Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Dweller on the Threshold

"My people believe that the White Lodge is a place where the spirits that rule man and nature reside. There is also a legend of a place called the Black Lodge. The shadow self of the White Lodge. Legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it The Dweller on the Threshold.”
-          Deputy Tommy 'Hawk' Hill, Twin Peaks, 1990

The Dweller on the Threshold, otherwise known as the Guardian of the Threshold is an integral part of the classic Hero’s Journey as defined by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.  This reoccurring myth has permeated all cultures as far back as we have surviving stories.  In this tried and true meme, our intrepid hero as he ascends from the mortal plane on his way to destiny must confront the Guardian not once, but twice.  The first time, this is known as the lesser Guardian and it is a shadow of lies and deceit that mimics the worst part of the hero’s own soul.  The hero fails in this confrontation and is left weakened and shamed.  This fuels his courage to become stronger.  The second time he meets the greater Guardian in a final confrontation as the evil being musters the very energy of all that is the antithesis of the hero’s beliefs.  Invariably, the Guardian manages to destroy the hero utterly.  Yet, somehow, our hero is reborn and this rebirth ends the Guardian and opens the door to the future deliverance of mankind.

This tale is rooted in the myths of antiquity, but it’s still playing out at your local multiplex.  Luke Skywalker confronts the lesser Guardian in Darth Vader, losing his hand and shattering his worldview.  He confronts the greater Guardian in the Emperor and is pushed to the brink of certain doom before awakening the rebirth of his father and the Jedi order.  Frodo meets the Witch-King and is stabbed, leaving a wound that despite Elrond’s healing will never leave him.  Shelob as the representation of Sauron’s scheming wrath undoes Frodo, only to have Sam lead him into rebirth.  In the fires of Mount Doom he overcomes the power of Sauron, Golem and the One Ring itself, saving Middle Earth in the process.  In the Matrix…well you get the point.

I don’t need to list every single popular version of the Hero’s Journey here.  What I want to discuss is the Guardian of the Threshold.  While that is the term that Joseph Campbell uses, I actually prefer the Dweller.  It speaks to the fact that this entity is not all-powerful.  It is limited in its reach and in its abilities.  It can exist only where there is a threshold to cross.  If the hero does not take up the sword to bring light into darkness, the Dweller cannot appear.  So, the answer to the age old question, “are monsters real? “ is in fact, yes, but only if you go looking for them.  The ignorant and innocent are blessed by their own perceptions to not see the shadows in the world.

However, if we want to grow as people, we cannot stay in blissful comfort forever.  As we live, we inevitably will confront this Dweller many times, and it does not always go as the myth dictates.  There are many times when the Dweller will win.  It is powerful and it causes fear with impunity.  It shape shifts and it lies with ease.  It will as often wear the disguise of benevolence as it will bare its fangs.  It is our job on our journey to recognize the difference.  And, there is no guarantee that it won’t sink its evil into your flesh and leave you broken and torn.  The Dweller does not want to let you through, and it just loves to turn you into an obstacle on someone else’s path.

But, the Dweller is weak.  In the end, all it has is fear, and fear cannot conquer love.  So, as Nancy turns her back on Freddy Krueger and he ceases to exist, and Sara does the same to good old David Bowie in Labyrinth, so can we.  By choosing love over hate, by refusing to give the Dweller its toll, we can walk right on past him. 

This applies to everything.  You have a boss that’s making your life hell?  If you can stop fearing their retaliation and start pitying the small nature of their soul and how it has compelled them to live, then they have lost their power.  If you turn on the television and the current war campaign beats its drum of fear, if you can look past the snarling image they present, and see the desperate, fearful person that is behind the curtain of the war machine’s Oz, then it has lost its power over you.

I’m not saying this easy.  In fact, it is much harder than getting mad.  It is easier to scream for revolution than it is to achieve peace.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

To Catch a Predator

"Where were the parties?...down in Washington, DC...and that was for sex...There was sex between adult men and other adult men but most of it had to do with young boys and young girls with the older folks...specifically for sex with minors...Also in Washington, DC, there were parties after a party...there were a lot of parties where there would be senators and congressmen who had nothing to do with the sexual stuff. But there were some senators and congressmen who stayed for the [pedophile sex] parties afterwards...on a lot of the trips he took us on he had us, I mean, I met some people that I don't feel comfortable telling their name because I don't want to --- ...Q: Are you scared?...Yes..."
-          [U.S. District Court testimony, 2-5-1999 pp.105, 124-126]

In 1999, U.S. District Court Judge Warren Urbom awarded Paul Bonacci $1 million in damages for the physical and emotional trauma he incurred at the hands of then-jailed Lawrence E. King Jr., former manager and treasurer of the failed Franklin Community Federal Credit Union in Omaha, Nebraska.  Bonacci testified that he was abducted at the age of six and was sold into a sex-slavery operation run by King.  Judge Urbom found credence in this testimony and did what he could for Bonacci.   However, Lawrence King wasn’t jailed for these offenses.  No, he served five years of a prison sentence for his involvement in the financial collapse of the Franklin Credit Union including embezzlement, conspiracy and making false financial record entries. But, there was never a criminal trial involving his alleged sex crimes with Bonacci and others.  

In fact, it was Bonacci who was imprisoned in 1990 for perjury when he first leveled the accusations.  Bonacci served five years in jail for this “perjury”, often while being served food to which he was knowingly allergic. He was refused simple comforts such as a blanket to sleep with and was placed in cell blocks with individuals tied to King; individuals who would repeatedly beat Bonacci.  Thankfully, a former Nebraska state senator named John DeCamp took interest in Bonacci’s case and helped pave the way to the poor man’s freedom and his somewhat laughable financial restitution.  DeCamp got him a trial finally, even if it was only a civil case.  Even if a million dollars could never make up for what Bonacci went through, at least it was something.  More importantly, it put Bonacci’s testimony into the public domain.  Let me forewarn you, what I am about to quote from that trial is beyond disgusting.  But it is perhaps some of the most important testimony in recent times.

"They put guns up to my head. Had guns put in my mouth...Larry King sent out boys, men, to jump me...he had them pretty well beat the tar out of me from the waist down so nobody would see the marks...I had my fingers broken...I can remember them burning me with hot instruments...placing stuff inside me...almost what I call a cattle prod...But it would be put inside then they'd shock me inside my -- ...Judge Urbom: Anus?...Yes... And they would -- ...Judge: You mean electrically heated?...They would put it in and then push a button and it would shock me...Judge Urbom:..done by Larry King at his direction?...At his direction..."

"I threatened to go to the police in California, thought maybe they would listen whereas in Omaha they were in his pocketbook...he had me hung out of an airplane with a rope by my ankles...If they wanted to get something passed through the legislature, he would put some people that were against it in a compromising position. By using us boys and girls...Judge Urbom: Was this by your being the sexual partner of that person?...Yes...Judge Urbom: ...Any estimates of how often you participated as the sexual partner of one of these persons that he wanted to get some kind of control over?...There were times when it would be four or five in a night...on probably a couple thousand times...sometimes dozens of times with the same person..." [U.S. District Court testimony, 2-5-1999, pp. 146-151]

Wow.  Just wow. Now, most of these senators and congressmen made sure to keep themselves out of harm’s way on this story, and over time, it just went away, like all scandals in Washington eventually do.  But, Bonacci is on record naming Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) as having participated in these sex parties where his underage services were offered by King for money.  He told the judge he had "relationships with him" in Washington, DC and was flown to Massachusetts for sex in the basement of Frank's Boston home. Bonacci further testified that in 1988, the Secret Service allowed him access to the White House for one of these little soirees.  Frank continues to win election after election, barely tarnished by this scandal or the one involving another male prostitute, Steve Gobie, who lived in his home.  No, Frank still enjoys a position of Congressional power as he has for 30 years.  Bonacci lives under an assumed name and is likely glancing over his shoulder right now, looking for the assassin who will no doubt one day come.

This, folks, is the so-called Franklin Cover-Up, and we need to remember it.  I know it’s unpleasant.  I know the thought of powerful men abducting children and ushering them into this sick and twisted world is not something a decent person wants to consider.  But, read that testimony.  If you want to know how the game of thrones is really played, it’s played by dangling broken kids out of airplanes by their ankles in the name of power.  And, even after it all comes crashing down around their evil heads, these men walk away virtually scot free, their deeds swept under the rug as we all turn our attention to the next thing. 

When this story first broke, it sure was fortuitous for the politicians linked to it that Judge Clarence Thomas once had an interesting conversation about a can of Coke.  They were sure lucky that OJ went nuts.  It worked out for them that LA broke into riots over the Rodney King verdict.  We all forgot about some sick guy in Nebraska and what he might have or might not have gotten some kids to do with some powerful people.  If anything, we heard the news that the accusers went to jail for perjury.  We assumed it must have been some sort of an extortion thing. Then we got on with our lives.  We forgot.

I assure you Paul Bonacci didn’t forget as he shivered in jail and nursed his wounds.  And, after everything he’d been through, despite his terror, he stood up to these men and told the truth, at least as far as he could. As exceedingly brave as this man proved to be, one wonders what names he was afraid to speak.  So, as President Obama takes the stage tonight and accepts his party’s nomination to the cheers of all those in attendance, I just want you to make sure you temper your enthusiasm with the knowledge that this is politics.  Nothing is what it seems to be on the surface, and the darkness of some of these souls knows no bounds.  Happy voting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Selling the Drama

“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”
-          Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, 1977

We have all experienced the art of the persuasive salesperson at some time in our lives.  It does not matter that you walked into the store on a whim with the intent merely to browse.  What is important is that you are a human being with a generally benevolent nature and the desire to please.  When confronted by the proper techniques, an average shopper is easily swayed by the effusive, well-trained hawker of wares.  It doesn’t matter if you need the item.  It doesn’t matter if you want the item.  It doesn’t even matter if you can reasonably afford the item.  An expert in sales will lead you into the conclusion that it was your desire all along to purchase the item.

Now, I have stated this as a fact, and I am certain that there are those of you who are balking at this assertion.  You will think back upon the multitude of occasions when you have rebuked the advances of a salesperson and gone about your day.  These experiences stand out in our minds and serve to validate our perception of our own internal creation of intent.  However, I contend that these moments were not proof of your strong will, but the evidence of an employee lacking in the true art of salesmanship.  The times when the seller has succeeded in selling to you are perceived in your mind as your own decision.  But that’s the trick.  If you didn’t believe it was your decision, it wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, most individuals who are placed in a position of sales these days are about as adept at the art as your average television preacher.  They are obvious.  They are insincere.  They may even be downright resentful of their job and their relation to you as a customer.  This is good, because if every time we walked into a store we encountered a true salesman, we’d be broke almost immediately.  But, just because most people out there are bungling their sales, don’t think for a moment that you are immune.

Since humanity first dreamed up the concept of trade with one another, those who could sell the best have risen to the top of the economic pyramid.  This is not an Illuminati-type conspiracy we are living in; it is the inevitable result of a free-market system.  Those who master the techniques of coercion and control will rule the world, pure and simple.  And, in a society where wealth begets wealth and inheritance ensures such wealth remains in a bloodline, a ruling class is formed over the years.  Given a long enough time to perfect techniques, accumulate wealth, exercise influence, shape public policy and establish authoritative institutions, this ruling class becomes immovable; the extension of its fingers into virtually every aspect of your life inexorable.  This ruling class in essence is then free to tell you what you need and then sell it to you, and you utilize your illusion of choice to buy it up.  You quibble about the brand and the taste and the look and the label, but if you go far enough up the chain of each decision you make, you see the end result go into the pocket of the same families.

You see, this ultimate set of salesmen have sold you the greatest item of all: life as you know it.  You are raised to buy in, to not question, to not look for change.  What benefits you and your family, your loved ones, your community is so rarely in alignment with what benefits the ruling class, you buy the concept that this is just how it is.  This is how it has to be.  If we want roads and utilities and police officers and firemen and streetlights and everything that comes from a nice little municipality, we just have to pay the piper his due.  We need to take out insurmountable loans for a college education, for a vehicle, for a home.  We need to work hard and often for a paycheck that seems to be a study in diminishing returns.  We need to shrug our shoulders and go back to our television sets when we are shown that the laws under which we live do not apply to those on high.  And we need to wave our flags and say thank you for this privilege. 

This structure is not unlike a casino.  We are born and bred with the gambling bug and we learn how the games are played.  We choose our favorite, and find a seat at the table.  And there we stay, for thirty to forty years, slowly doing the best we can to win enough chips to cash out.  But the house always wins their due.  They always get their take.  That’s a given, but don’t raise your voice about it.  Don’t make a scene.  The security here is the best, and they scare me just a tad.

Well, to hell with it.  I say it’s an illusion, a parlor trick of a stage hypnotist.  It has weight and a sense of reality because we collectively give it one.  We buy what they are selling.  But, you don’t need it, not really.  What you need is each other, and we are all free.  At least if we truly believe we are.  So, stop listening to the sales pitch.  We don’t need war in foreign lands.  We don’t need holy places from bygone eras.  We don’t need the oil and gas the energy barons say we do.  We need to embrace each other and work on the problems our disharmony with nature has caused.

I know how foolish that sounds.  I know how na├»ve and insipid.  But it only sounds that way because I’m no salesman.  Not like them.  They’d hire a multi-national branding company to do a market analysis and come up with a 36-page report on what the logo should be.  They’d bring in a marketing firm to do even more analysis, breakdown the demography of the target audience and dissect the correct approaches and media-driven campaigns to employ.  They’d set meetings with retailers, media moguls, lobbyists, politicians, and oh so many lawyers.  And they’d sell it to you, whether you liked it or not.

 I’m asking you to not buy.  Just try it.  Let’s see what happens.