Tag Archives: Botscharow

Pigeonholes and Language

Yes! Yes! I know. It has been over a month since I have written anything on either of my blogs. Rest assured, I am well and doing fine. So, what was the problem? I guess you could say that the stream of creative juices slowed down to a mere trickle. I guess we all have spells like that from time to time. Unfortunately, it seems the older you get the more frequent the droughts are. I guess it’s just something I have to live with. The alternative does not excite me at all. I kind of do want to live forever.

 

I guess I’ve been a creative person, more or less, all my life. I took up acting when I was in kindergarten, but then did not do anymore until our junior class play way back when. I took one more stab at acting my senior year in high school. Doing “the Mouse That Roared” was one of the major highlights of my high school career.

 

I have also dabbled in the visual arts. I did cartooning starting in junior high school as the art editor for the junior high school newspaper. I did cartooning posters for my mother’s bakery shop back then as well. In my 20s, I took up photography rather seriously. I even did exhibits at several local art fairs. I still have a 35mm single lens reflex camera but have not used it in a very long time. My isolate just doesn’t permit me to do that anymore. I have never been much for cameras that do all the work. I do not like giving up creative control. However, I have finally given up and ordered a simple digital camera online that should be here next week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make that one work and you all will see an occasional photograph on this blog and on my Facebook page.

 

I have been writing for more years and I can remember. I have done my own newsletters, both print, email, and RSS. I have written several digital books about online marketing. I have done research papers in high school, college, and grad school on a variety of topics. I’ve also tried to take a crack at writing poetry back when I was 20. That was a disaster! I do not have the soul of the poet. My writing tends to be dry and intellectual. I guess that is because I, because of my life experiences, AM that dry, somewhat intellectual individual. I would not have it any other way. The greatest thing I have achieved in my life is that I have come to understand who I am, what I am, and am very comfortable with both. Not bad for someone who spent most of his life flitting from one interest to another like a butterfly going flower to flower…

 

So, I guess if you wanted to pigeonhole me (I hate pigeonholes), I am a nonfiction writer with a wide variety of interests: science, magic (or as some call it, witchcraft), philosophy, religion, music appreciation, literature, and movies. I also have an intense interest in politics. That is probably the prime subject for my writings these days. You would think that with all the stuff going on in the US and elsewhere, I would have no problem being inspired to write about those events. Unfortunately, what our illustrious (sarcasm) current President has been doing disgusted me to the point where just thinking about it makes me sick and very angry. I learned some years ago disgust and anger are not the best Muses for a writer.

 

I want to close this post with a somewhat lengthy comment about pigeonholes. We all assign labels to everything and anything. That is what language is all about. Words are nothing more than labels for people, places, things, actions, feelings, etc. We humans need language because we are social creatures. In 1 million years or so that humans have existed on this planet, they have always existed in social groups. A solitary human trying to survive on their own would not make it. Sooner or later, your rather meager resources that you brought with you and that you are capable of making for yourself will run out. You will either die of starvation, exposure to the elements, or the predators will get you. It is only in a community, no matter how small, that we humans could thrive. Language is what made it possible for humans to live and work together and something approximating peace and harmony.

 

However, we forget that language, and therefore labels, are fluid and subject to change. All kinds of things can lead to changes in language. I have been alive for 70 years. The language that I use in my informal conversations is sometimes like a foreign language to my younger son, Michael, who is nearly 21. His informal language is sometimes Greek to me. I think that is one of the reason for the so-called “generation gap” that is responsible for parents and children having difficulties communicating. Though before I get too far off track here, let me go back to pigeonholes.

 

Pigeonholes come about when people treat the words they use (labels) as if they were carved out of some incredibly hard stone. Pigeonholes are useful as starting points in trying to describe someone or something. We need to remember, however, that people and things are not carbon copies of each other. What I mean by that is that I am a 70-year-old man. I know several other 70-year-old man. They are as different from me as I am from the man in the moon. When pigeonholes become overused, they become rigid and people think that that is the way things should be. What I mean is you all have a conception of what a 70-year-old man is in your mind. If you are not a fundamentalist, that picture is somewhat amorphous and allows for a great deal of variety. Fundamentalists have a very clear, distinct, and rigid conception of what a 70-year-old man should be. I do not live up to other people ideas of what a 70-year-old man should be. Nor do I expect any other 70-year-old man to be exactly like me. That conception in your mind is only a reference point, not a commandment from God. So, let’s be a bit more flexible in how we understand labels, how we understand the words we use. Let’s be more flexible and you will see a much greater level of peace and harmony in the world.

 

Peace and love!

John

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The Music Of My Life

I cannot remember a time in my life when music was not an important part of who and what I am. It all started when I was five or six years old. My parents hired a piano teacher to come to the house to teach me how to play. I took lessons for the next 10 years or so. I actually got pretty good at it. The only problem I had was that I could never really memorize anything. I remember when I was in junior high school, my piano teacher wanted me to learn to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” Actually, it was only the first movement that was more than my poor musical memory could handle. She wanted me to play this piece for the annual recital her students presented every May at the Willow Grove Methodist church. I ended up playing it, but I had to have the sheet music in front of me. Sight reading was never a problem. In fact, in my heyday I could pick up pretty much any popular tune and play it respectably the first time I saw the music. In high school I had a book of piano arrangements of Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album. I loved playing that album and singing along. My parents hated it. LOL

 

Speaking of singing, in both junior high school and high school I sang in the choir. I started out as an alto and by my senior year I was a baritone. I wasn’t great, nowhere near as good as my daughter Heidi was in high school, but I managed to stay in the choir all those years. I still sing when the mood hits me, but now I sound like a frog with a sore throat. LOL! That’s what 50 years of smoking will do to you. I actually started smoking in junior high school and I suspect that had at least a small part in my voice changing so much.

Continue reading The Music Of My Life

Ripple

Ripple used to be a cheap wine that hippies drank when they were smoking doll way back when. It’s not the Ripple I’m talking about. The Ripple I want to talk about today is the song by the group that is considered the iconic San Francisco acid rock band: the Grateful Dead. I am been a Dead fan since 1969 or so. I remember seeing the band at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago July 4, 1970 where they came on stage at about midnight and played till nearly 7 AM. That was quite a Fourth of July party!

My favorite Dead album is American Beauty. One of the songs on that album is called Ripple. The music for that song was written by Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist for the Dead. The lyrics, which is what I want to focus on here. were written by the lyricist for the Dead, Robert Hunter. In my considered opinion, Hunter, along with Jim Morrison of The Doors and Keith Reid and Bob Dylan were the poets laureate of my generation. A hundred years from now they will be teaching these guys in American literature classes, or in the case of Reid, English literature classes. I am not going to print out the entire lyrics of Ripple here. If you are interested in reading the lyrics, click here. And if you want to listen to the song, you can click here.

To me, this song expresses the hippie philosophy of life better than anything else I have ever heard or read or see. According to the song, life is a road that we travel alone. The road of life is unique to the individual. Others can serve as guides, and as the song says “if you fall, you fall alone.” Continue reading Ripple

An Old Hippie

That is the title of the song by the Bellamy Brothers from back in the 80s, I think. I’m really not sure and I really don’t care enough look it up. Anyway, an old hippie is what I an. I guess I’d been one for quite some time since in the song he is only 35 help a lot older than the days. Some of the stuff they talk about in the song I never did: hard drugs and going to Vietnam for my senior trip. I went to Washington instead and protested the war in Vietnam.

Yes, I do get into country music, at least some of it. I particularly like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, Chris Christopherson, and Kate Williams Senior as well as my all time favorite, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. I also like acid rock, good ol’ 1950 rock, the British invasion, especially Procol Harum and Pink Floyd. I also like jazz, classical, even some Broadway show tunes. Like most hippies, I like all kinds of music and have quite a long time.

One thing about being an old hippie that does bother me is that there are a lot of people out there that are misinformed as to what hippies really were. I blame the media for that, and especially the people who didn’t like the things the hippies were into, like rock music. These people, and I am including a whole lot of musician’s, became pseudo-hippies because they thought it would help them make money. One of the things about being a hippie is that you’re not particularly materialistic. You realize that there are a lot of things in the world way more important than how much money you have, what car you drive, how well you dress, how big and fancy of a house you have. In fact, there were times in my younger days as a hippie where I didn’t even have a house to live in, or apartment. I crashed with friends or I slept on the back porch of an abandoned apartment building, waking up with a silver .45 staring me in the face in a police badge. That was 1968 when I first got to Chicago. That was almost 50 years ago and I still remember that as it were yesterday. Continue reading An Old Hippie

A Little Sunshine and a Lot of Hope

My son Michael is a very serious gamer. The reason he is a serious gamer is because I got him hooked on gaming back when he was six years old. I started Michael out on Warcraft II and there’s been no stopping him since. Michael loves to play games, design games, review games, read reviews, and read/watch all kinds of blogs and video blogs about gaming.

Recently Michael showed me a post on a video blog called Game Theory. It seems that the blogger who does Game Theory recently got to do an interview with Pope Francis. The man brought the Pope a video game. I’ll let him explain what video game and why he wanted the Pope to have this game in this very thoughtful video he made on the occasion. What I want to talk about is the social context and social philosophy that this man, who claims to represent the gaming community, presents to all gamers and non-gamers. His name is Matt, by the way, and I will refer to him as such. Continue reading A Little Sunshine and a Lot of Hope

An Update On christianeresy.com

My Christian Heresy site was hacked on Wednesday by what appears to be a group of religious fundamentalists. What particular religion they are fundamental about is really not important. I dislike all fundamentalists, religious or secular. For some reason that I do not understand since I do not criticize anyone’s religious beliefs or single out any religion or targeting, these people were offended by something I said on my site. Well, tough shit! [Sorry about the language but they’re going to be more, so get used to it.]

Because of the hack being a whole lot worse than originally thought, I am going to have to completely redo my site, switching scripts that I use from Drupal to WordPress. That means the database is not going to transfer. For me, that means I am going to have to re-enter each article one at a time. That obviously will take a bit of time so be patient with me. Michael and I will get it done as quickly as we can. As for you all, it means you’re going to have to set up a new membership the new login on the work press their version of my site. Also, write permissions will be very limited for obvious reasons. We may have to play around a bit until we figure out what we can and cannot allow. Again, bear with me. We will get this set up as quickly as we can Continue reading An Update On christianeresy.com

The Passing of a Legend

I want to pay tribute to someone I consider a personal hero: Mohammed Ali. Ali passed away over the weekend at the age of 74, which makes him a few years older than I am. All of the TV network various print media are doing tributes to Ali mainly focusing on his accomplishments as an athlete and as a humanitarian efforts after he retired from boxing. Ali was my hero long before he became a real legend in boxing or a great humanitarian. The reason Ali is my hero is because he did something that I thought I might have to do way back in 1968: Ali refused induction into the military because he was opposed to the war in Vietnam.

I also was opposed to that war. In fact, I am opposed to all wars on principle. The only war that I feel was justified at all was World War II. Every war the United States has been involved in since World War II has been over last van honorable reasons. Every war this country has been involved in in the last 60 years or so has raised some serious ethical questions about US intentions around the world. Continue reading The Passing of a Legend

Confronting the Past Lucky 13

Today is my 68th birthday! Yes, happy birthday to me. Thank you! In honor of my birthday I have decided to go back to the Confronting The Past  series. This is a rather momentous year for me. First of all, I turned 68. Second, it has been 50 years since I graduated from high school [by the way, happy anniversary to all the members of the class of 1966 at UM HS.] Third, my wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of months. Fourth and last, by the end of the year all my children will be 20 years old or older. In my book that makes them adults. So, assuming I live to the end of the year, I will have lived long enough to see my children grow up. Not too shabby!

 

One of the advantages of age is that you are supposedly wiser than you were when you were young. Whether that is true in my case or anyone else’s is open for debate; when I’m going to assume that I have gained some wisdom in the last 50 years. One of the responsibilities of wisdom is that you impart that wisdom to others. After all, what good is anything if you don’t share it with those you care about? So here goes.

Continue reading Confronting the Past Lucky 13

The Means of Production: Introduction

I’m going to take a break from my reminiscing about my personal past. Instead, I’m going to return to a subject near and dear to my heart: politics. Contrary to what the common usage of that word is, for me politics is much more than the official business of the legitimate governing institutions of this world. I use politics more in the Aristotlean sense; that is, everything and anything that has to do with human interaction. Politics is about how we humans relate to each other, both formally and informally(for a detailed discussion of what I am talking about here, I suggest you read Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice).

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will find what I’m about to say a bit repetitious. Sorry about that, but I need to make we are all on the same page. When it comes to politics as I define it, I am a Marxist, but not a vulgar Marxist. What I mean by that is that I do agree that whoever controls the means of production, controls that particular society.

The mans of production is not just the purely economic means, such as factories, corporations, etc… Rather, the menas of productions includes the means of symbolic production, that is who controls the things like education, theater, music, religion: all those things that shape how we think and how we see the world. (My thanks to Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason for this concept). One of the major producers of symbolic products in Western culture is the media. The media, in it’s attempts to be profitable, sells advertising for products that we really don’t have a need for, at first. However, the advertising creates a false need in consumers. The most glaring and most troubling example, for me, is the advertising done by pharmaceutical companies, a subject I have discussed many times here. Feel free to search this blog for more specific details about my feelings about the drug companies. Suffice it to say, their advertising creates a false sense of need and we wonder why we have so many people in this country addicted to prescription medications. The sad thing is that too often the side effects are worse than the disease being treated. Personally, I’d be more than happy to live with a bad case of acne rather than the more serious side effects that some of the prescription medications for acne bring. In this series of posts, I am going to touch on a number of issues about control of the means of production that trouble me in Western society, especially here in the U.S. The first one, which we will cover next time, is the total misrepresentation in American politics(the institutional kind) and the media about what Socialism is, and who is or isn’t a Socialist. Let me tell you upfront; I am a Socialist, and Barack Obama is so far from being a Socialist, it’s not even funny. I only wish he was one.

Confronting the Past Part Twelve

What I want to talk about today is directly related to some of the stuff I’ve been talking about on my Christian Heresiology blog, especially the Digging Deeper articles(See right sidebar on homepage). It is my contention that we humans collectively shape our reality; that there is no reality outside of our collective consciousness. On an individual level, depending on the strength of our psyche, we can shape, to some extent, our own realities. If you have ever done any motivational training, or sale training, you have been exposed to a mundane form of this theory of mine. Not that this theory is original to me other than perhaps in the breadth that I use it.

Many religions, including Christianity, have mystic forms. In almost every form of mysticism, there is some variation of this idea of there being no reality beyond what we humans create for ourselves. One of the most ancient forms is in Hinduism that sees the world of reality as illusion. Buddhism also believes this to be true and that enlightenment for a Buddhist is to escape from this reality of illusion to a state of true reality. In some ways, this is what Christ was talking about in his kerygma. In my journey through my looking glass of religion, I have come to the conclusion that this escape to enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, is what Christians call the Resurrection. Death is not the end of existence, neither spiritual or physical. It is only a doorway into a new level of perception(thanks to Aldous Huxley for that one).

In my trip through the looking glass I have explored, to some level or another, most of the major forms of what we term religion. That includes, of course, the five major religions as well as various forms of “paganism” and “witchcraft.” Looking back at all those religious experiences these past few years is what led to where I am now. I do not deny the existence of God; I do deny the existence of the Fundamentalist Judao/Christian/Islamic concept of God. That concept has led to the oppression of both ethnic and sexual minorities, all kinds of stupid wars and other rediculous acts of violence and a general oppression of intellectual freedom. Religious fundamentalists, of which at one time I was one, feel they have the monopoly on truth, which is hysterical, since truth changes over time. Contrary to what these people argue, there is no absolute truth, and there never has been. This belief in absolute truth and it’s corollary of a monopoly on truth is what Karl Marx was talking about when he said that religion is the opiate of the masses.