Reality and self amid the maelstrom

Thinking lately about what’s real and what’s important—neither of which overlaps completely with the other—and how to hold onto them amid all the dysfunction, real dangers and misleading indicators.

I have been writing plenty about the false and misleading, this year. Every day seems to be a downpour of dishonesty, delusion, wrong directions and la la land pretending. I can see this, and while it’s a struggle to go against the grain when hardly anyone else seems like they’re going to, I think I can make it that far.

But where am I going to, and where can I go to; what revised expectations of real and important should replace the old?

Part of the recent feeling of emerging from a fugue state after five years may be a result of that period providing, despite all its upheaval, an easy sense of who I was and where it mattered to apply myself. While I considered a broader picture, many times, it’s still true that opposing one horrible person in the White House provided a focus which I certainly did not reject completely. I’m not sure that it would have made sense to reject any and all focus on that awful individual and the cabal around him and its evil works. One might say that we confronted not only a raging fire, but a fire approaching the munitions store. Now, though, we have completed a firebreak—but the fire has spread all over in the meantime, and there’s a plague, and some of the firefighters are using hoses to attack people rather than put out the fire, etc.

Some of the musings which Eric Sandy posted, last year, begin to make more sense to me now.

“Who are you? What values guide your decision-making?”

“How does one steer into the calamity? Steer into it, yes, immersing yourself in the century’s problems but resisting the surface-gleam enticements of hatred and fear.”

The upheaval is not pausing or even really slowing. To the contrary it seems to be spreading and speeding up and getting more complex. The battering is now much more distributed among a lot of different directions. The past week’s local turmoil intensified this feeling, for me, but I’m very confident that the future is not a settling down or moderation.

Just among the Republicans, it’s both bizarre and horrifying to watch their unfolding freakout. After years spent working to capture federal courts, Republicans are talking about nullification. With Congress’s ability to change the rules effectively broken for good, leaving almost limitless power with state legislatures over which they retain a tight grip, Republicans are talking about secession. With considerable demonstrated success at ignoring protest and paying no price, Republicans are not only trying to criminalize protest but make it open season to fuckin’ just kill those who dissent. I don’t think any of this is indication that they’re at the threshold of collapse, or is any kind of strategy at all, though. Just more evidence they’ve created something which has its own momentum, now.

Meanwhile I know that they are bad and dangerous, but where do I turn when so many of the alternatives increasingly seem detached from the situation we face? I wrote a thread this morning discussing DC statehood as an example of how the amount of nonsense built up in our culture seems to distort everything at this point.

But what is real, what do I do, and who am I? This last question is only going to get more important, I think, as disruption increases.

Also, though, “what do I do” is not only tempting as the most practical question, but valid. How do I “steer into the calamity” or at least within it. What’s my alternative to carrying on with the same activism structures as though they were working, or going off the grid entirely pour cultiver notre jardin?

I feel like these musings are productive. They are certainly challenging. The penultimate issue of Promethea was mostly just an extended monograph about expanding your consciousness, but one small odd snippet which almost seems like a goof always stuck out. The herald of revelation Promethea closes her extended speech with the words “stay awake.” The next page picks up in darkness with a character recounting how after that she must have drifted to sleep.

I doubt this was any kind of accident, given all I know of the author and his work. I don’t know its intent, but that’s fine. It speaks, at least, to how seeing beyond the world’s illusions is an ongoing thing for us mortals rather than a one-time revelation, but it’s a worthwhile and important thing all the same.

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