Cancel Culture

From the Desk of the Editor

Cancel Culture. Is it a thing or is it not a thing? Or is it market forces just working things out? Or is it just the next level of political correctness working itself in? I guess if you are the person who gets cancelled it is a thing. Especially those high-end individuals who get their show canceled or lose their cushy job. But what about the rest of us poor slobs working somewhat lower in the social hierarchy? To us, every day is Cancel Culture. We stand to get fired every day our existence. Say something wrong, do something wrong, boom! You are in line at the unemployment office. I used to have a boss who was fond of saying you are only as good as your last time at bat and one aw shit cancelled out ten atta boys!  One morning at a production meeting after a pretty miserable night’s performance on the factory floor he went around the room and singled out everybody one by one and threatened them with their jobs. When got to me he paused a minute, I had just been transferred and hadn’t been there long enough to fuck anything up. But in the spirit of not leaving anybody out he said to me, “…and I ‘ll send your ass back to Houston!”

Well, I worked there another 12 years and got a couple of promotions, so I didn’t get canceled. But I saw plenty of others get cancelled. And for them it was real.

Now, I am of the opinion that if you are a high-profile entertainer or a TV personality and you said some shit 20 years ago that you regret saying, you probably should not get canceled. There has to be some room for personal growth, redemption, and forgiveness. If you are a high-ranking editor at New York Times and you publish an opinion piece by a US Senator that is unpopular that should not be grounds for dismissal. There is nothing more sacred than free speech. If we lose that then what are we? Mice or men?

When you lose your job that is like corporate capital punishment. You have to be able to make living. If you mess up bad on the job, or do some questionable shit, yes, you should be held accountable. But it should not be permanent exile. Unless that shit’s real bad, in that case, it’s off to Siberia with you! And if you are Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein, then it’s the slammer!

Let’s use a little common sense and not go too far out into the field of political correctness lest we get bogged down in the Cancel Culture.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

TALES FROM THE FOREST

Poem

I was in the woods dark and strange

resting on a bridge

when out of the air did there appear

a maid so fair

Are you lost? She asked

No, I’m not lost, I just don’t know where am

She smiled

Well, all who wander are not lost, she said

Can you show me the way out of these woods?

Yes, this way

I followed her for a while in silence

What is you name, I asked finally?

Beatrice, she answered.

RIGHT SPEECH

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Speech

The classical explanation of Right Speech is 1) Speaking truthfully. 2) Not speaking with a forked tongue. 3) Not speaking cruelly.

  • Right Speech is based on Right Thinking.
  • Deep listening is at the foundation of Right Speech
  • Compassionate listening brings about healing
  • When communication is cut off we suffer
  • The Bodhisattva Kwan Yin is the one who hears the cries of the world
  • If you really love someone, train yourself to be a good listener
  • You must use loving speech
  • You need to practice more walking meditation, more mindful breathing, more sitting meditation in order to restore your capacity for compassionate listening
  • When you begin to understand the suffering of the other person compassion will arise in you. Compassion is the only energy that can help us connect with another person. The person who has no compassion in him can never be happy
  • Writing is a deep practice
  • Silence is a time for looking deeply. There are times when silence is truth and that is called “thundering silence”
  • Words and thought can kill. We cannot support acts of killing in our thinking or in our speech. If you have a job in which telling the truth is impossible, you may have to change jobs. If you have a job that allows you to speak truth, be grateful. To practice social justice and non-exploitation, we have to use right speech

The Fourth Mindfulness Training is training oneself to listen with compassion

  • May my words be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers
  • I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening
  • Words can create happiness or suffering
  • I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope
  • I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and I will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
  • I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

DEATH IN VENICE (1971)

Movie Blurb

Death in Venice, directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Dirk Bogarde, is based on the Thomas Mann novella of the same name. A Gustave Mahler like character, named Gustave, goes to Venice for a rest. There he becomes infatuated with a teenaged boy who for him personifies his very idea of purity and beauty. The movie deals with the themes of death, beauty, decay, youth, old age, art, and oddly enough the plague.

Slow moving but exquisitely beautiful to watch. Some say Venice has never been so beautifully photographed. The score by Gustave Mahler is divine and is in perfect combination with the majestic beauty unfolding on the screen. There are long stretches with no dialogue, only visuals and music.  A true classic of the cinema.

Available on the Criterion Channel or Amazon Prime.

Make Ya Last Stand

Poem

It sorta depends on where ya sittin’

as to where ya stand

the view from the gallery is better than from

below the bleachers

and if you live in a mouse hole – yo

you been living in hell

and if you live in a mansion

you never can tell

you my need an automatic weapon

to make ya last stand.  

THE REBEL

The Rebel – Albert Camus

I’m giving The Rebel another read, a book I read when I was in my 20s, written by a man who has shaped my views more than any other, Albert Camus. You might think that The Plague might be more in order given the current plague we are now living through. Well, I’ve read that one too and it is vividly etched in my brain. But no, for me, given the current political situation in the USA, The Rebel is far more relevant. At no time during my lifetime, with the possible exception of the Vietnam war, has the idea of “man in revolt” been more relevant or more important. Updates to follow. I’ll be reading with new eyes…

Marriage Story

Version 2

Eloise woke early on a Saturday morning. The bedroom was filled with light and the sheer curtains hanging over the large windows danced lightly in the cool breeze. She sat straight up in bed and stretched her arms out overhead, twisted her body to the left and let out a pleasant sigh as she yawned trying to wake her body up. She could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Fred, her husband, had gotten up earlier and went downstairs to make the coffee. This made Eloise happy. She got out of bed and put on her white silk dressing gown and went downstairs to meet the day. She was lighthearted and there was a spring in her step as she walked down the steps. On the way down she noticed the pictures of Brigid, her daughter, in a series from when she was a little girl until she was grown. These pictures were hung on the wall in stages as one descended the stairs and told the life story of little girl who grew into a beautiful woman. It had been her wedding day just a few short days ago and she was now on her honeymoon with her new husband, Bob. The newlyweds traveled to Paris right after they got married. Eloise could not be happier. She felt like it was a good match and that Bob and Brigid were a good fit together.

After coffee, Eloise decided to go out into her garden and pull weeds. It was situated in the backyard of their spacious house next to the pool. The house was a two-story Colonial located in a subdivision in the east part of town. The rooms were light and airy and filled with beautiful furniture. They had lived there the whole time Brigid was growing up. Now that she was gone Eloise would have to find more ways to spend her time. She couldn’t help but being happy for her though and a great feeling of pride rose in her bosom as she gazed out over her flowers.

Marriage Story

Version One

Fred descended the stairs in the gloom of the early morning and headed to the kitchen for his first cup of coffee. The ancient wooden steps creaked under each of his footfalls as he traversed the stairs. He walked slowly through the dark hallway into the living room to pick up the morning paper so he would have something to read with his coffee. He noticed the tattered tapestries hanging from the dark gray walls which perfectly matched his mood for the day. He has been living in an atmosphere of sorrow ever since the day his only daughter, Melissande, left home with that guy from the carnival, Lukas.

Once in the kitchen Fred opened a tin of expresso coffee and filled the filter basket. The window of the kitchen looked out over a dull and deadly terrain. Viewed from the outside the window looked like a vacant eye. There was a large tree in the center of the yard which was still hidden in shadows. It had been struck by lightning a few years back and was in a steady state of dying. There was a malodorous fragrance wafting inside through the open window from the slate colored pond that smelled like decaying organic matter. Fred closed the window, nearly gagging as he did so. 

As he drank his coffee Fred looked around. A lot needed to be done he thought. This kitchen is a mess. The dishes have piled up in the sink ever since she left begging to be washed. There were crumbs on the counters and in the corners the linoleum was starting to curl up. Oh well, he said to himself. I’ll get started tomorrow. Maybe she’ll stop by for a visit someday this week.

Fred sighed and drank his coffee.  Then he put his head down on his arms resting on the table and you could see his shoulders gently rise and fall.

INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION (1970)

Movie Blurb

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970). Directed by Elio Petri, starring Gian Maria Volonte and Florinde Bolkan. This is a nice little piece of Italian surrealism. Kafkaesque and so direct. Beautifully photographed in Technicolor. The colors are muted but strong. Score by the inimitable Ennio Morricone, which I found bit quirky but, given the material works. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. .

A chief of detectives, homicide section, kills his mistress and deliberately leaves clues to prove his own responsibility for the crime.

A little heavy handed politically but all satire is hyperbolic, that is what makes it satire

Highly rated and recommended.

Available on the Criterion Channel on Amazon Prime.