DOUBLE VISION

Anyone who has had the misfortune to wear an eye-patch for a while has experienced a loss, even though they still have the vision of the other eye. It is the loss of depth perception. In a sense the differences in vision between the left and right eye create something neither eye has all alone: “Depth”.

I can remember fooling around with this phenomenon, as a schoolboy. We would do things like dribble a basketball with one eye shut, or play catch with one eye shut, or even try to bring our index fingers together with our elbows bent and one eye shut, and we noticed how simple tasks were much more difficult and required far more attention. Things also just plain looked different. For example, as a basketball neared it did not look “closer” so much as it looked “bigger”.

I think my awareness of this phenomenon was heightened because our old, Victorian town-library had a dusty drawer in a back alcove holding some old steroscope viewers from the 1880’s, and masses of cards holding double-photographs that one put into the viewers.

These devises, high tech for their time, puzzled me, for I didn’t see how they worked. The two photographs on the card looked exactly the same, yet when you looked through the “glasses” you only saw one picture, and it had sharp and clear distinctions in terms of what was near and what was far away. This seemed a bit magical. Even when I was told the two pictures were slightly different, and looked at them more carefully, I couldn’t detect the differences, (and I thought I was highly skilled at picture-puzzles that asked me to spot what was different between two pictures, or a group of pictures.) The sense something magical was occurring remained.

Perhaps it was the sense that magic was involved that engrossed me in the differences between what my left eye saw and my right eye saw. For example, if I closed my left eye, and lined up my thumb to cover the face of the clock across the room, and then closed my right eye and opened my left eye, my thumb was no longer covering the clock. When I shifted my thumb so it covered the clock using my left eye, and then shut my left eye and opened my right eye, again the thumb didn’t cover the clock. So which view was the correct view?

What was really odd was that, when I attempted to solve the situation by opening both eyes, I saw double, with one thumb over the clock and another thumb to the side of the clock. Because seeing-double was a bit disconcerting, I focused on the thumbs and they came together and became a single thumb, but in the background the single clock divided and became two clocks. It was obvious the way we view things was not simple. And then it became even more complex. If my own two eyes couldn’t even agree, how much greater would the disagreement be when other eyes, in other skulls, become involved?

This was made especially clear to me because the clock involved in my experiment was the clock on the wall of the math classroom. The teacher’s view was very different from my view. Where I viewed a very boring teacher and even duller blackboard, she viewed a very inattentive boy giving a thumb’s-up to the clock on the wall for a prolonged period of time, winking constantly in a slow squinting way, first with one eye and then the other.

In a more perfect world something magical might have then occurred: The two views might have meshed and “depth” might have been revealed. The teacher might have politely asked me what I was doing, and, rather than be sullen, I might have innocently and honestly answered, and the class might have shifted naturally and gracefully from being about the area of a rectangle to the subject of depth perception, but my world was less than perfect. The teacher was dealing with a baby-boom classroom of 26 students, and the teacher asked me what in Sam Hill I was doing, which was less than polite, and my response was to become sullen, silent and defiant. Sad.

Sad but no reason to resent. Schoolboys and schoolmarms are always at odds, with different views, yet they can disagree with love, as occurred within the relationship Mark Twain describes between Tom Sawyer and his Aunt Polly.

In my past posts I confess I’ve been rough on schoolmarms. But they were rough on me, as a lad, as they failed to recognize I had, (if not exactly genius), a sort of strange gift when it came to the study of differing views, whether they be two eyes in a skull, or two people in the same room, and also a focus on the strange thing called “depth” that might arise from the coexistence of such double vision.

I think this gift was encouraged because my father was a brilliant, attractive, loving and lovable man, and my mother was a brilliant, attractive, loving and lovable woman, yet they divorced, (with the help of unenlightened psychiatrists), in a non-violent but unbelievably ugly manner. I’ll skip the details, but they were an example of two views that fail to create “depth”. The differences they developed were worse than those between your left eye and right eye, after a quart of whisky.

Even when parents divorce on so-called “friendly” terms, their children undergo a hellish schism, (albeit sometimes unspoken), for the parents are both, in a sense, stating “my former spouse’s views cannot be borne,” and the child is then put in the shoes of deciding which parent’s view is the correct view. These are heavy boots to walk in, for spiritual Commandments do not command, “Honor one parent but not the other”, and the child’s heart secretly loves both parents, even if one parent is a saint and one is a beast (which is seldom entirely the case, as the mad cannot exist without the maddening.)

I was fortunate, because besides my parent’s example of a non-marriage I had grandparents who had a beautiful marriage. My grandfather had announced he was going to marry my grandmother when he arrived home from grade school at age eight, and for over eighty years they worked together like a right eye and a left eye, overcoming all sorts of trouble while staying in harmony and in love.

To some degree my grandparents seemed illogical to me, for my grandfather did not seem as lovable as my father seemed, and my grandmother did not seem as lovable as my mother seemed, yet my grandparents achieved what my parents failed to achieve. So one day, with the brash, foot-in-mouth audacity of youth, I asked my ancient, recently-widowed grandfather, “How’d you and grandmother stay married when Mom and Dad couldn’t?” To my surprise a thundercloud of anger flashed across his brow.

I very seldom saw the slightest trace of anger in my grandfather. His rare expressions of displeasure were more prone towards frost than towards fire. As an engineer, he didn’t like incorrect calculations or sloppy science, and occasionally I rubbed his fur the wrong way because I loved to talk about the latest scientific discoveries I had come across, (which in some cases were new to me but not new to the old man), and sometimes my enthusiasm was so great my science was sloppy. Even then he often would look more amused than annoyed, and simply ask me a question. But one time my sloppiness was so great it was basically dyslexic.

On that occasion, during a discussion about New England forests, I said most species of willow were at the southern border of their range while most birches where at the northern reach of their range. The opposite is true, and a look of immediate disapproval flashed across his face. (As an Eagle Scout he’d known most birches were northern species while most willows were from the south ever since he was twelve years old, and I think I also knew as much, but was simply being sloppy with my thought.) (When a writer makes such a huge, dyslexic mistake he issues a correction after his article is published, but my grandfather was an engineer, and when an engineer lets such a dyslexia slip by, a building can crumble, or a bridge can fall, or a dam can can give way.)

The effect of the change of his visage from benign pleasure to abrupt disapproval was powerful. He did not have to say a word.

To see this change occur again, when I asked why his marriage worked and his son’s hadn’t, shocked me, for I hadn’t made a statement but instead had asked a question. However perhaps I inadvertently had made a statement: “Your son failed.” In any case, my question demanded an answer, and his answer was three gruffly spoken words: “We had faith.”

Now I can kick myself for not asking follow-up questions, but at the time his expression made me aware I was probing a sore spot, and I sat back to think. His three-word-answer gave me a lot to think about.

One thing I contemplated was the pain a parent feels when their children don’t follow their advice. Each generation thinks it is seeing things for the first time, and is somewhat surprised to, later, discover their parents were once young and walked the same planet, and even made the same mistakes. It is even a greater surprise to study history and to read of someone arriving at the same conclusion as your “new discovery”, two or three thousand years ago. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

One sameness is that naive children tend to take a condescending view of parents, and to think it is parents who are naive. Even when they think their parents are good people, and honor them, they tend to think their parents have lived sheltered lives, and don’t know about the harsh and ugly realities they’ve discovered, and even that parents need to be protected from ugly truths. This idea, (that parents are foolish), gives the young an excuse to disobey parent’s advice, and it is only then, through disobeying parents and consequently learning things the hard way, that the young become aware that perhaps their parents were not so foolish. However youth’s rebellion is painful to behold for the parent, and is especially painful when the child suffers something the parent escaped, such as divorce (or death), which has no clear remedy.

To me this again seemed like two views, a right eye and a left eye, the view of “innocence” and the view of “experience”. While the elder usually likes to think his or her view has the “depth”, (and quite often it does), it cannot be stated as a rule that elders are always wiser, for sometimes the young have experiences elders don’t.

Initially, as a teenager-hippy, I was quite convinced I was on a frontier my parents knew nothing about. This was in part due to my attraction to Jimi Hendrix’s music, and the album “Are You Experienced“. The idea, encouraged by the Harvard pseudo-scientist Tim Leary, was that LSD was a new “wonder drug” like penicillin, only it effected spiritual consciousness rather than the body alone. Leary even had the audacity to pose sitting cross-legged, as if he was a spiritual master from India, and he basically discouraged communication between generations, stating that “caterpillars” (elders, or “the establishment”) couldn’t understand the language of “butterflies” (the young, radical and “advanced”).

I wasn’t entirely trustful of such gurus, for not-entirely-high-minded reasons. Tim Leary taught at the same college as my father and stepfather, and his habit of drugging and sleeping-with the daughters of other professors did not go over too well, especially with teenaged boys like myself, who never like men old enough to be their fathers hanging out with the same girls they themselves drool about. Because Tim Leary turned forty when I was only seventeen, he himself was the very elder I was suppose to distrust. And then, when I was still seventeen, Jimi Hendrix died in his own vomit. I had reasons to distrust distrusting.

I then had the good fortune to attend a school far away from sex, drugs and hippies, where I had my mind crammed full of the works of great English poets, and learned dead people, far older than I was, could offer inspiration. Rather than rejecting the views of others I developed a thirst for the views of others. This opened me to the views of people who had tried drugs and rejected them. For example, when studying what Native Americans had to say about the hallucinogen peyote, I chanced upon the words of a chief who had initially been very impressed by peyote and promoted its use, as founding member of the Native American Church, but who later discouraged its use, stating, “Peyote is a trickster.” I renounced drugs at age nineteen.

I had a great desire to avoid the sort of divorce my parents had experienced, and to instead experience the marriage my grandparents were still experiencing (when I was nineteen). I developed the annoying habit of asking my parents questions about things they didn’t want to talk about, like a young, pestering psychiatrist. Both my parents used the exact same words to dismiss such questioning: “That’s all water under the bridge.”

Rather than discourage me, my parent’s unwillingness to look backwards made me feel like a detective attempting to solve a mystery which guilty suspects don’t want to talk about. I became aware people “put things behind them”, but that such things tend to continue to influence them from behind, like a ghost tapping them on the shoulder. I became a complete pest, when it came to nagging others about stuff they might have in their subconscious, and spent time rooting about in my own dream-world, when I likely should have been spending time getting a Real Job. (The subconscious will come along with you, if you get a job, and you can then work on it midst real-life interactions, which often offer spiritual insights which meditating-all-alone can’t.)

It took time, but one thing I became aware of was that my parents were not as naive about sex-before-marriage as I had assumed. This was definitely not something they wanted to talk about. I didn’t mind so much that my father apparently had been a sort of Don Juan, (for men somehow were seen as being heroic for being as unspiritual as James Bond), but it came as a genuine shock to realize my mother had boyfriends before my father. She never spoke about them, but I asked who certain sailors in old photographs were. One was an English youth who likely died on a torpedoed ship on the arctic sea-route to Russia, and the other was an American who may not have died; he may have stopped writing because he found topless Polynesian women under the palms of the present-tense more appealing than a woman from a cold landscape of the past, but in both cases the letters to my mother abruptly ceased. The “happy ending”, which occurs in romantic novels, never happened, and my mother was perhaps made cynical.

Sixteen million served in World War Two, mostly men, of whom many were teenagers. Where my grandfather had served overseas in World War One, America’s involvement in that war was brief, (largely the second half of 1918), and my Grandfather was an already-married man with a small child (my uncle) at home, and remained faithful. Perhaps it was a bit much to ask unmarried teenagers to be equally chaste, when sent far away for year after long year, (sometimes December 1941 into 1946). Despite songs such as, “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me“, many men received letters from childhood sweethearts who couldn’t wait, and the etymology of the phrase, “A Dear John Letter”, suggests it originated during World War Two. Therefore men also had reasons to become cynical about a “happy ending” being a romantic possibility, either because of their own shortcomings, or their sweetheart’s, or both.

This made me aware my parent’s generation had disillusioning experiences of death and desertion that my grandparent’s didn’t, which may have resulted in distrustful cynicism that in some ways explained why nearly half of their generation’s marriages failed, while my grandparent’s didn’t.

As I played the detective further, I chanced upon another reason, involving a great-grandfather I never met. In his latter years my great-grandfather exhibited some symptoms which might (or might not) have been indicative of tertiary syphilis. This would have given my grandfather a very good reason to remain faithful.

Even if my grandfather’s reason for fidelity had been based purely on a fear of syphilis, (highly unlikely, because he first was enchanted by my grandmother at age eight), or even was based on some other fear, such as the fear of going to hell for adultery, (also unlikely, as engineers take a very pragmatic view of the future), the simple fact remains that he remained faithful to his marriage vows. My parents didn’t. Therefore he was more of an authority on faithfulness than they could ever be, and knew more deeply about the “depth” that two “eyes” have, when they work together, which cannot exist when each “eye” (or “I”) is alone.

This inevitably brings up a sophist argument I often heard when young. Namely: If one gains great depth from one woman, wouldn’t one gain greater depth from ten? And even greater depth from a hundred? Why limit yourself?

The answer seems to be that a rock does not gain depth by skipping like a stone over the surface of the water. To gain depth it must sink, but sinking involves being “in over your head”, which is exactly the point at which many a Casanova says, “Thank you, Mamn”, and heads for the hills.

When I first held my newborn children and grandchildren, one sense I had was their souls were utterly “in over their heads”. They were only good at sucking, (and not all that good at that, during Hour One, when first faced with a nipple). They sucked at everything they attempted. If they tried to scratch their nose they punched themselves in the eye. And even their eyes sucked at seeing, and couldn’t even focus correctly. They had every reason to cry, but the fact they cried showed they had faith someone would answer, and we did our best to see to it their faith wasn’t broken. And midst this good fortune of cuddling and coddling and pampering and petting, (a sort of “happy ending” at the very beginning of life), their two eyes learned to focus and work together and become able to see “depth”.

By now some readers have likely caught my drift, and have suspicions about what I am driving at, which is that marriage involves the same dynamics. My conclusion is derived from a lot of hard thinking my grandfather caused me to do, when he stated his marriage with my grandmother worked over eighty years because, “We had faith.”

One thing I have had the challenge of dealing with, (because I run a Farm-childcare), is children who have had the misfortune of having parents who couldn’t keep the faith. Often addiction is involved. The baby cries, but the mother is unconscious. The baby suffers neglect, and often it is the grandparents who step in and attempt to help the neglected child. But in one tragic case the loving grandmother, over-stressed, dropped dead of a heart attack in the kitchen, and the child was home-alone with a corpse all day before the grandfather came home. I can’t imagine the poor toddler’s trauma. The uncomprehending, desperate child, not quite three, basically trashed the house trying to get the dead grandmother’s attention. And it was only after all that trauma that the child, still in diapers, was brought to my Childcare, and I was basically told to keep it happy.

I do my best, but trust is like a light-bulb. If you want it to work correctly, it is far better not to break it in the first place. (I’ll leave the details of dealing with such traumatized children for some other post. For the time being I want to stick to the subject, which is trust.)

The fact remains, if you want light you need an unbroken light-bulb. It is extremely difficult to glue together and mend a broken light-bulb, but that is not a proof that light bulbs can’t work. My point is that we should stop breaking light-bulbs, if we want them to work. In like manner, if we want faith to work, we should stop breaking it.

In some ways our eyes are more faithful than we are. Your right eye does not distrust the left, and the left does not distrust the right, and together they produce depth.

Sadly, in current politics, the right does distrust the left, and the left does distrust the right, and the result is not depth, but the utter shallowness we call “stupid”.

Happily, deep down, America, as a whole, has not entirely subscribed to such stupidity. In a difficult-to-explain and non-intellectual manner we just plain don’t like being stupid.

Sophists, on the other hand, with the slippery intellectual grease of snake-oil salesmen, make it seem easy and wise to be stupid, and scorn trust and faith as weakness. They scoff at tradition, calling it oppressive, old-fashioned, and “the establishment”. Consequently they deny themselves the benefits of “depth”, in exchange for the nothings of gratification, (stuff like sex without children, or eating only to vomit, or power without love, or breathing without life). In a sense sophists give up on that which is wholesome, in favor of becoming the walking dead, or, in the tale of Pinocchio, donkeys.

Nothing makes me cringe quite so much as looking back and seeing times I deemed myself sophisticated, especially those times I bragged about it, and, when I recall the times I took such arrogance a step further and mocked the unsophisticated, I want to writhe. I want to cram such errors behind my back, but they then become ghosts that tap me on the shoulder when I least expect it; prods from the subconscious; inadmissable influences.

At the start of marriage one often feels they have left sadness and loneliness behind them, and have stepped irrevocably forward into the bright uplands of a honeymoon. All the ways which the cruel world wounded one and broke one’s faith dissolve into amnesia. Basically one’s faith is restored by the rapture of love.

However that is only the beginning. Because marriage involves nakedness, nothing can be hidden, and buried influences reemerge. Like a soldier experiencing battlefield flashbacks long after the guns have gone silent, bad habits reappear, cravings reoccur, and restored faith gets challenged. One sees things they didn’t suspect in their spouse, and things they thought they’d outgrown in themselves. Then the honeymoon is over and the real work begins.

Marriage therefore becomes a most ambiguous situation. On one hand it restores our faith, while on the other hand it involves nakedness that brings up the buried influences we least want to come to the forefront, because they once shattered our faith. In essence faith is at war with lack of faith; the two things cannot coexist.

Marriage can then involve some terrible quarrels, when it seems lack of faith is winning. One sees their own weakness exposed and loses faith in themselves, and sees their spouse’s weaknesses in glaring light, and loses faith in them as well. At which point one wonders, “What is there left to have faith in?”

This is a critical juncture, for if one bails on the relationship (and I confess I have bailed from some relationships even when I had no parachute), one loses the chance for “depth”. The right eye has gone rolling to the east as the left rolls west. Rather than the restoration of faith one sees the shattering of faith continue, perpetuating the very thing one wants put behind.

“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

In order for a marriage to survive the passage through such critical junctures the spouses must do an illogical thing. They must have faith despite proof there is no reason to have faith. One has lost faith in themselves and lost faith in their spouse, yet continues to have faith. How can this be possible? It can only occur if there is a third thing to have faith in: Not the husband and not the wife. But what is it?

It is invisible. But consider depth perception. Can you see it? The right eye can’t see it. The left eye can’t see it. Yet it exists.

To have faith in something you cannot see, and do not yourself possess, stretches the credulity of many past the breaking point. They mock faith like a teenager mocking a child’s belief in Santa Claus. What they fail to see is that they are in a sense crippling themselves, and that it is not those who they call foolish who are the fools. They are depriving themselves of “depth”, and in doing so are actually guilty of perpetuating iniquity.

In fact it takes three to make a marriage work. What is the third thing? It doesn’t really matter. People give It different names, “God”, The Word”, “Abba”, “Love”, “Truth”, “Commitment”, “Power”, “Creativity”, and in this essay I call It “Depth”. But the important thing is not the label we put on It, but the fact It exists, as a beautiful depth that is all around us and is utterly free.

Considering It is completely free, and has amazing benefits, why don’t people grasp It? It is due to distrust. The sophists of the cruel world have broken the trust of millions, if not billions, until all carry baggage, which they want to leave behind them but which stays glued to their heels like a shadow.

You can’t run away from a shadow. Yet what man allows himself to be pushed around by his shadow? The way to deal with a shadow is to expose it to the light. And strangely, this is exactly what marriage does to people, rummaging through the baggage of their past. At its worst marriage revives the worst of a dead past, but at its best it dissolves the past so it can be truly dead, and rest in peace, and be a ghost no longer.

How is this possible? The process is often complex, involving more tangles and snarls than a child’s fishing line, but consider the simple, amazing process of dropping a grudge:

For weeks, months, even years one walks about with a disagreeable expression, carrying a heavy burden and thinking vengeful thoughts, due to a painful event, even when the event’s antagonist has long forgotten the offense, or didn’t even notice they offended in the first place. The one bearing the grudge is more burdened than those they snarl at. But then a merciful dawn breaks and one tosses the burden aside and lightly walks relieved and smiling. What has happened? One has experienced a “change of heart”. The light of love and forgiveness has melted away a shadow. (Simple to say, but sometimes hard to do.)

When one has faith in faith, one is allowing a Third Thing to intervene in the endless differences which arise between two eyes, which cannot help but see differently. Rather than disagreement the discord becomes harmony. Such harmony can seem completely miraculous, at times.

As soon as I use the word “miraculous” I know some are putting up their guard. Such people have often scientifically tested to see if miraculous stuff could possibly occur. As a youth I knew a fellow who once asked God to prove He existed by cancelling school the next day. God may have proved He existed, but perhaps the school He cancelled was in a town three thousand miles away. In any case my friend then became a sort of schoolmarm, and flunked God for failing to pass his test, and then became determined to be an atheist ever after.

To some degree I can empathize with such disbelief, because the engineering pragmatism of my Grandfather runs strong in my veins. But in another way, as a writer with a poetic streak, such disbelief leaves me incredulous. This involves my grandfather’s statement, “We had faith.” Even among engineers belief can have a power that scorns disbelief.

How is this possible? It is because we have progressed a long way, (hopefully), from the people 2000 years ago who needed flashy miracles in order to believe. By now we should have learned, and no longer need a “sign” such as walking on water, or giving sight to the blind, or healing cripples and lepers, or raising the dead, or turning water to wine, or yourself dying and then walking about afterwards. All such glitter and flash is unnecessary for us “evolved” people, 2000 years wiser. By now we should be able to have faith without such miraculous distortions of Creation, because they are apparent in Creation itself.

Even sophists see the miraculous beauty of nature, (though they often immediately want to either buy it and fence it off so others can’t have it, or to make a national park out of it, where they are the rangers free to walk where they will, while all others are illegal trespassers beyond stipulated paths.) However sophists fail to see the same beauty in mankind. Sadly they too often see their fellow men as “overpopulation” and seek a “remedy”, oblivious of the genocidal horrors this “final solution” might unleash. What they fail to have faith in is a beauty already apparent, to those who use both eyes.

If one refuses to use both eyes one can miss the depth of depth-perception. Even if one “shares” in a manner that “takes turns”, first seeing with one eye and then seeing with the other, one remains blind to what two eyes see when working together. In like manner, if one “shares” power, first with republicans and then with democrats, one misses what they’d have working together. In a sense one prefers to be blind, unless one chooses to “love their neighbor as themselves”, or even to go a step further and “love thy enemies”.

In a modern sense, what is miraculous isn’t physical things like walking on water, but rather is depth-perception. Why? Because there is a reaction to every action, and, to those sophists who are convinced such things are impossible, the natural “reaction” of depth-perception appears like a divine “response”, which is not allowed in their world-view, because they have no faith in faith, and think they are smarter than the fools who expect a “response” to faith. However a perfectly ordinary and pragmatic thing, such as depth-perception, only appears impossibly miraculous to sophists who insist upon using only one eye. To more ordinary folk it is everyday.

To a person with a life-long eye-patch who had no depth-perception, faced with planning a route through a series of obstacles near and far, the route through the obstacles would be be made more difficult because he would not know which way to swerve to avoid the near obstacle, nor when to swerve the other way to avoid the more distant obstacle. To such a person, the ability of a person who has depth-perception, to whom it is common sense when to swerve one way and then the other, appears a miracle. It would look like the person with depth-perception was receiving “advice”. And they would be correct. Perhaps the Almighty is not responding in a booming baritone, and indeed the Almighty may be utterly silent, but the person utilizing depth-perception is “receiving” something the people who scorn such efforts are blind to, and to whom such a “reception” seems a miracle.

Sadly, the sophists tend to dismiss the depth-perception which others have and they lack. They have another word for “miraculous”, and it is “impossible”. Dubbing faith impossible bolsters their disbelief. With cyclops-vision they see those who see differently as “bumpkins” (and many other degrading terms.) Even more sadly, often the disdained bumpkins possess great, innate insights, but are told over and over they’re ignorant. The irony becomes sublime when, because bumpkins often gain their insights because they listen respectfully to others, they heed the bad advice of sophists. Then it is more than a case of the blind leading the blind; it is a case of the blind leading the sighted. But the tone-deaf can only teach one with perfect-pitch to sing for so long before their advice falls flat.

Some sophist scorn of bumpkins has elements of truth. For example, sophists may point out some poor are just as tempted by corruption, but are only faithful because they can’t afford prostitutes. What they fail to see is the reward the poor gain: Blessed are the poor. Even if the poor only remain married because they can’t afford two places and can only afford to pay the rent for a single shack if both work, they accidentally learn about teamwork.

Spirituality learned as a matter of survival is still spirituality. Sailors together on a ship at sea in a storm don’t have to particularly like each other to see that if they don’t work together, one manning the sails and tiller and one bailing like crazy, then they both will die. In such a storm the “third thing” the two eyes gain by working together is life itself, and, after the storm is survived, when the winds die down and the sun breaks through the clouds, the sheer joy of being alive can enliven the sailor’s faces with laughter, and even though they still don’t particularly like each other they strangely don’t dislike each other quite so much. They have learned they can count on each other in a storm, which is the germ of growing “faith”. This is a useful analogy for the storms of marriage, (although I wouldn’t advise telling your spouse they are like a storm at sea).

One thing gained from storms at sea is a contradiction; one has gained the right to humbly swagger. One has the awareness of the power they were up against, and that they are lucky to be alive, yet one also has greater confidence (which is another word for “faith”.) One has a growing certainty that, should the horizon darken with a second storm, they can count on their shipmate and their shipmate can count on them. What they survived once can be survived a second time, and due to this confidence they are less likely to turn tail in panic, even though they know the danger. Not that they rush ahead foolishly, or don’t stay in port as a hurricane approaches, but they are able to face storms when storms cannot be avoided. And sometimes staying in port is ignominious timidity: Though nothing is certain in life, to get anywhere in life one needs to set sail. In like manner, if one wants marriage one has to display the courage to ask for it.

One strange quality of sophists is that they are certain some things are impossible because they themselves have never done them. Perhaps due to fear of the deep blue sea they stayed home and never set sail, and chose to dwell in the musty Mom’s-basement of academia, where they put themselves forward as authorities on sailing and sailors despite never having set sail. They state certain things are impossible which I know are possible, because I did them, as a crazy teenager.

For example, I read the work of one academic who based his history of mankind’s seafaring discoveries and advancements on the premise Man had an aversion to going to sea, suggesting men only learned to sail because they were driven to do it by dire emergencies. Fishermen only fished because they faced starvation otherwise. As I read on I felt a growing sense of incredulity, and in my imagination I pictured the author as a frightened professor, creeping about the dim hallways of a college, clinging to tenure and pensions as a way to be “secure”, and appalled by any suggestions he go out adventuring into the fresh air and ride a heeling sailboat on a tossing sea. Because he lived a timid, indoors life he saw all mankind as being that way, seemingly unaware that, for some boys, it is the classroom that is appalling. To some schoolboys, being “secure” is stultification, and “adventure” is their delight.

In Truth the two extremes are like two eyes, and wisdom lies between them. Midst a storm at sea, a warm, dry bed is appealing, even as, to a man long bedridden, a storm at sea has great charm. Neither the timid schoolmarm nor the reckless schoolboy has an exclusive monopoly on Truth, while Truth embraces both views.

But in the end, when push comes to shove, action teaches more than inaction, in terms of faith, and this is one reason an illiterate bumpkin can be wiser than a college professor. Action involves venture, “Nothing ventured nothing gained.” And perhaps the greatest gain of all is faith.

One reason the poor are blessed is because for them every day can be an adventure, like a storm at sea. Danger is always present. In the morning the poor may not know where their daily bread is coming from, yet they go stand with others seeking “spot labor” because that is their only recourse, just as a sailor bails like crazy because that is his only recourse. They know they might not find work and might go hungry, just as a sailor knows the ship might be swamped and he might swim, but they do what they have to do, and when they find just enough work to buy just enough bread, they gain a pleasure in their evening repast which a sophist, eating at a fancy restaurant, cannot conceive of. Why? Because the bumpkin eats full of faith, while the sophist all too often eats because he has made a mockery of faith.

Midst the storm of poverty the poor often must rely on each other, which leads to them counting on each other, which leads to the burgeoning faith called “confidence”. The sophist is also aware of confidence, but utilizes it in the manner of a confidence trickster. They deem faith a weakness and seek to exploit it, shattering faith in the process, but calling the people they have shattered “suckers” and “chumps.” Therefore they stand in stark contrast to all that creates faith, for the person ripped-off by a confidence trickster is a person who has had his faith destroyed.

As an aside I should note that the word “sucker” is derived from a baby’s sucking, and a small child’s tendency to suck their thumb, and is therefore “sucker” is used to call an adult excessively naive and innocent, but in a degrading way. Where Jesus said it was a good thing to have the faith of a little child, sophists sneer at the idea, and think it is wiser to become distant from such faith. The way to get ahead, they seem to think, is to steal candy from a baby. So what if the baby cries? If their conscience bothers sophists they say, “Go away, kid. You bother me.” In essence, they are dependent on faith, for without it they cannot exploit it. But they have no faith in faith. Only “suckers” have faith, in their view.

Their view is devisive, for it is blind to the views of the people they exploit. Rather than people you can count on, they are people who you can’t count on. They separate themselves and ignore the concept, “United we stand; divided we fall.”

America, despite allowing the freedom which allows snake-oil-salesman and other confidence tricksters to ply their wares, seems to have faith in its foundations; the very bedrock of its landscapes seems inclined to free people from their past, and to shepherd people’s thought towards contemplating what Power it is that actually frees us. The Founding Fathers of the United States thought long and hard about what promotes freedom and what promotes slavery, studying European nations and Native American confederations, and concluded the myopic view of a tyrant lacked not merely peripheral vision, but a mystic depth-perception which a single-sighted cyclops lacks.

As an alternative they proposed the radical idea that a single leader was not a good idea, and that it instead might be possible to form a better government wherein all citizens had a say. Statements we take for granted, such as “all men are created equal”, actually sent shock-waves through the world, and awakened a somewhat mystic and ancient idea which stated that, when people worked together, a Power greater than the sum of all the individuals became involved, a “depth”, a One out of the many.

The Founding Fathers had no idea if their idea would work, and would be amazed to gaze ahead 200 years and see the power their idea unleashed. Yet in a sense it is not such a radical idea. It simply extends the idea of two eyes creating a depth perception neither eye has, until it says the same thing about millions of eyes.

Christianity uses the analogy of a gathering of believers being a “body” and individual believers being “parts”, (the hands, feet, heart, liver and so on), but freedom allows more. If one is free one can move from group to group, and be whatever fits, here an anus and there a heart. What stays the same is the reality that a Third Thing embraces all the parts, and comprises the “life” of the body.

What seems most important is to keep ones faith in that Third Thing, whatever name you chose to give It. Keeping the faith involves a lot of work, as in the case of caring for a helpless baby when it cries out in faith for help. The benefits of keeping the faith are not always immediately obvious, and the sophists will claim there are none, and will claim it is better to break the faith. Faith faces constant challenges.

At times I look at the history of the United States and see a naive and hopeful people traipsing about in a world full of cynical sophists, getting constantly slimed and sometimes maimed. From the get-go a “Land of The Free” represented a standing challenge to all who don’t share such faith, and who instead favor some form of oppression. There are those who would be quite happy to see the American Experiment ended, (or at least altered beyond recognition). In the face of such opposition we constantly are sending our young off, full of idealism, into situations that test and sometimes shatter their faith. Considering the Byzantine craft and wickedness of the foes of freedom, and the naivety of Americans, Americans should be long gone. But a Third Thing reaches down from heaven and gives us a hand, or so I seem to see.

(For example: There is no way Washington should have been able to survive the faith-crushing collapse of 1776, manifesting as his army’s retreat from New York City to Valley Forge. For another example: There is no way it should have been possible for the United States, with its devastated fleet, to face the faith-crushing might of the Japanese navy and sink all four Japanese aircraft-carriers plus a heavy cruiser, in the Battle of Midway. And so on and so forth.)

Perhaps the most horrible battle and most unlikely survival was our battle with ourselves, called the Civil War. As many died in that terrible slaughter as in all our other wars combined. How the nation’s faith survived such trauma amazes me.

Yet now, as I look around and read the fake news, I have the queasy sense we are flirting at the precipice of a Second Civil War. The two eyes are failing to work together, the two spouses are heading to divorce, and I am strangely like my Grandfather, my brow clouded with a thundercloud of anger, growling “We Had Faith”.

“…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I likely sound like a gruff, old coot, but when I was young I would not have to tell anyone the above was from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” of November 19, 1863, because schoolmarms drilled it into my skull. Now the same schoolmarms seemed cowed, and in some cases seem afraid to even mention Lincoln’s great speech, because someone might be offended that it has the word “God” in it.

In a sense our nation is under attack by an onslaught by sophists who have such a profound lack of faith it is dizzying. There seems to be nothing they don’t dare to distrust and dismiss; no history they don’t revise, until the very foundations of our freedom is doubted. Sounding like lawyers midst a divorce, every negative event in our past is magnified, ever good belittled. And what do they propose, to replace a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with? Basically, when you examine their proposals carefully, they propose the tyranny of a bureaucratic oligarchy, which has no real belief the people deserve the liberty to rule themselves, and instead scorns the people as imbecilic nincompoops in need of their guidance.

One thing I’ve been amazed by (so far) is the restraint the public has displayed when faced with the offensive provocations of such sophists. Some groups, such as “Antifa”, even state in writing that they want to cease all attempts at civil discussion and to instead to start a civil war, (which is to break the faith neighbors will be neighborly), but the people they intentionally antagonize have (so far) simply wiped the egg and paint and piss (and even blood) from their faces, and have refused to be silent while refusing to be violent. Attacked for wearing a red hat, they continue to wear red hats.

Quiet people refusing to be silent, in the face of rude sophists attempting to shout opposing views down, is a brave attempt to continue a dialog with people who don’t want to talk. Sophists see no profit in discussion, for they cannot imagine there is anything to be gained by talk. They cannot conceive of a depth-perception called “faith”, because they have small and narrow minds that can’t see beyond a single point of view. It is for this reason Antifa likes to portray itself as “the resistance”, and “antifascist”. After all, everyone knows that the “fascists” were the bad guys, and the French “resistance” were the good guys. They like to see things in simplistic back-and-white, and the possibility of a Third Thing is quite outside their ken. Therefore to quietly continue a dialog is actually a weapon against their state of mind, and can even increase their rage. Why? Because the very existence of a dialog involves two views, two eyes, and creates the Third Thing which, if not actually hated by sophists, they are in very bad terms with.

Quiet explanations may not fit our usual idea of what a “weapon” looks like, but they can be very effective, especially when you get a young radical away from his support-group of a roused rabble, and can talk one-on-one. In such situations it can be very helpful to puncture the balloon of arrogant ignorance with a question, such as, “Are you familiar with the atrocities committed by the anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War?” Or, “Are you aware of the so-called “purges” enacted by anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and how many anti-fascists were executed by their fellow anti-fascists?” Or, “Did you know that George Orwell’s cynical attitude towards the politically powerful, that manifests in “Animal Farm” and “1984“, is derived from the fact he joined the anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and was willing to sacrifice his life for them, but only just barely escaped being executed by anti-fascists by the the skin of his teeth?”

No, forget that last question. It has far too many words, for a situation where it likely will be difficult to get a word in edgewise. It is likely better to keep things simple, and ask, “Have you ever studied the Spanish Civil War?” More than likely they haven’t. (Though they may nod, it only means they have a vague knowledge that the event happened.) After you depart, they may dig deeper, and have their eyes opened.

If you ever wanted a reason that it is far better for the left eye to get along with the right eye, or that a civil war is a disastrous choice to make, the Spanish Civil War is a very good reason. What is saddest to see is how close they were to working things out just before the war started. The tragedy is how evil the world then was to Spain. “Outside Agitators” inflamed disagreements towards discord, as “Peacemakers” stood back and professed it was a virtue not to get involved, and failed to resolve disagreements towards harmony. The “Outside Agitators” were Hitler, on the side of the fascists, and Stalin, on the side of anti-fascists, and neither man is known for putting too great a value on a human life, especially when the life is a far-away Spanish life. Between a half-million and a million Spaniards died. Surely it would have been better to continue dialog. This should be especially clear to anti-fascists, because the result of bleeding Spain dry was that the anti-fascists lost.

But sophists seldom study history, and when they do it is in a most unsavory way. They seem far more interested in “Outside Agitators” than in “Peacemakers”, more interested in those who shattered faith than in those who kept faith, and more interested in those who briefly profited from discord than in those who suffered to bring about harmony. They seem far more interested in Hitler and Stalin than in great artists, composers, saints and prophets. Their fascination seems to be, “What did Hitler do wrong?” and “What did Stalin do wrong?” and “How could I avoid their mistakes, and do even better than Hilter and Stalin?” This seems like a strange definition of “better” to me.

This strange definition of “better” arises because, basically, you are dealing with a cyclops. In a way you are dealing with a pirate with an eye-patch, (not meaning to offend people with eye-patches.) The sophist’s eye-patch is an intellectual eye-patch. People, even pirates, with physical eye-patches can still see with depth, just as blind men can still say, “I see.” However an intellectual eye-patch uses only one eye and willfully refuses to use a second, and thus cannot have access to the third eye, called “faith”.

The awareness that you are dealing with a terribly handicapped person is a second “weapon” one can use. Why? Because, if you value another view, you are basically sympathetic and empathetic, even to the degree where you value the sophist’s view. However the sophist lacks such empathy and sympathy. This creates an unfair situation where you are back on your heels while the sophist is on the attack. You are fostering faith even as the sophist seeks to foster doubt. If you think you are on the same page, the sophist will win, for it is far easier to break a promise than to keep one, and therefore all a sophist needs to do is break faith and he has won the argument. He has proven faith is a dumb idea, and it can be crushing to face such evil logic. However everything changes when you understand you are not on the same page. Once you understand you are dealing with a dreadfully handicapped person with an intellectual eye-patch, you are not crushed and are able to keep your poise.

Another weapon to use against the Antifa-mind-set is pity. Pity defuses the anger one naturally feels when attacked, by utilizing the powers of depth and understanding. Like Christ on the cross, or Steven while being stoned, such depth basically pities the ignorant for being so ignorant, for the ignorant miss seeing so much that is beautiful.

However tolerance has its limits. To refuse to fight when ones self is attacked may be the brave deed of a spiritual hero, but to stand by when women and children are attacked is the deed of a coward. I have a dread Antifa will use this to eventually provoke the violence it desires, and history demonstrates that, once the madness of Civil War begins, it can get very bad, very fast.

I personally loathe the possibility of a Second Civil War, for it would involve terrible suffering that is completely avoidable. However I am forced to consider such a possibility, due to the sheer folly of certain sophists. They are unaware of their illogical thought, and the gigantic hypocrisy they enact. (One example of hypocrisy, which strikes me as humorous, is that some doddering hippies who once chanted, “Make love, not war” now state “Make war; Don’t love.”)

But now I’ve gone and done it. I’ve used the four-letter-word “Love.”

At this point I have to confess to you that, as a grandson with engineering in my blood, Love is a mystery to me. It doesn’t seem to enter into the mathematical calculations of an engineer building a bridge, however, at the same time, as a writer with a poetic streak, I sense Love is behind all the mundane stuff engineers must be truthful about. For example, consider the Law of Gravity. (You probably won’t, to the degree I have.) Gravity is a beautiful creation, when you think of how it holds creation down to earth, and therefore gravity can seem an expression of the Creator’s Love.

Because engineers must be pragmatic and down to earth, they are spared the seductions that lead to the downfall of writers like myself, and all sophists. To some, hypocrisy and double-speak might lead to fame, fortune, and political power, but when you try to build a bridge using hypocrisy and double-speak, the bridge collapses into a pile of rubble. Truth matters. Therefore engineers are blessed, because they are spared a lot of the delusional crap that goes into becoming a sophist. In like manner, the poor are blessed, because they are spared delusional crap. They do not put their faith in the delusional crap sophists put their faith in. (Funny how sophists have a sort of faith,even when they mock it.)

Even when you’d rather have your head in the clouds, it is an annoying but good thing to be brought to earth. But what I find most odd is that being down to earth, and dealing with Truth in its most earthy manifestations, is a gateway to the clouds.

In this essay I’ve tried to be like an engineer. I’ve tried to be mathematical. I’ve tried to show, in a action-creates-reaction way, why faith is good, and how growing faith can be a logical action-create-reaction process. I confess to having a little pride about hitting upon the example of how faith grows, when two men who don’t like each other must rely on each other, at sea in a storm. But as I did this I had more faith in mathematics and cause-and-effect than in the real Reason to have faith.

It is Love. It is the one thing I can’t claim to understand in the slightest.

Love is part of depth-perception. How can the left eye have it, all alone? How can the right eye have it, all alone? Only Love can bring such disparate views together and create such a magnificent thing as depth-perception.

The really difficult thing to be pragmatic about, from an engineering standpoint, is that somehow adherence to the truth can result in a reaction that seems impossible, in terms of the actions that preceded it. Truth inspires seemingly doomed men to attempt desperate deeds, which some would call suicidal, and it changes everything. Victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat.

An example is Washington crossing the Delaware. In the eyes of sophists that was the suicidal action of a doomed man, and its success was due to sheer luck, yet the deed changed the course of human history.

Due to my engineering background, I cannot accept the idea of “sheer luck”. No bridge is ever built on “sheer luck”. Therefore I dig deep and study history.

Few sophists do this to the degree I do. In fact, rather than study the different views offered by the past, sophists prefer to revise the view until it fits their view. Currently sophist’s revisionist history likes to portray Washington as a sleek, racist, white-skinned slave-owner who owed everything he had to exploiting the common man. In actual fact he had “bet the farm”, putting everything he had on the line, in support of the common man’s liberty.

Where his troops could look forward to their enlistments being up on December 31, 1776, and to leaving the miserable conditions at Valley Forge to return to their warm farms, Washington could not return to his plantation. The British would hunt him down and hang him. By all appearances he had bet everything on a lost cause.

In actual fact Washington’s leadership had been masterful, in that he even had an army (albeit perhaps only until December 31). He had extracted his troops from defeat after defeat without surrendering, to such a degree that the British referred to him as “the old fox”, but wars are not won by retreating. And retreating does not win one much support.

When Washington looked south for support he received little food, money and supplies from the rebel leadership, some of whom were on the verge of panic. When he looked north for General Charles Lee to rush to his aid, he learned Lee distrusted his leadership and wanted to supplant him as chief commander, and rather than rushing was dawdling, unwilling to waste his fresh troops on Washington’s lost cause. With even his troops on the verge of departing, Washington had nowhere to turn for support but up.

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There are few prayers by ordinary men so often depicted by artists, perhaps because there are so few examples of a prayer separating the dark depression of abject despair from the white light of victory.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a2/George_Washington_in_prayer_at_Federal_Hall_in_New_York_City_IMG_1694.JPG/640px-George_Washington_in_prayer_at_Federal_Hall_in_New_York_City_IMG_1694.JPG

Of course, to my engineer mind-set what happened is a practical sequence of events. A surprise attack on Christmas was a smart decision. The risk of transporting an army across an ice-choked river was a smart decision. Attacking from the north when the wind was from the north and full of sleet was a smart decision. But the attack was no matter of sheer intellectual armchair speculation; it took balls, and it took faith.

One thing I often wonder is whether Washington saw a copy of Thomas Paine’s broadsheet, published in Philidelphia just two days before he crossed the Deleware, which begins, “These are the times that try men’s souls…”

It is good to look back and see how faith can be the hinge that swings men through dark times when despair and panic whisper in one’s ear. Where the sophist calls faith an illogical thing, it can be the only thing, and is definitely part of the action-and-reaction that shapes world events.

(Of course, there are certain coincidences involved which can seem like the Hand of God. For example, what ended General Charles Lee’s dawdling and hurried his troops south? The capture of Lee himself, as he dawdled in a tavern miles behind his troops, by twenty-five British troops on horseback. This event is nothing a engineering mind-set plans for, nor even hopes for. Not too often is a general of thousands captured by twenty-five. But it solved some of Washington’s problems to be rid of the man, though Washington did not plan it, and it occurred due to “sheer luck”.)

It is the element of “sheer luck” that I find most impossible to explain, using an engineering mindset. Of course it makes sense that if you do the right thing, the right thing will happen. However when one opens the door of faith and is drenched in an unexpected streaming light of kind compassion, the intellect cannot help but be taken aback. When one turns on the light-bulb of faith, one expects only light; it is the Love that surprises.

In the end, that is the “weapon” sophists cannot stand up against. We may be mere ants, but are friends with an Elephant.

Stand by the Truth, and the Truth will stand by you.

Mini-manifesto; Parts 1-7 “Poetry and Politics; Poles Apart”

I apologize, to those who enjoy my past postings about sea-ice, for my failure to post very often, but various factors have ganged up on me like a bunch of bullies, and I retreated to a sort of Bastogne (See “Battle of the Bulge”) for the Christmas holidays. And there I have stayed. The redoubt seemed cozy. To give all the reasons for my retreat would be exceedingly boring, (except to my own ego), and therefore I will give a greatly simplified excuse for my undone homework. It boils down to two basic points.

1 .) My original reason for studying the sea-ice was poetic. I liked the beautiful ivory and azure views from the many cameras upon the ice. It allowed me to commune with nature without the bother of facing all the mosquitoes and ticks in the woods, and was especially refreshing in hot weather. Also I relished the fact that placing the cameras out on the arctic ice involved men who had the guts to put their lives on the line, facing the dangers of grinding floes and bitter cold and 1500 pound bears, pressing their limits to push forward the frontiers of Truth. Such scientists struck me as being more like Arctic Explorers such as the Vikings and first Eskimos, or Henry Hudson, or Fridtjof Nansen, who had fascinated me since my boyhood. They seemed unlike dweeby nerds who sit behind a computer screen (as I now do.) Sadly, this vanguard of Truth has gone unfunded, as have their cameras.  Therefore the very reason that attracted me to sea-ice in the first place no longer exists. What am I watching, with the pictures all gone?

2.) The secondary reason for studying sea-ice involves the pursuit of Truth.  Once I started to comment on the poetry of sea-ice, and to comment on the physical poetry of the gutsy arctic explorers who (for various reasons, across the centuries) risked death to form a vanguard and make history, I discovered I was facing a furious Alarmist counter-attack, though I myself never meant to attack anyone, and only to advance what I thought all desired, namely, Truth.

This involved me in the peculiar power-politics of Global Warming, which I have been uncomfortable with from the start, because I have never liked politics. I am possessed by the peculiar belief that poetry is more powerful than power. In fact I recall (as a teenager) being quite angry at the great English Poet, John Milton, for “wasting” his time and talent with the politics of Free Speech, and the politics of the Puritan Revolution against the Catholic monarchy in England, when I felt his time would have been better spent writing “pure” poetry. (Milton likely stirred slightly, in his grave.)  I vowed I would never waste my time in such a manner.

Well, that’s yet another vow I’ve gone and broken.  Or it seems that way, for, if you go  back to the summer of 2013 in the archives of this site, you can see where I was seduced by politics, and sea-ice stopped being a poetic fascination and became more of a battle between truth and propaganda.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/north-pole-ice-melt-watching-the-summer-thaw/

At this point I want to embark upon what the Alarmist-vs.-Skeptic political battle has been teaching me about the tension between Truth, in its rarefied, poetic, and pure form, and politics, in its low, crude, prosaic, and selfish form. (Those of you interested in sea-ice alone should skip this post.) The lessons I’ve been learning are every bit as interesting as the motions of ice floes in the arctic. Furthermore it involves me in a sort of psychic brawl, occurring between conservatives and socialists in my homeland, which stains all fabrics of society, and which you can’t even escape if you run away to the North Pole to look at sea-ice. (And a good intellectual brawl can be enjoyable, for an gray-haired man who has gotten to old for the barroom sort.)

***2***

The thing I don’t like about politics is that, despite all efforts to be broad-minded, it tends to result in the disintegration of spiritual unity; it cannot help but be one-sided. One hopes that the side one is siding-with is the side of Truth, but an open-minded person is always double-checking, and sincerely examining both their own thoughts, and also their so-called “opponent’s” thoughts, even when the other’s thoughts are contrary. Truth should be the lodestone. (Abraham Lincoln responded to a person who stated, during the Civil War, “I hope God (Truth) is on our side” with, “My hope is that we are on God’s (Truth’s) side.”)

Some then respond, “But what is Truth?” To me that has often seemed a sign of a person who has never taken the time to search their own soul for the bias and blindness bred by selfishness.  For example, (as lust has made fools of most of us, at least once in our lives), suppose an old person tells a lusty young person that the Truth is: Lust needs to be in some way checked, or at least channeled, and suppose it then happens that the young person is at that time enjoying the fun of lust and not seeing any consequences; the young person will nearly always reply, “That is your old-person truth; my truth is different.”  The elder seems a mere party-poop and spoil-sport. It is only later, after being taught by Professor Sorrow in The School Of Hard Knocks, that the young start to entertain the possibility that some truth (about lust, and many other topics), is more lasting other truths, and there may even be a truth with a capital “T”, “Truth”.

Though some think of art and science as opposites, I think both, at their best, aim at the same higher and universal Truth. Science (at its best) seeks to constantly test every theory for weakness, and tends to be based around physical laws that can be physically measured, while art involves things less easy to measure. For example, what does my life weigh? If I put my deathbed on the most sensitive scale, I doubt my body will be a jot lighter the moment my soul departs, (or a jot heavier, for that matter). Does that mean my life (and everyone’s life) has no weight? Is an unscientific thing? Not to be included in the subject of Truth? No; for life, (and art), simply deals with truths we haven’t learned to materially measure. The pen has a power, but we have no meter to measure it with (besides pentameter and hexameter).

The pen loses its power when it is wielded by a foppish poseur, who only is a copy-cat of fad, fashion and political-correctness. Such concerns seldom stop to focus on Truth, instead swaying to and fro like a pendulum, depending on who is in power, and on stances taken by other foppish poseurs who also scurry back and forth, always eager for acceptance and tidbits of acclaim, irregardless of Truth. The most clever of them do get their tidbits, (some acceptance-in-snobby-circles here, and some five-minutes-of-fame there), (and some money, which they see as a measure of honor), but their pens have no power. Nothing they blather will be long remembered, unless as an example of idiocy. For example, the fops of Rome mocked Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and laughed as they perished, and laughed again as Christians perished before lions in the Roman Colosseum. But now? Are such Roman frops remembered? No. Their names are dust in the wind. Even the name of the Roman emperor they worshiped as a god is seldom remembered. And in Rome? The laughed-at and soon-executed Peter and Paul now have vast structures erected in their name, while the Colosseum is but a ruin, and “Caesar” is but a name we give to our dogs.

The same fate awaits many who think they are now prancing in the glory of the spotlight. The power they seek is fad and fashion and forgotten. They will be forgotten because mistakes are best forgotten. Our modern mistakes will include many publishers and editors, who are “gatekeepers” who think they do good, making certain only a modern “Caesar” is praised. But they invite amnesia upon themselves because they care for power of a shallow sort, avoiding the true wellspring of power, which is Truth.

When I was young and studious I thought the people who would teach me about the real Wellspring of power would be teachers of art, and also history, but such classes usually disappointed me. A good teacher was like an oasis in a desert of dull ones. Most teachers seemed to feel their degree in art or history was pretty much useless in the Real World, and that the only way their education could make money was to hide out in a school and teach a watered-down and enfeebled and “safe” version of art or history. As there were only a limited number of such jobs available, teachers certainly didn’t want to create any competition. Rather than seeking to create proteges, teachers seemed to see their eager and curious students as potential threats.To some students (such as myself) it seemed that the only students they really encouraged were the ones they wanted to sleep with. These teachers failed to see the enormous power Truth holds, or that It was applicable outside of a classroom. Such teachers displayed little faith that the art and history they studied had any real value. Even if they stated their studies had value and power, they couldn’t see how to apply such hypothetical power outside a school in the Real World, (or they would have dared do so), nor even how to apply such hypothetical power to their own insular and rarefied academia. Therefore, when they talked about the Real World, it was usually with the drastic attitude that the Real World needed to be politically restructured so they could become applicable, (as if their ineptitude would vanish if they were promoted, and they became some sort of commissar). To me they seemed cowardly, hiding in musty hallways and clinging to tenure, avoiding their intense insecurity by donning a pretense of smug, intellectual superiority, and displaying their power by flunking students (such as myself) who questioned their wisdom.

Though their names are largely forgotten, and though they never produced memorable art or essays, they felt highly qualified to sneer at those who did produce. For example, a teacher who never wrote a book (that anyone could read) would deem himself an authority on how to write an introductory paragraph, and he’d deride how a writer such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton began a book with, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Besides immediately challenging me (because I was in some ways a punk) to begin my next work with “Once upon a time”, such teachers made me wonder why those who don’t achieve are so critical of those who do, and also why the critisized are memorable while critics aren’t. After all, while the name “Edward Bulwar-Lytton” may not be well known, “It was a dark and stormy night” is known worldwide, as are some other phrases Bulwar-Lytton penned, such as “the almighty dollar”, “the great unwashed”, and my favorite, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Does the pen really have such power? Much of my life has been spent doing what those cowering professors never attempted. To find out if the pen (and art, and history,) had any power at all out in the Real World.

I confess I held (and still hold) the (extremely debatable) view that a truly exalted poet like Shakespeare may have displayed an immeasurable power. To me it seems a power beyond the imagination of dreary English Literature professors, when you consider the possible effect he (like the Beatle’s) had on the English people, and upon all who speak English. We say, “He inspired people in the theaters,” as if people were only moved there, and went about their workaday existence the next day unaffected. I think audiences were deeply moved, and he may have empowered the English to rise, and to rise in a way no one expected a backwater island at the very edge of Europe to rise, around 1585, when the young poet came wandering into London, (to perhaps begin by parking horses at a theater). He exalted the language in a way that effects listeners to this day: After being forced, initially against their will and strong objections, to watch a Shakespearean play, I have witnessed schoolboys on a playground wave sticks as make-believe swords and adopt antiquated language and absurdly grandiose exhortations: “Forsooth thou varlet! I shalt not stand for thy knavish insults!”

The youngsters are not forced to do this. They catch it like the ‘flu. I then ask: Is it such a stretch to think the people of Shakespeare’s time were not also infected by the invisible fever of inspiration, in the same manner? I go so far as to suggest that Shakespeare effected the way an entire nation spoke, thought, and even the way they walked: A slouch became a strut, walking developed a swagger, and you can perhaps see his influence in the way Queen Elisabeth spoke to her troops as the Spanish Armada neared her coasts in 1588, and the way the King James Bible was written between 1604 and 1611, and even (perhaps) in the way Hindu speak English in Calcutta, and Chinese speak English in Hong Kong.

What gave this Stratford-Upon-Avon bumpkin’s pen such power?  I like to think it was it’s proximity-to and association-with Truth. A moral backbone runs through his plays, wherein even his most evil characters speak to God, in a sense, for they face a day of reckoning wherein their tragic flaw faces them with the bitterness of tragic consequences, and as these characters complain about their fate they are revealed as being so utterly human, and so like the rest of us, that we feel oddly sympathetic, even though we know they are getting what they deserve. Shakespeare uplifts us to an archangel-like level where we are almost eye-level to our Creator, who loves all even though all (except very rare saints) don’t deserve it.

Never for an instant does Shakespeare waver from a firm belief that the wicked will face a day of reckoning, but he also does not waver from a liberal belief that the wicked are human, and are not all that different from you and I. Therefore his wicked characters, his Macbeth, his Iago, his Claudius, are characters we can relate to, who felt emotions we feel, but who chose to go ahead where we (usually) choose to abstain. (We feel much better about abstaining when we see how they suffer). But we feel sorry for them, because we would have chosen as they chose, were we not wimps. (Sometimes, when we say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” we are in effect saying, “Thank you, Oh Creator, for making me a wimp.”)

In essence Shakespeare’s power rests in his ability to show morals and morality exist for a good reason: They are associated with Truth. This association gave the English (and also the English language) an astonishing ability to overpower other peoples (and languages.)  The English came close to ruling the entire world, in Queen Victoria’s time. Her grandchildren were to, in 1914, be king of England, be kaiser of Germany, and be wife of the czar of Russia. Outside of Europe they controlled vast areas of Africa, India and Pakistan, Indochina,  and Hong Kong. Also Canada and Australia and New Zealand were closely linked as part of the commonwealth, and the United States, as a recalcitrant rebel, was able to obtain commonwealth status if it ever wanted to, and had control over the Philippines and a de facto Monroe-Doctrine ephemeral-control over Central and South America. If sanity had prevailed, world peace and prosperity were possible. But sanity did not prevail. The association with Truth Shakespeare made so clear became clouded. A century of hell has resulted.

Now I am sure some are rolling their eyes when I assert a single poet could have such a huge effect on the history of the planet, but Bartlett’s Book Of Familiar Quotations demonstrates how we quote Shakespeare without even knowing it. Nor were the people of his time aware of the reverberations emanating from a theater in London; his plays were not published until after his death, and likely few outside of London knew much about them. In terms of what politicians of that time surmised influenced the masses, theater didn’t matter much; politicians would have pointed to kings, armies, and the preachers in the pulpits; and many preachers disapproved of plays and wanted the theaters shut down.  But few preachers could move people in the manner Shakespeare could; few swagger after hearing a sermon, (though they would, if the Truth was ever adequately explained.)

At this point I should confess that the power of the pen has not been scientifically established. Not that any has taken the time to attach electrodes to my pen, as I write.  (They ought at least try. They might be shocked.)

Though the might of the pen has not been established, evil men recognize the power the pen has, and seek to gain its power, without the bother of associating themselves with the morality and Truth involved. This never works. They always wind up a Macbeth, an Iago, a Claudius.  But they never stop trying. They who do not study Shakespeare are like those who do not study history: Doomed.

The problem with doomed people is they are like thrashing children throwing a tantrum: They break stuff and hurt innocent bystanders. I do not mean to sound flippant. Hitler’s doomed tantrum killed millions of innocent bystanders, as did Stalin’s. But both men were doomed from the start.

The question always asked by innocent bystanders is, “Why, God?  Why?”  Not being God, I cannot answer.  But I can share an answer I personally got, when I asked the eternal question.

***3***

As a very old-fashioned farmer, I prefer hand tools to bulldozers. It brings me closer to the land to cut down a small tree with an ax, rather than to just mush it with a backhoe’s scoop.  I prefer swinging a grub-hoe,  when I rip up a tree’s roots. Not that I can do it any more, and I will confess I do humble my fat ego, and allow my oldest son to show up in a backhoe and rip up a stump in five minutes that would have taken me five hours, back in the day, but I stubbornly prefer grub-hoes to backhoes.  I have my reasons. One is that an ax or grub-hoe is not hard to start on a sub-zero morning (and often work more quickly, when its cold). Another is that backhoes are not mentioned (that I can find) in the Bible, (or ancient scriptures of other lands.) But the ax is mentioned.

As an old-fashioned farmer I have the powers of a micro-creator. I love trees and I love grass, but I have to decide where the trees will grow and where the grass will grow. If you are grass, you call me a cruel creator when I grow a woodlot, but, if you are trees, you call me a cruel creator when I clear a pasture. But I am the boss, and my ax is just a tool.

Therefore my ears perked up with interest when I heard a mighty king described as a mere “ax”. The “ax” was a mighty Assyrian king called Sennacherib, and the fellow who dared call him a mere tool, a mere “ax”, was a poet of Judea called Isaiah. Please notice in the map below that, despite all the expansion of the Assyrian empire, culminating in the might of Sennacherib, Judea persisted as a unconquered land, (yellow in the map below.)  This time, when Jerusalem remained unconquered, was a sort of British “Finest Hour”  for the Jews.

Assyeian Empire 1024px-Map_of_Assyria

(This story may seem to have little to do with arctic sea-ice, but give me time. I’ll show you the similarity).

I refer to Isaiah as a “poet” rather than a “prophet” because most of his writing, in the original Hebrew, is amazing poetry. He did not write the drab prose of a tedious historian, but rather employed all sorts of difficult forms, as hard or harder to master than the sonnet form. For example, Hebrew poetry utilizes a form called “Parallelism”, which can be roughly divided into various types, namely Climactic, Synonymous, Antithetic, Emblematic, Synthetic, Composite, and Chiasmus. As you read Isaiah you don’t really notice this highly structured thought (especially in the translation) but you do notice the writing “flows” and “sounds right.”

At this point I suppose a drab historian has every right to complain it is too hard to write history using all sorts of difficult poetic devises, and even to say poets are the tedious ones, with all their rules.

I assert complying with such rules is not difficult, to one gifted with poetic instincts. It may be as unintelligible to those not-gifted as the tug of a dowsing rod is to one who (like myself) is not gifted with the abilities of a dowser, but complying with difficult harmonies is easy, if you have the gift.  It is harder not to do it. It would like be asking Bach not to write harmony, and have all his music be in unison.

I furthermore assert the power is not in the poet, but in the Truth they are in touch with. When one is in proximity-to and association-with Truth, a sort of enchantment and rapture occurs, and one simply cannot help but sing.  Just as one can’t help but tap their toes to a lively tune, one is carried away by celestial rhythms.  One becomes intoxicated by a gigantic harmony and beauty, and, in Isaiah’s case, the proximity-to and association-with Truth extended to an awareness of cause-and-effect that made him a “prophet”. Why? Because Truth follows certain laws, which some call Karma and some call reaping-what-you-sow, and a prophetic poet is able to glimpse inevitable consequences more clearly than most. In a way Isaiah is much like Shakespeare: Never for an instant does he waver from a firm belief that the wicked will face a day of reckoning, but he also does not waver from a liberal belief that the wicked are human, and are not all that different from you and I, and Isaiah has compassion towards them, and wants to see even the evil rescued.

This made Isaiah appear naive to the politically-correct politicians of Judea, 2750 years ago. Isaiah had the simplistic belief that Truth is animate, and if you stand by the Truth then the Truth will stand by you, but the politicians didn’t think that highfalutin attitude was very smart, and instead trusted in all sorts of crafty and worldly alliances to oppose the growing Assyrian menace. All sorts of sneaky and devious arrangements were considered, when Assyria was smaller (the dark green in the above map), involving Syria, Babylonia, Israel, Egypt, Judea and other smaller kingdoms. There was even a plot that pitted Jew against Jew, as the ten tribes of Israel grew impatient with the two tribes of Judea, and thought the way to get Judea to comply was to conquer it with the help of Syria, and then (with Judea forced to be on-board), to turn as a united front to face Assyria. All this political trickery and back-stabbing seemed opposed to Truth, to Isaiah, and he blithely warned that Israel and Syria would come to a bad end, if they followed such a course. He stated they should trust Truth (God) and not their own crafty plots, and they thought he was a naive chump.  Isaiah stated that if they didn’t trust God then God would use Assyria as His “ax”, and chop them down, which was exactly what happened. Assyria rose in might and by the time of Sennacherib it seemed nothing could stand in the way of the Assyrian juggernaut.

Not that Judea’s politicians were inclined to abandon the sordid lowness of politics for some air-headed poet’s idealism. I often wonder what in the world Isaiah was doing, bopping around midst the politics of the palace. (My personal experience is that one is likely to get the old heave-ho, if one is too preachy with the politically pragmatic.)  But apparently the fellow was literate at a time when most were not, so perhaps he was a “scribe”, and schoolteacher, (and may have even been the Judean King Hezekiah’s tutor.) Also Isaiah might have been the court historian, (for the only non-poetic chapters of the Book of Isaiah are nearly word-for-word-identical to the official Judea history, in the Book of Kings.) Lastly, as a poet he was somewhat respected as possessing prophetic powers, though people were often dubious of the authenticity of such powers back then, (as they are now).  He was initially unpopular with the politically-correct, and was pressing his luck, and probably would have been done-away-with, had not a new king, Hezekiah, possessed a mystic streak. Hezekiah rediscovered the old Hebrew scriptures, (perhaps with Isaiah’s help), and was somewhat horrified by how far the Judean politically-correct had strayed from the established law. (Something like what a modern democrat might experience, if they ever bothered to read the US constitution.) He apparently underwent a sort of epiphany, and there is archaeological evidence Hezekiah didn’t just return to “the law” on paper, but tore down some houses of worship that were forbidden according to Jewish Law. In a sense he enacted a jeremiad before Jeremiah, but at the same time remained stuck in the pragmatism of politics.

The sixty-six chapters of The Book Of Isaiah are not arranged in chronological order, but rather are ordered for reasoning I don’t claim to understand. This apparently explains why we see Hezekiah stripping the gold off the temple doorposts to buy time, chapters before we see Hezekiah showing off all his temple’s gold to envoys from Babylonia. In attempting to put things in chronological order, my guess is that Hezekiah was co-regent with his father for a while, which makes their reigns overlap, and things then happened as follows:

Hezekiah became quite ill during the time when the threat was Israel and Syria to the north. Isaiah then came bopping in to the king’s bedroom and said it was wrong to stress politics before God, and that Hezekiah would be punished with death (the king was was in his sickbed at the time). Hezekiah was filled with remorse after Isaiah left, but Isaiah swiftly came bopping back into the king’s bedroom and said God had accepted the king’s apology, and the king wouldn’t die, and Jerusalem wouldn’t be plundered in his lifetime. The king was happy, but I imagine the politicians of the court thought both Hezekiah and Isaiah had both gone bonkers, and that Isaiah was a Rasputin-like bad-influence on their sovereign’s sanity, but they couldn’t say much because the king promptly regained his health.

Next some Babylonian envoys dropped by. After 2750 years the politics are unclear to me, for it seems Babylonia was already a tributary state to Assyria at this point, but from other sources it is apparent the Babylonians detested the Assyrians for wrecking their cities, especially their temples, so perhaps some political skulduggery was afoot. I imagine the politically-correct of Judea would have approved of fomenting some sort of rebellion within Babylonia towards Assyria, for if Assyrians were kept busy at home they wouldn’t bother with Jerusalem. In any case the Babylonians had heard about the king’s miraculous recovery from his death bed, and wanted to learn more about the power of the Hebrew Deity. King Hezekiah was only too glad to show off all the treasures God had blessed Judea with, whereupon Isaiah came bopping by to inform Hezekiah he was putting gold before God, and Jerusalem would be punished, as the Babylonians would remember the treasures, and come back to loot the city at a later date.

Isaiah’s prophesy must have seemed especially incorrect when Babylonia was further crushed, as Assyria began its blitzkrieg in earnest, but by that point the politically-correct were themselves starting to flip-out, for none of their crafty alliances and treaties seemed all that sane, either. Why? Because all the nations they held diplomatic talks with, (learned-diplomat scheming with learned-diplomat), one by one fell before the Assyrian onslaught. All their crafty wheeling and dealing came to naught, because the crafty people they were dealing with simply ceased to be.

I think it is at this is at this point we see Hezekiah stripping the gold off the temple doorposts in a desperate attempt to slow the Assyrian blitzkrieg and buy time. He seemed to want to use the time he bought to seek new allies, (perhaps even the Assyrians themselves). Also Hezekiah used the bought-time to engineer remarkable tunnels through solid stone, in order to channel springs outside Jerusalem to wells within its walls, so the city could withstand the siege Judea apparently knew was coming. Why should they plan for a siege even while making treaties with Sennacherib? Well, why did the British build spitfires, even as Chamberlain signed a treaty guaranteeing “Peace In Our Time” with Hitler? Let us just say that some peace is “uneasy”, and it was apparent to some Jews that Sennacherib, like most dictators, would not be sated by appeasement, and that, in the end, would demand Jerusalem obey his laws, and not their own laws [scriptures].)

Before Sennacherib arrived at the gates of Jerusalem he had kicked the butts of some mighty powerful people. He mocked all who claimed their “gods” could protect them. Babylonia prayed to their gods, and he kicked their butts. Egypt prayed to their gods, and he kicked their butts. Even the Jews of Israel had prayed, and he kicked their butts and sent those ten tribes of Jews off to captivity. Therefore he was feeling cocky when his forces arrived at the gates of Jerusalem. Sennacherib’s representative basically mocked the two remaining tribes of Jews, asking why they should think their God was any mightier than the gods of other nations. The Jewish king Hezekiah was scared right out of his socks, but the poet Isaiah came bopping forward and told the king to tell Sennacherib’s representative to back off, because the Jews of Judea were “not like the others”, and where others worshiped a false truth, Judea worshiped the plain Truth. And the plain Truth had a power you did not want to mess with.

Such confidence must have seemed too cocky, when the vast army of Assyrians arrived at Jerusalem and began to prepare to build ramps to overcome the walls. Although Hezekiah had seen the siege coming, and built amazing tunnels to supply the besieged city with water, things looked hopeless.

At this point history gets interesting, for we have more than one version of what happened next. Sennacherib arrived back at his capital and erected monuments to his own grandeur, bragging about how he trapped Hezekiah like “a bird in a cage,”  forced him to pay tribute, and how he seized, and gave away, the people, cattle and lands left outside of Jerusalem, to other kings. He doesn’t bother to mention he never conquered Jerusalem.

Assyrian Version Taylor_Prism-1

The Jewish version is different. According to the Hebrew account, an “angel of the Lord” struck down a huge number of Assyrian soldiers, (roughly 185,000),  overnight.  The invasion was called off. It was seen as proof of the power of God, that not a single Jewish soldier had to draw a sword to send Sennacherib packing.

There are other versions of this tale as well, for even after 2750 years it riles people up.  The statement that an “angel of the Lord” did the slaughtering of Assyrian troops does not sit well with the modern scientific psyche, so various attempts have been made to explain how a ‘flu or plague could have struck so swiftly. Some interesting theories have been put forth suggesting that, with the good springs diverted to within the walls of Jerusalem, the remaining springs were bad and perhaps even poisoned. And of course, there are those who dismiss the entire tale as a myth. (There is even an explanation, which may involve different Assyrian troops down in Egypt, which states a plague of field mice chewed all the Assyrian’s bowstrings.)  And some complain about what became of the 185,000 bodies; shouldn’t there be a huge pile of bones somewhere?

When I look through the various versions I cannot help but feel that some historians are betraying their prejudice, despite their best efforts to appear objective and dispassionate. I notice two factors: The first is that some people simply do not like Jews, and the second is that some feel Truth cannot be animate. When faced with the miraculous salvation of Jerusalem, whispered across vast prairies of time, some are irked, and feel a seemingly involuntary urge to disparage, discredit, doubt and deny.  They work very hard to either prove it never happened, or that it didn’t happen in the manner the amazed Jews of that time, who actually witnessed the miraculous event, reported.

I think this skepticism occurs because such people unconsciously know that they could be in big trouble, if Truth is not inanimate.  They need Truth to be as lifeless as stone, for if it is at all responsive then they are not in control of it. For this reason they tend to adopt a condescending attitude when a poet such as Isaiah utilizes “personification”, and states the moon will be dismayed, or the sun ashamed, or the wilderness rejoice, or the mountains burst into song, or the trees “clap their hands.” They are prone to utilizing psychobabble to dismiss such ecstasy as being hallucination and madness. But, if it is true that a fundamental quality of Truth is that It is Love, then Truth must be animate, and indeed must respond; this may be a bit unnerving to the mindset of a mathematician,  seeking a correct answer on the bottom line, for it suggests the Answer might answer them, (and even correct them, if their answer is wrong.)

In the end there seems to be two opposing responses to Truth. The inspired poets get swept up in ecstasy, and utilize rhyme and rhythm in an automatic and involuntary manner,  harmonizing with harmony. The cynics, on the other hand, tends to disparage that which is exalted, and in some ways are hateful, or at least bitter, towards Truth.

***4***

This at long last returns me to the political struggle between Alarmists and Skeptics, in the debate about Global Warming, (especially as to how it concerns arctic sea-ice).

Initially I felt that Skeptics would be more prone to be cynical, but soon I became aware most Skeptics held Truth in high regard. It was the Alarmists who seemed more prone to resort to propaganda, and to think Truth didn’t matter, because some sort of Socialist “ends” justified the “means”, even if the “means” involved dishonesty.

This dishonesty became apparent because the Skeptics approached the scientific debate in good faith, and, over the last twenty years, have, one by one, defeated most of the Alarmist “Global Warming” arguments.

I was most personally involved in the idea of a so-called “Arctic Death Spiral”, which hypothesized less ice at the Pole would result in less sunlight being reflected away by the high “albedo” of sea-ice, and more sunlight being absorbed by the low “albedo” of dark-blue open water. This idea didn’t work because the open water didn’t appear, each summer, until the sun was sinking back down to the horizon, at which point open water reflected glancing sunlight even if it was dark blue, and could even have a higher albedo than dirty ice. Then, once the sun set, open water lost far more heat than ice-covered water. Also, as year followed year, the sea-ice failed to diminish in an escalating manner, as the “Death Spiral” predicted, and sea-ice actually increased a little. Lastly, it turned out the albedo calculations didn’t include the white snow-cover on land, which was increasing (in the short-term), in the autumn.

The Death Spiral was definitely debunked, but Alarmists refused to admit their ideas had shortcomings. It became increasingly obvious they were not interested in the Truth of science, but rather the politics, and they resorted to some pathetic political ploys to stand their ground.  For example, when confronted with the facts, they put on a haughty air that seemed to suggest they didn’t need no stinkin’ facts, for a “consensus” involving “97% of all climate scientists” agreed with them. Nor did it matter that this so-called “consensus” of “97%” was exposed as statistical trickery. They insisted the “debate was over” because “the science was settled”, and no amount of further debate could dissuade them from their obstinate error.

At some point a poet like me slumps in dejection, and understands it is useless being patient and kind with people who argue in such a manner. Such arguing is not true debate, but rather is a ploy. Such Alarmists have no interest in what I am saying.  No true conversation is occurring. They have no interest in sharing, and in fact they are only pretending to have a conversation, for they are utterly committed to a forgone conclusion.

It occurred to me that, while certain socialists state religion is “the opiate of the masses”, Alarmists are snorting poppies all their own.  Where socialists like to point out historical examples of church intolerance, such as the Spanish Inquisition, Christians freely confess that such intolerance is in violation of Christian commandments to “love thy neighbor”. The Spanish Inquisition was in violation of Christian scriptures, whereas socialist intolerance is written down in their playbook, and intolerance is, in fact, the Marxist “scripture” they follow. Some socialist dogma might as well state, “Be deaf to your neighbor”. While it may sound intolerant to say so, comparing the words of Christ with stated Marxist procedures gives one the distinct impression they oppose Christ, and therefore are an anti-Christ.

How can I say such an intolerant thing? It is because when you really love another you are very interested in their views. But, if you only want to screw another, you only pretend to be interested.  You can charm, but it is only to get your way. You are basically a sly rapist; it doesn’t matter if you drape your lust in roses. You are hell-bent to achieve your goal. You can even copy the speech of poets, but a carnal flush burns on your cheeks and glints in your eyes, and, even if such a look only flashes momentarily, a person who truly loves immediately recognizes it, and takes a step back. They understand you are the slave of a forgone conclusion. You are the victim of an infatuation. You are set on a certain goal, and other people are merely what the communists called “useful idiots”, or else an enemy that must be “purged”, (which means killed), or sent away to a “reeducation”, (which is tantamount to mental murder). Opponents are but foolish innocents (“useful idiots”) you exploit, (and you exploit worse than the capitalists you sneer-at do). You are set on your “ends” like a myopic rapist is, and your “means” are nothing but trickery.

The greater poets recognize a distinct difference between love and infatuation. Love is the active and ongoing appreciation of another, whereas infatuation already knows the forgone conclusion. Love has true compassion for another, (even a Macbeth, even an Iago, even a Claudius). Infatuation only pretends to care, while calculating how much they stand to gain from the pretense. When people who love give to charity their wallets become thinner. When infatuation gives to charity their wallets grow plump. The people effected know the difference. When you have been loved you feel uplifted. When you feel screwed, even raped, something different than love is involved. (Ask the people of Haiti how they felt about the United Nations and the Clintons “helping” them. Did they feel uplifted, or feel befouled?)

Love reaches out to understand others, whereas infatuation grasps others to use them. Therefore, if you take the advice of Christ seriously,  and humbly serve others to a degree wherein you even “love thy enemy”, you are interested in those who debate you. The Antichrist has no such interest, nor such care for a foe. Even when anti-Christ socialists pretend to be part of a two-party-system, they intend to bump off all opposition as swiftly as possible.

In my youth I was friends with some radical communists. Fifty years ago, (as now), they liked to have a 1930’s communist propaganda-poster on their dorm’s wall. I carefully listened to all their explanations about why they had to murder and maim, “fighting fire with fire” (as they explained it), and learned all of their jargon. I had to do a lot of listening, because they talked so much, but I was a good listener, (while they felt “listening” was “too great a compromise”).  One failure in their logic always amazed me.

They seemed to fail to see that, because we mortals are each as different as our fingerprints, a day must come when we will disagree with even our closest friend. On that day, if we don’t own a philosophy that promotes listening, and instead follow a dogma which sees disagreement as opposition, then even our best friend will need to be “purged”, or they will “purge” us.  Either they, or we, will require “reeducation”. One of us will be called “counter revolutionary,” and it will not matter a bit how many times we called them “comrade” and embraced them. One of us will need to be erased from the picture.

It doesn’t matter, in such a sinister society, how close and valuable you think you are to your comrade. You can be a dictator’s bosom-buddy, the trusted head of his secret police, but you too can vanish.

As a lover of Truth, I was always perplexed by the effort made by such Antichrists to vanish the fact they fired an employee. Why not just say the employee failed to do the job as you expected, and as you required it be done? I could only suppose they couldn’t face the Truth. They didn’t like being reminded that they had killed a comrade. Truth hurts, and they couldn’t face the pain. Also, people might ask questions, and, if the reason for questions was not in the picture, perhaps no questions would be asked and no honest answer would be required. (As if Truth was not watching!) In conclusion, it was (and is) an attitude based upon the false notion that Truth is an inanimate thing, and instead is made of a malleable material like modeling clay, which you control.

One thing such people do not control, and that is the inevitability of death. They may control the life expectancy of others, but not of themselves.  We all must eventually face death, and it is very sad to see a dictator face what he has mocked, flaunted, and postponed. It is then he becomes the Macbeth, the Iago, the Claudius. There is a huge pathos in the ends of those who clutched power with white knuckles, but finally must see it slip away. In the case of the mighty Sennacherib of Assyria, after appointing his younger son heir, he looked up as he worshiped at his place-of-worship and saw his eldest son approaching with a drawn sword and murder in his eye. In the case of the mighty Joseph Stalin, his final days were filled with dread he might see the ones closest to him with murder in their eyes.

Therefore Stalin took precautions. He noted that when older communists died, doctors always seemed to be involved, so he had doctors jailed and interrogated. This was standard communist procedure. After internment, and interrogation including, if necessary, torture, the suspect would “confess” at a soviet “show trial.” The Russian public would be spoon-fed a pablum stating that Stalin was “Uncle Joe”, a lovable character, who evil people (often Jews) were out to betray. Many of Russia’s better doctors ( of whom many were Jewish), found themselves hauled in for questioning for no earthly reason they could think of, as Stalin faced old-age, and death.

Stalin also went out of his way to make sure he could keep his eye on the communist equivalent of “heirs to the throne.” Rather than going about their business, all Russia’s most important leaders had to hang around Stalin’s old-age-home (resort) and endure daily cross-examinations, far from where business was being enacted. One of these individuals may have dared to attempt to hurry Stalin’s demise.  It has been suggested that a large dose of blood-thinner was added to to Stalin’s bedtime toddy of watered wine. The hope was that it would cause a stroke that would kill him. Stalin did suffer a stroke that night, but it didn’t kill him.

The main reason to suspect that Stalin’s stroke wasn’t natural is because his servants did not behave naturally, the next morning. Ordinarily, if their master overslept, they would enter the room and raise the curtains in a respectful manner.  However not a single servant dared enter the room, on that particular morning. It was as if they somehow knew “something was up.” When someone finally went in, they found Stalin stretched out on the floor, as if the stroke incapacitated him as he left his bed to reach for a water bottle on the dresser. But he wasn’t dead.

At this point a Jewish doctor, an expert in the treatment of strokes, was under the duress of merciless cross-examination in the jails of the secret police. He was being interrogated for some conspiracy Stalin imagined existed, but which the doctor in fact knew nothing about. As these interrogations continued, day after dreary day, the doctor abruptly noticed a bewildering change in the questions he was being asked. They went from, “Do not your Jewish scriptures state that…” to, “When a person has suffered a stroke, is it wise to…”  The shift in the questioning was so unexpected the fellow couldn’t help but laugh about it, (though only to himself). Then he was abruptly plucked from jail and whisked to Stalin’s side, and asked to save his oppressor’s life.

If he could have, he didn’t. Stalin’s death was slow and tortuous and took over ten days; he basically slowly turned purple and strangled to death, all the while looking around with bulging eyes at eyes that feared him, but did not much love him (and some eyes were the eyes of those who might have actually poisoned him).

Despite the fact Stalin was portrayed by the state-controlled Russian media as a jovial and huggy “Uncle Joe”, so many millions had died under his despotism, and so many had been sent off to “reeducation” in Siberia, that I can’t help but think Russia breathed a sigh of relief, to have him gone. The following spring must have been hopeful. It seems to show in the May Day propaganda poster for the next “five year plan”, likely painted just after he died.

This poster happens to be one that was on the wall of a hip, radical friend’s dorm, back around 1969, when I was just a teenager. And I must admit it is full of springtime optimism. Nor do I believe it is wrong to propose a five-year-plan that will enrich society, nor to vow to make such a plan a reality. However, even as teen, I knew a vast gulf separated a dream from reality, and a vow from fruition. (My own parents had vowed to be true until death parted them, but the reality was they divorced.)  Despite all my youthful idealism and optimism, I had a cynical streak, and tended to poke fun at commercials on TV. Therefore I was not going to join any communist five-year-plan, until I had a few questions answered by my radical friends.

Because I was so young, my questions were rude and irreverent. My young and radical friends were extremely annoyed at my disrespect.

Because I had sex on the brain at that age, I immediately and rudely pointed out the spotlight of light on the blond girl’s left nipple. I wondered, why focus there? And shouldn’t such a star of light be above the forehead of the recently-departed Stalin, now part of a “beloved” quartet-of-lore in the background?

Next I wondered if the artist had paid too much attention to the blond girl’s left breast, for her head was some four inches higher than it should be. Michelangelo would never make a mistake like that.

Then I wondered why the young man in the picture was such a dork. His hair was too short. He was obviously a “square”.

Then I pondered what they were looking up at, so joyously. It wasn’t Stalin, because he was dead, and it couldn’t be God, for communists believed God was also dead. Was it a big copy of the five-year-plan? And shouldn’t you wait until a plan was completed before celebrating? And didn’t their joy now look stupid, (in 1969), because we (in 1969) now knew Russia had failed to achieve their goals, (of 1953), while we Americans looked likely to beat them to the moon?

Carefully examining the eyes of the young man and young woman in the propaganda poster, I stated they were not even looking at the same thing. Whatever it was they were so happy about, it was not something they agreed about.

Around about that time my radical friends would tell me to get the heck out of their dorm, while informing me I was hopelessly brainwashed by capitalist propaganda, and that Russians were richer than Americans, their cities had no slums, and that a Russian and not Thomas Edison had actually invented the light bulb.

As a young cynic I was equally critical of the American dream of a-house-in-the-suburbs. I had watched my own home town turn from a beautiful small town where neighbors knew each other into a sort of ugly suburban sterility where they didn’t, and I had no illusions about money buying happiness. Norman Rockwell painted life as we wanted it to be, more than he painted what actually was, and as a teen I found his work “square” (and even “propaganda”), but it is interesting to compare a work of his from a spring six years before the above poster was painted, with the above poster:

 

It is striking to me how much humbler the glorification is, and how clear and definite the subject is, though (as with the propaganda poster) much is occurring outside the picture. (It is also interesting to see Stalin’s mortality was discussed six years before he actually died.)

When I think about the difference between the two paintings, I see they both speak of spring and of hope, but the American painting is closer to Truth. Stalinists denied problems under the gloss of propaganda, whereas Norman Rockwell could make us smile (and even feel a mysterious joy), without hiding a problem.

Here’s another example: Builders often neglect to include space for children to play, when rushing to engineer a new neighborhood, whether the housing is part of a five-year-plan or a new suburb popping up in a post-war boom.  To criticize a five-year-plan could be death, in Stalin’s Russia, but Rockwell could tell the truth with a picture, in America, during the post-war building boom.

If I imagine Rockwell had been born in Stalinist Russia, I’m tempted to ask myself a few questions: First, would the Commissar Of Daubed Rectangles have issued him any permits for canvas or paint? Second, would Rockwell have dared paint such a picture? Third, would any Russian magazine have dared use it for a cover? Fourth, would Rockwell and the magazine have been punished for the above picture? Lastly, if his picture had somehow been seen by Stalin and Stalin had been moved, or at least amused, would the grim man then have made it mandatory for every Russian neighborhood to include a baseball field, whether people wanted it or not, and whether people even played baseball, or were instead a community of retired stamp collectors?

The problem with any sort of autocratic mortal is that their dislike of opposition causes them to cease to be truly responsive, (if they ever were). Their efforts (if made at all) are clumsy, and once their desire to dominate takes over, they cease to be loving, which cuts them off from a wellspring of benefits. Beautiful benefits. The benefits we call, “Joy”.

The thing that strikes me about a painter like Rockwell is that he is not taking orders from a worldly commissar; he often doesn’t know what his next week’s subject will be; he is waiting to see “what comes to him”, and what his response will be. In other words a good artist tends to be responsive whereas an autocrat is primarily interested in power, and is domineering. It is a difference like the difference between night and day, and can be seen in the results.

The joke of it all is that the autocrat thinks he controls the world, but the world controls him.  Conversely the best artists often are poor, powerless, and have little more than a gift; a genius like Bach wore the same humble servant’s garb as a butler. Yet the genius of an artist’s powerlessness opens heaven’s gates, and their influence stretches out across centuries. People still hum Mozart’s melodies. People quote Shakespeare without knowing it. Isaiah’s words uplift even after 2750 years. Yet they wore no crowns on earth; nor did they command armies.

In the end, the power is derived from Truth. And Truth is Love. And Love is responsive.

***5***

The dictators of the world like to issue their personal little-red-book rules, motivated by the idea the “masses” (you and me), are better off controlled by rules written on stone. This may have been the case when God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone with burning brilliance for Moses, but that was only because the people Moses led had hearts hardened like stone, by 400 years of cruel slavery in Egypt. Elsewhere the Bible states the ten commandments are already written, on the hearts of every man, when hearts are created soft and innocent and childlike and new, in the newborn.

In other words we know, deep down, how to behave. We own a thing called a “conscience.” We need no tyrant. We need no big government. We need no welfare and government “benefits”. We need no so-called “charity” which makes the wallets of the so-called “giver” get fatter. All we need is the Truth.

The Truth is different every day. It is something we need to respond to. In order to respond correctly we need to love. Because we have the ten commandments etched on our God-given hearts, we don’t need some Chairman Mao demanding we obey his personal interpretation of a Marxist manifesto based upon distrust, and sadly founded on hate.

The things that upset me about Chairman Mao, and his “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution”, are almost too numerous to mention. The man seemed possessed by a odd belief that the way to be Avant-garde was to absolutely destroy the Status-quo. It was as if, when you chop down a forest, you instantly can harvest a crop of wheat in the wasteland you have created, or as if, when you tear down a slum, there are instantly new buildings for the homeless you have created. He failed to consult farmers, which was odd because he was country boy, and failed to consult builders, which was odd because he so badly wished to build a new China. The results were predictably disastrous. The “Great Leap Forward” may have resulted in the death in as many as 40 million by starvation, (although as many as two million may have had their starvation hastened by being badly beaten for daring to suggest Mao’s five-year-plan had shortcomings.)

The inner circles doing Mao’s “central planning” seem to have imagined they had divine powers, and that, by the wave of a hand, they could make things healed, like Jesus touching a crippled hand and the withered flesh healing and becoming strong right before onlooker’s startled eyes. However they had no such powers, and some of their decisions appear like complete madness. To jerk China into the twentieth century they decided to sharply increase the production of steel, and they ordered entire rural districts to produce steel, and nothing but steel. The picture below was taken out in a rural area at night, as people, desperate to obey, produced not steel, but pig-iron.

With such enormous manpower redirected to making steel others had to grow the food, but farmers were ordered, under penalty of death, to ignore their own wisdom and instead to follow the advise of Trofim Lysenko, a Russian pseudo-scientist who had already contributed to a terrible famine in Russia, and now contributed to a worse famine in China.

ilysenk001p1

In order to hide the resultant crop failures ridiculous propaganda pictures were created. The picture below (from 1959) shows “the wheat was so thick youth could stand on it”.

The absurdity of the above picture is not only that the youths are standing on a hidden bench, but that the wheat was transplanted from where it grew sparsely to create the illusion it grew far more densely than it in fact was growing. It was a lie, justified by the need to “boost morale”.

The problem with this dishonesty was that the central planners were not receiving honest reports. This is a problem created by governments, when the honest are punished for telling the Truth. It was worsened by the fact Mao apparently desired adulation, and was susceptible to flattery. He was taken to see examples of how successful his policies were, in the same manner foreign reporters were taken to see settings that were basically a sham, and nothing like the horrors actually experienced by the poor, starving Chinese people. In order to foster the illusion of bumper crops warehouses brimming with grain were kept locked, because it was important to have warehouses brimming. And sometimes, (because the grain sometimes had to be shipped away for economic and political reasons), the very people who grew the food received none. Mao had the heartlessness of English Lords during the Irish Potato Famine: Despite the starving people dying outside, crying for Mao to save them, the brimming warehouses were not opened for the people who grew the food.

When the nature of the famine became undeniable, rather than the central planners accepting responsibility for the mess they had made, they blamed the weather (which actually was bad at that time). However there was some murmuring among the leaders that Mao’s leadership was not bringing about the prosperity he had promised. Mao felt such murmuring was counter-revolutionary, and represented back-sliding from the true answer to all problems, which was a total break from the past. This was his excuse for what he deemed a “Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, which was essentially mob rule.

Mao felt that what was holding China back was “Old culture, old customs, old habits, and old beliefs.” His solution was to close the schools, and to set the students lose to attack the “revisionist” and “imperialistic” counterrevolutionary forces who would attempt to once again enslave the Chinese. As the civil war between the Communists and Nationalists had been brutal, and memories were relatively recent, (1949 was only 17 years in the past), it was possible to pick scabs and reawaken traumatic memories (focusing on Nationalist atrocities and ignoring Communist atrocities, or describing Communist cruelty as “justified” and “revolutionary”), and to utilize mob violence in an attempt to “cleanse” China of evil and make it sparkling clean.

It didn’t happen. Instead the students, who beyond doubt had experienced oppression under dictatorial rule, unleashed their resentment towards all figures of authority and all symbols of tradition and all fashions that were remotely “western”. They were given the power to accuse teachers, principles and parents, and to interrogate them. They had the power to break into households and conduct searches for evidence of counterrevolutionary thought. Having an old dusty suit of a western fashion in a back closet, or an old keepsake from a grandmother made of gold, or a statue of Buddha or Confucius or a crucifix, or even a haircut deemed too “western”, could result in an interrogation and beating and exile to a place of “reeducation”. National landmarks, old temples hundreds of years old, were trashed. As this chaos descended upon China various units of the Red Guard accused each other of infractions, and gang warfare developed, echoing the warlords of China’s civil war. Industrial production dropped 12% between 1966 and 1968. Rather than sparkling purity and progress, the revolution resembled the Terror of the French Revolution, until even Mao himself felt some sense of threat.

Mao then used the policy of “rustication”, which he had originally begun as a sort of Utopian vision (with the statement, “The countryside is a vast expanse of heaven and earth where we can flourish”), as a way to get the Red Guard off the streets, with his statement, “The intellectual youth must go to the country, and will be educated from living in rural poverty.” A minimum of 16 million youths were sent off to a sort of penal labor, though getting many to give up their power as mini-warlords, and marching them off, wasn’t all that easy. During the Cultural Revolution the Red Guard was responsible for a half million deaths, while the army was responsible for twice as many, many of them members of the Red Guard who resisted army control. In the end the military ruled and China became a police state.

Mao’s claim, (that revolution was beneficial in and of itself), was refuted. If anything he caused China to conclude the exact opposite was true: Power should never be given to the people, especially to the young. But what his tragic example actually proves is that power corrupts leaders, and absolute power corrupts leaders absolutely. His so-called “philosophy” seems partly an old man’s yearning back towards simpler days, when revolution was easier, and the “bad guys” were obvious, (during his “Long March” across China), and it partly seems a desperate grasping to cling to power after the debacle of his “Great Leap Forward.” Above all his vision seems blurred by a dislike for Truth.

What has this to do with sea-ice? It is because, just as Mao had a deep dislike for what Truth was making self-evident, Alarmists have a deep dislike for what Truth is making self-evident, concerning the so-called arctic sea-ice “Death Spiral.” And it is when people see their relationship with Truth sour, that one either becomes humble, or the rot sets in.

***6***

Some may call it laughable to call a quibble about the fluctuations in the amount of sea-ice anything like the cruelty enacted by tyrants like Mao, Stalin and Hitler, but it is only a matter of degree. (Nor is it all that small a quibble, when one considers the billions of dollars involved, [dollars I think are wasted, if not completely corrupted into being mere “kick-backs”], in “Global Warming”), (not to mention the possible complete derangement of economies in the future.) Mighty weeds can grow from tiny seeds.

The entire twentieth century involved China in so much calamity it beggars the imagination. Even the death of hundreds of thousands in a terrible flood becomes, through comparison, a “small” event. But among all of China’s misfortunes Mao takes the cake, for the calamity he’s associated with was not nature’s floods, earthquakes or drought-caused famines, nor an invading foreign power, but rather a hell caused by a man who was native-born. Mao had some degree of love for his homeland and his people. How could his leadership go so terribly astray? Why, God, why?

Call me simplistic if you will, but I see Mao as a tragic character like Macbeth, or Iago, or Claudius, who faced the same moral choices we all face, and dared make the wrong choices we all are tempted to make, but seldom dare make, (or seldom make to the incredible degree Mao made them).

He murdered. He deceived on a regular basis, as a matter of political principle, and advocated that others deceive. (“Propaganda”) Much of his emphasis was based on hatred rather than love. (Hatred of the bourgeois, the petite bourgeois, landlords, royalty, wealthy people, western civilization, “revisionists”, “imperialists”, and, (by his end), basically anyone who differed from his warped idealism.) But to me his worst wrong-choice was to terribly misguide the hope of China, which was its youth. To direct the freshness, energy, enthusiasm and optimism of youth into the Red Guard’s atrocities was a child-abuse of unprecedented scale and ugliness, (which is envied and admired by wicked people even to this day).

One of Mao’s greatest hypocrisies was to loath people (other than himself) gifted with power (“bourgeois”) [irregardless if wealth came from privilege and parents, or through hard work], and instead to praise the peasant, (“proletariat”),[irregardless if the peasant worked hard or was slothful], while at the same time redefining himself as an all-powerful demigod, and his personal thoughts as a sort of Chinese Bible. His “little red book” was a sort of gospel of class warfare, based on hatred. It is also an example of a man so overly-proud of his own opinions he cannot hear the cries of others, even of the proletariat he claims to care for. He turned his arrogance into a sort of personality cult, and his “little red book” into a cudgel he used to crush people who dared disagree. Despite all the physical evidence that his policy was causing China harm, both in capitalistic terms and in terms of the physical and spiritual welfare of the Chinese people, he insisted the problem lay in any who dared disagree with him. By his end, it “was all about me”. Of what use were others? In his eighties, ravaged by strokes, an old, drooling, and in many ways demented man, he clung to his insistence that if it wasn’t good for Mao it couldn’t be good for China. Talk about vanity! Talk about a failure to appreciate others! Talk about hate and egotism triumphing over love and selflessness!

Talk about an Antichrist! Where Christ took a minuscule amount of bread and fish to feed 5000 Jews on one occasion and 4000 non-Jews on another, Mao took all the wisdom of China’s farmers and, with the “help” of Lysenko, caused the starvation of millions upon millions of good Chinese people.

It will be hard for China to ever admit how ignorant Mao was. It is hard, when you are brought up to treat “the little red book” as a Bible, to admit the writer wasn’t a Christ, and in fact was in many ways an Antichrist. But China is coming to its senses, (very slowly, it sometimes seems), and confessing that their worship of the “little red book” was as least as stupid as, and perhaps more stupid than, the screaming worship of western imperialist, capitalist, petite-bourgeoisie woman, at the same time, of the Beatles. (Mao was “more stupid”, because, at least, in 1967, the Beatles didn’t murder, and talked a lot about love.) In 1967, in China, the “Beatles”, that the teenage girls went wild about, looked like this:

It is interesting to compare the Maoist propaganda pictures with the Stalinist poster I showed above. Notice how no one smiles in the Chinese propaganda?

I can never look at these propaganda posters without considering the artist who painted them. What pressure was he under, and what was he thinking?

No artist can completely free themselves from Truth, even when they intentionally gird their loins and attempt to mold it into a half-truth. At times Truth leaks into their art in ways they do not intend It to (and which they may even be horrified by.) Sometimes such leakage is completely subconscious, and sometimes it is purposeful and involves daring. It occurs in political art, commercial art, and even when one is simply painting a portrait for an arrogant, paying customer. As hard as one tries to paint a fool looking intelligent, the truth may sometimes leak in around the edges. (If you do it well, the fool cannot see it, and you still get paid.)

For example, (putting on the cynical hat I wore as a teenager), in the above poster the youth holding the little-red-book has his arm in the unnaturally stiff “heil Hitler” salute of a Nazi. (As does the youth below seemingly reaching towards a bayonet.) Accident? Subconscious? We do not know what the painter of this picture underwent, but we do know that students at art schools saw their teachers humiliated and hauled off, and never saw them again. The copies of statues from other lands, including a careful facsimile of Michelangelo’s statue of David, were dragged outside and pulverized with sledge hammers. Who knows what secret feelings lurked in the heart of the painter of the above poster?

Wearing my hat (of a cynical teenager with sex-on-the-brain), I notice the artist certainly didn’t aim to make the women in the poster all that attractive. There is no spotlight on the left nipple. (The left nipple is in fact in shadow, but there is a faint trace of a right nipple, which Sigmund Freud would suggest may indicate the artist still had faint, youthful hopes.) Of course, any sort of mascara or face-powder or eye-shadow was deemed western and decadent, or else, if applied in an oriental manner, was deemed “traditional” and therefore equally decadent, so perhaps the artist was merely painting the truth he witnessed; however make-up is supposed to mimic natural attractiveness, and the artist saw little of that. The women he portrays are not exactly the sort whom a teenager would veer from his ordinary path to chat with.

But what seems oddest to me is at the bottom of the poster, and involves the positioning of the open palm and the bayonet. It may be that, with the art-teacher “liquidated”, the placement of hand and bayonet was merely a matter of poor, uneducated composition, but you could not ask for two more opposite symbols than an open palm (peace) and a bayonet (war), and, even if the bayonet is suppose to be behind the palm, the palm does appear to be reaching towards it. It seems a strange sort of juxtaposition, perhaps hinting at a desire for peace midst Red Guard violence, and, if I was a zealot of the Red Guard, I would have had the artist hauled off for immediate interrogation. (Just as a Freudian psychiatrist sees sexual symbolism everywhere, the Red Guard could see counterrevolution everywhere.)

***7***

Even when there isn’t a bullying politician or boss demanding that the artist portray certain things in a certain, inaccurate way, an artist is always struggling with Truth, especially when the artist is young. This occurs because an artist has a preconception of what they want to portray, but an artist also has an inner ear or eye or nose that can tell if the work “looks right” or “sounds right” or “smells right”, and these different factors are seldom in complete agreement. This battle in an artist is the same battle, (a battle between infatuation and love, between a foregone conclusion and ongoing appreciation), that one sees enacted on the bigger stage of world politics.

I first became aware of this battle when I was a young artist, for I had high hopes, and, because art is “self expression”, my high hopes appeared on the page. I would be sketching a boy-meets-girl plot and trying to get it to the boy-gets-girl climax, (the plot of both romance and pornography), and worked hard to write my story to the happy-ever-after ending I craved, but problems would unexpectedly appear. The lovely Susie Creamcheese in my tale would unexpectedly develop an IQ of 160, and become a high-maintenance individual. The story that had seemed so easy to write would grind to a halt, as I suffered what is called “writer’s block”.

In this microcosm I myself was the Mao, attempting to inflict my preconceived five-year-plan, but, within my creation, (far smaller than China), counterrevolutionary forces appeared. Unlike Mao, I stopped in my tracks. I knew intuitively that what I was attempting didn’t “look right” or “sound right” or “smell right”. So I would cross things out, and rewrite. At times I rewrote over, and over, and over, and over again.

Who was the editor that made me rewrite? It wasn’t a fellow mortal. At that time I longed for a worldly editor or agent to give me free advice, (as I had no money), but none were to be found. Instead I faced an editor available to all, who does not charge a penny for good advice, called Truth.

In order to access the free advice of this invaluable Editor all one needs to do be honest. When something doesn’t “sound right” one needs to confess. This confession doesn’t require a Catholic “confessional booth”, or any sort of ritual. All one needs to do is say, “my last effort seems to suck.” This admission of failure is the same for the scientist as it is for the artist. It opens the doors to improvement, and my experience has always been that a sweet breeze immediately refreshes, and also that stubbornly refusing to open the door results in stultifying mustiness.

Any success in life is built on the shoulders of many failures. In fact, when you look at the lives of fellow mortals we admire and call “great”, it is often startling to see what losers they were before they shone. Churchill in many ways was selected to be the individual that saved the world from Hitler, Stalin and even Mao, but what made him the perfect man for the job was a lot of failure beforehand. He was such a loser that the politically-correct called him “finished” in 1938, but a year later he was thrilling all who love freedom with his defiance of despots, leading ordinary people to fight the good fight against evil.

At this point, if you love a good debate, it is useful to point out Hitler was also a longtime-loser, who used failure as a fuel for meteoric (albeit short-term) success. The difference between the two men seems to be that Churchill knew the meaning of “magnanimous”, whereas the frustration of failure was, for Hitler, an excuse for white-hot rage and burning vengeance. (Being thrown-out of power was, for Churchill, a good excuse for champagne during breakfast.) (For Hitler, Stalin and Mao even the suggestion they relinquish power was an excuse to kill.)

Obviously, though it sounds ambiguous, there is great power in being a failure. It has nothing to do with being a quitter, (as Churchill was not a man known for accepting surrender). Rather it is a matter of learning from your mistakes, which is very hard to do if you insist you are correct. It doesn’t matter if your insistence takes the murderous form of a Hitler, Stalin or Mao, or is the merely offensive snobbery of the “politically correct”. If you insist on being called correct, and on being seen with the right people in the right places and never being seen as wrong, then you are a total fool, for you are denying yourself the advice of the Master, the King of kings and Emperor of emperors, called Truth.

Truth has no interest in shaming us, when It corrects us. It only wants to improve our quality of life. Truth wants to help. Shame makes no sense. Shame is the invention of the same idiot who invented war, rage, vengeance, and a lot of other stupid things.

Truth wants to stop the stupidity. In the end, Truth will succeed, because Truth is the stuff we are made of, and Truth is the Creator who made us. To resent the Truth that made us is like resenting the air that we breathe. Only silly people do it.

Why call yourself “correct” when it should be obvious none of us are? Not fully.

Because we are mortal we are imperfect, and because we are imperfect Truth is a standing challenge to our very existence; to our precious egos which are perhaps necessary, but are a necessary evil, for they are shells that make us lumber like a tortoise when we were born to bound like frogs. Truth wants us to shed our shells. Because Truth is Love it does not shame us, but rather wants us to compare our current state with what we might be, to compare our current art with what Truth is. Truth wants us to leave the rough draft behind, and to move on to the second, third, and fourth draft. Is that such a shameful thing?

What has this to do with Arctic Sea Ice? It is because, besides the actual science involved, I see some imbeciles employing Maoist tactics. It is as if the world learned nothing from China’s agony, or Russia’s agony under Stalinism, or Germany’s agony under Hitler. Just as Mao ignored the evidence under his own nose, a half century later certain college professors are blind. The Truth does not matter to such snobs; they think their vainglorious ideology makes them righteous.