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Sunday Soul -I AM RISING

Year 11 – Playlist 45/52 – Art, Essay and music for the week of February 22nd 2015

Have you noticed lately that everyone is completely full of shit? I’m not trying to come down hard on anyone in particular, but rather I’m attempting to cut to the chase and make a point. Have you noticed how people who are trying to sell you something feign this sad sort of interest in you, try to call you by your first name like you’re pals, and then as soon as they realize you have a lot of questions but might not actually be laying your money down today they’re nowhere to be found? Why feign the interest? Can you imagine going into a shop and being free to wander without seven greeters and an aggressive salesperson who wants to know how you’re going to pay for this in the first three minutes of visiting the place? Are people really that desperate? Are you that desperate for attention?

Why do people talk in newspeak about “community” when they mean customers? Why do they say “joy” when they mean money? What’s wrong with wanting to sell a huge pile of widgets and make a 200% markup on them? Aren’t we happy for people when their ideas come together, and the venture succeeds? Wait, no – actually we’re not usually are we? When our friends from around the corner get a record deal, we’re happy at first, but then we kind of hate them don’t we? When that nerd from middle school shows up with billions and a super model for a wife (after we sort out that it’s actually his wife and not a professional escort) we definitely hate him. Why do we do that? Are we really that trapped in a cage of self? Is it really all about us and no one else?

Celebrated sociopath Ayn Rand has always said, “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns — or dollars. Take your choice — there is no other.” and that’s some powerful shit right there. It’s seriously heavy to think that people are solely motivated by money — that the only other option is violence — is a brutal indictment of humanity. It’s a telling indication that Mr. Edward Bernays (nephew to the notorious penile enthusiast Dr. Sigmund Freud) really hit the nail on the head.

Raised in Vienna, Bernays arrived in the United States in the tender years between World War I and World War II. He wrote extensively on the subject of propaganda, and persuasion. He pioneered the arts of public relations and felt that it was anyone heading up a serious concern’s duty to plant false news stories in order to sway the public, to push in the opposite direction of one’s interests intentionally in order to aggravate the mob into choosing to move back against the tide in the direction desired in the first place – thinking the whole time it was their own idea, and the right thing to do (sound familiar?). The guy was a master of manipulation, and when he got off the boat in New York City in 1919 he went straight to Wall Street and set up the world’s first public relations concern. Bernays literally wrote the book on propaganda and persuasion on a mass level.

Here’s the basic idea: Prior to 1919 the American ideal was freedom and liberty. Our mottos were best summarized by President Woodrow Wilson when he said “We opened the gates to all the world and said ‘Let all men who want to be free come to us and they will be welcome.” The United States had a continent to fill up, and we needed workers bad. So we welcomed anyone and everyone and made room for them. The basic household of the time was pretty humble, if actually comparatively spacious to today’s price per square foot, and a home was established with a stove, an ice box, some bedding, a few tools, and some facilities to wash up. Once you got your stove you were set for life. If it got dirty you cleaned it. If it broke down, you fixed it. A stove was a stove and that was that.

Bernays decided that he could talk all day long to the pragmatist in the house about technology, metal, quality and improvements made on the new model of stove and no one was buying. But when you started talking with the romantics in the house, “You’ll be the only one in the whole county to have this stove, just think of what the neighbors will say when they find out you’re got the brand new model stove in this wonderful house!” and something entirely new began to take root. Not only would the house be the envy of every other house, thus establishing a need for a new stove to replace the otherwise perfectly good one already in the kitchen, but if the new stove wasn’t purchased at once, someone else would get one first, and then they would be wonderful, and this house would not. Seems silly, and simple minded doesn’t it? But believe it or not this kind of thinking was brand new in 1919. Prior to that, sales people were run off property for suggesting the idea that there was anything at all wrong with the stove they had. We were proud of what we had, and how well we maintained it. It was important to who we were.

I’d love to tell you that we chased old Bernays all the way back to Vienna by the end of 1920, but I’m afraid we embraced him. The concept of “we” as a loose border around the strong, capable, and hard working individual just wasn’t paying the bills back on Wall Street, so we didn’t just invent the telephone, we made it in 16 fashion colors. Then we told you about having an extension for the bedroom. Then we sold you a private line. Then we sold you an answering service. Then we sold you an answering machine. Then we developed voicemail, cellular telephones, minute plans, overage charges, dropped call refunds, contracts, and then we introduced smart phones, data packages, and then we got you to trade in your clamshell phone for a Nokia – even though you really went in to find out why your minute plan was only supposed to cost you $35 but somehow the bill was always $275 – and about the time you were getting the hang of texting your contract was up and they sold you an iPhone. Then you got a new iPhone with an s on the end of it. Then you got a Galaxy, or a Windows phone, and then somehow you ended up with an iPhone again. $150 a month, and $5,000 for telephones later you still hate the phone company, you still drop calls, and they still push you around by your first name every time you go in there to get answers.

All of this has been carefully thought through, and they can push you just about as far as they want to before you say “Fuck it” or “I don’t care.” As long as you keep spending that $150 a month, they’ll keep pestering you and making you feel like your phone is old, and your plan is wrong, and you’re too stupid to figure out your telephone, but shouldn’t ask questions because if you do – well, the kid in the pink t-shirt will think you’re as stupid as you’re afraid you are. There’s a sucker born every minute.

The transition from a “we” society to an “I” society – pun absolutely intended – isn’t all horrible. The rise of the individual is a beautiful thing. The state is nothing without it’s leaders, and the police force is evaluated by the behavior of its individual officers, as is the military, and for that matter so is McDonalds. When you are treated poorly by a bored kid in an ugly uniform the “I” society can choose to never darken the door of that business again, or they can understand that this kid is just a kid, working for minimum wage at a thankless job, and they don’t make the rules. They are following a similar set of baffling regulations and ever changing human resources guidelines that you probably are at your job. So we can see the i in team if we try. And if we try hard enough eventually 2 + 2 will finally equal 5, and there will be no more terrifying trips to room 101 ever again, and we can just sit on our couch with our teacup of victory gin and forget.

Why am I cynical about this? Because I believe in us. I care very much about each individual person in as much as I feel that we each deserve respect, education, work, trust, security and love. These are what I believe built this beautifully vast country, and what will sustain us all through these dark days of hay. You just don’t need another telephone. You don’t need a new anything. You’re beautiful, you are perfect just the way you are. If you’re thinking I’m some cerebral crackpot who’s making too much of the little things, then I challenge you to try this: Go one complete day – 24 hours – without saying “I”, “Me”, or “Mine.” And none of this pussyfooting around by saying things like “One would like a cup of tea please” that’s cheating and it’s crap. Just go a day of your life without saying, or finding a cleaver way to say the words I, Me, or Mine. You’ll find there’s surprisingly little to actually say. That being said, there is a lot to do.

Ayn Rand shaped the 20th century by making sociopathology a philosophy. She posed a rational and unwinnable argument in which she pitted the good and the power and value of money over our heads as the only alternative to chaos and destruction. She forgot the most important thing in the world. She forgot love.

Love is the only thing real in this world. “I” society, or “We” society (heck, even a “They” society) will always fail without the most basic and central ingredient to work, sex, community, commerce, travel, learning, exercise, politics, and traffic. Without love we have no compass. Without love we have no real values or morality. Think about it. If you think I’m some arrogant typie-pants jackass right now with hippie bullshit spewing out of my ears, try taking a deep breath, and finding some love in your heart for my delusional condition. Imagine what that must be like for me. Feel that love deeply. Open your heart. Change the world. Please hurry, because we’re in a lot of trouble and we really need all the help (read that as love) we can get.

Thank you for listening. See you next week.

Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: I AM RISING

1. What Now? – Aloe Blacc
2. Stay High Baby – Maceoplex
3. Future – Sunshine Jones Revision mix 2 – Halo
4. Close your eyes – Peter Black Bootleg – Annie Lennox
5. Mystical Tree – Hal Incandenza
6. Don’t Lead Me – House Mix – Paris Grey
7. See Blind Through – DJ Harvey Remix – Canyons
8. Flashback – Fer Ferrari
9. Here Comes The Sun – Fran├žois K Remix – Nina Simone
10. There Is No Light – Soul Minority Remix – Luke Fair
11. Woman Cry – Blakdoctor Dub – Blackdoctor
12. Vision of Love – Bicep
13. Let Me Go – Neville Watson
14. I Wish I Didn’t Miss You – Blaze Remix – Angie Stone
15. Despair – Japan
16. Sunday Soul – Program ID
17. Are Friends Electric – Gary Numan & Tubeway Army
18. Sunday Soul – Program ID

Year 11 – Playlist 45|52
22 February 2015
Total Running Time: 02 Hours 02 Minutes

Buy this music if you love it. Buy it on vinyl. Play it loud. I am curating something personal for the people I love who take the time to listen. If you have feelings and would like to be stricken from the record here, please let me know and I’d be glad to never play your music here again. I’ve been mad about love before, and I totally understand.

May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.