Archive for Darkness

The Assassin’s Creed, Part 2

Posted in All, Miscellaneous, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2010 by marushiadark

“Hide in plain sight.” ~ Second tenant of the Assassin’s Creed.

It’s been said that the best place to hide something is in plain sight. It sounds so counter-intuitive, yet it happens all the time.

I’m sure we’ve all had experiences of losing something, only to find that it was right under our noses the entire time.  People who wear glasses have this problem all the time.  They can’t find their glasses, so they search the entire house, only to realize afterward that they were sitting on top of their head the entire time.

So why does this happen?

As near as I can figure, some part of our ego decides that we are too intelligent to lose something and that the object in question must be in some place that is less obvious – some place that only a crafty sort would think to search.  The reality is often that we simply had a momentary lapse in judgment, and we feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit our fallibility.  Some people prey on this arrogance and hide a great many things before our eyes.  The only reason we don’t see them is because we’re too afraid to admit that we might not have all the answers.  That our senses are flawed and imperfect.

The modern military employs camouflage, allowing them to effectively position themselves right next to an enemy without being detected.  But the Assassins don’t use paint and shrubbery.  Instead, they use a more illusive and universal form of concealment.

Green paint may be good when you’re out in the woods.  But when you have to get up close to people on the street, in buildings, or out in the open, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.  So instead, you must learn how to disguise your persona, from the way you dress to the way you speak.  In the TV series Burn Notice, the main characters do this all the time, playing roles to get close to targets that would otherwise be out of reach.  It’s not always complicated, either.  Sometimes, the simplest of ruses can yield the biggest results.

“You know how to disappear.  We can teach you to become truly invisible.” ~ Raz Al-Ghul.

Not everyone is a spy or an assassin, of course, but that doesn’t mean the same techniques can’t be employed for other more mundane situations.

I can remember, as a child, going to the mall and feeling overwhelmed by the number of people that would walk by.  I would pretend that I was a fish and try to swim through the crowds as smoothly and stealthily as I could.  With this shift in attitude, I found that I could maneuver quite well through the mall with little to no attention being drawn to me at all.  On more than one occasion, I had managed to separate myself from my parents in this way and we had a hard time finding one another, even when actively searching.

In more recent times, I’ve been able to pop up behind someone without them realizing I’m there.  Often, I don’t intend to do this, either; it just sort of happens and the reaction I get is priceless.  I always joke about it afterward with the person, saying that it’s a good thing I’m not an assassin or they’d be dead.

I’d like to think that people have the capacity to be quite reasonable and understanding and that, if they knew better, they’d do better.

As children, we are pure, untainted, trustworthy, loving, ambitious, and willing to learn if the right person taught us.  The only reason we become anything less than that is because information is withheld from us, power is withheld from us, love is withheld from us.  In some way, we are lied to and the truth is kept locked away from our view.  So the idea that “a person is smart, people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals” could be overturned in a generation with the right teachers, the right leaders in place.

Because people are inherently good and trustworthy and loving and reasonable, I think a lot more could be gained from greater openness and transparency.  It is only ignorance and arrogance and lust of control that causes the teacher to withhold information from the student.  If the teacher did their job properly, the student would become wiser than them.  That’s the definition of progress.

“No nation hiding behind closed doors is free, for it is imprisoned by its own fear.” ~ Bill Clinton.

Our governments are comprised of people who wield power over us on our behalf.  As such, we place great trust in them not to abuse that power or use it to harm us.  Government ought to work for its people, not the other way around.

Sadly, the reality is quite the opposite.

Much of that power over us comes from the withholding of information.  We are told that it is in our best interests that we not know what the government is doing to us and why.  We gave them the power to work for us.  Only Frankenstein monsters have power over their creators.

Our leaders withhold information out of fear of loss of power and thereby risk to their political and administrative survival.  True servants reveal information when requested by their masters.  Towards that end, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was created, to serve as a balance of power.  Yet even such inquiries have been overridden under the guise of “National Security.”

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” ~ John F. Kennedy.

There are certain things that ought to be kept secret and never revealed.  One’s bank account numbers, one’s personal computer passwords, the launch codes to nuclear weapons, etc.  Things that would cause massive damage if made known.  However, a great deal of that which is guarded ought not be kept secret, but should instead be brought to light.  The ingredients in mass-produced foods, the test results of pharmaceutical companies, the financial backgrounds of our public officials, the secret government files on 9-11, and so forth.

If we, the public, can be asked to submit to a pat-down and x-ray scan at the airport, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those in positions of great power over us have a proportional level of transparency.  Wouldn’t that be in the interests of public, national security?

“People should not be afraid of their governments.  Governments should be afraid of their people.” ~ V for Vendetta.

In the animal kingdom, the scariest creatures are often the most afraid.  Rattlesnakes make noise with their tails because they are afraid of being eaten, so they create this persona of being really viscious.  Many animals make themselves look larger than they really are, or have designs of the eyes of large predators on their bodies.  But all this is an illusion.  It is out of fear that they create such personas.  And yet, it allows them to weild great power over their environment and hide in plain sight.

Our governments are no different.  They use such ruses to hide in plain sight, so why not learn to do the same and take that power back for ourselves?

Our truest political leaders are the ones who are open and honest with us, remembering that they serve the people, not control them.  Those that have nothing to hide, who welcome inquiries and investigations into anything that we might feel threatened by or insecure about.

A clear and clean sheet of glass often goes overlooked.  We tend to focus more on what’s just beyond the glass than the glass itself.

By far, the most effective way to hide in plain sight is to not have anything to hide in the first place.  To be a pane of glass unmarred by blotches on your soul.  Steel your heart and mind against human weakness and become a better person – a wiser, more compassionate, and more powerful person.  Work to serve your fellow man and become more transparent yourself and the world around you will follow suit.  Hide in plain sight.

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D is for Darkness

Posted in All, Media, Psychology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by marushiadark

“I like rabbits and all.  They’re cute and they’re horny.  And if you’re cute and you’re horny, then you’re probably happy, in that you don’t know who you are and why you’re even alive.” ~ Donnie Darko

I was watching the movie Donnie Darko earlier today.  It’s an incredibly fucked-up psychological fantasy and I think that may be what makes it one of my favorite movies of all time … that and the fact that I was once not all that dissimilar from Donnie, myself.  The director, Richard Kelly, says he welcomes any and all viewer interpretations as valid and mine is that the movie is a commentary on the way in which a few of us try desperately to escape our conditioned realities.

Donnie Darko is an extremely intelligent and eloquent young high school student who just doesn’t fit in with the world around him.  His principal remarks at one point that his test scores are intimidating, and Donnie constantly challenges those around him to stop buying into the pre-programmed beliefs they’ve been spoon-fed.  But when he tries to break free, the universe pushes back and provides him with nothing but resistance and sorrow and pain.

I think all of us must face this sort of ordeal in life where we question our own existence and come face to face with death and pain and God and the thought of being alone in a cold, dead, and empty nihilistic universe.  For those of us that are more aware, we usually face these issues sooner, rather than later, often around the age that Donnie Darko was in the movie.  For those that are strong enough, we learn to move on and find answers and meaning behind it all.  Like with any test, those that can’t hack it are doomed to repeat their lessons until they ultimately learn them.

So what is it we can learn from Donnie Darko?

“And did you stop and think that maybe infants need darkness?  That maybe darkness is part of their natural environment?” ~ Prof. Kenneth Monnitoff

Perhaps the first thing that Donnie Darko teaches us is that it’s ok to be different (but not easy) and that it’s perfectly normal (but not common) to be going through all of this crap and that life is too boring if you just sit around looking pleasant all the time like Kitty Farmer or Jim Cuttingham.

Darkness teaches us to appreciate the presence of light.  Chaos teaches us to appreciate order.  You can’t have one without the other, since darkness is the absence of light and chaos is the absence of order.  For life to be in dynamic equilibrium, there has to be some of both.  Too much light or too much darkness and you will not be able to see clearly.  Too much light or too much darkness and you’ll eventually go blind.

I remember walking around my school one time when I realized that peace is actually quite boring sometimes and that we never really notice things like peace and love and health until we stop having them; but once we’re sick or in the middle of a war zone or alone, we only want for it to end and for us to return to that healthy and peaceful and loving time.

“There are other things that need to be taken into account here.  Like the whole spectrum of human emotions.  You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie is obviously very aware of reality and that life is a lot more complex than the so-called authorities would have him believe.  Those in positions of power over him live in a fantasy world and use threats and drugs and mind-control techniques when he refuses to conform to their reality.

At one point, Kitty Farmer threatens him, saying that if he won’t put a clearly subjective issue into a black or white category, then he will receive a zero for the day.  Of course, Donnie knows better.  He knows that a failing grade is a meaningless symbol that has no real-world application to anything.  So he tells Kitty that she can shove the whole program up her ass.  This lands him into detention and a parent-teacher meeting is called.  It’s clear from the way in which the principal deals with the situation that he’s little more qualified than Kitty Farmer is – a fact that is further displayed when he fires the only open-minded teacher at the school.

“You’re right, actually …  I’m pretty toubled and I’m pretty confused … but I think you’re the fucking Antichrist.” ~ Donnie Darko

The human mind goes through many different levels of consciousness, ranging from that of a primitive animal all the way up to … well, there’s theoretically no limit to that.

Religion and superstition are just one level along the way.  Religion can be a good thing when it prevents people from causing harm to themselves and to one another and when it gets them to follow a degree of order in their lives.  But those rules are meant more to keep people in line than to reveal to them the truth, and this is when religion can become a problem, as there are many who will kill others because they don’t understand the true purpose of what is written in their religious codices.

“I have reached the end of your book and … there are so many things that I need to ask you.  Sometimes I’m afraid of what you might tell me.  Sometimes I’m afraid that you’ll tell me this is not a work of fiction.” ~ Donnie Darko

Science portends to be all about truth, but it often ignores the equally important vessel of understanding: philosophy.

Donnie Darko’s science teacher, Kenneth Monnitoff, opens up to him initially in explaining to him about time travel and wormholes.  For a while, Donnie is very interested and grateful to his teacher for that guidance.  He takes that knowledge and uses it to advance his understanding of what’s going on; but he becomes frustrated upon returning to his professor again after he’s taken The Philosophy of Time Travel (which Monnitoff gave him) and used it to discover some very esoteric things.  Monnitoff tells him that he can’t continue helping Donnie or he would risk losing his job.  So now Donnie is once again all alone.

I can recall having similar conversations with my own science teachers.  When I started talking about multiple dimensions or the application of negative mass in regards to flying saucers, I got strange and worried looks as though they believed I ought to be in a mental institute.  But was that necessarily the case or did they just not have the imagination or evidence I had?

“I don’t think that you have a clue what it’s like to communicate with these kids.  We are losing them to apathy … to this prescribed nonsense.  They are slipping away.” ~ Karen Pommeroy

Clearly, none of Donnie’s teachers, except for Karen Pommeroy, is even remotely capable of understanding the pain and the trauma that Donnie has gone through.  They aren’t equipped with the awareness and experience necessary to understand that a schizophrenic mind will not conform to social norms.  Whatever Donnie is going through, whether it’s real or imagined, he most certainly believes it to be real and is willing to act upon those beliefs.

For those of you who have never experienced it before, such things as manic-depression, multiple personality disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia arise when the mind is given something that it cannot resolve easily.  It may be a paradox that can’t be logically resolved or a painful experience that the person would rather deny or something that is simply so foreign to everything that the person has come to believe up to that point about reality.  Either way, it’s something so powerful that the mind is incapable of handling it without shutting down, so it partitions itself the way one would partition a hard drive.  This partition is kept separate along with all the related data on the matter until a safe and acceptable resolution can be had.  Medication may curtail the resultant behavior and make the person function within society, but ultimately the only real solution is for the individual to find a way to reunite the two parts of their mind again.

“I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breath a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.” ~ Donnie Darko

Donnie’s principle fear is dying alone.  He tells Dr. Thurman that it’s foolish to believe in God if everyone dies alone.  His therapist explains that he is actually an agnostic, not an atheist, since he acknowledges the possibility of God, even if he’s not sure if there’s proof.

We often talk of God’s plan and divine intervention.  In fact, most of the events in Donnie’s life all happen for a reason.  “Deus Ex Machina,” he cries.  For a more thorough explanation of how any why, see this document.  It’s possible that the events of 2012 may be a similar deal with a Tangent Universe being created that could threaten to destroy the world.  It’s also very reminiscent of some of the themes in Inception and Deja Vu.

At the time of my writing this article, I haven’t seen the sequel to it: S. Darko, but I really would love to.  Maybe I’ll even do a post on that one as well.

In the meantime, I hope that anyone who suffers from a life like the one that Donnie Darko had will be able to make it through alright and come to see it, as I have, as nothing more than a rite of passage into an elect group of aware and free  human beings.

As Gretchin says, being weird is meant as a compliment.