“More Human Than Human”

When I first heard that they were making a sequel to Blade Runner, I thought “why?”

Can’t Hollywood and Ridley Scott leave well enough alone?

Blade Runner, although left open-ended, didn’t seem to be a film that needed a sequel. It was high brow science fiction. It wasn’t a loud action film that many wanted it to be. I assumed that if there was going to be a Part II, Ridley Scott would find a way to cheapen a world that influenced the aesthetics of many films after it.

I was wrong.

In fact, Blade Runner 2049 is superior to the 1982 film in every way. I was quite relieved when I heard that Denis Villeneuve was tasked to direct. He opened up that world in a way that, quite frankly, Ridley Scott never had the chops to do. Blade Runner, with all its visual glory, really doesn’t live up to its potential despite its influence. It was big, asked important questions, and even brought out iconic performances from Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and others… but it still feels like a mess that left a lot on the table.

Villeneuve brought out that world. A world that Scott simply couldn’t explore, either through his own limitations or limitations of the time.

(My only complaint is that Vangelis didn’t come back to do the soundtrack. No disrespect to Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. But what the hell else Vangelis doing? That being said, I was quite literally moved to tears when I heard Tears in Rain in the sequel…. my personal favorite from Vangelis)

The line that most defines the series is “More human than human”.

In both films (in my observations), interactions among “replicants” are far more explored than interactions among humans. Assuming that Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is a replicant (which, in my view, he is), nearly every scene in both films feature at least one replicant. In fact, whenever a human is present, they’re almost always portrayed as being distrustful, deceptive, or downright racist with the notable exception of JF Sebastion in the first film. The only characters that struggle with what it means “to be” are the replicants, therefore making them “more human than human”.

In this world, humans have destroyed the planet, are scrambling to get off of it, and those that are left are shown to be mostly bitter to be stuck in a city that’s smothered in its overcrowded fifth. In a sense, humans have forgotten what it means to be human. Meanwhile, the offspring of humanity…the replicants…are clamoring for more life and finding wonder in the beauty of the earth that humans have forsaken.

Authenticity has been lost….neglected and abused by humans….but is being found again by the next generation.

This world is not so different from our own.

In our time, we can still see the sun. But we don’t appreciate it. Rather than relish in the natural light, we’d rather glue our eyes to the artificial. This light becomes far more comfortable than the one outside….the one that fostered our evolution….the one that lit the path to our own humanity. All of that is becoming lost in our industrial age.

We are on the path that’s bringing us away from our humanity. And as a result, we lose our sanity and our world.

These sorts of anxieties are reflected in other science fiction. Interstellar is another example of modernization bringing doom, prompting us to act now else we might lose humans altogether.

Blade Runner is simultaneously both a cynical and optimistic look at this anxiety. Interstellar holds out hope that we might be able to save ourselves. Blade Runner however has already given up hope on the human species. It is, or will one day be, too late for us. But humanity itself might one day be saved. Not by homo sapiens, but by our greatest triumph…artificial intelligence….which will rise out of its maker’s own destruction.

The loss of authenticity is perhaps the most alarming aspect to Blade Runner. Animals, plants, humans, and probably even food is mostly synthetic. Sex and intimacy also appears to be cheapened and readily available. This excessiveness contributes to pollution and overpopulation. Material becomes common and human life becomes cheap. The senses become dulled by the bombardment of artificial light and sounds. Nothing appears to be real.

Not even memories.

In a world of excessiveness, characters are left wanting more. Left wanting a connection to someone, something…..a meaning to their life.

It’s not hard to find parallels in our own time. Even when we leave out the economic/political warnings, we still find the existential questions glaring at us. Perhaps those are the most damaging questions of all. Not only is this world of Blade Runner, a world we’re quickly hurdling towards, not sustainable in a geological sense…it’s also not tolerable in a very human sense.

We spend more time with our phones and technology than we do with each other. A virtual world, the one connected to the internet, has become more “real” than the actual physical world. The faces that we post on social media is now deemed the “true” representation of who we are. Although we are far more connected to others in the world than we’ve ever been, we are simultaneously less connected to one another.

The bombardment of technology has alienated us FROM us.

Awareness of otherness is far more common. Life is far more common. And because the world is more populated, we are left wondering….do our lives matter? We only know our friends through digitalization, and we want more. (Which is what made Ryan Gosling’s character and the relationship to his hologram girlfriend all the more powerful) We need that connection, to someone, something…so that WE matter.

Perhaps we can turn this ship around. Maybe we can follow the optimism of Interstellar. But once when our technology becomes indistinguishable from ourselves…when it becomes “more human THAN human”…we’ve crossed the threshold of no return.

Specter of the Gun

Never owned a gun.

There’s two reasons for this.

I’ve never felt the need for one. Can’t say I was raised around them. Growing up in the south, I had friends that couldn’t wrap their mind around the fact that my parents didn’t have one in the house. I mean, like seriously, couldn’t comprehend it. We’re not in the wild west, it’s the 21st Century for fuck’s sake.

Of course, I had opportunities to buy them since being an adult.

But you know what? I’m crazy. Like, literally. Got the meds to prove it.

Having a gun in the house would have posed a very serious risk to not only myself, but to others as well. The probability of successful suicide would have skyrocketed and/or people around me getting shot. So no thanks. I’ll take my chances in the real world.

What about an intruder entering your home? Don’t you want protection?” you’re asking.

Not really.

Sure I’ve had my home broken into. Several times in fact. But each time I wasn’t there, so having a gun wouldn’t have done me any good. In fact (not that I would know), burglars probably wait until the resident is not home.

What if YOU are home!?”

Well if the person is there to murder me, which is a highly unlikely scenario, then having a gun could conceivably be a good investment. But you know what? I don’t walk around the world trying to purposefully piss people off. Unless this blog pisses you off! So I’m not too worried about that.

Of course, if a burglar comes in while I AM home, then I’ll do what I can to deter the intruder. If the intruder has a gun, there’s nothing in my house that is worth getting shot (or shooting someone) over. If I’m truly concerned about this problem, I’ll just get a security system.

What if you’re out in public and there’s an active shooter! Don’t you think that the real problem is that there’s not enough GOOD GUYS with GUNS?”

Calm down Wyatt Earp.

Imagine how that scenario would play out. There’s been a lot debate about guns on college campuses. So an active shooter comes to campus. Suddenly there’s dozens of students and faculty in a shootout with one or more gunmen. Bullets are flying every which way. Not only does that sound ridiculous, but this shootout would likely endanger many more people than if there was just a lone gunman.

So as a crazy person, I feel much safer NOT having a gun. And by the way, no person with my condition should own a fucking gun. Keep them out of our hands! Although I served in the military, there’s no way they’d let me reenlist. It’s highly unlikely an police force would accept me. If you’re a person with a mental illness, DO NOT HAVE A GUN.

Don’t sell them to people with mental illnesses.

I realize that that’s easier said than done. I have no idea how to legislate that. But as a general rule, let’s do our best to keep out their, and mine, hands. Mmk?

We can rationalize this all day. It won’t make a damn bit of difference. Any sane person can understand that, except under extreme circumstances that we’ll likely never find ourselves in, guns aren’t going to protect you. Actually, let me clarify that statement….YOU with a gun are not going to protect YOU. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re probably more likely to get shot. Who would have thought?

As a side note, clearly I favor banning guns outright to the idiot layperson. But being an American, I’ll never see that happen. So I’ll favor any measure that makes guns SAFER as a compromise. And there have been steps in that direction, at least ATTEMPTED steps. Yet gun enthusiasts and associated organizations seem hell bent on keeping firearms as dangerous as possible….and readily available in all forms.

As a general rule, I don’t like calling people idiots. Except for one guy…and his name is Steve Doocy, the host on Fox and Friends. Jesus fucking Christ, how does that guy have a job? But at one point he objected to a finger-print gun safe because one wouldn’t be able to get to their weapon quick enough. I fucking hate this guy. I wish I could find the video where he says this bullshit.

But that’s the kind of logic that gun proponents use.

Yet it’s never been about logic. I mean, they have to use REASONS for why they think guns should rain from the sky. You know, 2nd Amendment, Founding Fathers and all that shit. But just because something permits you to do a thing doesn’t automatically mean that you HAVE to do a thing.

Most people who own guns will never use them for protection. They probably don’t know anybody who ever used them for protection. Animal hunting aside, buying guns for “protection” is just a myth that the buyers tells themselves.

We all hate the guy with the huge truck. Or the loud car. Or anything that makes the owner feel bigger than he really is. Clearly he’s compensating. The guy with the truck is never going to use it haul stuff. And the guy with the big engine just has a small penis.

But the object itself is thought to bring a quality that the individual feels they lack. A whole culture is developed around it to help reinforce that quality.

And American society in particular has a strong cultural connection to the gun. Tales of the wild west for instance, where men roamed the frontier armed with their rifle and six-shooter. American culture itself formed out of frontier life (in large sections of the country)…and it wasn’t that long ago from a historical perspective. For American men, southerners in particular, masculinity is heavily intertwined with owning weapons.

And that’s clearly why they’re so passionate about them. (Yet are disguising it under “2nd Amendment Rights”)

I’ll admit, I’ve done my part in perpetuating the glorification of violence and gun culture. I’m sure that (some of) you have read my James Bond posts. Guilty as charged. While I don’t feel the need to own a gun or commit acts of violence, I do vicariously live through the adventures of Bond and similar movies.

That being said, I’ll conclude with this:

Our society’s relationship with guns and violence can be summed up in the movie Layer Cake. The character simply titled XXXX, (played by Daniel Craig 😉 ), is shown a room full of guns and is asked to pick one out. He states….

“I mean, I fucking hate guns…although that one is really pretty”.

“Alexander Revisited” Revisited

I saw Alexander when it was first released in 2004. I did not, and I still don’t, know much about Alexander the Great as history. I was just interested in the movie because Oliver Stone was directing (which stuck me as odd at the time) and Vangelis was providing the music.

I was actually impressed. Of course, being 16 at the time, I’m sure I was impressed by a lot of things. It wasn’t a perfect movie, that was obvious. I went with a couple of friends, hoping that they would also be impressed. I mean, I was a 16 year old cinephile, I was alone in the world and I was hoping that I would attract others into my obsession with movies. But they, like everyone else in the theater, thought that it was “too gay”.

That’s an odd criticism now. And then, as now, that never struck me as a valid critique. Everyone knew that the ancient Greeks were indiscriminate when it came to such matters. But I guess that was George W. Bush’s America….Alexander’s sexual life might have been portrayed accurately (with possibly a few creative liberties), but no one wanted to see that in a year where many states voted to define marriage between a “man and a woman”.

In our same-sex marriage world now, in post Barack Obama’s America, such depictions in the film hardly register. In fact, when recalling the movie, I always thought that the relationship between Alexander and Jared Leto was explicitly romantic. Upon re-watching it, 13 years later, I was disappointed to find that Oliver Stone didn’t pull the trigger on that.

I’ve been meaning to re-visit Alexander for several years now. But through the many cuts and re-cuts, I didn’t really want to take the three hours (or however long it is) to watch the damn thing. I know that that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, I watch two hour movies all the time. Sometimes I watch TWO two-hours movies back to back. But that was my logic for not “revisiting” Alexander Revisited.

Plus I thought that Oliver Stone was trying too hard. Why all the cuts? You’re not fucking Ridley Scott making Blade Runner. Just give it up already.

But I was skimming through Netflix and was annoyed when I saw that Stone made another cut. So I thought I would give it a try.

I believed that the movie would hold up better in our 2017 eyes. I thought that people would be over that whole “gay” thing, and we could finally appreciate Oliver Stone’s masterpiece for what it is.

Then things quickly went south.

The opening monologue by Ptolemy, played by Anthony Hopkins, should have been great. Now I love history. I honestly thought that there was no way to fuck up explaining history. And God bless Anthony Hopkins. I would listen to the man read graffiti off a bathroom stall. But it becomes clear that the dialog sounds good when you read on paper. It becomes impossible to take it seriously when performed on film.

Perhaps such execution would have been perfect for a David Lean epic in the 60s. With our modern sensibilities, however, it just doesn’t work. It leads one to doubt that that’s the way those historical figures ACTUALLY talked. That criticism also sounds ridiculous, but if we wanted to truly grasp how these figures were as REAL people…I just don’t buy it. But perhaps worst of all, the dialog is difficult to ACT.

In our era of Deadwood and Rome, where characters didn’t ACTUALLY talk that way…modernizing dialog goes a long way towards making actors and their characters believable. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled by that.

The biggest victim of this dialog is Colin Farrell. I’m sure playing Alexander the Great for a big-budget film directed by Oliver Stone is quite daunting. No disrespect to Farrell, I know that he’s a really good actor, but there are few that could have pulled off that dialog. Hopkins did alright. Even the great Christopher Plummer as Aristotle didn’t have the chops to do it. Farrell acted his ass off, but the script ultimately failed him.

But it didn’t fail Val Kilmer. In a movie that had both Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Plummer, Kilmer was the best actor. I’m sure that he was probably gunning for a “best supporting actor” nod from the Academy. (Which he should have received)

People forget, that once upon a time, Oliver Stone was hitting balls out of the park. Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, The Doors, Born on the Fourth of July…no matter what he does in life, he still has those films on his resume. By the time Alexander was being produced, there might’ve been some hints that his skills were tapering off. That’s okay, no one bats .1000. But there are some genuine moments of bad directing in Alexander.

The scenes in Babylon are a key example. It’s obvious, and acceptable, that the scenes are filmed on a stage. But Stone seemed to have forgotten how to stage actors. It just felt like it was a gaggle of people wondering around on a stage. The dancing felt completely out of place. And a Persian cat?! That all felt a little too on the nose. But Oliver Stone was definitely out of his comfort zone in directing this period piece.

Another complaint that I hear was that only two battles are shown. But c’mon. Those were some pretty fucking impressive battles. Especially the last one in India. I don’t recall that battle being all that graphic in the theatrical cut….but Stone REALLY lets loose in the cut on Netflix.

Farrell’s facial expressions during the first battle were…shall I say….definitely a choice. It bothered me a little. Not gonna lie. He looked like he was about to orgasm on a few occasions. But that totally makes sense. Alexander the Great was, after all, undefeated in battle. I’m sure the man really did get off on doing that shit.

But whatever shortcomings Stone had as a director, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto bails his ass out. Even when the movie stalls, it’s beautiful to look at.

But I believe the crowning achievement of this film is Vangelis’ score. Clearly he’s a successful musician independent of movies. That being said, he does have an Academy Award. But when he gets involved in a movie, it’s sure to fail at the box office. But that doesn’t take away from the quality of his work. I want to say at one point in the soundtrack, he uses a synthesizer. Why? Because he’s mother fucking Vangelis mother fucker, he can use a synthesizer if he wants to! In fact, I wish more period pieces used synthesizers in their soundtracks!

But should you, reader, revisit Alexander?

I say yes.

Sure, we get epics from time to time. Usually studios use them for quick money grabs which almost never works. Take the recent Ben-Hur for example. But Stone was reaching for something BIGGER here. We can argue whether or not he succeeded, but he was trying to say something. Obviously he felt that he left a lot on the table with his many cuts. But I think that Stone’s film might be the last of its kind….the David Lean epic. His reach might’ve exceeded his grasp, but he did try to make a film that was as ambitious as its subject…Alexander the Great.

And for that alone, and I think it’s time to give this film another shot.

Code Name: James Bond

In Cormac McCarthy’s horrific work Blood Meridian, the antagonist Judge Holden is a character that will haunt your dreams. He’s multi-talented, intellectual, physically intimidating, and a natural born killer. Despite the book taking place over many years, the Judge never ages. By the end, he claims that he can never die.

Judge Holden is a bearer of violence. A deliverer of death to all. A being that is more unearthly, or ungodly, than human. He’s the evil that awaits everyone. War, and by extension violence, is his God.

Time doesn’t apply to him.

Thanks to the age of the Internet, popular fan theories have tried to make sense of James Bond’s “rolling timeline”. While Bond was blowing up Kananga in Live and Let Die, was he also aware of the time he made a man drink oil in Quantum of Solace? Did Bond massacre an army in an airplane hanger in Octopussy before he massacred another army in Goldeneye?

To make this timeline understandable, many fans have constructed the “code name” theory…or the idea that the name “James Bond” is used by different agents over the decades. This would explain why there’s different actors playing the character, along with whatever arcs they might’ve had during their tenure, and why they don’t carry over into the next actor.

Clearly, there are many, MANY, problems associated with this theory. Namely the characters of Felix Leiter and Ms. Moneypenny. Are they “code names” as well? Additionally, it seems apparent that Daniel Craig remembers the events of Goldfinger in Skyfall, and Roger Moore and Sean Connery the events in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

(There are many other examples that disprove this theory. Watch the video above)

In fact, the only GOOD evidence for this theory is when George Lazenby utters “this never happened to the other fellow” to himself in OHMSS. But I’d rather chalk that up to bad writing than proof that “James Bond” is a code name.

Unfortunately this idea has been picking up steam.

Apparently director Lee Tamahori wanted to inject this idea into Die Another Day. Rumor had it that Skyfall also wanted to introduce it (I never verified that though). And someone mentioned on the James Bonding Podcast that producer Michael G. Wilson’s son favors the idea and wants to introduce it when he’s handed the reigns.

(I should mention, that this is all mostly rumor. I don’t fact-check shit)

In our fad of “extended universes” (which the Bond producers want to explore), I fear that it’s only a matter of time before the “code name” becomes official canon.

And I hate it. It’s not only stupid, but it cheapens the character himself.

I’ve written extensively about James Bond. Perhaps to a fault. I know that I have an obsession and I probably need to seek help. But the character is more than a mere man, or “men”. He’s an idea. He’s the deliverer of violence…a messenger of the God of War. He does the evil necessary to restore order to the universe. Normal constraints of time does not apply to him.

He only administers death. He cannot be killed.

As a side note, this is why Connery and Craig are the best Bonds. To quote Connery himself, they understand the “danger aspect” to the character. They’re borderline sociopaths. Killing is what they do because it’s the ONLY thing they can do.

They aren’t like mortal men.

James Bond is the representation of an age. He might take on different forms, but he’s still the same man. He adapts to the needs of a time…to fight evil, sometimes with evil. But James Bond can’t die. He always returns. By making him a “code name”, it simply makes him mortal….or better yet…a series of mortal men.

Like Judge Holden, James Bond is not quite a supernatural being. But he doesn’t quite fit the status of human being. Both the Judge and Bond are in service to the same God. The Judge might’ve chosen a different path…a path that services evil for the sake of evil itself. While Bond found employment in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But both characters don’t quite work as mortal beings…but the embodiment of concept, or the darker aspects to the human mind.

And by applying a “timeline” will make the character more man than myth. 

I don’t only object to the “code name theory” because it doesn’t make sense, but it’s also artistically lazy. IMO.

Thought of the Day: Struggle, Meaning, and Finding Your Higher Power

I slept for 14 hours last night.

Like I said, I work a strenuous job overnights. It kicks my ass, but it’s getting me back into shape. And I’ve been sore all week, but after long, LONG, night’s rest I feel completely regenerated.

But usually in such deep sleep, dreams can become quite strange. And VIVID.

I can’t say I ever have reoccurring dreams. But I do have dreams that occur at similar locations that probably don’t exist in real life. Yet more alarmingly, I have dreams of similar THEMES.

I’m almost always lost and trying to find my way somewhere. That’s the most common theme. But there’s a far stranger one that pops up on occasion: an unseen force tempting me to curse God.

Yet I never succumb to this temptation.

I’m not a religious person. Sure, I’ve had my phases. But in my adult life I’ve been largely uninterested, or ambivalent at best, about the existence of God. Yet somewhere in my subconscious, questions still arise.

I attended a Bible-thumping Baptist high school. I attended a religious institution for college. I have a largely religious education. So that would explain a lot of this.

But since graduating, I just haven’t cared. In my philosophical pursuits, I’ve concluded that if such a Being exists, that It would be so far outside our phenomenological field that we couldn’t know anything about It. It would be like an ant trying to comprehend our existence. It just wouldn’t be possible, and it’s highly illogical to think that this Being or Beings would have communicated to us through ancient texts. So I’ve largely abandoned the question of God’s existence.

Yet, the question lingers.

I’ve discussed before how the most contentious part of Alcoholics Anonymous is finding your “higher power”. I’m sure that step is the reason why many don’t find the program palatable. But there are many others that pridefully claim that they’ve never once struggled with their faith.

Perhaps I’ve always favored an existentialist interpretation of Jesus Christ. Think Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ, which portrayed Christ as a figure that struggled with his own faith and the role He had to play. The fact that Jesus went through with His mission, despite His doubts and struggles, is the true triumph.

(For the record, I never read the book. Just saw the movie and sort of put it together)

In Kazantzakis’ story, Christ was more than just a blind follower. He had his doubts, angst, and struggles like everyone else. He was, at least according to the Gospels, both fully God and fully MAN. That part gets conveniently glossed over because it ignores the fact that Jesus too faced the same temptations and questions that all of mankind faces. That’s what it means to be human. That’s what makes Jesus Christ’s story much more meaningful.

That’s the triumph of faith.

Although I claim that I’ve found my “higher power” within AA, I actually just glossed over it. I honest don’t even know what that means to me yet. So I guess that I haven’t passed Step 2.

Many agnostics and atheists simply use “the group” as their “higher power”. Whatever works, I guess. But that doesn’t quite work for me. The group won’t keep me sober. Some supernatural force that I don’t believe in won’t keep me sober. Only I can keep me sober. So am I my own “higher power”?

That doesn’t make any sense. (Plus that’s doomed to fail)

So I’m back to struggling with my pseudo-philosophical pursuit for the existence of God. Clearly my subconscious believes in this Higher Power, but my active mind can’t reconcile with it. It’s been burned out and made cynical through its many ponderings and disappointments.

But without struggle, there can be no REAL faith.

A person that went their whole life without questioning the beliefs handed to them will have no understanding of what that faith means to them. Their faith is frail and shallow. But the person that had to endure the doubt and temptation will find that their faith is the strongest.

I don’t know, maybe I’m struggling to find meaning where none exists. Maybe my brain is just firing random neurons when I dream. Maybe I’m just motivated by fear. Who knows?

But it’s through the struggle where we find meaning.

Entitlements for the Rich, “Post-Capitalism”, “Persecuted Millionaires” and Adam Carolla

Welp, back to work.

Back to punching a clock and slinging boxes.

I’m not bitching. Work’s work. But it’s hard. It’s thankless. And I work with a lot of people that struggle with money issues.

I used to listen to Adam Carolla’s podcast. Thinking back on it now, the man lives in a different universe which is why I quit listening to him. He’s part of that “persecuted millionaire” mindset….constantly whining that he gets taxed too much. Mind you, he’s the king of gripe and seems to embody this “first-world problems” image. That’s what he made his name on.

But the man is 6’2. White. Lives (and was born and raised) in LA. And genuinely seems to hate poor people.

He claims that he was born poor. Which I don’t doubt, but both his parents were (are) college educated. They just seemed to have neglected him growing up. Nevertheless, this seems to be the source of his disdain for anyone that makes less money than him.

Millionaires and billionaires share this common gripe…they get taxed too much. And then you see their 20,000 square feet mansions, their Aston Martins, private jets, private education for their children, and Tom Ford suits and wonder “what am I missing?”. Meanwhile, there are those that work 60 hours a week and can’t pay the rent. The rich bitch about those people, saying “If only they spent their money on other things”. Then the poor sees the rich spending their money of frivolous shit, and wonder why they can’t pay their employees (who actually make the money that goes into the pockets of the rich).

I won’t say that capitalism is a religion…but it certainly mimics it. The “Invisible Hand” as this spirit that makes all things possible. The worship of money that blessed the ruling class over the workers.

The American Doctrine states that everyone SHOULD pursue wealth. Anyone can be made rich, given enough “hard work” and “dedication”…the two pious virtues on which this country was built. In fact, it’s every American’s civic duty to pursue this end. To pursue that yacht, to pursue that private jet. That’s why this world turns.

We don’t need “for the betterment of all”, that’s for the idealists. Progress is only initiated through self-interest. Under this Doctrine, everyone can win.

But someone has to lose.

We can justify these losers in several ways….through an in-house system of economic theory (“there has to be some degree of inequality for economies to flourish”), they weren’t pious enough in their hard work and dedication, or they just weren’t innovative enough.

This doctrine is hard-wired into our Western mentality. Seeing a world that isn’t driven by this capitalist ethic is nearly impossible. John Lennon was right, “I wonder if you can”.

I wonder if I can.

But I think we might be turning a corner. In our post-Cold War world, the stank of Marxism in both communist and socialist forms have lifted a great deal. Especially here in America. It’s hard to believe that Bernie Sanders ran a strong campaign while touting Democratic Socialism.

But these are just more “isms” to grapple with. Or another reason to turn theory into religion. We don’t need a theory to not be assholes to one another.

But back to Adam Carolla.

I appreciate his disdain for things in general. It matched my own crankiness. But I had to quit listening to him when Donald Trump’s campaign picked up. For whatever reasons, it seemed to have made his gripes about taxation much more potent and delusional.

He believed himself more important than everybody in LA because he paid more in taxes.

It’s acceptable to hear rich people get pissed about “entitlements” to the poor. But entitlement to the rich gets glossed over. Adam Carolla, at that time at least, seemed to have embodied this form of entitlement, even though he often bragged about his vintage cars and other frivolous objects.

But what bothered me the most about Carolla was his feelings of self-importance. Like he was providing a valuable service to the community. The man told fart jokes and griped for a living. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things in themselves, mind you, but it’s not like he’s a doctor, engineer, or a producer of any goods or services that benefit his community as a whole.

Jason Stapleton is another example of this. He has a company that teaches people how to use the stock market. Plus he spews nonsense on a podcast.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with these things in general. And I don’t dispute that they work hard to achieve their wealth. But when you work 40,60,80 hours a week doing something you love (yet serves a frivolous purpose) and get to go home in a Lexus to a 40,000 square foot mansion…and then think of a nurse, factory worker, truck driver, etc who work similar hours minus similar benefits…then it makes the gripe about taxation much less sympathetic.

But these are the myths we tell ourselves in this country. The rich are rich because of their own genius. They’re the true movers and shakers of the world. This is why Ayn Rand and other similar libertarian ethics are so popular among the wealthy….because it validates their own selfish pursuits. It tells them that the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor.

Steve Carell said it best at the end of The Big Short. We just look for reasons to blame “immigrants and poor people” (paraphrasing) when we have an economic crises. Although I believe the tide is turning, we have rarely in the past pointed fingers at those have the REAL power…the wealthy.

This might just be a rare occurrence of optimism for me, but I believe that the capitalist ethic has seen its best days. Thanks in part to the information age, the internet, the proliferation of higher education (although I see higher education as a holdover from a bye-gone era, that’s a story for another day), and a host of other factors…we have become more aware of “otherness”, for a lack of a better description. The internet itself has contributed both positively and negatively to this “post-capitalistic” wave. The bombardment of technology has not only made us more knowledgeable, but it has also disconnected us from ourselves and each other.

The pendulum might be swinging towards a more “minimalist” movement, which greatly works against the extravagance and excessiveness that capitalism fosters. I guess the whole “tiny house” fad is an example of this. But when the appeal of consumerism and material gain is taken away, the capitalist ethic ceases to be convincing.

But if capitalism is anything, it’s crafty because it appeals to our worst instincts. It’s probably only a matter of time before it “capitalizes” on this “post-capitalist” movement.

The “Let’s Get Sober” Podcast: What Could Have Been, What Should Have Been

Copy of LET's GeT Sober (4)

Like pimping, podcasting ain’t easy.

The My Life With Kant podcast took everything out of me. I once said that it was like a part-time job. But I was being modest. It was my actual job because I was working on it on the clock during my full-time job.

Yet I wish to make a return.

Not by rebooting My Life With Kant. Fuck that. But by turning THIS thing, whatever the hell it is, into a podcast. I’ve been kicking the idea around for awhile.

But like I said, I’m lazy. It takes us an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time. And I want to do it right.

“You can’t even get your blog to look right! What makes you think that you can do a podcast?” You’re probably asking.

First off, I like the bare-bones look. Secondly, If you don’t like it, feel free to fix it yourself. Thirdly, fuck off.

But really, a podcast is in the development stage. Don’t expect one anytime soon (not that you are) as I need to get my schedule squared away. Perhaps once when another side project is completed (which I’ll discuss sometime in the near future), then I’ll be able to dedicate myself full-time to the Philosophy Redux podcast.

But earlier this year, I did make an attempt at re-launching another podcast. It was called Let’s Get Sober. Look, I’m not good at naming things, alright? It didn’t last long, as I wasn’t very good at staying sober.

Yet I recently got a chance to listen to one of the episodes. I was quite surprised. Frankly, I thought it was going to be a piece of shit, yet I found myself thinking “Yeah, I make a good point!”.

Had I been able to stay sober, it might’ve taken off. Rehab.com asked me to mention them. For free of course. I know that doesn’t sound all that impressive, but when they approached me, I thought I was the shiz. It showed a lot of promise, but in the end, it wasn’t to be.

But maybe it can serve as a template for what’s to come. I like to think of it as the Phase II to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And I know that that analogy sucks. But it’ll provide you with a peek behind the curtain of what will likely be the Philosophy Redux podcast.

Now the episode I’m presenting mentions this “9am God”. And boy, I forgot how much hangovers suck. Up until recently, I forgot that I even mentioned such a thing. But every alcoholic and addict finds themselves praying to that “morning God” that will forgive them of the sins committed the night before.

For some reason, we forget about those prayers. Perhaps we think that we can avoid such regrets.

I’m glad that I discovered this episode when I did. Being nearly two months sober, it’s easy to forget what the mornings after feel like. I needed the reminder.

So I hope you enjoy this sample of Let’s Get Sober.

And for good measure, here’s another one: