Monday, November 28, 2011

Background Journey: In the Big Inning (1975-1989)

I offer you a sketch of some of the journey which took place in my background so that you may understand how I got from there to here. The point being multifaceted: to provide you with some details on your author, to hopefully shatter any bullshit paradigms you might have, to share my humanity, to record some of my life before I am too old to remember it, and thus, secure some rudimentary form of immortality, and to more adequately explain what exactly I am talking about on this blog.

My story begins in late November of 1975, today in fact (I'm a Sagittarius for those interested), when my mother gave birth to me at a United States Air Force Hospital in New Hampshire. As should be clearly self-evident to those of you who are not completely burned out, that would make me a neo-hippie, as unfortunately, I missed the party and was born just in time to tag myself onto the tail end of Generation X.

My father was an Air Force sergeant, and due to the nature of his job and the era, my family lived on a military base which had the specific responsibility of making sure that bombs were dropped onto millions of people should their enemy government so much as threaten to drop their bombs on us. You could say I was born with a nuclear bomb under my ass!

After I was born, and before I even completed my first year of life, my father left the Air Force and my family moved back to their hometown in Pennsylvania. It was me, my mother who we will call Mom, my father who we will call Dad, and my older brother and only sibling who we'll call Dippy (we'll be talking a lot about Dippy). And that is just about all that I know about until around age 4 or 5, with the exception of some sort of shadowy recollection of watching my dad collapse in the kitchen from heat exhaustion, which supposedly occurred when I was 1 or 2.

Dippy and I were very close, you could say we had always been best friends. We were only two years apart in age, so naturally I followed Dippy everywhere Dippy went, I looked up to Dippy, and Dippy and I spent many hours discussing life's important questions. Dippy and I were two very different people, in fact, Dippy was more of the nerdy smart type and I was more of the dumb jock type; nevertheless, Dippy and I were still very close.

Dippy and I spent our days riding our bicycles around the small town we lived in, fishing, running through the woods, climbing trees, and generally exploring our world. We were even in Cub Scouts, 4-H, and the church choir together!

Dad worked all the time at a factory to make ends meet, so I barely saw him, which is what our society calls “good”. So that's about all I remember about Dad from early childhood. Although I should mention that Dad was an agnostic, if not an atheist, during this time in my life.

Mom was pretty normal and pretty cool back then, or should I say that she at least appeared to be. She was a Sunday school teacher, the church choir director, the director of our 4-H club, a special needs teacher for the mentally disabled and handicapped, and otherwise what this society would consider an upstanding and productive member of society.

We were all happy Methodists, except for Dad, and I can tell you that I spent a lot of time in that church, which was the same church Mom and Dad got married in. I actually had a lot of fun in that church, running around in it at night, discovering the room of pipes for the pipe organ. Yes, indeed, music and religion were ingrained in me from a very very early age.

Aside from church, I played T-ball and generally loved to play sports, play “army”, and otherwise be a mindless child. I was always very good at athletics, in fact, I wanted to be a major league baseball player and play for the Philadelphia Phillies. I was marching straight down the road towards becoming part of the state-guardian class, as Socrates put it. I, like my brother and my parents, was a shining example of the public education system. I always had straight As, but never had an original thought, which is how you do it if you want to be praised and succeed in this world. Sit down, shut-up, and do what you are told, and you'll be taken good care of, so long as you remain useful!

Yes, everything seemed to be quite normal and lovely in our tiny little town, and our family seemed to be quite the typical American family, with the exception of our low income housing. Did you know that once you get into those things it is damn near impossible to get out of them due to the way they figure rent? We were eventually able to move out because my uncle loaned us the money.

Somewhere around age 6 I got into my first and only trouble with the law. I just did what any kid would do – I built a fort with some friends. Unfortunately, we made that fort by basically hollowing out a pine tree (by cutting branches off our neighbor's pine tree). It wasn't my idea! I was just doing what I knew how to do, and listening to my elders. It was the older kids who I was hanging out with who came up with the idea (Dippy wasn't around that day). It was also their idea to throw the tomatoes in our neighbor's tomato garden at each other.

This occurred back when small town cops were still peace officers and not jack-booted law enforcers. The State trooper actually pulled my dad over on his way home from work just to tell him what had happened. In any event, that was my first experience with how the police use various tactics to get you to confess. I had no intention of telling them who the older kids were (not that I feared getting beat up, I've never been beaten up and I never will be – I'm too smart, too strong, and too damn likable), but I was just a 6 year old kid. The bastards threatened to put me in jail if I didn't spill the beans! I don't care who you are, when you are just 6 years old and the cops tell you they are going to lock you away, and you have that 6 year old imagination, all of your rational thinking goes out the window!

So, I ratted the older kids out, but don't worry I make up for it with age, experience, and wisdom. It don't matter anyway, they just got threatened like me and no one got into any actual trouble for it. Besides, they deserved it, those same kids stole my bike. They did gang up on me and threaten to beat me down for it, but twelve year olds shouldn't be threatening 6 year olds, nor should they jump on them and cock their fists back. When they do, certain 6 year old kids who have already proven they are prone to panic, kick them in the nuts, and then smack them over the head with a metal Tonka truck – which makes them drop like rocks. Then their mom drags them, while they are still bawling, over to your house and waves a frying pan at your mother, until she finds out her 12 year old just got thumped by a 6 year old, then she turns around and beats her kid for being such a loser and picking on a kid half his size and half his age.

If anything, I learned from this life lesson that strict pacifism is not natural (at least for me). If you are threatened you are going to either fight or flee, so to me, there are times when violence is acceptable, and those times are when it is done to preserve or protect you or someone else from harm, not as a preemptive action (like bombing someone because they might bomb you some time in the future), but as a last resort, when you are backed into a corner and you are certain harm is imminent and you are unable to find a different solution to escape the crisis. So, I admire pacifists and I respect them. I also see the point behind their philosophy in that violence only breeds more violence, but the world is not perfect, so I am not personally a strict pacifist and I oppose all attempts to remove my right to protect myself and others from big meanies who want to pound those of us who are children at heart.

Anyway, other than that little event, all would seem normal in our little world until about the time I turned 7. Then Mom and Dad started arguing a lot, and eventually they separated, leaving me and Dippy with Mom. Mom got all “cowgirl” and started hanging out with her sister at festivals, wearing cowboy hats, and driving around in her funky green '79 Chevy Nova, and eventually ended up seeing some guy who was a lot younger than her. During this time period I was mostly raised by Dippy since Mom was always drunk or whatever or hanging out with the jerk she was seeing. I actually got closer to Dad at this time and developed a healthy hatred for the jerk who was with my Mom. The guy actually threatened me when she wasn't around and he used to give me beer (I was like 7 or 8). Dippy hated his guts too. I guess one should expect that anyone who would knowingly break up a relationship is likely to not be a very nice or caring human being. I also started smoking around this time.

In one memory, I don't recall why, but I wanted to speak with Mom. Her “boyfriend” and her were somewhere and his older brother was watching me. Well, that guy did something to me that I didn't like very much (I don't recall what) and I demanded to see my mother. He told me I could not, and that was all it took. I began to freak out, being just a little kid, and during it all I realized that he was blocking the stairway, so I immediately assumed my mother must be upstairs. I managed to push past him (I think I might have bit him) and ran upstairs where I found my Mom lying naked on top of her “boyfriend” who was also naked. For those of you who don't believe separations screw up kids, try that image on for size!

Now, I understand that if the ultimate goal is to break down the conventions of society (like the Cynics) things like marriage and monogamy must go, but how many consider what it does to the poor kids who are caught in the transitional phase? And is it even worth allowing things like that to happen to them? Isn't there a better way? I didn't even know what sex was yet and I had to see my Mom screwing some guy who I did not love, and who was not my Dad whom I did love. I will tell you though, that after seeing that I developed an interest in sex, out of curiosity, and so I was 8 years old and trying to get laid. After all, little kids just do what they see their elders doing. As you are beginning to see, the whole issue of their separation really screwed me up, and I can vouch that it also screwed up Dippy.

Shortly after this incident my Dad became a Christian, and all of the sudden Dad got pretty cool, really involved, and just seemed happier. He seemed to genuinely become a new person, but I do not tell you this to talk up Christianity, “oh no!!”, on the contrary, I tell you this so you can mark the time period this occurred and then watch what unfolds afterwards, and also to back up what I shall be discussing later on, which is why I refer to my brother, whom I love very much, as Dippy.

Eventually, Mom got into some trouble and she lost her job, her place as choir director and Sunday school teacher, and good old Child Protective Services (aka the kidnappers) actually came into my school to interview me. That's what they always do, because if you aren't a parent who understands and exercises your Constitutional rights on behalf of your children, the state is more than happy to try to come and steal them when the first opportunity presents itself, and especially when you are not looking. Thankfully, I had already recently learned from my experience with the tomato garden to never believe a word anyone from the government says, and to distrust their intentions with all of my heart, soul, and mind. That was probably my first original thought. Ain't life funny? So I didn't say a word to them and I demanded to speak with my Dad, who then came to the school and pulled me and Dippy out.

I just wanted my family back together and for all of the bullshit to stop. Dippy and Dad just wanted the same, and we all got our wish. Mom's world came crashing down around her, and Dad stepped in to whisk her off her feet and carry her and her children away from danger.

Dad got a good job working for Roadway, he borrowed some money off his brother, and he moved us all up to the Pocono Mountains to start all over. I had just turned 9 years old, I was in 3rd grade, and the year was 1984.

I'll tell you some of the best times of my life were had up in the Poconos. I became a true child of nature, and nearly every moment was spent in the forest, as, anyone who lived up there locally knew (at least back then), the forest is everywhere, and you kind of have to try to not be in it. It was certainly different from when I lived in the Susquehanna Valley.

I made lots of friends, ran just about everywhere barefoot, built many forts, ate lots of freshly picked berries, actually touched a wild deer one day when roaming through the forest, got chased by a black bear, and just generally had a ball escaping the midlife crisis both of my parents were having by kicking it with Mother Nature and generally never being home.

I really can't tell you all that much about what went on at home during that time because I was never there. I can tell you that that was the time in which Dippy became super computer geek and learned to program in about six thousand different computer languages. I can also tell you that that is when Mom gave up drinking and Dad started.

Of course, I kept playing baseball and still held my far-fetched dream of the major leagues, and by 1987 (I was only 12) I actually had scouts watching my baseball games and commenting on how they would be keeping an eye on me as I progressed up through the leagues. That year I hit four grand slams, had over thirty home runs, and our team was undefeated. Go Pocono Lions 'Red Team' Minor Leaguers!

Eventually, I progressed throughout the baseball leagues right through Little League and up into the Majors – which was for those still too young to play for High School. Somewhere around the Majors I started to suck, just as my life started too, and I lost interest in baseball altogether. Now I could give a rat's ass about any sport, except for maybe playing hacky sack while stoned. To be honest, a large part of the reason I began to suck at baseball was because I was supposed to be wearing glasses, but I didn't wear them because my family couldn't afford nice ones. I had cheap geeky looking plastic frame glasses that embarrassed the hell out of me.

Going back to 1987, it was also around that year, or maybe a year or two earlier that Kelly Monaco (the actress) moved up to the Poconos and became a classmate of mine. So there is the one famous person I know, as if I care, but it might be worth mentioning. We'd be in classes together for the next several years and even worked together. She was an “alright” person, but as I recall some kid, who was considered by most to be a nerd, and who was obviously from a poor family, got into a fight with me for some reason having to do with her. Some malicious person said something to him or her about him liking her and somehow he got his feelings hurt – don't ask me why or how, all I know is that was what I eventually learned. Anyway, all I know is the kid came up behind me out of nowhere and smacked me across the face with his fist and busted my glasses (at least the kid had some self dignity), so I thumped his ass (because so do I). He ran to the bathroom crying – that was in 6th grade. That was the only fight I ever got into in school, and once again, as always, a fight that I did not start. I've never started one single fight in my life, I am basically a peaceful person, I do however, tend to finish fights if they are brought to me.

Speaking of fighting, when I hit 7th grade and was in Junior High School I signed up for jujitsu, which I very much enjoyed. That was when I developed an interest in the martial arts. I'd recommend them to anyone, and I would further state that they help reinforce the concept of only fighting when it is absolutely necessary and when it is in the interest of self defense or the defense of others who are in critical need of help. I really enjoyed the mind-over-matter mentality of martial arts, where little tiny people can toss big guys like me across the room through the simple use of leverage. The martial arts are nothing like barbaric brute force, but are actually a sort of intellectual form of combat which combines the use of a balanced mind, body, and spirit to achieve its ends. As Bruce Lee, who's philosophy I would later adopt said about jeet kune do, “It is the art of fighting without fighting”, and the martial arts really are, or can be, for that purpose. Besides, it is great exercise and self-discipline! Even if you are a strict pacifist, you should consider giving the martial arts a try, or at least go and watch the training in them once. There is a huge difference between what goes on in training and what you might see on the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is a commercial enterprise that ruins the image of martial arts, in my opinion.

Again, speaking of fighting there is one instance I must speak of, lest you think I need to have my ass kicked to learn some kind of lesson. As I said, I've never been beaten up, and it will never happen because I only fight when I feel I must, which means I only fight if I am willing to die, if necessary, trying to win, so the day I get beat up is the day I either die, or I am incapacitated and therefore unable to continue defending myself. In any event, there was one time somewhere around 1986 or 1987 in which I was severely “brought down”. There was no fight. Not a single punch was thrown and no one actually got hurt, except for my feelings. Some older kids merely grabbed me, held my arms behind my back, and threw crab apples at my face because they “didn't want me to hang out at their clubhouse”. And you would think that being hit with crab apples would do damage and be considered assault by most, but they were rotten, so it was almost like being hit with tomatoes or even marshmallows. It was more humiliating than anything. If you want to call that a fight, then so be it, but if you've never been in an actual physical altercation which results in extreme physical pain for at least one of the individuals, in which actual blows are being delivered by either one or both parties, then I am going to conclude that as far as I am concerned you have no idea what a fight is. However, it did scare the crap out of me, because I realized for the first time that there were some instances where my physical strength could not save me from other people who wished to do me harm. I simply could not move my arms with three older kids holding them behind my back.

I was like 11 or 12. The four kids who did it were actually about my brother Dippy's age, or older (some of them were in High School). So, naturally I went and complained to my brother, Dippy, who really surprised the hell out of me. I never saw him angry before. He just kind of typed away on his computer, sat around in T-shirts and blue jeans and bare feet, smelled really bad, and listened to, played, and wrote music. He actually went and started a fight. He went and knocked one of the kids out with a front snap kick to the jaw. Drop him like a lead plate! That was the only time I saw my brother, Dippy, start a fight, and the only fight he ever won. The kid was a jock, and my brother, Dippy, was a total nerd who programmed computers and was a band fag (as we called them). The closest he ever got to fighting was he learned to fence. I guess he was having a bad day or something.

So anyway, let that be a lesson to all of you out there. Never screw with a smelly barefoot nerd! My lesson was, as I mentioned earlier, that I signed my ass up for martial arts.

Moving along, it was during these years 1984-1989, that my family went fundamentalist Christian. That is a key point that you will need to remember for later on. Ever since my Dad became a Christian and Mom had her whole deal, our family life just progressively went to shit. It almost seemed as if God was breaking stuff just so He could claim He fixed it, or more like the entire acceptance of the religion is really the acceptance of a curse, which is pretty much what the religion says you are under, if you believe in it. Yes, if one accepts and wholly believes in any of the monotheistic religions they are stating that they believe they are under some sort of curse brought about by a fallen state – think about that a second. What if belief in a curse is all that gives it power? What a way to control the masses and ensure their plans will always be thwarted by their own hands!

It is not my intention to bash Christianity, I have respect for you and your beliefs. If you are a Christian and you are reading this, please do not run away or feel insulted – hear me out and read my life story. And just think about it, that is all I ask. I am not blaming anything on Christianity, I am only raising questions that I encourage everyone to think about on there own. My life is laid out here for each individual to analyze (what I've told anyway) and to make up their own mind as to what went on and what caused what, if they even believe in any sort of causality. And if you don't give a damn about analyzing it, because you aren't me and you couldn't possibly have all of the information, then just enjoy the story and listen to my thoughts. I realize that most people who criticize Christianity or raise any questions about it seem very spiteful or downright rude towards Christians, and I realize that does none of us any good, so I apologize in advance if I come off like that anywhere. I want to reach out to you in love and peace and not chase you away.

I attended just about every sort of fundamentalist church. I went to Assemblies of God, Mennonite churches, Baptist churches, Evangelical, and right on down the line – all of them. I attended tent revivals and all sorts of things. It don't get much more fundi-Christian than the road I went down. So naturally, I missed out on dating and just about everything which is supposed to be fun for a teenager. Yeah sure, I lived a little wild between ages 7 and 9, but frankly after that I threw my entire teenage life out the window for the war God Yahweh. Not surprisingly for a war God, my life became filled with turmoil, violence, and upheaval. Just keep on reading on my background journey.

I do not doubt the very real spiritual experiences I had during that time period of my life and afterwards. Christianity is real, it just depends on what you think it may be that makes it real. You'll read about some of my real spiritual Christian stories, and then you will read about the ones which had nothing to do with Christianity. It's all spiritual man, it just depends on what vantage point you are coming from. Have you ever even stopped to try to define “spiritual” or do you just chuck it up to something so far above you that you can never define it? If so, and you admit you do not know what it is, then how can you say any one spiritual way is right or wrong when you do not even know what the spiritual is? You have to at least have some definition to make that decision, so I encourage you to find that, and then start there with that definition and see if it works for making your determinations, because if it doesn't, then either your definition is wrong or you are wrong.

Lastly, for the conservatives out there who have been indoctrinated to hate all hippie types and believe they are all a bunch of communist-loving losers, this part is for you. Both me and Dippy began working at age 12, under the table, as dishwashers, and we kept right on working after that, and especially once we were legal to work at age 14. We worked to help our parents (who we both loved very much) pay bills when times were tight, to buy ourselves school clothes and the things we personally wanted, and to have money to blow at the arcade or the ice cream shop, or whatever capitalist business we so chose to spend the money at, money which represented our time and part of our lives as human resources (as all people are considered by the rulers).

Had your piece of excrement system, which you love so much (and no, that comment does not automatically make me a socialist, as I'll being bitching about that later) been moral or had worked properly, I would have been taught about the true value of money and not blew it on crap (which sort of ignorance is what capitalism thrives upon), I would have actually seen my father when I was little and maybe he could have taught me about money, both of my parents would not of had to work to support us, CPS would not have been able to make a profit off of stealing children and thus they would not be sneaking around parents, and generally speaking, many of my life's problems which were caused by either a lack of money or the system's desire to not teach true and accurate money management, would have been non-existent, so don't start in on lazy hippies. I probably started working before your ass did!

That's it, that's all I wanted to say to those who think all of those out there who would consider themselves hippies don't work. I started working before I was even of legal age to do so, so shove it!

So there you go. There is a brief run down of my background journey from 1975-1989. I hope it helps you to gain a proper perspective on exactly where I am coming from. If not, I hope you at least find it entertaining.

Peace. Alraune.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why the Hippie Movement Failed

Why did both the Cynic philosophical movement and the hippie movement (two very similar movements) fail? I believe the answer is that they both failed to clearly convey their message. Certainly a message was received and absorbed by society, but given the nature of the two movements, an absorption of some of their ideals by society would seem to me to speak more of a failure than a success.

The nature of what the two nearly parallel philosophies sought to convey is such an enormous issuesince the two philosophies speak to the entity of society itselfthat proper communication of the philosophy to the masses would have been crucial to its success.

Assuredly, both movements were subject to hijacking by various social and political movements almost as soon as they had begun, as this is the case with all grassroots movements and revolutionary philosophies. Specifically in the hippie movement, everyone with an agenda most definitely hopped onboard and implanted their ideals into the movement as if those ideals were somehow compatible with the initial philosophy. For example, certainly no one would dare argue that a true criticism of the nature of society is somehow compatible with an economic or political philosophy, since both economy and governance are two of the pillars of society itself. How could one argue for a new economic or political philosophy and dare criticize the nature of society? That would be like arguing against breast-feeding with the right tit and suggesting the left is somehow more perfect. Indeed, it would have been hypocritical for a hippie who was a true Cynic to attach their self to such things, which would have been in direct opposition to their ideals.

Trying to prevent various groups who each have their own agendas, including other governments, or the powers that be from co-opting any movement has always been a problem for any grassroots movement, and the only answer has always been to guard the movement, which is typically done either through centralized control (a bad idea for a number of reasons) or through a commonly understood philosophical ideal. For numerous reasons, the latter is usually the way it is done (basically because, unlike a man, you cannot kill an idea), but such a method has its weaknesses which are always taken advantage of.

I believe the solution to this notable problem is properly sufficient and efficient communication of the movement's philosophical ideal. Unfortunately, the lack of such communication has always been the downfall of any worthy movement.

By sufficient, I mean that the message should be appealing, desirable, and persuasive, and that it should be delivered in such a manner as to be nearly indestructable or tamper-proof. The goals and ideals of the movement should be presented much like food for the masses. It should look appealing, smell appealing, and if possible taste appealing, so that it is found to be desirable to a large portion of people. Presentation is really everything! For example, if one is criticizing society itself, then it would not only be a good idea to point out the insurmountable problems of society, but to also show, in an attractive manner, the most obvious benefits of the alternative.

Obviously any concepts which are counter to that of society are not going to look very appealing, since all people have been born into and weaned on their society, and it is all they know, so the sufficiency of the message should not only be targetted at making the alternative itself look attractive, but it should also be focused on changing the way the individual and the masses actually perceive their choices. In other words, it needs to be made attractive not only to their eyes, but also the very way in which they think about it must necessarily be transformed, if possible, before the actual perception is even had (making the way things are currently done look ugly helps too).

By efficient it is meant, that the philosophical ideals and/or goals of the movement must be clearly, concisely, and thoroughly expressed in a manner which is unmistakable to the overwhelming majority. By clear it is meant, that one should really have to either go out of their way or be rather dense to miss the point. By concise it is meant, that the message should be wrapped up in as few terms which can be misinterpreted as is possible, and in which the masses can easily understand it. Finally, by thorough it is meant, that not only should the arguments against a particular way of doing things be heard loud and clear, but the alternative should be understood just as clearly, and should be just as readily discernable as any criticism. The message should be capable of delivering the entire desire behind the movement and of bringing it into fruition, from start to finish, in as few words which are able to be misinterpreted as possible, and delivered in such a way as to be most efficient.

Such an efficient delivery requires two tools: individual representation and mass communication. Besides being made to look bad and ultimately falling prey to co-opting, the hippie movement lacked an adequate means by which to communicate its message to the masses. The social order was able to suppress and twist the message because it held a far greater and more efficient means of mass communication in its hands. To get around this, a movement would have to either take advantage of new means of mass communication which are not yet wholly controlled (such as the Worldwide Web currently presents itself) or use as extensive arsenal of tools of mass communication such as books, films, music, art, posters, etc. Something like handing out copies of films in mass would seem the most efficient means by which to deliver a sufficient method in today's world which, unfortunately, was not an option for the 1960s hippie movement.

Unfortunately, another problem which any movement designed to criticize society undoubtedly runs up against is the use of tools which society built in order to aid in the acheivement of its goals. Such a practice is inevitably accused of hypocrasy, but the means by which to counter this accusation is to make clear from the start (perhaps in the original message itself) that in order to free another from their prison one must physically walk into the prison and release their shackles. In other words, if they are imprisoned by the use of indoctrination through mass communication, it is necessary to use such tools of mass communication to initially free them from their indoctrination. You cannot reach out to someone in the virtual reality of the social order unless you go there yourself.

And so, I am convinced that the hippie movement was a failure due to two things: it failed to sufficiently and efficiently convey its message and it was co-opted nearly from the get-go. I am fully convinced that the movement was initially grassroots and uncorrupted, but that it was taken over by extremist elements who had their own political agendas almost as soon as it got rolling, and then it was ultimately squashed by the ruling social order, who, more than likely, were also responsible for the initial co-opting and likely used controlled opposition as a means by which to end a legitimate movement of the people – such is the case throughout history. Afterall, if you make a movement look threatening or unattractive through the use of controlled opposition and mass disinformation before the overwhelming majority are awakened to this new way of viewing things, the people will naturally reject the movement.

If we want to see things change we need to learn to communicate better. We need to become more sufficient and efficient in our messages. We need to jealously guard the core philosophical principles of a genuine grassroots movement. We must understand the political, sociological, psychological, and military tactics which have been used throughout history to crush genuine movements of the people. We must understand what makes our fellow brothers and sisters "tick". We must understand the art of man-herding (as Socrates called it), take tips from past movements, perfect the implementation of centralized leaderless movements (take a tip from the Christians, who's leader was already dead and therefore unable to be killed), insist upon peaceful resistance and study the techniques of individuals such as Ghandi, Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Paine, etc. Because peace, freedom, and brotherly and sisterly love for all mankind is only one well-organized and intelligent communication of an idea away.

No one can fight the system, which is nothing more than an idea itself, in action, unless they fight it with an idea which is also placed into action by the people.

Peace. Alraune.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Ancient Roots of the Hippie Philosophy

It has been suggested that the hippie philosophy shares many beliefs with the ancient Greek Cynics. In fact, as early as July 7, 1967, a Time Magazine article asserted that the 1960s hippie counterculture espoused many of the same ideals as the ancient Greek school of Cynicism, and even made specific note of the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope – an interesting character to be sure. However, while it is true that no one school of philosophical thought could be considered to be the hippie philosophy, it is absolutely true that the idealogical force behind the lifestyles of most hippies is very much in line with the ancient Greek school of Cynicism.

The Cynics believed that the purpose of life was to live a life of virtue (ie. a sort of personal moral excellence and well-being) which was in agreement with Nature. This was accomplished through living a simple life and rejecting conventional (ie. "conformative") desires for things such as wealth, power, fame, and material possessions. They believed that we are all children of the world, that the world belongs to us all equally, that most suffering is created by the misguided values which society holds (eg. greed, etc.), that the nature and purpose of society needs to be questioned and corrected, and that true happiness can ultimately be gained through rigorous training of the mind, the attainment of self-sufficiency, and by living in a way which is more natural for humans than the machine of modernized civilization offers.

The Cynics would have almost certainly asked the questions: "What is the purpose of society?", "What are we doing?", "Is this happiness?", "What is the point of this great experiment and where is it going?" All of these questions would appear to be quite in line with the sort of thinking that characterizes most individuals who would identify themselves as hippies.

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly given the way society treats those whom it deems a threat to its nature, the word Cynic is derived from the Ancient Greek word kynikos, which means "dog-like", and the word kyôn, which means "dog". Many explanations have been offered for why the first Cynics were given this name, however, it is almost certain that it was meant as a type of insult. Cynics seemed to have been amused by the term as is evidenced in the words of Diogenes who said, "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them."

One commentator stated: "There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between friends and enemies."

In the late 18th and early 19th century, the term 'cynicism' came to be known as an attitude of scorn or jadedness, especially directed toward others as a general distrust of their professed motives. This modern definition would be in marked contrast to the ancient philosophy, which emphasized virtue and moral freedom through a liberation from convential social desires.

The founder of the school of Cynicism, is traditionally said to be Antisthenes (c. 445-365 BCE), who was a contemporary of Plato and a pupil of Socrates. His student, Diogenes of Sinope, is perhaps the most famous of the Cynics, likely due to his over-the-top antics. Diogenes was truly the most extreme of the Cynics.

Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412-323 BCE) was the son of a coin minter, who fled his home in Sinope after getting into some trouble for defacing the coinage. Shortly afterward, he travelled to Athens to study philosophy and challenge the established customs and values of society.

Diogenes taught by example and truly lived what he believed in. His goal was to demonstrate that wisdom and happiness can be found in the man who is independent from the constraints and false values of society, and that civilization itself was regressive. He maintained that all the artificialness of society was incompatible with happiness and that true morality necessitated a return to the simplicity of nature, saying, "Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods."

When asked where he came from, Diogenes was known to reply, "I am a citizen of the world," which was a radical statement in his time since a man's identity was intimately tied to his citizenship in a particular city-state.

Diogenes believed that human beings lived very artificially and hypocritically, and that they would do well to study the dog. His reasoning was that dogs live in the present, have no anxiety, and they have no use for the pretensions of abstract philosophy. He thought these things as well as the uncanny ability of a dog to instinctly discern between a friend and a foe were excellent virtues, noting that unlike humans who either dupe others or who are duped, dogs will give an honest bark at the truth.

He was very well known for his antics, and among his more notable ones were sleeping in a tub, rolling a tub for no apparent reason, urinating on people who insulted him, and pointing at people with his middle finger. He is said to have walked about in the daylight with a lamp "seeking an honest man"; he requested a stick to chase creatures away from his body once he had perished – his way of commenting on the value of burial customs; and he is even said to have insulted Alexander the Great. On one ocassion Alexander found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of bones. Diogenes is reported to have said, "I am looking for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave." Another story relates that Alexander was thrilled to have met the philosopher and asked him if there was any favor he might grant him, whereby Diogenes replied, "Yes. Stand out of my sunlight."

Another story has it that there was a report out that Philip II was marching on Corinth, and the whole town was in a bustle. One man was furbishing arms, another was wheeling stones, and still others were patching walls and strengthening the battlement. Diogenes, having nothing to do, was so moved by the sight of all these men working so earnestly that he gathered up his philosopher's cloak and began rolling his tub up and down the Craneum. An acquaintance asked him why he was rolling the tub, to which Diogenes replied, “I do not want to be thought the only idler in such a busy multitude; I am rolling my tub to be like the rest,” which is an interesting way to say, “All the toils of civilized man are vain, and in fact, meaningless.”

In addition to Antisthenes and Diogenes of Sinope, other notable Cynics were Crates of Thebes, Onesicritus, Bion of Borysthenes, and Menippus of Gadara.

Cynicism was by far one of the most striking of all the Hellenistic philosophies. Much like the philosophies espoused by the hippie movement, it provided people with a sort of hope for a way in which to attain happiness and freedom in an age of great uncertainty. Although no official doctrine of Cynicism has ever existed, there are at least five core principles which can be summarized as:

  1. The purpose of life is to seek happiness and live in agreement with Nature.
  2. Happiness is attained through rigorous mental training, a positive attitude, and through becoming self-sufficient.
  3. The virtuous life is one in which the individual has freed their self from the influences of wealth, fame, power, greed, and other unnatural strivings, conventions and customs.
  4. Self-sufficiency is found in living a virtuous life. In other words, learning to live a simple life that is in agreement with Nature.
  5. The suffering in the world is ultimately caused by false judgments of value, which generate negative emotions and a vicious character. Another way to put it, is that concepts such as the high importance and value money is given in most modern societies are considered to be the major contributing factors to the overall decline in personal happiness and happiness as a whole.

So it was that the Cynics had little or no property – they were true minimalists. They held that a life lived in accord with nature required only the bare necessities, and thus they were perhaps some of the first civilized persons to dabble with the concept of “back to the earth” and a sort of primitivism. However, none of this necessarily meant that a Cynic would completely retreat from society, on the contrary, Cynics tended to live in full view of the public. The job of the Cynic philosopher was to evangelize humanity, as the watchdog of man, and thus they would colorfully point out the error of civilized humanity's ways while simultaneously leading them, by example, toward what the Cynic considered to be the ideal life of happiness where the individual was free from the illusions of commonly pursued social values, and in which he was self-sufficient and attuned with Nature.

Obviously not all Cynics were as extreme, or rather unconcerned with the way others took their antics, such as Diogenes, and the plethora of various hippies would be much the same. Not many hippies would think that urinating on someone who insults them is exactly a good way to go about changing the opinions of others, or that defacating in a theater, such as Diogenes is reported to have done, would somehow enlighten their fellow man. However, there are definite parallels between the ethics of the hippie counterculture and that of the Cynics, and it would seem quite self-evident that Cynicism has indeed been a philosophical undercurrent of the hippie movement.

Just as the Cynics, hippies come in many flavors, and all should not be lumped into the same categories of various extremist elements, or even into the exact same philosophical categories as many hippies are typically lumped by their contemporaries. For instance, there are Marxist-socialist hippies and there are also those with a more Libertarian economic philosophy, yet there are still others who really don't espouse an economic philosophy as they are much more like the Cynics in viewing money and property as being detrimental to the well-being of mankind, and ultimately the cause of much unhappiness.

The hippie philosophy has adopted many different philosophical viewpoints and should never be considered to be of any one, but it would seem that all hippies are somewhat cynical.

Peace. Alraune.


Diogenes Laërtius, v. VI. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, 2nd edition.
Diogenes Laërtius, v. II. (1925). Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Loeb Classic Library, ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard Univeristy Press.
Kidd, I. (2005), in Rée, Jonathan; Urmson J. The Concise Encyclopedia of Western Philosophy, Routledge.
Long, A.A. (1996), in Bracht Branham, R.; Goulet-Cazé, Marie-Odile. The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, University of California Press.
Cynicism, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. 2006. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Bertrand Russell. A History of Western Philosophy. Simon and Schuster.
Aristotle, Rhetoric.
Stobaeus, Florilgium.
Dudley, Donald R. (1937). A History of Cynicism from Diogenes to the 6th Centruy A.D., Cambridge.
Lucian, Historia.
Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones.

The Beginning Stages of the Ultimate Hippie Trip

I've been living for this dream I call my permanent vacation, or the ultimate hippie trip, since about 2002. The dream started as a much smaller plan, of which I could even mention some traces of it beforehand (perhaps as early as 1992), in which it was just some crazy high school kid's dream of a crosscountry trip, but it truly had its roots as it stands today, in late 2002 or early 2003.

I had just had my second great relationship completely fall apart. I lost my job, my first ex-fiancee and I were engaged in a brutal custody battle, I was evicted from my home, and frankly, I believe it was, at the time, the lowest point of my life. For the first time in my lifeand I was always a pretty chipper guyI was truly depressed, devastated, and a complete wreck.

At that time I did what I think a lot of people do under such circumstances – I thought a lot about my childhood and the things that made me happy. I realigned myself with my childhood fascination with the great outdoors, and I took my first overnight hike.

During that hike along the Old Loggers Path, in what was then Tiadaghton State Forest in northern Pennsylvania, I did a whole lot of thinking, a whole lot of soul searching, and it was there where I ultimately decided I was beginning a journey that had long awaited me. It was there where I destined myself for a life I had always secretly longed for, and that life is the 'ultimate trip'.

But what do I mean by the 'ultimate trip'? I can assure you the concept has had quite an evolution, but basically it boils down to adventure and freedom. Call it control-freakism or a love for liberty, but the concept has always been shaped around placing as much of my life into my own hands and out of the control of others as is possible.

Now don't get me wrong and think that I decided on my hike that all of my problems were the fault of others and if I somehow could keep them out of my life I'd be happier. On the contrary, I accept full responsibility for my personal decisions which eventually allowed the problems I had developed in my life to manifest, but the fact of the matter is, my decisions were poor because they weren't mine. I was not doing what I thought was best for me, but rather living according to the way I thought I was supposed too in accordance with society and others. The truth of the matter was, I was a mindless moron.

I thought happiness was a wife, kids, a dog, a house with a white pickett fence, and a great 9-5 job. I was all gung ho for mom and apple pie and the American dream, but that dream was doomed to failure because although I thought it was, it was never mine.

That realization, the realization that the dream was never mine, which finally struck me at age twenty-eight (yes, I was a very late bloomer) amid a turbulent life crisis, would lead me down one hell of a road of discovery and transformation! This blog is the story of that discovery, of my plans for that trip, and in a few short years, a record of that very life I have been plotting and planning for since that glorious walk through the woods in which I climbed to the top of that mountain, up to the vista, and looked out over the world through God's Window.

For now, it's "peace" until I type again...

Friday, November 18, 2011

About The Hippie Road Trip Blog

About This Blog

This blog is intended to be my place to generally be myself, maybe vent a little, but mostly to layout my plans for an extended hippie trip, and later to write about my experiences on that journey.

I will begin by writing about the developments, life's lessons, and philosophical underpinnings leading up to my desire to undertake such a journey. I will then spend a good deal of time discussing plans and ideas I have concerning what I refer to as my permanent or extended hippie trip. Later on, and throughout (since all of life is a journey), I will be documenting my journey in real-time. Along the way I'll probably also discuss music, love, life in general, and all the wonderous and glorious things about life, its ups and its downs, etc.

Don't be surprised if this blog flashes back and forth between the here-and-now, plans for the future, and events and memories of the past, as I have no particular order to my own personal madness – I just want to live.

I hope somebody out there enjoys this little piece of me and finds some sort of inspiration, hope, happiness, or entertainment in it. I also hope someone out there gets a good laugh or two, as I am known to be a bit of a goofball.

This is just one part of my story which began in November of 1975, continues to this day, and hopefully has many more years and pages to be written. Would it be too much for me to ask for a happy ending as well? I don't think so.

I leave you with two quotes from Socrates, a man who's style of examination and philosophical inquiry I am quite fond of.

From virtue comes every good of man.” -Socrates, in Plato's, The Apology

A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong – acting the part of a good man or a bad man.” -Socrates, in Plato's, The Apology

Peace. Alraune.