Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Alan Watts- Life is NOT a Journey...It's a Musical. The Damaging Politics of Liberalism and Conservatism. The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling ( Yup it all ties in)



Podcast/video Quote; "But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.
Why?
Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition. The point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance. But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade.

 Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world. Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that.

And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt. "

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts
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Musicals are my life blood. Since finding out I have even less literal healthy blood in me than originally thought, the musical has become even more central in my life. I can not pick one genre or revere the classics above all else. If music has passion, a message, an inspiration, a feeling captured, lyrics which move or rhythms that create movement...I am soul singing and mind dancing. Since as far back as my memory allows, I have viewed my life as a musical. I have mini soundtracks playing constantly in my head. When I can't express myself I send out a song. Some episodes of Glee can touch me more than any other media form. My photos make the most sense and trigger the most memories when they are set to music. I can not remember most facts but I can recall the lyrics from thousands of songs across multiple musical genres. Music IS me in so many ways.

The "life is a journey and not a destination" never fit my mentality. However, the phrase was useful to remind me, at one point of my life when I was all about "getting things DONE," to just be the process. But it wasn't a phrase that really encompassed the beauty, the playfulness that CAN be part of life. Life is a musical encompasses all of the dramatic, mundane and beautiful life moments. Part of my context is that I have within me, a formally christian perspective. Christianity is generally, disguised or not, all about the destination. Heaven. In the doctrine that I was immersed in early life, life is ultimately about dying..."dying to self", "dying to the flesh" and finally dying to reach heaven. Heaven was a more perfected version of life and the belief that you can have it all; ' the mansion', the relationships failed at magically perfected, the closure, the justice of other’s not seeing your way going to hell, the meetings of people that were otherwise not available in real life...and chance after chance in eternity. It makes sense that this is an appealing doctrine to so many. If you don't enjoy life or try to make the world a better place now, you have eternity if you say the prayer and follow Jesus. Obviously, this is a one size statement and does not apply to more enlightened individuals of that chosen faith.


I don't need the counter arguments or merits of it, because I KNOW them. If I had to choose a religion to take over the world Christianity would probably make the top five simply because of the striving for peace and morality it promotes. I am not anti christian but I do take multiple issues with the ridiculousness of some of the mentalities that have been handed down throughout generations considered 'biblical' when really it boils down to power. If you have the ultimate power over death and the mentality of the "right way" then really no human can ever shake or move you to any extent other than your own fellow believers... and that power has created so many disillusioned and sad relationships and poisoned earth or neglected it in the name of heaven and new earth or worse, in hopes of an upcoming or "happening great tribulation." Celebrating natural disasters in the name of "Christ's coming" instead of actually thinking upon climate change and our part in the conundrum. On the political spectrum, Conservatives restrain growth and hamper change, while liberalism is advocating yet ironically causing hypocrisy and damage to the deeper issues in the name of advocacy.

In both spheres there is beauty, but there is also a general lack of challenge when one is immersed in one mind set and surrounded by like minded literature, people and lifestyle in any of the spectrum's from conservative to liberal. I used to, and still do, lean more to the liberal end of the spectrum, however, I have been challenging myself in this area by listening to conservative intelligence. I grew up in conservative ignorance for the most part, but some of them were enlightened, so I do not lack the conservative viewpoint. Lately, I have been looking at the irony of liberalism speaking out about labelling and words, yet censoring other's freedom. The liberalist marching and yelling, insisting on immigrant's rights while neglecting the rights of the people who call the country home, proper name insistence, "advocacy" taken to extremes, yet blindly forgetting the core issues of WHY...neither approach has been satisfying. In both polarization's there is hypocrisy and the neglect about some true issues because of the hype of the fight.

Maybe I have become too comfortable in this word called 'advocacy' and forgetting about the actual reasons I wish for equality, justice and belonging? My re framing of the *Wal Mart issue years ago, brings into mind this change of stance (see bottom of post for more) among my other cliche liberalist mindsets. Don't get me wrong. I am glad I had those stages and these issues do need to be thought and activated on...but I am also determined to challenge myself when I get too comfortable in a stance. I also need to remind myself it's important to sing and dance. To ENJOY and savour whatever morsels of goodness life has offered up.

As for Schooling, my mentalities are echoed in John Taylor Gatto's book "Dumbing Us Down" and "Weapons of Mass Destruction-A School Teacher's Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling." (Both found in my Library links.) The current school system that society upholds is still based on the Industrial Revolution's outdated concepts of pumping out factory workers. From bells, to desks, to 15 minute recess breaks, to grades, to social conditioning in the name of social "community." 

It's conformity. It is a babysitting service at best (which is unfortunately needed) and at worst, it shows our culture's outdated beliefs on achievements, possibility and quality of life. John Taylor Gatto was actually an educator in inner city education for decades, and he made some differences, but he knew from his experiences what issues we are facing within education. "Gatto asserts the following regarding what school does to children in "Dumbing Us Down": It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.


  • It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
  • It makes them indifferent.
  • It makes them emotionally dependent.
  • It makes them intellectually dependent.
  • It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
  • It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.[12]
  • He also draws a contrast between communities and “networks,” with the former being healthy, and schools being examples of the latter. He says networks have become an unhealthy substitute for community in the United States."CLICK

    Alan Watt's describes exactly why I, amongst great anxiety and community protests, took my children out of school and in fact, some of the homeschooling mentalities too. "It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing...." I didn't wish for my children to live like that. I didn't enjoy living with the destination always in mind. I certainly disliked the memorization and conformity to authority and dependence on others for self esteem. This wasn't community. This wasn't healthy socialization. It was a copying of peers within one age group listening to ONE teacher's perspective each year, with history framed by the winner's perspectives and a compete or defeat mentality. Many parents say their kids want to stay in school- of course they do! It is what almost EVERYBODY does. It seems appealing. There are 'friends' to meet and goals to achieve. But whom is the experienced parent? Whom is the adult who understands, researches and knows and to whom it is possible to evolve and grow into a new satisfying role with their children? Many parents do not have the option for alternatives because of their relationship with money which is a whole other mentality that needs to change. Other parents do not have the resources or the support which is a legitimate issue that has so many roots to address. Single parenting especially requires more support and at least the educational system offers something for them...which shows the tragedy of our current culture. 

    I realize I may be isolating people from both sides of the spectrum, conservatives and liberals, educators and homeschoolers, which is not my intent but an unfortunate side effect of giving food for thought. I do not think my way is the only way. In fact, I firmly believe I grow in my perspectives every year by reading conflicting resources and finding new ways to DANCE through life. Not in thoughtless abandon but sometimes that beauty of enjoyment, creates more inspirational change in the world, simply by living the musical. Sometimes, when I grow my mind, the result actually ends up being more enjoyment ( ironically.) Alan Watts was an ENFP philosopher. If he did not grow his mind or think outside the box or write his discoveries he would not have spoken or challenged the whole point of life. He would not have asked us to consider the musical or dance. So I do not think life requires blissfully dancing through it, but I do not believe life is a destination either. Part of music is thoughtful composition. Part of the dance is the pre conceived. Thus, I think it is both abandon and thought, at once, in a paradoxical swirl.  

    "If we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."- Alan Watts.
    Post Addition: This post took a turn even I did not see coming until I wrote it. I realize it will probably tick most people off on some level, which isn't my intent as I love harmony but seems to be a great side effect of simply BEING ME and sometimes writing about it. Which I do not apologize for. However, I also realize it was a lot, unexpectedly, and that there is more context to consider along with many deeper root issues to what is discussed. I do not see me posting a follow up anytime soon, as there is a lot going on in our world. Stirring the pot is actually not one of my favourite past times even though it may seem like it is. I tend to be considered rebellious which is so ironic, because I am very focused on harmonizing in the world, yet I also believe in hashing it out in writing. This post just happened and I am unsure why, but I still felt it was important to write. If you look at the post I wrote before it, you will see the day to day in wish I strive to live my life...the magical existence of being. If you want more information and know me personally feel free to shoot an email and I can send out a few podcasts and books that may not have made it to my Library yet, as my depleted energy allows. Until then, my Library link above is a good place to start for curiosity... The next post I hope to write will be a contented, frivolous post all about records and my newly found rooted project, which probably would have been more appropriate for this post but oh well.

    *Several years ago we were anti Wal Mart and all that came with that mentality. The whole advocacy movement based on food choices and the places we could and would not shop at, because of the way they treated workers or third world rights...however, a particular moment challenged me in this area. A disabled worker that had worked at Walmart said, "They may not give me the best wages but it was the only job I could get. I also liked it. I liked greeting people. It was one of my only opportunities. If you refuse to shop at a place like that- you are only hurting the little people like me because our jobs our cut. You are not hurting the big guy in charge...my only job is affected." Hearing that, I realized that this could be applied to the sweat shops and factories that have lurid conditions but extend life in the context that they ARE. It is one thing if I go to the source to make change. If I personally know a CEO of the company than it IS my responsibility to help them see ways to improve their businesses. If I can affect change by my context I should...but if I do not..if I am not going to travel to the sweat shops and get gritty and creative to think on ways to promote change, then I shouldn't be haughtily refusing and judging those who buy Nestle products or shop on Amazon. I realized that the way I affect change begins in the choices I make at home, how to create ripples in the world that I actually have autonomy over and how every person is different within context. A disabled worker at Walmart may want better pay and treatment, but another one may love their job and the payment is enough to get them by. If I know this labourer, my job is to go help them live the way THEY want to live...not the way I think they should live...There are so many more deeper roots of issues we advocate for that we forget about in the name of improvement. Improvement is a beautiful concept but it has to be organic, and with the person to person aspect in mind...there are so many other layers to this that would require one on one conversing. This is just a tiny example of where I was challenged in my snotty advocacy over eight years ago. Sure, in a way I was helping by drawing attention to these issues, but in most ways I really was not doing much at all other than giving airs and not thinking the steps through that I should do on a day to day basis instead.


    Song choices: The theme Dance was too easy but these are the songs that immediately popped into my head:
    Side note: I just got to watch this guy and meet him briefly. One of my favourite moments this summer was at the concert, dancing with my kids and husband next to my best friends...my friend and her daughters and my kindred and her husband...


     and this is probably one of my favourite feel good songs EVEH!

    4 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    I don't know why anyone would take your own well thought out thoughts and well expressed food for thought and take an issue with it. I love everything you write. And 99% agree with your writings ( except I just can't get into musicals yet!) xoxo- G

    Kmarie A. said...

    Ha, that is ok about musicals...certain ones I dislike too. I think you would LOVE "Singing In the Rain" and "La La Land" though...thank you for the rest as I needed to hear that as I was apprehensive about posting this post and isolating friends like you...so glad I did not...I think I am so used to, in the community I grew up in, being sanctioned even in good friendships, and misunderstood, for giving an alternative that it shocks me when I realize real friends and good people don't tend to act like that even if the beliefs do not mesh so... Thanks:)

    S said...

    Well, I agree with you and growing up, I also hated the school system ( also college, University ) because I felt a huge gap between my thoughts and inner world and what they taught there. But much later, I came to realize that it is basically a difference between "S" ( the people with dominant sensory aspects ) and the "N" (intuitive) types. No wonder Alan Watts was an NF ! You see, the "S" types view the world, education, institutions and knowledge in a totally different way than us. For them, hard work and routine work ( without play ) is worship. They simply believe in hard work, following dictation from others ( without questioning those dictates ), doing a thing over and over again until they master it ( even if they do not have any passion for that kind of work ), and this also reflects in the education system run by them ( rote learning ). Imagination and play has very little or no role in their education or religion or family life. As long as different personality types will be there, different opinions will be there and institutions will be run by the majority ( and I suspect that "S" are the majority here ) . Slowing down, taking a break, leisure,play, passion, dance, imagination etc.etc. has no place in their life . They are motivated by obeying rules and regulations, success,money,competition, achievement, hard work ( that must yield some concrete and not abstract results) and goal setting. Well, this has been my overall observation. It has been very hard for me (being an NF) to survive in this "S" dominated world of families/school/religion/institutions. So I rebelled just like you. But of late, I have been observing them and their world and understanding why certain societies exists at all. But then the question remains- " What about us ? ", I think that we have to get together and build a group (online or real),a community , whatever and build alternative educational systems, religious/spiritual groups, and if we happen to be minorities among minorities ( like aspies or hsps or differently abled or non-conformists ), then maybe create some other forms of groups and advocate for our own educational system or homeschooling, something like that. Problems and difficulties may arise if and when we are "one of a kind" and alone without any support system/like minded communities, then the entire responsibility falls in our individual/singular self and then it becomes a little difficult. That is why we connect through online communities to feel less alone.

    Kmarie A. said...

    S: Excellent points...though I know MANY Intuitive who uphold secondary education as the ultimate in knowledge...but you are right that for many sensors routine work is worship. Unfortunately its a mini robotic sort of culture with the illusion of free will.
    Yup, there needs a balance of both for the world to thrive, but we always need the challenge to balance and also an appreciation or at least understanding of what is....I agree with you on feeling less alone online. Lovely thoughts on the matter!:)