Monday, December 13, 2010

Dharma & Greg S01E01 Pilot Clip1

In Order to "be free where you are" You Must Understand the Meaning of "True Love"

What is authentic? An emotion that you feel before you relate it to someone else is authentic. Unfortunately, our emotions have become fragmented and fractured over the years causing us to disconnect from each other in interpersonal relationships. We no longer look someone in the eyes when we speak to them. We are too busy texting them or emailing them or facebooking them to even know what they are doing or looking at when they are communicating with us. The eyes are the window to the soul but we don't seem interested in looking that deeply into another person's soul anymore. Due to advancements in technology, we are connecting through the airwaves and not in a heart felt way. There has been a seduction of our social values, our family values and our personal values. We are more concerned with external trappings then internal thoughts. We have become a disposable society where things are discarded before they become old or obsolete or they are locked up somewhere in our house, behind walls, where we don't have or want accessibility to them anymore. This includes our emotions. We have locked them up behind walls also and we have become a prisoner to technology and we must learn to free ourselves, from being so wired up, no matter where we are. Dystopia is becoming a reality. Our current affairs, our current ideologies, our minds and our bodies are in a current state of turmoil. Many people live under extremely poor conditions suffering from deprivation, oppression, terrorism (both internally and externally), domestic violence, abuse, and mental illness. They will never be free unless we work together to do something about all the issues around us. We see the signs but we do nothing. We hear the language yet we have deconstructed its meaning. We don't practice the words anymore. Unless we, society as a whole, make a conscious effort to bring meaning back to the words we say, out loud, to one another, in person, we will never learn how to be free in order to perpetuate true love to the person standing beside us. They cannot feel our compassion unless they are able to stand freely beside us. Compassion is the path to the freedom of true love and unless we succeed in getting back to the path we will no longer be able to guide emotions to the authentic feelings of our hearts.

As a result of "hooking up" on the internet and our cell phones we have plugged into mechanical ideologies and rewired our values and because we have disconnected from human contact, we now have delusions because of the illusions interposing our lives by the mass media. Our culture is significantly influenced by the digital download and the imagery that has emerged from these social databases. Our language is no longer stable and our words have new meanings. In "Cultural Studies" by Chris Barker the symbols of language are explored by Saussure. "For Saussure, a signifying system is constituted by a series of signs that are analyzed in terms of their constituent parts."(Barker 76). "Signs are commonly organized into a sequence that generates meaning through the cultural conventions of their usage within a particular context. Such arrangements are called cultural codes." (Barker 77). There are no cultural codes on the internet and as a result there is a breakdown of language between the parties that are communicating to each other. The sounds may not match the true images of the people who are connecting with us. Language on the internet is premeditated and because of this we now have new fears that have been imposed upon us.We don't know if the person is sincere about what they are writing to us. We have no way of knowing if their love is true or if they are just a predator looking to prey on the weak and innocent. We have lost our freedom because our right to feel safe has been taken away from us. Compassion is lost because our emotions are imprisoned within our walls of apprehension.

One person who is teaching us to reconnect with each other, to free ourselves from our personal restraints and to learn the meaning of compassion so we can obtain true love is Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced "tick not Hon"). He is a Zen Buddhist monk, poet and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was born in Vietnam and for thirty years he lived in exile in France where he founded the monastic community of Plum Village. We learn, through the language of his books, how to find compassion in our own heart so we are able to win over the hearts of the people we wish to be connected with. According to his books "be free where you are" and "True Love" we must practice mindfulness in order to obtain this goal.

Mindfulness is a practice that can cultivate freedom no matter where you are. It also gives us a deeper insight into ourselves so we may have a better understanding of what love is. The search for freedom is fully expressed and conceptualized in "be free where you are." On October 16, 1999 Thich Nhat Hanh went and spoke to more then one hundred inmates at The Maryland Correctional Institution at Hagerstown. He taught them the practice of mindfulness so they would have the capability to be free inside their prison walls. Their confinement was only external when they embraced the knowledge that helped them let go of their internal confinement. He explained that we all must free ourselves from the prison we live in and we all must learn to dwell outside our prison walls. Our walls are nor only physical but also emotional. They can be walls of hate, fear and anxiety. When we learn to let go of our anx then we are able to be unrestricted and are no longer a slave to our undesirable thoughts. We can then pursue happiness and our spirit can live harmoniously with others.

He brought this new ideology to the inmates so they would learn how to transform and begin to heal mentally. He began by explaining that mindfulness is an energy that is invited in through a breathing routine and must be practiced daily in order to rid ourselves of our negative energy. This gives us relief and enables us to live with joy. We learn to clear our mind to make room for insightfulness so we are able to look deeply inside ourselves. Focus is a key element in this practice as it helps to eliminate distractions to enable us to shed our habit energy. Everything we do we must do mindfully.As a result "if you practice dwelling peacefully in the present moment during the day, being mindful of whatever it is that you are doing,peace will radiate from you, and this will inspire the people around you."(preface-be free where you are). People imitate others and learn by example. When we dwell we learn to be mindful of others and in turn they are mindful of us. There is no room for aggression in our hearts when we are dwelling on compassion, peace, understanding, kindness, beauty and forgiveness.

This is how we begin to find the path of freedom. When we are free from afflictions, anger, and despair we are happy. The feelings of anger can cause us to suffer and destroy us. The ability to take care of our anger is done by bringing attention to our breathing. "To be able to breathe is a miracle. A person on his deathbed cannot breathe freely and soon will stop breathing altogether. But I am alive. I can breathe in and become aware of my in-breath; I can breathe out and and become aware of my out-breath. I smile at my out-breath and I am aware that I am alive. So when you breath in, be aware of your in-breath. When you breathe out, be aware that this is your out-breath. Breathe as a free person"(8). The prison culture went through some immediate changes after this lesson. The prisoners were no longer completely controlled by the individuals from above. They found the reality of freedom through the illusion of something that exists freely to all; air. Breathing teaches us that we are all free because it comes from within, from our core and no can really "take our breath away." It keeps us in the moment and when we remain in the moment we don't have "despair or regrets about the past or fears about the future." (9) We are moving towards being able to offer compassion, which is the highest form of love, and learn to turn away from adversity. Then there is no longer a voice from above and the is no longer an I and another but one voice resonating through each other. "Every moment of our daily lives can be used to cultivate mindfulness-the energy of the Buddha, the Holy Spirit. Where ever the Holy Spirit is, there is understanding, forgiveness and compassion. The energy of mindfulness has the same nature.If you know how to generate this energy, you become truly present, truly alive, and you become capable of understanding. With understanding you become compassionate, and that will change everything."(43-44). I think this gives a new meaning to cultural politics. As a result of his visit, the Maryland Correctional Institution implemented a new meditation program.

In his book "True Love" he teaches that , according to Buddhism, there are four elements to true love. They are Maitri, Karuna< Mudita, and Upekska(1-4). Maitri is the act of loving kindness or benevolence. It is the desire to make someone happy and the ability to bring joy and happiness to a beloved person because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer. We must be trained to understand the other person by looking deeply at who they are, because if we don't have a deep understanding of who they are, then we cannot love them properly. Understanding is the essence of love. Karuna is compassion and the desire and ability to ease the pain of another. We must again practice deep looking in order to have an understanding of the nature of the other person's in order to help them change. Knowledge and understanding are always at the root of the practice. When we meditate we look deeply into the heart of things. Mudita is joy. Love must have joy or it is not true love. When people make one another suffer and cry it is not really love. Upeksha is equanimity or freedom. In true love you attain freedom and bring freedom to the person you love. Freedom is not only environmental but psychological. Our hearts need room to grow and if we give the other person room to do so then you know your love is real.

Once we have understanding of the other person we must devote time to the other person and we must be there for them in the here and now. The commodity of time and our devotion to the other person, by giving of ourself, with our presence, is all we can ask for from one another.
Meditation teaches us how to share ourselves with the ones we love for life. Through meditation we become one with our mind and body, with each other and with the universe."We must bring about a revolution in our way of living our every day lives, because our happiness, our lives are within ourselves." (11). We are giving signs to the other person that we love them. According to Derrida "we think only in signs and there is no original meaning circulating outside of 'representation.'" (Barker 18).We have formed a new language based on the other person's needs and they in turn react to our actions.

In accordance with this new language there are mantra's that must be recited. The first one is "Dear one, I am here for you" (9) which goes along with recognizing the presence of the other and giving them your attention and time. The second one is"Dear one, I know you are here, and it makes me happy." (14) telling them that not only are you giving of yourself to them but you are happy they are here so you can make yourself available to them. The third mantra is "Dear one, I know that you are there and it makes me very happy." (18), letting them know that you are also happy that they are there for you. The next two mantras are used when the person you love is suffering and when you are suffering. "Dear one, I know you are suffering, that is why I am here for you." (20) and "Dear one, I am suffering, please help." (25). Both indicate your love because you are reaching out to someone for help and you are asking them to reach out to you for help. Pride is not an issue or an obstacle for love. There is no division of sexes in these teachings. Both man and woman are equal with similar wants, desires, and needs. They both are working towards the betterment of the relationship. The language itself has put each individual on an equal playing field.

The words are not new nor is their meaning but how they are placed within the context of the relationship gives them a different power. Their relationship to ideas has caused change. It is like the wind. The wind itself has no sound unless it passes through and around other objects that are putting pressure against the winds path. Wind obtains life, purpose and meaning only from other objects. The rustling sound is heard only because the wind moves through the leaves of the trees. The trees, that become an obstacle to the wind, and block its path, minimize the wind and cause the wind to linger but eventually a new path and a new sound is created. The wind has become a living entity through the illusion of the mind and the mind has personified it to become an interchangeable object. It has human traits. It recreates. The illusion creates emotion. Its existence is validated through the movement of Nature. It gives meaning to other forms of life through its whispers of the hear and now. Our society loves to play with play on words. We thrive on this concept and we can use the psychology of words as a weapon or as a tool for success. Thich Nhat Hanh has used words as a tool for success. He has pulled the "I" out of id and has helped us let go of the ego. Hopefully the sound of the breath he wishes all of us to discover will continue to whisper and echo through our psyche like the wind. We would miss the wind if it didn't continue to whisper through the leaves of the trees and we would miss this analogy if I was unable to put into words my thoughts inspired by his books.

The ideology of the two books has eliminated the ideology of competition. they reject Baudrillard's "System of Objects" but they do employ the techniques of psychological conditioning, which is developed in economic planning. Also, this ideology has been promoted by the mass media:television. This idea of true love was brought to our attention through the romantic comedy "Dharma and Greg" which aired from September 1997 until April 2002. It was about the marriage between Dharma Finkelstein-Montgomery (Jenna Elfman) and Greg Montgomery (Thomas Gibson). Dharma was a free spirited Yoga instructor always looking at the positive side of everything. She was raised by hippie parents and they taught her to find the joy in everyday life. Greg was a conservative lawyer. They got married after their first date. They found a deep understanding and compassion towards one another and viewed he world around them with the same respect. The obstacles they encountered were either as a result of Dharma's anti-establishment parents or Greg's uptight, condescending, materialistic parents. The parents all had to accept the notion that their child married outside of what was typical for them and each set of parents viewed their child as having married "the other."

The show helps bring the books written by Thich Nhat Hanh into some type of social perspective. Their context gives an answer to a believable social problem (Barker 323) and they indicate that they represent the "real world."(323). The show indicates how there is a place for the books in the education of cultural studies through romance in popular culture. The show has made the ideas in the books accessible to a larger, conservative, secular reader. Love has been given an identity and that identity is a routine that comes from neither above but from within. Buddhism, unlike our own teachings, has no duality. We must not suppress one side in favor of another. We learn from the teachings that our values come from our heart and our heart never sleeps. Our heart never takes a break. According to Buddah "There is a world, but there is no birth and there is no death, there is no high and no low, no being and no non being." (True Love-98). These thoughts go against our fundamental belief system.

Nirvana, extinction, is the basis of all being and ingrained in the philosophy of Buddhism. The Buddhists believe that "To be or not to be is not really the question but the true question is, do we have enough concentration, enough practice. to teach the foundation of being, that is Nirvana?" (True Love 101). Let's hope they do because our society needs to stop pulling away from a value system that creates peace and harmony in a globular sense. For every wall that comes down another wall seems to go up... I think the words that need to be uttered from the lips of all people from around the world is, my gift to you is the gift of love.

Works Cited

Barker, Chris, Cultural Studies. London:Sage Publications Ltd. 2008.Print.
Hanh, Thich Nhat.
be free where you are,. Berkeley, Ca.:Parallax. 2002. Print.
True Love. Boston, Massachusetts. :Shambhala Publications,Inc. 1997. Print.

ronounced "tick not hon"0

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Final Thoughts Before the Final Paper-Freudiantextual and Freudianinternetual slips

A few months ago I received a text from someone that was meant for someone else. Then, a few days ago I received an email that was not meant for me. Both were personal in nature. Once they're sent there's no tacking them back and sometimes the people that send them don't even know that they've been sent. There are no safeguards against unwanted advances unless we know how to put those safeguards in place. The technology is there but sometimes the intelligence is not. In my case this is true. I don't know how to protect myself from receiving information that I might not want and sometimes I don't know how to protect my information. This is very dangerous, especially since there are dangerous people in the world. For every step forward we take it seems we are still taking steps backwards. Space is not always the place for me unless I've misplaced something in cyberspace. Then I guess I'm just a space cadet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Need More Space To Further Exploit My Face

From 1961- 1966 "Mr. Ed" aired on television. It was a very popular show about a klutzy architect, Wilbur Post (who ever thought that Post would be a post), and his talking horse Mr. Ed. Only Wilbur could hear Mr. Ed speak and he always answered Wilbur's questions about life. Audiences loved Mr. Ed and believed him to be real. He was a voice of the current generation. He was the alter voice of Wilbur. He was an illusion that, for some, became a reality. He invaded and infiltrated households as a result of the modern advancements in technology. There was a psychological edge to the dynamics between the horse and its owner and the characters of the show and the audience. The horse had a psyche and as a result we identified with him. We believed what he said. He was no longer just a horse. The horse and his language signified something. We no longer wanted to hear only, real life, human, television characters give meaning to our lives (this is another psychological problem all its own which will have to be discussed at another time) but we were willing to listen to an animal that itself was playing a character and it was doing something that is not probable. So now we are listening to something that is unbelievable that is from something that is unbelievable.  (this gives me a headache if I think about it too much).

Fast forward to current day. We now have digital media. Isn't there a risk of severe psychological damage to many of the weaker consumers with many more consequences? There are strong predominate types surfing the net in "need" of weaker prey to satisfy their imbalances and impulses and there is no safety net. We are a society where the individual believes what it wants to know and hears what it wants to here because it already has a belief system in place.
We really are controlling to consume here.

Mr. Ed The talking horse

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bob Marley's cultural politics and cultural policy.

Life is an illusion reflected by my voice. Language ads credence to this illusion because it is perpetrated and perpetuating by my voice. Let's destroy the illusion and make it a reality.

"Freedom Time" by Bob Marley suggests a new language in cultural politics must be obtained. His plea resonates echos from the past and, this still current day message, will continue to be valid unless we open our hearts, ears and minds to ideologies that we must teach to our children so their future generations don't make the mistakes of their previous generations. His words:

"got the news from the whispering trees,this is the time when man must be freed, no more burning in vain, all we lose we'll have to gain, get ready children, please, didn't I build the cabin, didn't I plant the corn, didn't my people keep holy, slave to this country, my sermon it was billed for freedom, the good lord said son you're a free man, I'm gonna talk that freedom talk, let me see you walk that freedom walk, when yah gets ready, children please, a tellya, got the news from a whispering tree...

Lauren Hill takes it one step further in her lyrics from "Freedom Time":

Everybody knows that they're guilty
Everybody knows that they've lied
Everybody knows that they're guilty
Resting on their conscious eating their inside
It's freedom, said it's freedom time now
It's freedom, said it's freedom time now
Time to get free, oh give us yourselves up now
It's freedom. said it's freedom time

Both songs want us to take a social action. Their language takes on a range of meanings and these meanings identify issues in our communities.  Unless we exploit the media, in this case music, we can't get "the truth" out there for all to hear. Sometimes exploitation is a good thing.

American Psyco and Cultural Politics and Cultural Studies

Is American Psyco the result of a hegemonic culture? I think it is. The group of men portrayed in American Psyco are powerful and wish to exercise social leadership and authority over a subordinate group-women. And they allow this to happen. The group of men win because the women give their consent. This is a sad commentary on our society if it is true. Is it?

But what about the movie Invictus? The movie is about Nelson Mandela.  Can there be more then one way to inspire?  Of course there is. One particular scene evoked a lot of emotion for me. It is when Francois meets Nelson Mandela for the first time and Nelson Mandela asks Francois how his ankle is feeling:

Francois: The truth is, Sir, you never really play at 100% no matter what.

Nelson Mandela:  In sports as in life. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us? It is by using the work of others.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Who does this serve? Who does Nelson Mandela serve? South Africa? No, not just South Africa, everyone, everywhere. The poem, as well as Nelson Mandela touched the hearts and souls of the world.
The movie created the vehicle to bring it home.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seinfeld-"The Group" and "Our Ultimate Finale"

Our group had "Many Episodes." For me it began with "The Watching of the Seinfeld Shows." Specifically, all of season one, two, three, five, six, some of season seven, eight, and nine and some comments from various special features at the end of the shows. Our group focused on "The Deal", "The Contest", "The Blood","The Maid","The Abstinence","The Mango", "The Beard", "The Invitations", "The Puerto Rican", and some of the finale. As a group we met several times, as well as several of us contacting one another through emails, and analyzed all the Seinfeld material and how it corresponded to the material of the class and then related the information to the functions of our society and more notably to radical romance and popular culture. I reread all the articles by Saussure, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Rivkin and Ryan, Butler, Beauvoir, assigned in class, as well as corresponding details relating to the articles by Saussure and Derrida in our book "Cultural Studies" by Chris Barker book from pages 15 through 86. I then carefully aligned the episodes to the readings and drew a comparison and substantial summary for myself on the ideologies we covered in class as well as some outside resources. I formulated this summary into an outline for the rest of the group. This gave me a more intense enlightenment of language and how it related to our topic. I also reread parts of chapters 9 and 10 in our book "Cultural Studies" by Chris Barker and felt it was very important to focus on the accessibility of television and its global expansion and how we should talk about the media, television, in which Seinfeld is exposed in, and how it is exposed to us and who else it is exposed to. I felt we should not ignore this representation and also the inception of Seinfeld and ultimately the background and response of the market money and viewing audience. Also, I tried to categorize Seinfield and after careful discussions with the group we felt it didn't fall into any of the normal assumptions and as a sitcom the closest we could relate it to was a soap opera. I felt that Seinfeld had an immediacy in its presentation and we all agreed that in most Seinfeld episodes there is an indication that the characters are looking for immediate gratification and that the show builds upon itself. The group then came up with many questions that we each needed to think about and answer. Some questions I came up with as I formulated my opinions about the show were: Does Seinfeld relate to our consumer world?, Does what gets on television is as a result of what someone else deems important and who is that someone?, Is Seinfeld realism or melodrama?, What are the personalities of the characters?(George cheap, Kramer elusive, Elaine struggling for identity, Jerry condescending, judgmental and doesn't like himself as stated in "The Invitations"), Do any of us actually ever think about some of the things the characters talk about but would never say these things out loud?, Is the show about stream of consciousness without a filter? Are these believable social problems?, Does the show push current issues in our face, try to deal with them, and discover that society and life can't really change easily? Are these characters the norm or the other?, Is Seinfeld modern or post modern? Are the nature of the characters something our society readily accepts and is it O.K. to say the things the characters say? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

We then decided that there was so much information that we should break down into sub groups. Rachelle and I decided to tackle the idea of language and radical romance together. We met for several hours and Rachelle broke down the extensive outline, that Jackie had put together and emailed for the benefit of the group, and Rachelle redefined the outline. Rachelle minimized and condensed our group discussions and out of that we created an elaborate outline for our language and radical romance discussion which included Anna's segment on homosexuality. Bre also redefined the outline and condensed and reformed our ideas into an understandable spectrum. Rachelle incorporated information from the McDonald book about sexual desire and pleasure, Jeff made the information cohesive with his stand up routine, and Jackie spent many hours detailing the segments she would show of the show itself so the class would have some basic understanding of our discussion. Patriccia, Jackie, Lanisa, Jeff and Bre spent time deciding weather Seinfeld is modern and post modern. Patriccia, Jackie, Jeff and I met the morning of the class with Rachelle's notes and several ideas from Lanisha and Anna and ya da ya da ya da... a new perspective was born and the rest is Seinfeld history. Not that there's anything wrong with that!!!!!