Entr’acte II

As things have been rather quiet with Yours Truly of late, a brief blog to bring everyone up to speed…

As a freezing cold winter slouches kicking and screaming into spring, and factually some of us are not getting any younger, we are also waiting – still – to sign our new contract and move on. How so? Well, I have (so to speak) “been here before” – caught up in the time-consuming activity of background checking for the new position, which is associated with the military. Again. And this time I think it is worth the prolonged agony, based upon what is a quite extensive experience of different employers.

See, in recent years, I’ve been through an alarming number of institutions, and the original motivation for chasing them for jobs was that I always thought they were professional entities, but the experience I have had with them (as a vulnerable E-2 visa holder) has been stressful; no wonder my hair has dropped out! And this whole thing has been very… disillusioning, as if the depth of diabolical despondency I had sunk into before I even left the UK was not enough. It has become very apparent to me that (in this particular instance) I was severely misguided in my assumption of “professionalism” in these companies, and so, now that the opportunity has arrived, I have had to reassess my opinions and ask what kind of employer is most suitable, and the answer is simple: the ones who will, for reasons relating primarily to their relationship with the Korean government, always honour their contracts.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the situation remains one in which I am surprised to discover that even at the tender age of 55 (in other words, I will be 56 this year), there are still institutions which will throw new opportunities at me: even the fact that I have been treated for (and technically am still “recovering from”) cancer has – it seems – not dented their enthusiasm. And this time, the essential “difference” is that my students will be exclusively high schoolers, which is something of a departure from my norm. However, the greatest surprise is the apparent eagerness, on the new employer’s part, to get me in there no matter what; so I temper my natural anxiety at being perilously close to the end of a visa with an element of patience and expectation – in anticipation of a positive and, one would hope, a mutually beneficial relationship to come. And I hope it lasts for a suitably substantial length of time. I’m talking years, dude!

It’s not clear yet how this will pan out because of the fiendish length of time I am having to hang on, right now, waiting for the (already apparently positive) result of the new employer’s two-stage security clearance checks before actually putting pen to contract, as my current visa is slowly edging towards expiry; also, surprisingly, the lack of actual details of the post itself, as the “interview” turned out to be something of a damp squib (apparently I was expected to do some kind of demo, but the recruiter didn’t pass that on to me, among other things, quel surprise). But, previously, I have worked for the Royal Air Force back in the UK and have done instructing for another military employer here in Korea, the KDLI in Icheon, Gyeonggi-do, so it’s not like there will be a huge surprise, in terms of practice and procedure (and security implications, of course). Right now, it’s just a case of being patient and getting in there ASAP.

But an interesting theme seems to be emerging while I am waiting… it’s been a long, long time since I had the dubious pleasure of a TV in my apartment, and truth to tell, when you consider that a lot of the time, I only want to watch older stuff (with exceptions such as trying out the latest Star Trek and X Files), and the amount available for free, on-line and on demand, from the likes of YouTube, DailyMotion and – right now – 123MoviesHub.ag [3], means that a TV is basically unnecessary; everything is digital and available for free through my Internet cable. This doesn’t mean that TV is actually redundant (UFC, anyone???), but the dominance that it had over my mind when I was younger is shattered forever. I made a choice, and the result is that my mind is much freer. I need hardly point out that as this is Korea, much of what I might have to subscribe to here would also be rather irrelevant in cultural and linguistic terms.

All of which means that I have become progressively more open to information and opinions which formerly I would have considered ridiculous, unjustified and downright way out, which subsequent events have demonstrated to my satisfaction are possibly more deserving of consideration and merit than social (and media) conditioning would previously allow me to countenance. And yet, at the same time, I do think that since I was a teenager, I have been on a path away from notional orthodoxy, be it in terms of historical truth or scientific honesty, for example, in search of a kind of verisimilitude which cannot be tolerated by a control system the machinations of which depend upon the demonstrable covert destruction of important historical materials, the perversion of historical events and the erection of whole paradigms which work only as a result of indoctrination and saturated media propaganda (Bill Nye, anyone? Neil DeGrasse Tyson??? Who will the next buffoon be?) which seems to be resulting, especially in the USA, in a new caste of younger people who are emotionally unstable when their knowledge or opinions are questioned. This latter is the very opposite of learning and wisdom, and it is very revealing that, being unable to mount a rational and complicated argument against even just a person with a different opinion, the response tends to be a kind of emotional violence akin to that of a two-year-old. A recent example from Sputnik:

Professor Says Men and Women are Different

At a personal level, I am repulsed by this kind of thing, and it has been stimulating me to look more towards traditional philosophers; it does seem to me that inculcated infantilism is not a suitable response to the dangers which are arising in modern societies – and if you look at places like the Ukraine right now, it’s not “new” dangers that are arising: instead, it’s the return of the “old” dangers, rooted in the previous centuries but especially the events and attitudes of the mid-twentieth century. There is a word for this, and that word is recidivism – meaning a return to a former, inferior and usually criminal or otherwise socially unacceptable mode of behaviour [1]. Experience shows us that it is usually not a good idea to try to return to the environment of our past, primarily because we have changed – the increase in our knowledge and experience, not to mention the resulting changes in our personal sensibilities which also change the limits of what we will now tolerate, is what really makes a return to a past situation impossible. It is for this reason that we will often hear that the transition from an old paradigm to a new one is referred to as “being like dying”, as we shed the old attachments, possibly with great psychological difficulty, in order to accommodate the new – which seems somehow reminiscent of the comment by Max Planck: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” [4] – except here, of course, it is the concept which dies rather than the adherent.

As an example of the type of new input that I have been accepting, take a look at “Redesigning Reality”, a relatively new vodcast put out regularly by Dylan Charles of “Waking Times” [2] fame, assisted by his friend, Jeff Anthony, whose response to his own bodily injuries has been very philosophical and mature and has impressed me greatly:


and you can see them regularly on YouTube:

plus, perhaps, honourable mentions for the likes of Vin Armani and his show… but alas, I do not tune in to Vin as often as I should.

However, we have to face all of these (and other) potential inputs with a severe caveat: none of them is one hundred per cent. reliable.

One would think that this was the prime result of enlightened exposure to conventional media – the realisation that there is a limit to how much credence we can extend to them. So, for example, recently Vin had David Icke as a guest on his show:

David represents an interesting example of information and opinion input, largely because of his long-time claim regarding the manipulation of humanity by unseen reptilian beings, for which he has frequently been lambasted by the mainstream media. But here’s the interesting point: take this away (or ignore it temporarily) and focus on the rest of his message, and what do you discover? It all connects well, and makes a disconcerting amount of sense, as well, perhaps, as being a lot more humane than the conventional narratives. Notice here how well it seems to interdigitate with Vin’s personal take on the situation. Subtract the one part of David’s narrative which is difficult to prove, and the result is a coherent picture; there is nothing which David expresses which should attract disrespect from the listener.

This is teaching us something: no source of information is absolutely reliable and foolproof, so approaching verisimilitude means having the bullshit detector on and weaving our way through a constant morass of misinformation and disinformation to uncover reality (note that I do not say “the truth” here). I would not accuse David of disseminating such materials – rather, the interesting point is that when his most contentious (and difficult-to-prove) topic is placed to one side, the rest makes striking sense. We should do this until it can either be definitively proven or disproven.

The implication here is that there are truthful elements within all narratives, but according to the reliability, affiliations and provenance of the originators of those narratives, each needs to be assessed on his/her/its own merits and compared with other narratives to arrive at a more realistic assessment of what we are seeing and hearing. To what extent are any of these truthful? How do they corroborate or deny each others’ veracity? Sometimes we need to return to these fundamental points, especially when we realise the extent to which such institutions as schools and universities are really just indoctrination houses for a particular paradigm. This point should be foremost in our minds at all times; we cannot judge the truthfulness or falsehood of what confronts us otherwise. When we hear the sayings of others, when we watch a documentary or read a book or a newspaper article (online or offline), what we are confronted with is either an opinion (which may or may not be reliable or truthful, depending upon previous inputs of information to the speaker) or a concoction of facts and non-facts intended to bolster support for a particular agenda – which I once saw in an old cartoon expressed as (and here I paraphrase): “a subtle blend of truth, half-truth and anything but the truth.”

To put it another way: On the spectrum from zero to one hundred per cent. “truthfulness”, where would you routinely place what you hear in the news? This is always a simple and convenient way of measuring things, and I often use this kind of scale for other purposes with my students:

NE horiz scale med

On this scale, I would put David Icke at about 85%.

The final element here relates to my recent brush with death in the form of colorectal cancer, something I had not expected, but having said that, something for which I was mightily glad to find an accommodating surgeon; and the fact that post-operative recovery seems to have been so rapid (due to the experimental device used) cannot allow me to ignore the implications for the future. But one side-effect I have discovered, at the psychological level, is a loss of patience. By this I mean to suggest that the sudden unexpected encounter with mortality, having made me realise that my days are ultimately numbered, has stripped away my usual forbearance with certain social behaviours, and the constant attempt by certain sources to indoctrinate me into the obviously false paradigm is one of these; another is the visible recidivism in both myself and others, which will result in stagnation if allowed to proceed unchecked; essentially, I have lost my tolerance for distractions, and feel as if I want to apply Occam’s Razor to everything, the better to avoid constantly wasting precious time.

So from my current perspective, the arrival of my new employer has to be seen in terms of how it will enable me to develop and progress, as it is not like previous positions – what promise does it hold in its own right, and what might it eventually lead to, bearing in mind that I have never subscribed to (what seems to me to be) a rather antiquated view of “retirement” – excuse me? If I arrive at an age at which employers no longer wish to take me on, does my life suddenly end? Does my brain suddenly stop functioning? Of course not – this is really nineteenth-century thinking, a leftover from a time when employees of such institutions as the British railways could have the luxury of working for a single, reliable employer for their whole lives and then stop working. But my mind is too active for that. So we now arrive at a time of transition.

Last night (a Saturday night spent at home – again – because of the post-operative strictures imposed by the surgeon) I was looking at the philosophy of Epicurus, noting how it seems to fit quite well with my own outlook on pleasure and pain and (believe it or not) the avoidance of unnecessary acquisition of material satisfactions, and today, whilst thinking about this, noting afresh (and not without some surprise) how the basics of life could have changed so little since the man himself was alive. It is in this frame of mind that I will be facing the future – avoiding unnecessary discomfort (I would not use the word “suffering”, as this is illogical) by choosing carefully the things I wish to have in my life, and bearing in mind that what the likes of advertisers and other contemptible mind-controllers want me to waste my time on are not necessary for the essential core of my lifestyle. I am not someone’s convenient target market, I am a rational human being and will resist the tide of greed and idiocy in search of a reliable picture of reality.

So I come closer to the time of signing and remain here for a short while longer, throwing out trash and planning the transition, but it’s probably a good idea to remember that the avoidance of recidivism usually involves throwing out some of your own junk. That, I think, is a good point to end here: letting go of my junk and opening my mind to new vistas of knowledge and thought. Epicurus, at least, got that part right.


[1] See also the definition given at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/recidivism?s=t.

[2] See: http://www.wakingtimes.com

[3] See, for example: https://123movieshub.ag/series/star-trek-discovery/

[4] See: https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=max+planck