Thursday, June 1, 2017

S G P - FOURTH ANNIVERSARY


Today is the fourth anniversary of my little blog.  It has been a delight sharing my unusual perspective on the world with you, and I greatly appreciate your support and encouragement.  Thank you so very much.

Highlights from these last 12 months include the publication of my 100th essay and clicking over a quarter of a million visits to my site.  Most amazing and pleasing.  

Special thanks to Naja who edits The Blue Paper in Key West.  They have re-posted almost all of my essays and I greatly cherish having their readers aboard.

I continue to keep my little sharing space as pristine as possible with no ads, no donations tab and no Patreon link.  Financially it is a challenge - but emotionally it is a reward.

As revealed in my recent essay entitled IN PRAISE OF UNSAFE SPACES, I am about to embark on an exciting and hazardous adventure (all true adventure involves danger).  I will be crewing aboard some friends' boat as we attempt to sail the Northwest Passage - up where the polar bears roam.  As someone who has always aspired to being both a philosopher and an adventurer, this is a perfect opportunity for me.  

The voyage should take a few months.  Will post essays whenever I can, but the internet availability will obviously be a significant issue.    

It will be intriguing to see if this radical change in latitude and temperature changes my perspective.

You'll be the first to know.

Thanks again,

Ray

Thursday, May 25, 2017

DOMINO WISDOM



by Ray Jason            

photo by Ray Jason
Years ago, I nick-named this modest little spot The Domino Triangle.  It was too tiny for an actual building, so a tarp had been slung to provide shelter from the sun and the rain.  Beneath it was a folding card table and some battered chairs, where the locals would play dominoes. 
            When the tropical heat would begin to lessen in the late afternoon, the men would start gathering.  They arrived with beer and a little pocket money.  They also brought something that is increasingly rare in our modern world – modest, earth-bound happiness.
            Their conversations revolved around the elemental concerns of bedrock Humanity – too much work and not enough pay, the entertaining inscrutability of wives and girlfriends, and the follies of their grandchildren.  Nobody was discussing how many pixels the next iPhone camera would have or how Amazon’s stock price is so high when they never turn a profit.

                                            *******
  

Friday, May 12, 2017

IN PRAISE OF UNSAFE SPACES



by Ray Jason

Monique and Jack - 2 young sea gypsies
The waters of the Archipelago of Bliss have been a wondrous reservoir of inspiration for me as I meander through my Middle Years.  My secluded life amidst these tranquil islands has blessed me with a perspective and clarity that is difficult to attain by those chained to the cacophony of the Real World.  
But since my earliest conscious dawning in my teen years, I have been attracted not only to a life of thought, but also to the call to action.  Jack London, Joseph Conrad and Richard Burton were the type of literary figures who appealed to me because they combined both words and deeds. 
Lately, I have been questioning whether the comfort of these peaceful lagoons has seduced me away from that combination of adventurer and philosopher which so exhilarates me?  Have deeds succumbed to words?  Peering into my heart of hearts, I have to answer, YES.
So it was time for a change.  Fortunately, the gods of adventure smiled upon me with an exciting possibility.  Some highly-skilled sailors, who are also very dear friends, invited me to join them in an attempt this summer to sail across the legendary Northwest Passage.  When they offered me this opportunity, I immediately thought of Alan Shepherd’s line in the movie THE RIGHT STUFF when they were recruiting him to become an astronaut: “Sounds dangerous … count me in!”        

Thursday, April 27, 2017

IS IT NOBLE OR FOOLISH - OR BOTH?



by Ray Jason

Thank you for your brilliance Norman Rockwell
The wind arrived swiftly.  The waves built more slowly - but also more dangerously.  Suddenly AVENTURA was no longer gently tugging at her anchor.  She was lunging and jerking perilously.  I let out more chain to calm her, but the seas kept pounding us.  The gorgeous little island with its massive coral formations had protected me from the prevailing winds for the last two days.  But now that we had swung around 180 degrees, those reefs were a million-machete menace.
 I had snorkeled them that afternoon and their beauty had dazzled me.  However, their contours had worried me.  In many places the water depth would drop from 15 feet to 2 feet in only a few yards.  Dashed against them, my fiberglass boat could quickly be punctured, filled with seawater and destroyed.  I would lose my home, my magic carpet, my companion.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

TEMPORARY SANITY


by Ray Jason

I was awoken this morning by a tropical alarm clock – the joyous sound of wild parrots flying above my anchored boat.  Their airborne chirping reminded me that the last thing that I heard as I dozed off the night before was also from the non-human world.  It was the raucous barking of a troop of howler monkeys.
            Perhaps it was because my sleep had been book-ended by these emissaries from the realm of Nature - but I felt radiantly refreshed.  Lying in my bunk, I noticed that an amber shaft of equatorial sunlight was resting on my chart table.  And there, sitting in the middle of it was a little gecko sunning itself. 
A feeling of cleansing jubilation swept over me.  It felt like something momentous had transformed the planet as I slept during the night.  It was as though the long-rumored pole shift had occurred.  But it was not a geographical reversal, it was a philosophical upheaval.

                                   *******

Suddenly, the ordinary people of the world had awoken to the fact that war was not about spreading democracy and ousting hideous tyrants.  It was a fraud imposed on the regular people by the irregular people – who are awash in money and power and who benefit obscenely from war. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

THE MOON AND THE PROVERB


by Ray Jason         

           It was the last full moon of winter.  My little ship, which was facing north, gently veered around to the east - as though she too wanted to admire the luminous moon as it rose above this jungle lagoon.  Some unknown instinct had prompted me to write this essay not in the daylight or not by lamplight, but under the spell of moonlight.  I abide by such mysterious murmurings.
            So I sat on deck with my back leaning against the mast.  In my lap was a pen and my trusty clipboard, but tonight it had a small book-light attached to it.  Beside me was a cup of soothing green tea.  This seemed appropriate - because the catalyst for this essay had been an old Chinese proverb.  That morning it had sailed back into my consciousness after years of languishing in my philosophical backwaters.  It states with almost unsettling clarity and simplicity a truth that Humanity seems to be ignoring. 
            “If we don’t change our direction, we will end up where we are headed.”
            My philosopher’s mission is to meditate on the sweeping trends that impact the human caravan and to not be distracted by the transient frenzy of day to day events.  My quest is to separate the message from the background noise.  An effective way to do this is to focus on our most elemental needs.  Some of these basics include: water, food, jobs, security and entertainment.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A PANTHEIST MAKES A PILGRIMAGE



by Ray Jason           

TOR HOUSE - photo  by Ray Jason
          My heroes do not score touchdowns or lead armies or star in movies.  Instead, those in my Pantheon think deeply and dream elegantly and write poetically.  They are secular saints, who tried to decipher the mysteries of the human condition and who shared their discoveries with all of us.  Out of reverence for their quests, I have tried to visit some of the places that were crucial to their personal and artistic development. 
I sat on the stone foundation of Thoreau’s tiny cabin next to Walden Pond and marveled at his 19th century journals.  They are so full of wisdom that still resonates 150 years later.  But my joy at being on that hallowed shoreline was tempered by my awareness that nowadays his message is but a muted rustling of leaves in a distant forest.  His insistence on the need for humanity to stay connected to Nature and to be suspicious of the glories of Man is even more vital today than it was in his era.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

HOMAGE TO MY LITTLE SHIP


by Ray Jason        


Photo of AVENTURA by Tor Pinney
       When the world of “today” weighs too heavily upon me, I find solace in the world of “yesterday.”  And I do not have to travel far to find that comfort.  In fact, I am surrounded by it.  That’s because my little sailing boat – which is also my little home – is a bridge across to the Old Ways. 
       The building of boats is one of the earliest chapters in the book of human history.  Tools and fire and dugout canoes were all essential to the beginning stages of the voyage of humanity.  And lazing about in the Archipelago of Bliss, keeps me directly connected to this heritage.  Every time a weathered Indio sells me a fish from his cayuco, I am looking down at a hand-carved canoe whose design harkens back even further than the Pyramids.
       This pleases me.  For I believe that a philosopher’s task is to seek out that which is elemental and enduring; and discard that which is artificial and ephemeral.  My job is to distinguish between events that are only important in the moment and those that are genuinely momentous. 
       But often this is an emotional burden.  My last three essays, which examined the Social Engineering that almost invisibly controls our existence, left me saddened and depleted.  So I have decided to let my senses and mind wander around my little ship, and rejoice in how splendid she is - both tangibly and symbolically.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

SOCIAL ENGINEERING ON STEROIDS



by Ray Jason          


            I spend a lot of time away from people – so that I can better understand people.  But today I needed to surround myself with real people.  A week of intense research on where Humanity is being herded has profoundly shaken me.
            I’m sitting in my favorite cafĂ© here in the Archipelago of Bliss, gazing out on the main street, which should be called Avenida Anomaly, since it is so detached from the modern world.  It is delightfully out of synch because for every passing car there are 10 bicycles and 20 pedestrians.  Across the street in the park, Moms entrust their children in the playground to their older brothers and sisters who welcome this responsibility.  On the sidewalk an old man with a wheelbarrow full of coconuts slices them open with a machete and sells them to his lifelong friends.  The entire scene is a testament to the philosophy of “live and let live.”   
 This is in stark contrast to those in the bejeweled dungeons of power who are colluding to hypnotize and enslave the common man.  The term that best describes their hidden campaign of conquest is Social Engineering.  In my two previous essays on this topic, I tried to distill down to one sentence the goal of those who are masterminding this cultural takeover.  They seek greater and greater control by fewer and fewer people.

                                  *******

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR DUMMIES


by Ray Jason

There is only one town here in the Archipelago of Bliss, and although it is in a beautiful seaside location, it has avoided the curse of gentrification.  You would never confuse it with a cutesy, sterile, tourist destination that beckons to the cruise ships.  But even though it fails the “postcard perfect” test - it gets an A for Authenticity.  And it would get an F from any Social Engineer.
            In my previous essay, I discussed how those who are obsessed with ruling the world are attempting to steer and control the entire planet as though it was their personal Maserati.  The term that I long ago coined for these alpha villains is The Malignant Overlords.  I am delighted to report that their efforts to impose their Social Engineering on this little community have been an abysmal failure. 
            Here is some evidence that supports this claim.  The people here are not addicted to television.  Instead, they are out chatting and laughing with their neighbors on the streets and in the park.  There are no suburbs, and there are certainly no massive highways since almost nobody owns a car.  In fact, water taxis are the main form of transportation.  And no one worships the god of consumerism here.  You can’t buy a Rolex watch – excuse me, time piece – or a Gucci handbag here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR FUN AND PROFIT



by Ray Jason

I rowed ashore at twilight because I wanted my little gift to be more dramatic.  My time in the islands was ending, and this little Indio family had made my weeks anchored off their simple homestead so exquisite, that I wanted to leave them a memento of my visit.
            As I stepped out of my dinghy, the littlest child was her normal enthusiastic and inquisitive self.  At four years old, the entire world just seemed to her to be one gigantic magical unfolding.  Ah, if we adults could only retain that sense of enchantment.
            I displayed the odd, pancake-shaped object that I had brought with me, and then started to blow it up like a balloon.  Both the parents and the children were mystified.  Once it was inflated, I held it in front of them ceremoniously and then with a flourish of my other hand I pressed a button that turned it into a light.  The kids clapped and laughed and their mom and dad smiled.  After presenting it to them, I explained that it was powered by a miniature solar panel that did not require electricity.  They were delighted by this farewell offering which was both magical and practical.      

                                             *******

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A CHRISTMAS REVERIE


by Ray Jason

It is a few dawns before Christmas in the year 2016.  As someone who finds his spirituality in the Cathedral of Nature, I note that today is the shortest day of the year.  Tomorrow the spheres will align so that the light will increase and the darkness decrease. May we humans one day also adjust ourselves to embrace the light and renounce the darkness.
          And it is in this spirit that I share this Christmas essay with you.  My topic is one of the Really Big Ones – HAPPINESS. We all seek it – and yet so few of us attain it.  Because I am blessed in this regard, I’d like to share that gift with you.
            As you know from reading my essays, I devote a lot of time and thought to what a friend disparagingly calls “The Domain of Dread.”  Consequently, those who really know me are puzzled by how I remain so happy.  Given the fact that I spend so much time focused on the injustices and tragedies of this world, they find my cheerfulness bewildering.  My secret is not some “answer” concocted from rainbows and unicorns.  It can actually be achieved by simply changing one’s perspective. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

DESPERATE MEASURES



by Ray Jason
       
 It was my very first day in the Archipelago of Bliss, and I sat savoring a meal in a waterfront restaurant.  Even though the food was excellent, what was even better was the fact that I was not bouncing around while I ate it.  After two weeks of sailing here from Key West, it was sublime to be motionless.
            Before my fish sandwich arrived, a wrinkled, old fisherman rowed up to the restaurant dock in a small cayuco that was hand-carved from a single log.  He sold a couple of nice groupers to the owner, Kelly, and paddled away.  Unfortunately, my camera was onboard AVENTURA, so I could not capture this moment.  I assumed that this was a rare occasion - but I assumed incorrectly.  By the time I had finished my meal, three other smiling fisher-folk had rowed up and sold her some fish or lobster or conch.  I smiled contentedly - because I knew that this was “my kind of place.”        
                                                                                                                                       
                                                *******

            Yesterday, I returned to that same spot with my clipboard and pen, in the hopes of finding some philosophical inspiration.  Again, it came in the form of a seventy-something fisherman with a tawny, smiling face.  As he rowed away with a few dollars, I realized that he would be completely insulated from the troubles that I will discuss in this essay.  A self-sufficient Indio, who carves and rows his own boat, who catches and grows his own food and who builds his own house, will do just fine when the Net of Progress has ensnared most of humanity.
           
                                                 *******

Thursday, December 1, 2016

AN EPISTLE TO THE EARTHONIANS


by Ray Jason

 At the time, it was just an eccentric, utopian game.  But now, a couple of decades later, I realize that it was a perfect metaphor for my deepest aspirations.  I would find some nicely rounded, sea-worn rocks along the shore.  My favorites were about the size of a mango and slightly flattened.  On each one I would paint a short quotation from a wise thinker. 
Here are some examples that swiftly rise from my memory vault.  Whitman’s “Question much and obey little.”  Thoreau’s “Simplify, simplify, simplify…”  And Plato’s “The unconsidered Life is not worth living.”  I would then anonymously place these at well-known snorkeling sites, so that unsuspecting divers would suddenly be jolted by these pearls of wisdom.  I always thought of them as my “Ponder Stones.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

THE SEA GYPSY PATH TO TRUE FREEDOM



by Ray Jason          

A great sea gypsy family
 During the shrill cacophony of the U.S. election campaign, many friends and strangers asked me why I did not comment on it.  The reason is because I try to observe the world as a philosopher - and not as a pundit.  My belief is that pundits assess the short-term flux of events, whereas philosophers examine the long-term trends and consequences. 
            Here are some of my conclusions.  Intriguingly, they might provide some comfort to both camps – those devastated by the results and those delighted by them.  The Clintonistas might recall that when Obama was elected, the Right was quite certain that the world would end.  But, indeed, it did not end – although it also did not improve.  So even though you fear that Trump will bludgeon the planet off its very axis, this is not likely to occur.     
            As for the Trumpians, you might take heart in the knowledge that even though the goals of the victors are almost never realized once in office, the fact that your triumph was a referendum against the Establishment, makes it a far more potent force.  But you will need to remain vigilant, or your dream of Making America Great Again will go down in flames like Hope and Change.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

LOOKING ASTERN



by Ray Jason          

Ray on his birthday 2016
A few hours into every long voyage there comes a precious moment.  Most sailors pay it no heed - but I never miss it.  Suddenly, the gradually thinning margin of land and sea disappears.  The land has drowned.  The sea surrounds.  The domain of Humanity has vanished.  The realm of Nature is resurrected.
            Now my only companions reside in the sea and the sky.  The only laws are timeless and elemental – the mighty ocean currents and the churning atmospheric systems.  Most perceive this vastness as emptiness, but I see it as human-less.  Such solitude - such exile - does not trouble me, it pleases me.  And it allows me to glimpse the Human Project with a clarity unknown to land-dwellers.        
            This wet, surging enormity inspires a perspective on our species that reveals it to be both magnificent and malevolent.  It harkens up both Mozart and the Mushroom Cloud.  It whispers of a planet filled with riches - and the human psyche cursed with a lust for riches.  It provides a long lens that helps me focus on the multi-generational march of the human caravan.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

THE HUXLANDIA TRAP


by Ray Jason

In my previous essay I tried to convince you that two of the great masterpieces of 20th Century literature have been disturbingly accurate in predicting the Human Trajectory.  In George Orwell’s iconic 1984, he argued that humankind faces a totalitarian future where every individual is controlled and monitored by the State.  “Submit or die” might be the most accurate way to describe his dark vision.  Aldous Huxley, in his prophetic BRAVE NEW WORLD, suggested that the State would dominate the masses not through force and surveillance, but by distracting them so insidiously that they do not even notice their enslavement.  A catchphrase for this approach might be “Slavery is FUN!”
            Many political observers contend that the increasing domination by the State is furthered by using either the Orwell or the Huxley approach.  But I contend that the people in charge, who I call The Malignant Overlords, are using BOTH strategies.  I also believe that the U.S.A. is the main driving force in this descent into tyranny.  In my earlier essay I proposed that there are two coastal corridors where the majority of this agenda is implemented.  I dubbed the eastern branch ORWELLIA and the western section HUXLANDIA.  Since the first essay exposed the evils of ORWELLIA, this one will concentrate on the darkness that hides behind the smiley-face facade of HUXLANDIA.    

Thursday, October 6, 2016

ORWELLIA and HUXLANDIA



by Ray Jason           

Two of the most enduring novels of the 20th Century are Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD and George Orwell’s 1984.  Unfortunately, these dark masterpieces have proven to be stunningly prophetic.  Much of the grim, totalitarian future that they predicted has already materialized.  And we are steadily careening towards a nightmarish Tommorowland even more diabolical than they predicted.  Each author foresaw a bleak future where the Individual was completely subordinate to the State. 
Fortunately, we have not yet fully descended into a serf-like, police/surveillance state dystopia, but that seems to be our trajectory.  In both of these novels the State has already achieved its mission of either Rule through Force or Control through Distraction.  But the reader does not witness the lead-up and implementation of these dictatorial autocracies - which is where we are today.
Some undeniable examples of this include the militarization of police, the replacement of elected leaders with appointed bureaucrats, a slow-burn state of perpetual war and control of the media in only a few rich and powerful hands.   Oh, and I forgot to mention the almost inescapable surveillance - because I was busy replacing the tape over the all-seeing eye on my laptop’s webcam.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

SIMPLE CONSOLATIONS



 by Ray Jason         

          It was the silhouette hour.  A cayuco came paddling towards me in the deep dusk as I sat with my back against AVENTURA’s mast.  The oarsman’s stroke was smooth and strong.  There was a child in the back tending the fishing line as her dad rowed. 
When they were 20 yards away I realized that it was not a father – it was a grandmother.  Even though she was as ancient and weathered as her hand-carved cayuco, she propelled it like a man in the prime of his life.  It was a joy to behold.   
            I motioned them over towards my boat and hustled below for a packet of cookies to give to them.  As they nudged up beside my hull, I was amazed by the peaceful dignity of the old woman.  Her face was dark and deeply lined, but her eyes flashed like moonlight on the sea.  At this close range I could now see the amazing resemblance between her and her grand-daughter. 
As they rowed away I noticed the grandmother turn her head to make sure that the young girl was okay.  I suspect that as she did so her mind flashed back to when she was that same age - sitting in the stern of a little cayuco admiring the power and grace of HER grandmother as she paddled them across a twilight lagoon.
            I turned back to my clipboard and spent a half an hour working up a haiku to celebrate the encounter.
           
            Ancient grandmother –
            you still row your cayuco
            like the girl within.

                                              *******

Thursday, September 8, 2016

SUNSHINE AND SADNESS

by Ray Jason


            I walked into the little Panamanian drug store feeling sorry for myself because I had a nasty cold.  Two minutes later I walked out feeling humbled … and desolate.

            Inside there was a mom and her young teenage daughter consulting with the female pharmacist.  My arrival instantly turned the scene tense.  I could sense it – but not understand it.  Then I realized that the druggist was showing them how to use a pregnancy testing kit.
            Suddenly, the insignificance of my runny nose in comparison with their actual life-changing trauma, just hammered my heart.  I left swiftly – without buying any medicine.
            I swear, if a bishop had been walking past, I would have grabbed him by his authoritarian collar and shoved him into the farmacia and said,
            “Look at the agony on the faces of this mother and child.  Your church did this to them.  Your perverse desire to control even the most intimate details of a person’s conduct has cast them into a pit of worry and despair.  By forbidding her from using a birth control method that actually works, you are forcing this teenager to make a decision of lifelong importance - even though she is a half a decade from adulthood.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORDS OF WAR

by Ray Jason



     1.   Thou shalt not notice that those of us who start the wars never fight and die in the wars - and neither do our families and our friends.

     2.   Thou shalt never describe War with words like “despicable,” “sick” and “repellant,” but shall instead use only approved words such as “heroic,” “glorious” and “necessary.”

         3.   Thou shalt overlook the core Truth that War is the deliberate murder of innocent people with whom you have no grievance and who have done you no harm.

         4.   Thou shalt disregard the fact that “The War to End All Wars” failed to do so, and that, in fact, within 20 years it spawned the most deadly and vicious war in history.

         5.   Thou shalt ignore the fact that the vast majority of the victims of modern warfare are not soldiers, but are helpless civilians – and you must understand that this savagery towards women and children is for “The Greater Good.”

         6.   Thou shalt not be disturbed by the realization that throughout all of history so much human energy and ingenuity has been dedicated to finding more powerful and efficient ways of butchering one another.

         7.   Thou shalt encourage your children to play violent video games, to applaud during war movies and to honor the flag even if it is drenched in blood – failure to do so might decrease the supply of faceless cogs in the War Machine.

         8.   Thou shall not be outraged that The Masters of War reap obscene profits during all three stages of conflict – the Preparations, the Execution and the Rebuilding – since we risk our fortunes and our reputations, whereas you merely risk your lives.

         9.   Thou shalt realize that although every type of weapon that has ever been developed was eventually used in war, those of us with our hands on the levers of power, would never use Thermonuclear Weapons - even though the secret bunkers that we have built blatantly contradict this.
  
     10.   Finally – and most importantly – thou shalt never awaken from the trance of Patriotism and Religious Zealotry and suddenly understand that without your insane willingness to kill and die, all war would immediately cease.  And above all thou shalt never think or speak the words “Hell no – We won’t go!!!” 

                                          *******

     DEAR  READER, 
     
     I HAVE WRITTEN 85 ESSAYS AND NEVER MADE A DIRECT REQUEST LIKE THIS BEFORE - BUT I WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL IF YOU WOULD SHARE AND TWEET THIS PIECE WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.   

     Thanks, 

     Ray








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