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In 1977, Ilya Prigogine won the Nobel Prize for his work on the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium systems, "dissipative” structures arising out of nonlinear processes. Classical thermodynamics maintained that random (autonomous) local processes such as molecular motion always tend toward a maximum of entropy (disorder). Prigogine showed that in spatially confined neighborhoods, orderly physical assemblages can spontaneously arise. Individual occurrences that engender these spontaneous coherences are called “free agents”.
Prigogine’s explanations of the phenomenon of convection are considered heretical by traditional science. For instance, we know that hot air rises, but there’s no reason why it should; hotter molecules are simply more energetic and faster moving than their cooler cohorts. Prigogine asserts that the coherent emergent behavior of masses of hot air is intelligent and volitional. Hot air rises because it wants to.
When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.
series of videos and apps for students of foreign languages
(knowledge first entertainment later)
When the TV announcer says “No Japanese nationals died in the plane crash”, I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.
The Yellow Monkey
I was born in 1936. At that time there were no jet airplanes and commercial plane travel was effectively nonexistent. There were no computers, no space satellites, no microwave ovens, no electric typewriters, no Xerox machines, no tape recorders. There were no stereo music systems, no compact disks. There was no television in 1936. No space travel, no atomic bomb, no hydrogen bomb, no “guided missiles”, as they were first called, no “smart” bombs. There were no fluorescent lights, no washing machines, no dryers, no Cuisinarts, no VCRs. There was no air conditioning. Nor were there freeways, shopping centers, or malls. There were no suburbs as we know them. There was no Express Mail, no fax, no telephone touch dialing, no birth-control pill. There were no credit cards, no synthetic fibers. There were no antibiotics, no artificial organs, no pesticides or herbicides. That was 55 years ago. During my lifetime all of this changed.
…Finally, the Persian Gulf crisis revealed one more critical, hidden truth about the new economic order: It is extremely vulnerable. The mere threat to slow the flow of just one key resource, such as oil, sets the entire technological system reeling like a creature whose air supply is choked off. In its present structure, our society is utterly dependent on this one natural resource. We will do anything for it, including killing hundreds of thousands of people and irreparably ravaging the landscape. And yet, did we not criticize and scorn stone-age peoples and their economies – those poor hunter-gatherers who did not create surplus or storage – for being so vulnerable to disaster? Wasn't this whole technological pathway created to resolve that ancient vulnerability to nature? Wasn't that the fundamental rationale, the essential promise of the machine?
Love of God, of country, of tribe, of party, or of principle; fear, distrust, and contempt for strangers, minorities, majorities, races, religions, doggies, and harmless little garter snakes – all have been taught in every human society by classical conditioning in which words take their connotations from the emotions aroused in connection with their use…
A large body of scientific literature shows plainly that conditioning methods can be used to control several types of voluntary and involuntary activity affecting thinking, language, imagination, emotion, motivation, habits, and skills. People can be conditioned to blush or otherwise react emotionally to meaningless words and phrases; to respond impassively to outrageous epithets; to hallucinate to signals, to feel fear, revulsion, embarrassment or arousal upon demand; to feel cold when they are being warmed; warmed when being chilled; to become ill when lights are flashed; to narrow or enlarge their blood vessels or the pupils of their eyes; to feel like urinating with an empty bladder or not feel the need with a full one; to establish habits and mannerisms they had never had before; to break free from lifelong patterns of activity they thought could never be forgotten.
To dream of the indefinite prolongation of things dead and the government of mankind by embalming; to restore dilapidated dogmas, regild the shrines, replaster the cloisters, reconsecrate the reliquaries, revamp old superstitions, replenish old fanaticism, put new handles in worn-out aspergillums and sabers, reconstitute monasticism and militarism; to believe in the salvation of society by the multiplication of parasites; to impose the past on the present, all this seems strange. However, there are advocates for such theories as these. These theorists, thinking men, too, have a very simple process: They apply to the past a coating of what they term social order, divine right, morality, respect for our forefathers, time-honored authority, sacred tradition, legitimacy; and they go around shouting, “Here, take this, my good people!” This kind of logic was similar to the ancients; their soothsayers practiced it…
As for ourselves, we distribute our respect here and there, and spare the past entirely, provided it consents to be dead. But, if it insists on being alive, we attack and try to kill it. Superstitions, bigotries, hypocrisies, prejudices, these phantoms, phantoms though they be, cling to life; they have teeth and nails in their shadowy substance, and we must grapple with them individually and make war on them without truce; for it is one of humanity’s inevitabilities to be condemned to eternal struggle with phantoms. A shadow is hard to seize by the throat and dash to the ground…
Let us attack but let us distinguish. The characteristic of truth is never to run to excess. What need has she of exaggeration? Some things must be destroyed and some things must be merely cleared up and investigated. What power there is in courteous and serious examination! Let us not carry flame where light alone will suffice.
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Our existence begins with the most intimate conjunction and yet most children are conditioned to feel sexual guilt. They are told not to touch themselves or their attention is abruptly directed to something else or subjects suddenly get changed, whenever they mention something sexual. It may never actually be said but somehow the feeling that sex is dirty or wrong or not to be discussed conveys itself to the child.
The ensuing guilt, arising from any sexual enjoyment, may remain unfocused and therefore unidentified. Guilt feelings arouse anxiety. If the anxiety-inducing event is suppressed, the guilt and anxiety still remain but we cease to understand the reason we feel them. Because people are so ready to assume guilt, guilt is an easy emotion to induce and play upon. Because it is so often formless (the real cause being hidden from consciousness) it can be manipulated to take on any shape… To the horrors the accused victim suffers from without must be added the horrors from within.
As human beings with conscience, we are pursued by possible hidden guilt feelings, however pious we may have been, that undermine our rational awareness of innocence. We know that far below the surface, human life is built up of inner contradictions. One can use this knowledge to confuse and defeat the brainwashee. We know we are guilty of – something. We are guilty of having desires which conflict with the requirements of living in a civilized society or which conflict with the moral standards with which we have been imbued. We can decide to break the rules but we can’t decide not to suffer from the guilt which can be manipulated to ensure our compliance in some other, unrelated circumstance.
The thought or action can be rationalized but not the guilt which remains prickling below the surface. Because we no longer remember the why of guilt, we assume because we feel guilt, we must be guilty of that of which we stand accused. The skilled interrogator can play on people’s need not to feel a terrible person.
Our need to seek pleasure and avoid painful mistakes makes us susceptible to the manipulation. The obstacles that the religious or political proselytizer cannot overcome are indifference or detached, controlled and continued amusement on the part of the subject at the efforts being made to break them down or win them over or tempt them into argument. The safety of the free world seems therefore to lie in cultivation not only of courage, moral virtue and logic but of humor.
Consider the ridicule that would have been heaped on the visionary prophet who dared even in 1988 to predict that by 1991 the Soviet Union would peacefully dissolve itself, Germany would be reunited, the Berlin Wall would be gone, and the leadership of the former “evil empire” would be inviting the United States to help dismantle its nuclear arsenal. What if this same prophet had predicted that in 1994 Nelson Mandela would be elected the president of South Africa in an open multiracial election?
Perhaps even more remarkable than the fact that these events occurred at all is that fact that we already take most of them for granted, quickly forgetting what extraordinary events they were and how rapidly impossible dreams are becoming accomplished fact…
Now imagine yourself a historian looking back from some time in the next century. What do you judge the most important thing that happened for the world? My guess is it will be something as quiet as a change of mind, a change of mind that is bubbling up out of the unconscious depths, spreading around the world, changing everything. We are now at the beginning of a fundamental change of worldview in science and society, a change of paradigms as radical as the Copernican revolution…
…Corporate rule is the megaton gorilla in the middle of the room that most discussions of political and economic failure have too long avoided mentioning. Too many of our campaigns accept the corporation’s rules and wrangle on corporate turf. We lobby for limited laws, we plead with corporations to be socially responsible. How much more strength, time, and hope will we invest in such dead ends?
The only way to fight is together.
Across sectors; across countries; across race, gender, and age lines; employed and unemployed; city and rural, we must find one another and realize that the movement we are creating is the only thing that comes between us and the global feudalism of the new economy. We must not accept the prevailing propaganda that globalization and corporate rule are inevitable.
To say we have no choice is intellectual terrorism.
Fair trade, full employment, cooperation, cultural diversity, democratic control, fair taxation, environmental stewardship, community, public accountability, equality, social justice: these are the touchstones of our vision and it is within our means – it is our right – to choose them.
We must find one another.
There is scant mention of us in the corporate-controlled press or from politicians beholden to big money, yet these leaders are emerging at every hand. They are building new political parties and movements, deepening their spiritual practice, embracing voluntary simplicity, building networks of locally rooted businesses, certifying socially and environmentally responsible products, restoring forests and watersheds, promoting public transportation and defining urban growth boundaries, sponsoring youth programs, developing holistic health centers, directing their investments to socially responsible businesses, inoculating children against manipulation by advertisers and mass media, organizing recycling campaigns, demanding that trade agreements protect the rights of people and the environment – and engaging in countless other life-affirming acts.
They are present in every country, indeed every community, and every race, class, region, and ethnic group. They include landless and illiterate peasants, retired executives, ranchers, teachers, artists, housewives, itinerant farm workers, small-business owners, janitors, physicians, researchers, corporate dropouts, local government officials, inner-city kids, loggers, wealthy intellectuals with fancy academic credentials, and gang leaders with criminal records.
Together, worldwide, they – we – number in hundreds of millions.
Fed up with the failures of elitist leadership and distant bureaucracies, we are demonstrating the powerful potentials of truly democratic forms of leadership through which people take direct responsibility for the health and well-being of themselves, their families, their communities, and their planet.
Together we are creating a story of humanity’s reawakening to life.
By its telling and retelling, that story becomes a part of our cultural heritage, reshapes our collective consciousness to redefine our image of who we are and what we can be and strengthens the social movements to which it is giving life.
They – we – are creating a new story of the human and planetary future.
David C. Korten
“What’s your favorite thing on television?”
“The switch. To turn the damn thing off.”
Pioneer of Television Technology Vladimir Zworykin