could be off the grid in 5 years. By the same token, if (or anyone) really wanted political change you could do it. Volunteer, intern at a campaign, be a squeaky-wheel to your senator.

It may be that you consider this status quo thinking to be part of modernism, in which case the is a valid post-modern framework waiting for you to jump into it.

Live by example, be the change you want to see in the world.