Frank Capra’s “The Lost Horizon” is a great adventure movie, but the idea that captured Western imaginations in many surprising and mysterious ways, was a book first. Before that, it was a quest for a secret place, lost in the mists of time. The significance of the book and movie was as far reaching as the idea of the mystic region of Shangi-la (Shambala) that made for some legendary myths around it, for centuries to come. I usually show trailers for my movie favourites I share, but I liked this documentary so much, I thought this would provide a context for telling you about the impact that this idea of the place on the hill, somewhere, would have, in all sorts of other times and places. So, let’s travel back in time, before we see where the quest leads us, before we settle back in the moment, to enjoy the movie.
Ready to rest after your mental exertions? Grand, so. Snuggle in cosily for an armchair adventure, and a flight of fantasy Holywood style, which sees the myth and spiritual legend turned into a romantic adventure, by the wonderful Frank Capra, in glorious black n’ white (perfect for all that snow, which is often blue and purple, but we add the colour in our own imaginations anyhow, so who needs the technicolour treatment?). It’s great fun, beautifully shot, and really magical. We are so lucky to be able to glimpse this lost horizon, because there was also quite a quest to be able to recover the footage, which disappeared in the mists for a while.
Checked my Twitter, YouTube channel and of course, my beloved blog first thing this morning, while munching away on my breakfast. I used to read in bed, before I had a smartphone, but those days are a distant memory, and although I usually do a half an hour of meditation after breakfast, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to drag myself away from my beloved social media platforms, as I circle like a rat in a maze that’s leading nowhere, and I run back to where I’ve already been, to see if anything new has happened. This morning, in my YouTube Recommended feeds, this video caught my attention, as it was about the topic of social media’s addictive qualities, and I’ve been noticing how hard it is to fight the addiction which seems to leave one wanting more, the more one engages in it.
Now, I’m a bit leery of guys like Jaron, when they tell us how bad for us social media is, and how we should think of it as a wild Tiger that’s going to gobble us up from the knees down, if we don’t run like billy-o to safety, and fast, if only ‘cos they are so engaged in developing the tools that they say they hate, so where is their personal morality at, then, if they are still in the biz? The fact that he’s spouting his political opinions, under the cover of talking about social media addiction, makes me think he’s not too different in outlook from the big businesses that write his paycheck at the end of each month.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is to take the channel 4 clip, as you should all media you use, with a very large pinch of salt, and a sceptical mind, rather than watching in the passive way that the media loves. Remember, the media is excellent at packaging propaganda in a very covert, and persuasive way, to get under your critical thinking radar, or bypass critical thinking altogether.
That being said, he makes a few points which are worth looking at in relation to other people’s work, like the Behaviourist School of psychology. These psychologists broke human behaviour down to a perhaps over-simplified view of behaviour, positing a reward/punishment model, saying that animals like ourselves can learn to peck through all sorts of tasks if they think they might be getting some nice birdseed at the end of it.
I did a short livestream on the topic, while still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, discussing what I found interesting about the ideas raised by my morning viewing. In other words I went back to the screen for another shot of the drug. Please, please, give this post a like (bites nails in anticipation).
So the channel once known as Defango, then morphing into the cola-light version called MortDefango for livestreams, has finally reached the end-point of becoming defunct-o. This dramatic livestream was broadcast on YouTube a few days ago, and Defango announced that his livestreaming privilages, which were such an integral part of his channel’s content, were being revoked, and this was to be his last ever livestream.
This bombshell came after weeks of trouble over the Q thing, which culminated in the ‘exposure’ of the Cicada puzzle makers and the Q team on Defango’s, among others’ channels.
Defango revealed to his fascinated subscribers that he would be revealing all, and was expecting to be taking a lot of flack for it, but that he didn’t like the direction the whole thing had gone in, when it was meant to be a consciousness-raising exercise for the YouTube Truthers.
We don’t all have a 140 IQ, like Defango, but presumably the Plebians could do with being enlightened a little, and the way to do that included being a bit creative with the truth it seems.
So what about all those times we sat with Defango, while he solved Cicada clues, puffing away on his vaper like the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, chugging back his giant slurpies and assuring us that his puzzle-solving skillz were the best out there ‘cos 140 guys, OK? Did he have the slight advantage of being quick at solving them because he helped write them, as he later admitted in his videos?
Oh well, Cicada wasn’t a big waste of time, in lots of people’s minds. I liked watching the solving videos for the techie stuff, as Defango used some apps I wasn’t even aware were out there, and certainly had never used myself. It had some cool graphics too, and lots of esoteric references done in a visual way, that were interesting.
The puzzles were filled with lots of biblical ramblings, which didn’t appeal much to me, but there was something for everyone, including fortune-cookie readings a la I Ching daily horoscopes from Mystic D for the new-agers, as well as stuff aimed at the teenagers gaming in the basement for hours on end, with tedious semi-chivalric Assassins-Creed references, to glass-bead game level philosophical navel-gazings. It was a soup-kitchen of sorts for the soul, with all welcome.
When Q blew up in people’s faces, with the identity of the Q person or persons still not definitely established, the word LARP came up more and more regularly, and the conversation naturally started turning to debates over who were the biggest larpers in this corner of YouTube. Names like our old friend Denise‘s came up, as well as Jerome Corsi, Montagraph and others that had been around the block enough times, or have enough experience to know how to organise a good larp, but of course many ages and at least a few different skill sets were made use of in the effort to market the Q larp as a popular thing with various demographic groups.
Awww, don’t blame it all on the oldies Chinada; some of us aren’t ready to consign them to their mobility scooters for the rest of their days yet. I love seeing them on YouTube, although perhaps some of them, as can also be the case with younger people, are a bit too smart for their own good, and end up tying themselves in knots. Correct me if I am wrong, but some of your video comments suggest that you are not above forming alliances with some of the oldies yourself, even if you don’t always want to admit it. These comments from two of your video channels strike me as a bit of a reality mis-match, date wise, since two weeks after Denise Matteau was Emailing you (Truth Convoy commenter), you were saying you didn’t know the lady, and now you are sticking up for her like a hero, defending her against those nasty trolls. LARP, anyone? This logical lad argues that if someone has trolls, they must be OK. You see, this younger generation really leave the oldies in the shade when it comes to the thinking department. No wonder Denise wanted to befriend him.
Many believe in the idea of cosmic Karma, which I get, but I tend to think of it more as a lying is not such a good idea kind of situation. Poor Denise is having a horrible time at the moment, partly perhaps, because people object to the level of creativity with the truth that her various channels engaged in. How ironic that the truth movement keeps having these issues with the truth constantly.
I dare say Defango is still feeling a little misty-eyed over the whole YouTube livestreaming thing, and the trouble that the Cicada puzzle and Q caused, but he’ll get over it. In fact, he probably has already, since he has miraculously regained his ability to stream on YouTube. Must be the power of prayer. At least someone is still in his corner.
Depression is no joke. The challenge is to not lose faith in yourself, or in others. As REM say, ‘life is bigger, it’s bigger than you’. That’s a thought that cheers me, and you have your religion Defango, so don’t lose that, if it’s what gets you through. With me it’s just life, and people, and yet, even the hurt is a part of what makes life wonderful.
Everybody hurts, some just have more trouble in their minds than others, and think everything is turning to rot in their hands, when it’s just the usual little bits of poo that life tends to fling your way from time to time.
Seems Jethro’s apology has disappeared from our ‘special moment together’ tweet, so the tweets look a bit strange and one-sided. Like Defango, s/he has said nasty things to me, then blocked me. My apology still stands of course, I don’t regret sympathising with someone, nor do I regret being human enough to feel angry when they throw my sympathy back in my face. Being nice doesn’t have to include being a doormat, or not telling someone when their behaviour is crossing your boundaries.
My tweets that earned such displeasure.
Don't do anything dopey Defango. The world could be completely different in a few hours. Things can change that fast. Think of all the people in your life who you would f*ck up permanently by doing something rash. Dig deep, and ride the emotional waves, and you will emerge anew.
Hi Defango. I hope you are in a slightly better frame of mind today, and things don't seem quite as bleak. Everybody was worried about you, and a lot of people appreciate you being in their lives. Don't forget that.
(Defango’s shit-eating reply tweet, like Jethro’s, was deleted)
Defango has a long way to go in the trolling department, if he wants to keep up with the oldies, however. They have been at it so much longer. Here’s a Denise Facebook post from 2016, where she is trolling an abuse survivor, who then points out the phenomenon I’ve observed, and call the reverse-troll maneuver; blame others for trolling you, while being the biggest troll out there. She will always be the queen of trolls in my eyes. First, one of her current comments, from a Chinada3 video.
Is it terrible of me that I’m kind of flattered? A Deprogrammed Mind wasn’t so flattered by this comment:
Chinada is now criticizing myself, Wynter Moon and Aaron Cross, for standing up for ourselves against Denise and her trolls. Oh well, if you don’t do the research, and jump to conclusions, it’s easy to fall for the ploy. And Denise is so good at organising chaos.
Updates: Bet you’re dying to know what’s happening with Defango and Denise since the events discussed above, like what Denise’s current version of her ever-changing and evolving stalker conspiracy theory is, or what steps Defango took to restore his loving giant reputation.
As for Defango, he was last seen licking Montagraph’s boots (metaphorically) in apology for their falling-outs, and writing Emails to both Monty, and Dave Acton, the YouTube legal eagle-eye (‘Hi, it’s Dave’), to get his help on the legal whatnots needed to extricate himself from a delicate situation.
Defango’s Apology Letter to Montagraph.
Denise is currently singing Chinada3’s praises, but who knows how long he will remain in the top spot as her Golden Boy and all round knight-in-shining-armour? Time will tell, and it probably won’t be long before the next round of drama hits the YouTube fan. Click the text link to read more on the latest Denise items of interest here.Sorry to go on endlessly in this post, but that’s the YouTube drama department for you. And the truth can be pretty dramatic sometimes, you have to admit. Thank goodness there are Exit and Shut down buttons for when you need them, as well as a Startup when life gets dull!
What is it supposed to feel like when you’re meditating? We might have some ideas about what meditation is, based on something we’ve read, or seen in a film, or something a friend (if you hang out with hippies this is quite likely) or acquaintance who meditates told us (if you’re not a hippie, maybe you were stuck beside this person on a bus, or at the juice bar after a pilates class ).
Mental images like these come to mind, of patchouli-smelling spaces inhabited by baggy-trousered, joint-smoking, perma-smiling dreadlocked hairy-underarmed kafir eating hippies living the life of leisure, usually sponsored by rich parents somewhere in the background, without a care in the world, while the rest of us plod our way responsibly through life, with hardly enough time left over after the daily grind to wipe our noses, or other end, let alone spending hours every daywhiling away our time without a care in the world. Or maybe not, anymore, since meditation is becoming a much more mainstream thing since it first came to the West and exploded into Western consciousness in the last two centuries, introduced by people like the Theosophists, and of course the hippies of the 1960s.
So, it seems we have lots of preconceptions about what meditation is (some of the reasons for our preconceptions about everything we encounter in our existence are discussed in another post where I talked about meditation, over here), but have we got much of an idea about what goes on in the mind or body during a meditation session, or sitting ( or sesshin if you wanna get all Zenny about it).
Well, first off, there’s this idea about bliss. Samadhiis just one of the names used for the state of concentration that can arise during a meditation session. The theory is that if you don’t have too many mental hindrances getting in the way of it, a state of deep concentration will arise, and that state is experienced as a very pleasant one. It is our base state of consciousness, according to many esotericphilosophical systemswhich use meditation as a tool to train the mind to observe dispassionately and live in the moment. The point of doing that it makes life so much nicer for you and everyone else in your life, cos you tend to be a nicer person, when you get truthful with yourself and those around you, and stop creating wars in your head because of the stories you tell yourself about who you are.
Whew. That’s a lot of baggage for a little bit of breathing (breathing is used as a way into a state of concentration in many meditations). But, I don’t want to give the impression that meditation is all about feeling nice all the time. One of the most powerful meditations I know is all about opening up oneself to other people’s pain and distress, in order to develop compassion and loving-kindness in yourself, without which, meditators might argue, you aren’t really living well at all. It is called ‘Tonglen‘ and one of its other purposes is to help free you from the fear of other people, and yourself, that often accompanies the human predicament. This meditation is led by Pema Chodron, a lady I like to think of as ‘Auntie Pema’, ‘cos I’m so fond of her, and grateful for her instruction in meditation practise.
A movie I would highly recommend is ‘Crazy Wisdom‘. It’s about the teacher Chogyam Trungpa, one of my favourite meditation go-to guys ever, and it’s a fascinating movie. Here’s the trailer for you, plus a short taste of his excellent book, ‘Training The Mind And Cultivating Loving-Kindness’ for you to read. Chogyam Trungpa, in this book, says that our hearts should be open and tender, like a deer’s new-grown horns, as it is in this rawness that we discover our compassion. I love that image, and I hope you will make a little time to investigate for yourself some of the things that meditation has to offer for living well. And it feels good to live well.
Recently I came across two people discussing the definition of the legal term ‘preponderance of evidence‘. After a bit of back and forth, someone visited the final arbitrator of all disputes these days, Google, to come up with a definitive answer. A further discussion ensued about the interpretation of this definition as well. Much of life’s grey areas are disputed this way between people, in the effort to consign items to their black or white categories, a state of affairs we tend to be more comfortable with.
We tend to put in the most work on items of discussion that won’t fit into our world view easily; if someone questions what we have decided is how things are, we will strive to get them to see why. It seems (from my point of view, anyway) that not as much intellectual effort goes into questioning what we already ‘know’ to be true. Psychology has come up with primacy/recency theories to examine how we add to our knowledge, to arrive at a unified outlook or point of view about reality.
It’s all relative, as someone once said. The landscape may appear to be whizzing by if you are a passenger on a train admiring the fast-changing landcape of city and country fields flying past, or it may move only as much as your head turns as you stand on the platform awaiting the 4:15 to Chester.
If you were someone in a space station admiring the beauty of the blue planet from your orbit you would have different ideas about what items were moving at what speed than someone on the ground looking up at the sky at night as you hurtled past, describing a slow arc across the night sky from the observer on the ground’s point of view, and perhaps a sedate pace from the point of view of the astronaut, based on what his senses were telling him, while the display panels in the captain’s cockpit might have some figures on which indicated a speedwhich might have the cops pulling you over if you considered trying them on your nearest motorway.
Another consideration when one is forming opinions is where you are starting out from. To take a Google example again (and why not, since it seems like Google is the giant spider controlling a huge part of our entangled lives on the web), ask its map app for info on how to get to somewhere, and you will be told ‘well, depends where your starting from’. Ask how long it takes and our googly-eyed friend will need to know what mode of transport we plan to use.
The point I’m making is that theories are all very well, but if you are to get anywhere in a discussion where broadening your mind is at least a possibility, if not a main objective (which is often to broaden the mind of someone else, which, from your viewpoint, may be rather too narrow, since it doesn’t concur with yours), you need to be able to see that different views of the world and opinions about reality are not so much as the crude saying has it, that ‘opinions are like a*sholes, everyone has one’, but more of a case of ‘where are you now, and where are you trying to get to?’ Many people are not actually trying to get anywhere new, they just want to be able to stay where they are without anyone bothering them by trying to change their mind, or persuade them into something that they don’t currently believe. The cognitive dissonance involved in this building of a bridge between the information which they already possess, and adding new information which might change some aspect of, or all of the beliefs about a topic which they hold dear to their hearts, might break them altogether, in a psychological sense. There are certainly a series of stages that one must pass through on an emotional level before arriving at a drastically new position if a centrally-held belief is being altered. That’s why discussions, or arguments, as they might be called in philosophical terms, can turn so nasty; our emotions and self-identity are so caught up in many items which make up our belief system that we go into ballistic mode if we feel these are being attacked. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, sometimes.
What caused the flurry of fury unleashed by Cramer? What on earth did the commenter do before things descended to the nazi name-calling place? Posted a video, it seems, pretty innocuous stuff, unless you get enraged at people having the gall to drop expensive phones that their parents spent so much money on when they bought them for their precious offspring. Or maybe it was something to do with being an Antifa that triggered him, although I would have thought that the dancing cossacks footage in the first few seconds would be considered a real treat in their eyes. So hard to get right, when there are different outlooks meeting up. The only other Cramer (spelled with a K) that I knew predisposed me to smiling when I think of any or all Cramers (primacy theory), but maybe this one will modify my views (recency theory). But that might be just my perspective on it, and I may well be completely wrong. Anyway, happy May 1st, Florian, whoever you are.
I’m sure you’ve got at least one friend like mine, the type that gazes off into space when you are talking, then says ‘What?’ when you get to the end of your sentence. I have an acquaintance who does this constantly, and odder still, forgets whole conversations we have had previously. She worries that she might have Alzheimer’s, or some other progressive brain disease, which is robbing her of her powers of concentration and her memory. A little further investigation revealed the fact that she was off somewhere else in her thoughts while the conversation was going on.
I admit, I’m not the most interesting person you could be stuck in a room with, but this habit of being off somewhere else while someone is talking is a thing most of us do; maybe we even get caught out once in a while nodding in agreement when while our friend looks at us expectantly, waiting to know whether we would like to order pasta from the menu, or go with the chef’s special?
It’s very human of us to be constantly thinking ahead, indeed it’s a strategizing tool the mind is equipped with to help us with survival. We also spend a lot of time living in the past in our heads, because we have a mental schema or map that we need to fit together, and when we get a new piece we have to find where its place is in the jigsaw that comprises our outlook of the world and our individual take on reality.
We use heuristics, mental rules of thumb we have developed from past experience, to help us deal with new situations; they are a kind of mental short-cut we can take to save us from taking all day over every decision. A schema can be described as the script we follow when in a particular recurring situation. The result of using some of these useful tools in our mental toolbox can be helpful, undoubtedly, as problem-solvers. The side-effect of our efficiency as problem-solvers, however, is that we may miss what’s going on right now, because we are either thinking ahead, or looking back, in order to sort and file our experiences into a coherent reality. The implication of this failure to stay in the moment, and experience fully what is happening right now, can result in a feeling of unreality or dullness of experience which robs us of some of our joy in living. Further down the scale of spending too much time in the present or the past lies the depressive outlook, in which distorted ideas based on the stories we tell ourselves about what reality consists of, result in our capacity for logical thought as well as our joy in living to become so eroded that it is difficult for the person to function well at a mental, and often physical, level at all.
The mental and physical realms are connected; science is now confirming what many traditions have asserted, as for example, in Chinese ideas about ‘Chi‘, that the body has an intelligence or brain, as important to our health and vitality as the ‘mainframe’ brain in our head.
One way to get the mental and physical aspects of our bodies hooked up to reality is to do a little meditation on a regular basis. Meditation can take many forms; we have had a look at a popular form of meditation, exercises the body as well as getting the ‘chi’ flowing in a mind-awareness sense, in an earlier post over here. Another popular type of meditation which beginners might like to try out is known as ‘mindfulness‘ meditation. This is a very easy one to get into, because the idea behind it is very simple. Put plainly, this technique makes use of paying attention to one’s breathing in order to access the mind’s ability to stay in the present moment.
That’s basically it, but if you fancy reading a whole book about the concept, you won’t do better than Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power Of Now‘, which is a beautifully written book about what a wonderful thing it is to be noticing everything your body and mind is experiencing right now, rather than being off with the fairies thinking about the future, the past or even comparing what’s going on now with either of these. Eckhart’s book became an even bigger success after he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, but don’t let that put you off har har!
When you get a bit further into meditation, there are all sorts of meditations you can do, all of which are designed to expose how you think, and by exposing it, iron out some of the flaws and traps in thinking that we all tend to get ensnared and entangled by, opening up new vistas where you might surprise yourself in a million ways. Meditation is different for different individuals, but most people find it can be like a wonderful voyage of self-discovery and also a discovery of some of the jewels of living that we all possess as our birthright, and which some of us may have dropped here and there on our way to adulthood. And it’s all right there on front of us, just waiting to be noticed!
Ever get in an argument? I bet you have; they are pretty hard to avoid in life. Unless you are Colm McGregor, you may have been able to avoid having many of the physical sort. The other sort are harder to avoid. They can also be hard to get anywhere with, since all parties in an argument tend to be very interested in the idea of winning, especially when the egos of the participants are involved, as they usually are (a human and their ego are rarely separated for long).
Often, conceding a point to another person in an argument is considered to be some kind of climb-down from the original position, an admission that one has been completely wrong about all one’s opinions in relation to the topic. This isn’t true, from a logical perspective, as it is as likely that you could still be right about a few things, while getting a few things quite wrong.
Let’s take the logic thing a bit further, by looking at how it’s used in arguments. We’ll need to get our terms right to know what it is we are talking about when we say the word ‘argument’, as it has a particular definition in philosophy that is narrower than in ordinary speech. There are also several parts of an argument, such as the starting point(s), or premise(s). This video explains the parts of an argument, the phases an argument passes through, as well as the two main types of argument. Hopefully it won’t come as a complete surprise that an argument can be conducted without the boxing gloves coming out.
How can you get yourself unhooked enough from your ego to even want to enter into a logical argument with someone? It probably helps if you realise that the other person, even if they don’t agree with you, might still have something interesting to say that could add to your knowledge. Lots of times people fail miserably to even get this far, and never get into the discussion, or argument as we are calling it here, that leads to further understanding, perhaps just of the other person’s perspective, or even of expanding their own knowledge about a topic. Socrates was a big fan of starting out from the beginning point of an argument saying to himself that the one thing he was wiser in than other men, was knowing that he knew nothing. The Dalai Lama‘s starting point is to start out from a position of doubting everything. Both mindsets are a way of removing oneself from one’s high-horse at the outset, so that the ego won’t kick up a stink and spoil the whole show, creating a situation where being right is more important than even hearing what the other person has to say.
Socrates had a good sense of humour, by all accounts, and was pretty equatable in the temper department, both assets in an argument, when unhooking emotionally enough to ensure that the intellect is fully engaged without being biased too much for logic to co-exist with it. Sad to say, emotionality often looms large in many arguments, at the expense of logic. Just think of political debates you may have had with friends, or strangers, with differing political outlooks, and you can see how over-emotionality can quickly shut down discussion.
Some of Socrates arguments were a bit sneaky, to say the least, and when they reach their conclusion we can see that something went wrong somewhere along the way, though it can be hard to disentangle it enough to figure out at what stage it went so horribly wrong. Arguing well isn’t an easy thing to do; an argument can turn out to have more logical traps than the hunger games has ways to bump the players off.
The ultimate no-no and power-user tip for engaging in a decent argument, is to only use an ad hominum argumentwhen you have already been talking to someone for a while, and are getting so little from the experience that you wish to tick them off to the nth degree. This will quickly send the whole logical structure of the argument off the rails, and reduce the argument to a shouty ego-driven, who can pee the highest mess, which might give you three seconds of relief before you start feeling thoroughly ashamed of how primitive and reptilian-brained you really are, beneath the civilised veneer. Not to worry; you’ll live to fight another day.