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September/October, 2000
 

 

Dear Friends,

I survived the last segment of SURVIVOR, the reality-based TV show. Echoes of extreme inner revulsion still cling to my heart, and I completely agree with Caryn James, who said in THE NEW YORK TIMES that "SURVIVOR turns the competitive nightmare of contemporary life into a benign game."

Watching this Machiavellian farce reminded me of once observing young children making up their own version of a game they called "OBSTACLE."  Completely arbitrary rules were announced for negotiating the makeshift obstacle course they had made of chairs, tables and such; then the kids took turns working their way over & around the objects to see who could win by the following all the rules.  My first thought was, "how ridiculous!" I mean, don't we have enough real obstacles without having to make them up?  Upon reflection, however, this is exactly how so much of our behavior is, struggling to overcome self-created obstacles in order to win the empty prize of material superiority.

We're all immersed in this game to some extent, no matter how much we may despise it.  Kindness, therefore, is required, both for ourselves and others, allowing love to overcome the mutual contempt that Erich Fromm said is the result of living in a society built upon the acquisition of things.

-- Bill Joyner

 

Whatever we're looking for, we won't find it on TV, in a movie or a book. The kingdom of love is within.  Without "within," there is no "without."  A sense of inner amplitude makes for outer adequacy & exuberance.  The prodigal one finds peace when he "comes to himself."

--Bill Joyner


"You yourself must become a priest in your own inner church - in the church of your soul."

--Quoted by Carl Jung in Man and His Symbols


 

 

Reality

"Certainly we area degraded race, and have sold our birthright for a mess of facts," Oscar Wilde warned in The Decay of Lying, right before the turn of the last century.  "If something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify, our monstrous worship of facts, Art will become sterile, and beauty will pass away from the land." Oscar knew what time it was, and a hundred years later the reality bore is everywhere.  It's not just the glut of reality-based TV shows like Survivor or Big Brother, either.  Across the tundras of American culture, the imagination is in retreat before a profusion of live Webcasts, inside scoops and real-time data.

Meanwhile, everyone's a showbiz insider. Thanks to VH1's Behind The Music, The E! True Hollywood Story, Bravo's Inside The Actor's Studio and ESPN's Fifty Greatest Athletes, we know all the backstage dirt about stars we've never heard of.  We can watch cash-strapped celebs like John Byner and Carnie Wilson broadcast their surgeries live on a-doctor-in-your-house.com. In line at the movies, people casually chat about Scary Movie's opening-weekend gross like hardened market analysts.

Perhaps it is time  is it not? - for a return to the imagination, the surreal, the untrustworthy and the mischievous. Reality's fine if you like that sort of thing.

--Rob Sheffield

 


We must endure our thoughts
all night, until
The bright obvious stands
motionless in the cold.

Wallace Stevens
 


 

Two books of enduring worth, DECEITFUL POISON by Deborah Layton and ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM by Erich Fromm:

I heard Ms. Layton on the very late night "Coast to Coast" radio show.  She told of being an idealistic young person in the seventies when she met & joined (with a vengeance, rising to the very top echelons of) Jim Jones' PEOPLE'S TEMPLE, accompanying the charismatic leader and his suicidally fanatical followers into the very "heart of darkness" -- Jonestown, in the rainforest jungles of Guyana.  Her brother, one of the only surviving participants in that massacre, which cost 900 people their lives, most of them children, is serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary.  It was he who convinced this highly educated young woman, his sister, to become a part of the cult. Finally, just a few months before the final catastrophe, she was able to break away from the Great Leader's appeal.  It's all in her book.

Which brings me to again reference Erich Fromm's profound examination of the mass acquiescence to fascism in Nazi Germany and other forms of authoritarian control, ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM. Check out the excerpts below, you'll see how pertinent his words still are.

-- Bill Joyner

"Powerful tendencies arise to escape from freedom into submission or some kind of relationship to man and the world which promises relief from uncertainty, even if it deprives the individual of his freedom."

"He (Hitler) describes the breaking of the will of the audience by the superior strength of the speaker as the essential factor in propaganda: 'What the masses want is the victory of the stronger and the annihilation or the unconditional surrender of the weaker. Like a woman ... who will submit to the strong man rather than dominate the weakling, thus the masses love the ruler rather than the suppliant, and inwardly they are far more satisfied by a doctrine which tolerates no rival than by the grant of liberal freedom.'"

"There is a form of dependency which is so general in our culture that only in exceptional cases does it seem to be lacking. ...I am referring to the kind of persons whose life is related to some power outside themselves.  There is nothing they do, feel, or think which is not somehow related to this power.  They expect protection from 'him,' wish to be taken care of by 'him,' make 'him' also responsible for whatever may be the outcome of their own actions. ...Frequently, of course, the 'magic helper' is personified as God, as a principle, or as real persons such as one's parent, husband, wife or superior."

--Erich Fromm's ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM

 

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7365 Main St. Suite 111
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keekstar@juno.com

 

THE COLOR OF PARADISE

is an Iranian film of compelling sorrow and beauty. It reveals the story of an unforgettable blind boy, Mohhammed, who reaches out everywhere for God for love.  He hears what the birds are saying, he senses light even in the deepest darkness. His heart can see quite well "the color of paradise."

--Bill Joyner

 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. introducing Al Gore - "our last best chance to save the planet."

--Associated Press


Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody.

--Truman Capote


... to will to be that self which one truly is, is indeed the opposite of despair.

-- Soren Kierkegaard


I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

--Wilson Mizner


I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.

--Bette Midler


We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

--Joni Mitchell


The moment has arrived when a really thoroughgoing spiritual materialism is the intelligent and essential attitude for the management of technology, and for helping mankind to be something better than the most predatory monster yet evolved.

--Alan Watts


There's a madness in love at first, like flames leaping up when a blaze is lit, but the strength of a fire is in the coals.  It's true what they say about familiarity, but beneath the contempt and the discontent of day by day is something fine, like polished steel.

--Bill Joyner


BIKE
Perhaps in the future armies will move over abandoned highways on bicycles and roll away from war.  Meanwhile, we'd better watch out for the cars.

--BJ


"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking"

--Voltaire


A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.

--Washington Irving


"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

--Eleanor Roosevelt 1184-1962


The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare.

--Thane Yost


The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
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