My Epiphany: The Science-Narrative Link

AH HAJust today, I think I heard the words that I’ve been waiting to hear my entire life. “The Science-Narrative Link”. Finally, I have a name for the thing that speaks to me so profoundly that I get SUPER excited by the idea of starting a blog of all things, for no apparently worthwhile reason. No audience. No marketing plan. No foreseeable path to revenue, let alone profit. Plus, “blog”, yuck. As much as I have come to respect the medium, the people of it, and the work that they do, I cannot seem to shake the mental image of a wannabe hack updating all 12 of their followers on which flavors of froyo their cat likes best. But yet, I love the idea. I know why I love it, but I didn’t have a name for why I love it. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved explaining things to people. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. Until now, it’s probably why I’ve never been particularly good at anything. The second that I feel I understand enough about a topic to blow the mind of an uninitiated, I’m bored. I’m not a lover OR a fighter, despite the rumors of great prowess in both. I’m not a doer or a teacher, again against ample evidence to the contrary. I do fancy myself a bit of a story teller, but compared to Stephen King or even Stephen Hawking I leave a great deal to be desired when it comes to create a story. I love to tell stories. I know I truly love to tell stories because I most of the time I think that we all do. Every so often I return to the surface for a brief lungful of reality, and in that moment, I realize that this must not be so. There must be those who prefer to listen than to speak; though wherever they live, it must not have an exit off of I-95. There must be those who prefer to hear a good story than to tell one. Public speaking is among the greatest fears of all, or so they say. There are both introverts and extroverts, and everything in-between. Some people may not like to tell stories just because they don’t. Maybe those people prefer crocheting or sky-diving, who knows? But it only for the briefest of moments that I can imagine the people exist, for the joy that I feel when I tell a story surely can have no boundaries. I am an explainer, for whatever that’s worth. 

I have so many things I want to tell people about that I can hardly slow down enough to make the list. Bitcoin and how it could take us forward to the past. Psychedelics – why Trix aren’t just for kids. Hunting – why killing an 800lbs forest horse that has swords on its head with a bow and arrow is far more humane than ordering a 4 pack of chicken nuggets at Wendy’s (dammit now I’m hungry), and Factory Farming – why vegans might actually have a point, if being a vegan was actually at all possible. Medical Marijuana and why my mom works for Lucifer. That one time that a girl OD’d on heroin and almost died in my arms, so of course I hid the dope after I called 911, then a week later after I helped her check into rehab I thought to myself, “It sure would be a shame to let all this perfectly good heroin go to waste…”. Why I want to be all tribal and either love or hate Trump, but there’s actually a lot going on there. The REAL riddle of the Sphinx – who the three guys that you probably haven’t heard of are that can explain that there is good evidence to support the Sphinx being there BEFORE Egypt. Milo Yiannopolis seems like a cool dude, and Jason should like him. Transgender Pronouns and Marxism – if you haven’t heard Jordan Peterson talk, stop whatever you’re doing and go to YouTube right now; I’ll wait. Now that you’re back, what commie-wannabes forget, is that they don’t know how Dunbar’s number works. House of Cards is so gooood! Our school system should not be underfunded, it’s fucked from the top and the bottom; typically I pay a lot extra for that. While we’re at it, learning how to fight should be part of PE, leaving children to their own devices defending themselves is like teaching abstinence only sex ed. Game of Thrones is back soon! Football! Chael Sonnen is the greatest thing that has ever thinged in the history of ever, and I can prove it in 12 easy steps. “What’s wrong with being a skeptic in 2017?” – The problem of the uninformed skeptic who doesn’t actually know how to do research. How podcasts and audio books are changing my life and I’m probably not even doing it right. The problem with the left vs the right – there are like a million other fucking directions. Stuff that I even more blatantly stole from other people who probably properly credited it to the person who borrowed its boss or professor, but make me sound super smart. Why the Bible was right all along and atheists needs to get over it.

This is what gets me excited. This is what gets me up in the morning, even though my job is allegedly to sell life insurance to poor people in New Jersey. This is what got me up in the morning when I spent hours explaining cosmology to teenagers instead of properly managing a Karate Atlanta location. This is what got me up in the afternoon when I was smoking my way through Florida State University. GO NOLES!!! And now I know what it is, or I’ve finally learned what it’s called. A seemingly innocuous throw in, on a different topic by Hunter Maats on the Joe Rogan Experience (sweet leg kicks!!). In the era of super-job-specialization, there is a gap between the researchers of the world, and everyone else. Be honest with yourself. No one reads science. No one. Not even the people who write science. They’re the only ones who could even read whatever insane language it is that they’re using anyway. Trust me, I’ve tried. Plus, people who are writing good science are far too busy to read anything anyone else has to say on any other topics. That’s what makes them good. And if any of us bothered reading up on any of the sides of arguments that we aren’t on, Twitter would barely even be a thing.

This explains WHY we’ve gotten so off course that we can’t even understand each other as human beings in 2017. We’ve lost the voice of our story-tellers, at least the good ones, at least in this county. Have you stopped to wonder why a fat black Carl Sagan knock-off is so popular? Why John Stewart turned 22 min, 4 nights a week on Comedy Central in a phenomenon? Why comedians in 2017 don’t jokes, they do bits on political and social commentary? Because we are desperate to have voices that can make the world make sense with a story. J.K. Rowling is now the richest person in England and her story wasn’t even original. It wasn’t even new! It was the story of Horus. The story Joseph Campbell will tell you is really the story of all heroes. The story of Jesus. The Story of Anakin Skywalker. She didn’t make that story up, because no one made that story up. That story is real. The archetypal story of the good and the evil inside of us all is as old as humanity. But no one reads Carl Jung. No one actually reads Schrodinger. Hell, I’ve listened to two people who wouldn’t know Corinthians I from their ass-hole, argue about Christianity for HOURS. But, who could ever forget Harry and Ron and Hermione?

If I tell you that X part of black culture actually shows derivative signs of Y part of Western English culture, and that you probably haven’t thought about the implications of cross-cultural impact, I can start to hear you snore. BUT, if I tell you a story about how Donald Trump is Muhammad for both White AND Black red-necks, now we might have something going here. The “myths” of mythology, the stories of the Old Testament that don’t make any sense, the Book of the 5 Rings, these are not made up stories. They are not bullshit. They are how the great story tellers of the past explained the greater truths of their time to the people who were busy doing other shit. Characters make stories. These stories don’t make sense to us, because we are sorely lacking for great story tellers to explain the world to us.

This is my quest. This is what I am here to do, and hopefully to inspire others to do as well. Not to write the stories that I see as correct, but to learn the truth of the stories that have always been. To learn the truth of the world around us and relay it back you as a story. Something we can all understand and take with us. That way maybe, just maybe, we can all know a little bit more about why others may disagree with is. Maybe we can have a little bit more perspective. One can only truly disagree with someone else if they understand the other’s position. Without understanding, one can only be an asshole.

I’ll close by telling you a story that you probably don’t know that you already know. It’s the story of your inner-child diving down in the deepest darkest depths of your inner-being, searching for answers. Searching for the truth of who he is, who you are, through the strangest of experiences. Some people need no help to have crazy experiences. Some seek them through meditation or drug use. There are a thousand different ways, but take solace in this. No matter where you, or your inner-child, are on this road to enlightenment, you already know the whole story. You’ve already been told how it goes. If you want a refresher, our wonderful world of technology will be happy to oblige. All you have to do is google your inner-child. His name is Pinocchio.

Star Wars Episode VIII and the Current Political Climate

The impending release of the newest installment of the Star Wars saga provides a perfect backdrop for understanding the clusterfuck that we find ourselves eye-to-eye with everyday attempting to decode current American politics. If you find yourself as one of the people thinking, “I don’t get what the big deal is with Star Wars,” I’ll wager dollars-to-donuts that you jumped in somewhere in the middle. As with all good stories the beauty, the truth, lies in the journey. Beginning, middle, and end. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, Star Wars does not take place “A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…” Star Wars does not just tell a story, it tells THE story. It tells us the story of what is going on around us, inside us, every minute of every day. If you don’t get it, go back to the beginning, you will. Pay little attention to the numbering of the Episodes, this is not the order you’re looking for. The proper order of the Star Wars Films is as follows: 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, Rouge 1, 6, 7, 8, 9. This is a variation of the “Machete Order”.

DARTH-TRUMP

The Star Wars saga began in 1977. Any true comprehension must begin there as well. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope comes first. This is by far the most important part. Stop reading here, go watch it, and you will still be the better for it. The entire Star Wars empire stems from the power of the original film. If you love Star Wars, Harry Potter, or any of the epics, read Joseph Campbell particularly Hero with 1,000 Faces. It’s all there. The second film in the Star Wars story is the second film to be released Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. It is crucial not to spoil the reveal at the end of Empire by placing any films other than ANH before it. Between The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, comes the entire Prequel Quadrilogy, sequentially. Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, plus Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Then come the rest of the films, also sequentially. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

The order of the films is important, but only to properly portray the order of the story. Everything stems from the original film. A New Hope may be the purest telling of the archetypal hero myth that has ever been created for film. Everything else is a prologue or an epilogue to the story of the Desert Orphan who befriended the Mystic, the Rogue, and the Princess on the road to spiritual enlightenment that allowed him to tap into his inner life-force, the life-force of all living things, and save his friends from destruction at the hands of the forces of evil.

Early in the story, we learn that the Jedi are the self-proclaimed champions of peace and justice, and later on that they have declared their sworn enemies, the distressingly similar Sith, to be the forces of Evil. We also learn that the Jedi believe, again incorrectly, that only the Sith deal in absolutes. This wrong-headed belief proves to be the crux of the undoing for the Jedi who, like the truest of Hubrists, are torn down never to return as they were. As the story unfolds, we find the Jedi actually have far more and more asinine rules than their counterparts. The Sith believe that power is to be desired and comes from embracing all human emotion, especially the dark. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate will make you powerful. The Jedi believe that only by denying all emotion can they steel themselves against the darkness that resides in all of us. Alas, love, the greatest human emotion of them all, is what leads Luke Skywalker’s father Anakin down the dark path. Clinging too closely to those we love brings a tragic sense of loss when we outlive them. Loss leads to sadness, sadness leads to despair, and despair leads to rage.

Star Wars teaches us that love and hate may not be true opposites. Love is the greatest of all human emotions, it is the best thing that we can do. Love can be for a single person, or it can be for all of humanity, for all living things, for life itself, for things that are not even alive. As such, love is far too grand to have an exact opposite. To imagine a person who hates everything, every person, every animal, every food, is to immediately become sad. Hate is not a big enough emotion, not a big enough concept to fully mirror love. Hate can only mirror the focused aspect of love, the love for one person, or one thing, one group, one idea. Hate can bring a person to do terrible terrible things, but like a cancer, when it grows too large it collapses under its own weight. Hate that grows too large brings us back to loss, to sadness, to despair. It is despair that can cause a person to cross the bridge to rage. Rage is the foil for the unfocused aspect of love. The love for all things that can fill a person’s heart. Perhaps this is compassion. It is only rage that a person can feel for everything and everyone. Rage is what person feels when they have lost too much, it is what they can do when they no longer care who suffers. We rage against anyone else, everyone else, against ourselves, who cares?

Rage is the true dark monster that lives at the end of the dark path inside of us all. And rage is only ever a few short steps from love. To love someone is to share their pain. Not to naively attempt to shield them from it, but feel their pain with them and allow them to feel ours. But what happens when we are too selfless? What happens when we attempt to be strong, to allow someone we love to unburden their pain onto us, but you keep too much of our own for to ourself? And then they leave us. Something, someone, the world, takes them from us. Suddenly we are alone, with our pain and theirs and no one to share it with. What happens when that pain is too great? What if there is no one to blame? To hate?

This is the story of Anakin Skywalker, of how he becomes Darth Vader. It is the story of Washington bureaucrats and internet blog-tivists. It is what happens when we get too attached to our ideas that we can’t stand to lose them. It is what happens when we don’t acknowledge our fears that the other side may be right. That maybe we had it wrong all along. Maybe I don’t understand the budget. Maybe we can’t just lower taxes. Maybe they have a point about immigration or abortion, something I didn’t think about. Fear leads to anger. NO! They don’t have it right, I have it right! Anger leads to hate. Conservatives are Nazis and Liberals are destroying America! But only the pain of loss, the despair of getting your hopes up and then having them dashed can take you across the bridge to soul-crushing rage. WE LOST?!? They shot JFK?!? They shot Malcom?!? They shot Martin?!? Nixon won?!? He resigned?!? Carter won?!? Reagan won?!? Bush won?!? Clinton won?!? Another Bush won?!? They blew up the Towers?!? Obama Won?!? The black guy?!? Another Clinton’s gonna win?!? A woman?!? She lost?!? Trump won?!? They’re ruining my country!! The economy is in the shitter!! It’s all the immigrants fault!! Fuck muslims!! No fuck you!! Fuck racists!! Fuck rich people!! Fuck poor people!! Fuck everybody!!

Holy shit, SLOW DOWN! There are four more movies.

The Jedi believed that the only way to avoid the loss that can start the spiral towards soul crushing despair and rage is to eschew the narrow focusing love that two people share with each other. They believed that only compassion for life and for other living beings as a whole was safe enough to allow themselves to feel. This was their downfall. This is the downfall of American politics. It is the philosophy of the fundamentalist. It is the thinking of the person who believes that there is one right answer, one solution to everything, and the only way to win is never, ever, give in to anything else. America is rife with them. Religious fundamentalists. Scientific fundamentalists. Liberal fundamentalists. Conservative fundamentalists. New York Yankees fundamentalists. Boston fundamentalists. Silicon Valley fundamentalists. Whatever I think is better than what you think fundamentalists.

This is strife, this is conflict, this is drama, this is suffering. This is when Luke Skywalker reclaims the path of righteousness by hitting puberty and discovering emotional depth. He learns the ability to feel more than one thing, to think more than one thing, at the same time. He saves his father by allowing Anakin to reconcile the right that he did with the wrong; to die at peace with the fact that we are all the yin and the yang. The old school Jedi and the Sith both had it right, and they both had it wrong, but at least the lines were clearly drawn. Cold-hearted detachment vs. Hot-blooded passion. Both are necessary, but either will lead to disaster without the other. We cannot become too attached to our ideas, or our identities, but neither can we hold them too loosely. We should hold the most important things to use closely, but never so closely that we could not bear to lose them. Death is an inevitable part of life, we must be ready for it.

America could use some clarity and balance right now. What is the Right? What is the Left? What do they really stand for? Are those my only two options? Do I have to choose one or the other? Take abortion, for instance. Who is Pro-life? Who is Pro-choice? What about guns? Is the answer the same? We like to yell and scream at each other, but at the end of the day I don’t think that very many of us have the same answer for both. I think most of us take one from column-A and one from column-B. I think Episode VIII and its “Grey Jedi”, half-light, half-dark, might get here just in time to remind us all that the answer isn’t one or the other, it’s both. Liberals are out of their fucking minds. Completely insane, bat shit crazy. If you ask some of them about gender pronouns. On the other hand, their stance on student loans makes a lot of sense. Conservatives are unhinged. Corporate driven, war-machine building, hillbilly psychopaths. Just ask a few of the super, super rich ones their opinion on corporate personhood. That is, until we need soldiers.

The way to fix our problems cannot be found on the Left or the Right. It requires both. Some light, some dark. Some yin, some yang. The calm is at the center of the storm. The path to prosperity lies along the knife-edge between good and evil. What a mess we’ve made of having two right answers.