Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Planned Utopia

From time to time, I hope to feature some of my homeschool students' work here on this blog. The author of this essay is seventeen years old and recently won honorable mention in a nationwide contest sponsored by C-Span. A political conservative and a Christian with a talent for writing satire, he has submitted this essay as the first student work presented here.

Planned Utopia

I have many reasons to thank God for my life. I thank Him for my home, my parents, my cars, my musical instruments, my food, and my electronics. I also thank Him for one thing in particular – for not living in a planned community. Planned communities started to grow in the 1960’s during the uprise of socialism. One of the most famous planned communities, Reston, Virginia, is twenty minutes from my home. In Reston the iron fist of the neighborhood associations maintains tight control over the social order.

The most recent experiments of planned communities originated in the 1960’s when socialism became popular. While hippies were gaining attention in the media and forming communes, planned communities started to dot the landscape with wannabe Frank-Lloyd-Wright style houses located on streets with occultlike names such as Talisman Drive, Babylon Crest, and Satan Wood Drive. At the Nineteenth Century Brook Farm Experiment one of the first documented planed communities, the residents tried to create Utopia, a community where everyone would live in perfect agreement.

Reston, a planned community, about ten miles west of Washington, D. C., was proposed by urban developer Robert E. Simon, Jr. After studying famous cities in Europe, Simon decided to design his own planned community using socialistic principles to make the architecture buildings and neighborhoods look “aesthetically balanced.” Simon incorporated a set of rules called “covenants,” rules so restrictive that the residents could improve only the exterior of their home by cutting the grass of their own yard. After making up all of these “laws,” Simon and the others who were helping him with his “little experiment” decided to name the city. They came up with the terribly original idea of sticking the three initials of his name “RES” in front of the overused term for town, “ton,” which equaled Reston. This added another town in Northern Virginia using the term “ton” along with Fairlington, Huntington, Newington, Ballston, Shirlington, Clifton, Oakton, and Lorton, to name a few. But Reston was different because it had its own town center where yuppies could drive around with John Kerry stickers on their bumpers as these cruisers searched for the perfect cappuccino. Simon named one of the lakes Lake Anne, after his first wife, and another lake after Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist who encouraged civil disobedience in order to repeal unjust laws.

The neighborhood associations police their planned communities to insure the rigid enforcement of the covenants. They determine precisely what kinds of modifications may be applied to an individual’s property. Modifications not allowed when living in a single-family dwelling include remodeling the home, adding an addition, replacing windows or doors, installing a skylight, painting the exterior with an unauthorized color, building a screened porch or tree house, placing a kiddy pool in the back yard, fencing the yard, placing patio furniture outside (Where else is patio furniture put?), setting up a child’s swing set, displaying lawn ornaments, owning more than three cars, and parking a car older than a 1993 model in the driveway (unless it is deemed an antique by the Division of Motor Vehicles). On the other hand, actions allowed when living in a single-family dwelling in a planned community include mowing the yard, cleaning the gutters, clearing the yard of debris, and watering the flowers or grass.

When I first saw Columbia, a planned community in Maryland, and observed street names like Peace Chimes Court, Encounter Row, and Commitment Court, I thought “Gee, maybe I would like to live here. All the buildings and neighborhoods appear ‘aesthetically balanced’!” I wondered about the absence of yard ornaments and the lack of remodeled homes when at least thirty years had passed since the original construction. Then I realized these residents must adhere to a one pound manual of strictly enforced covenants.

To me, all this planning of communities seems to be another way to infuse Marxism and socialism into our culture. Why do I care that I don’t have the right color of shutters on my house? Why do I care that my address plate doesn’t match my neighbor’s? Why do I care that the neighbor next door to me has a 1992 Ford Escort on blocks and a ten foot inflatable snowman in his front yard? I do not care because these issues are none of my business. The way for me to strictly obey the covenants of a planned community is very easy – I DON’T LIVE THERE!

Submitted by A.N.

35 Comments:

At 8/30/2005 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think A.N. should have delved a little deeper during his "research" phase...

Old Greenbelt

-FJ ;-)

 
At 8/30/2005 8:56 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I had forgotten about Greenbelt! My parents used to speak of that community planned by the government during my parents' youth.

You might have guessed this: A.N. doesn't think too highly of some of FDR's policies. I'm sure that A.N. will check out your link and add to his/her history knowledge.

Thanks!

PS: Reston was supposed to be crime-free and traffic-free. Didn't happen, of course. Native locals here don't hold Reston in high regard, though those new to the area think that Reston is "it," perhaps second only to McLean as a residential area of prestige in Northern Virginia.

 
At 8/30/2005 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

America was never really the same after the "Great Depression". It had turned too many heads "away" from their historic vision of the "American" dream. The children of those "depressed" families came into their own in the 1960's. They took drugs to "liberate" their minds from the "oppressive" influences they had experienced in the '50's. In so doing, they were able to form their own "collective" Super-Ego based upon these mind-altering experiences. Hence the Cindy Sheehan's of the world march to the beat of a "different" drummer, that sits on the right, but steers towards the left.

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps - Didn't Hillary Clinton used to "channel" Eleneor (sic?) Roosevelt? Isn't there a High School in Greenbelt by that name?

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PPS - Did I ever mention that my History instructor in college was a Psycho-Historian? Not too many people put much stock in THAT particular field... at least not on the "right". It isn't very "scientific", but "history" has always been one of the "humanities".

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 9:24 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Yes, America drastically changed after the Great Depression; some see the change as good, but others do not. The causes of the change were both economic and psychological. There probably is something to the Super Ego you mentioned, but many people whom I know took drugs just to get high because the high felt good.

Maybe I didn't fool around with drugs because I didn't feel "oppressed" during my growing-up years in the 1950's. I had a very secure home in many ways. Having the run of over 40 acres was pretty liberating! LOL.

Did Hillary channel Eleanor Roosevelt? I wasn't aware of that. Shirlry MacLaine might have done some channeling for Hillary. I wonder...

I am partial to the idea of Psycho-History, and now that you mention it, a few of my history profs may have had that perspective, which is not dry, so to speak. Such a perspective brings history alive for me, even though I would be classified as a "righty." I also delve into the Christian interpretation of history.

Going to run some errands now. Back later.

 
At 8/30/2005 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turn on, Tune out, Drop Out/In...

Do remember Tom Hayden, co-founder of the radical SDS?

Info

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excerpt "on wine" from Plato's "Laws"...

ATHENIAN: Let us look at the matter thus: May we not conceive each of us living beings to be a puppet of the Gods, either their plaything only, or created with a purpose--which of the two we cannot certainly know? But we do know, that these affections in us are like cords and strings, which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice. According to the argument there is one among these cords which every man ought to grasp and never let go, but to pull with it against all the rest; and this is the sacred and golden cord of reason, called by us the common law of the State; there are others which are hard and of iron, but this one is soft because golden; and there are several other kinds. Now we ought always to cooperate with the lead of the best, which is law. For inasmuch as reason is beautiful and gentle, and not violent, her rule must needs have ministers in order to help the golden principle in vanquishing the other principles. And thus the moral of the tale about our being puppets will not have been lost, and the meaning of the expression 'superior or inferior to a man's self' will become clearer; and the individual, attaining to right reason in this matter of pulling the strings of the puppet, should live according to its rule; while the city, receiving the same from some god or from one who has knowledge of these things, should embody it in a law, to be her guide in her dealings with herself and with other states. In this way virtue and vice will be more clearly distinguished by us. And when they have become clearer, education and other institutions will in like manner become clearer; and in particular that question of convivial entertainment, which may seem, perhaps, to have been a very trifling matter, and to have taken a great many more words than were necessary.

CLEINIAS: Perhaps, however, the theme may turn out not to be unworthy of the length of discourse.

ATHENIAN: Very good; let us proceed with any enquiry which really bears on our present object.

CLEINIAS: Proceed.

ATHENIAN: Suppose that we give this puppet of ours drink,--what will be the effect on him?

CLEINIAS: Having what in view do you ask that question?

ATHENIAN: Nothing as yet; but I ask generally, when the puppet is brought to the drink, what sort of result is likely to follow. I will endeavour to explain my meaning more clearly: what I am now asking is this--Does the drinking of wine heighten and increase pleasures and pains, and passions and loves?

CLEINIAS: Very greatly.

ATHENIAN: And are perception and memory, and opinion and prudence,
heightened and increased? Do not these qualities entirely desert a man if he becomes saturated with drink?

CLEINIAS: Yes, they entirely desert him.

ATHENIAN: Does he not return to the state of soul in which he was when a young child?

CLEINIAS: He does.

ATHENIAN: Then at that time he will have the least control over himself?

CLEINIAS: The least.

ATHENIAN: And will he not be in a most wretched plight?

CLEINIAS: Most wretched.

ATHENIAN: Then not only an old man but also a drunkard becomes a second time a child?

CLEINIAS: Well said, Stranger.

ATHENIAN: Is there any argument which will prove to us that we ought to encourage the taste for drinking instead of doing all we can to avoid it?

CLEINIAS: I suppose that there is; you at any rate, were just now saying that you were ready to maintain such a doctrine.

ATHENIAN: True, I was; and I am ready still, seeing that you have both declared that you are anxious to hear me.

CLEINIAS: To be sure we are, if only for the strangeness of the paradox, which asserts that a man ought of his own accord to plunge into utter degradation.

ATHENIAN: Are you speaking of the soul?

CLEINIAS: Yes.

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On wine - Part II

ATHENIAN: There are times and seasons at which we are by nature more than commonly valiant and bold; now we ought to train ourselves on these occasions to be as free from impudence and shamelessness as possible, and to be afraid to say or suffer or do anything that is base.

CLEINIAS: True.

ATHENIAN: Are not the moments in which we are apt to be bold and shameless such as these?--when we are under the influence of anger, love, pride, ignorance, avarice, cowardice? or when wealth, beauty, strength, and all the intoxicating workings of pleasure madden us? What is better adapted than the festive use of wine, in the first place to test, and in the second place to train the character of a man, if care be taken in the use of it? What is there cheaper, or more innocent? For do but consider which is the greater risk:--Would you rather test a man of a morose and savage nature, which is the source of ten thousand acts of injustice, by making bargains with him at a risk to yourself, or by having him as a companion at the festival of Dionysus? Or would you, if you wanted to apply a touchstone to a man who is prone to love, entrust your wife, or your sons, or daughters to him, perilling your dearest interests in order to have a view of the condition of his soul? I might mention numberless cases, in which the advantage would be manifest of getting to know a character in sport, and without paying dearly for experience. And I do not believe that either a Cretan, or any other man, will doubt that such a test is a fair test, and safer, cheaper, and speedier than any other.

CLEINIAS: That is certainly true.

ATHENIAN: And this knowledge of the natures and habits of men's souls will be of the greatest use in that art which has the management of them; and that art, if I am not mistaken, is politics.

CLEINIAS: Exactly so.

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part III…

ATHENIAN: Then in a city which has good laws, or in future ages is to have them, bearing in mind the instruction and amusement which are given by music, can we suppose that the poets are to be allowed to teach in the dance anything which they themselves like, in the way of rhythm, or melody, or words, to the young children of any well-conditioned parents? Is the poet to train his choruses as he pleases, without reference to virtue or vice?

CLEINIAS: That is surely quite unreasonable, and is not to be thought of.

ATHENIAN: And yet he may do this in almost any state with the exception of Egypt.

CLEINIAS: And what are the laws about music and dancing in Egypt?

ATHENIAN: You will wonder when I tell you: Long ago they appear to have recognized the very principle of which we are now speaking--that their young citizens must be habituated to forms and strains of virtue. These they fixed, and exhibited the patterns of them in their temples; and no painter or artist is allowed to innovate upon them, or to leave the traditional forms and invent new ones. To this day, no alteration is allowed either in these arts, or in music at all. And you will find that their works of art are painted or moulded in the same forms which they had ten thousand years ago;--this is literally true and no exaggeration,-- their ancient paintings and sculptures are not a whit better or worse than the work of to-day, but are made with just the same skill.

CLEINIAS: How extraordinary!

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part IV…

ATHENIAN: Then now, as would appear, we are making the discovery that our newly-appointed choristers, whom we hereby invite and, although they are their own masters, compel to sing, must be educated to such an extent as to be able to follow the steps of the rhythm and the notes of the song, that they may know the harmonies and rhythms, and be able to select what are suitable for men of their age and character to sing; and may sing them, and have innocent pleasure from their own performance, and also lead younger men to welcome with dutiful delight good dispositions. Having such training, they will attain a more accurate knowledge than falls to the lot of the common people, or even of the poets themselves. For the poet need not know the third point, viz., whether the imitation is good or not, though he can hardly help knowing the laws of melody and rhythm. But the aged chorus must know all the three, that they may choose the best, and that which is nearest to the best; for otherwise they will never be able to charm the souls of young men in the way of virtue. And now the original design of the argument which was intended to bring eloquent aid to the Chorus of Dionysus, has been accomplished to the best of our ability, and let us see whether we were right:--I should imagine that a drinking assembly is likely to become more and more tumultuous as the drinking goes on: this, as we were saying at first, will certainly be the case.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: Every man has a more than natural elevation; his heart is glad within him, and he will say anything and will be restrained by nobody at such a time; he fancies that he is able to rule over himself and all mankind.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: Were we not saying that on such occasions the souls of the
drinkers become like iron heated in the fire, and grow softer and younger, and are easily moulded by him who knows how to educate and fashion them, just as when they were young, and that this fashioner of them is the same who prescribed for them in the days of their youth, viz., the good legislator; and that he ought to enact laws of the banquet, which, when a man is confident, bold, and impudent, and unwilling to wait his turn and have his share of silence and speech, and drinking and music, will change his character into the opposite--such laws as will infuse into him a just and noble fear, which will take up arms at the approach of insolence, being that divine fear which we have called reverence and shame?

CLEINIAS: True.

ATHENIAN: And the guardians of these laws and fellow-workers with them are the calm and sober generals of the drinkers; and without their help there is greater difficulty in fighting against drink than in fighting against enemies when the commander of an army is not himself calm; and he who is unwilling to obey them and the commanders of Dionysiac feasts who are more than sixty years of age, shall suffer a disgrace as great as he who disobeys military leaders, or even greater.

CLEINIAS: Right.

ATHENIAN: If, then, drinking and amusement were regulated in this way, would not the companions of our revels be improved? they would part better friends than they were, and not, as now, enemies. Their whole intercourse would be regulated by law and observant of it, and the sober would be the leaders of the drunken.

CLEINIAS: I think so too, if drinking were regulated as you propose.

ATHENIAN: Let us not then simply censure the gift of Dionysus as bad and unfit to be received into the State. For wine has many excellences, and one pre-eminent one, about which there is a difficulty in speaking to the many, from a fear of their misconceiving and misunderstanding what is said.

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

always,

I apologize for the length of the above postings. I just wanted to set the stage for the following comment. Would you send one of your wards to a Rolling Stone's Rock Concert with a flask of "wine" to "dance" with his "peers" as Jagger sings "Sweet Neocon"?

In the 1960's, the poets usurped part of the Republic. Dionysian "training" continues to this day.

I suspect the "gang problem" suffers from the deficiency of having no "virtuous chorusmasters".

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't call it a Counter-culture for nothing. You can raise your kids "right" and STILL lose control.

-FJ

From the American Heritage Dictionary...

Culture (verb) - 1. To cultivate. 2a. To grow (microorganisms or other living matter) in a specially prepared nutrient medium. b. To use (a substance) as a medium for culture: culture milk.

 
At 8/30/2005 1:30 PM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

wow AOW, there is hope for our youth yet... we may all survive another generation.

Tell this kid outstanding. Its very uncommon that someone this age would have such a broad prospective on things as simple as planned communities.

Thats really insightful. Must the be the water in that area, because we all know from what Dems and teacher unions tell us that Teachers and/or Parents can't be expected to produce intelligent students, thats solely up to the Government.
;P

-

 
At 8/30/2005 5:31 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

G,
I relayed your message to A.N.'s mother, and she'll pass it on. A.N. will be pleased! Like most teens, A.N. is nervous about the comments and showed bravery by allowing the essay to go up here.

A.N. is a testimony to the success of homeschooling. I am so pleased to have been a small part of his education. I consider A.N. to be a friend as well.

 
At 8/30/2005 5:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Ah, Tom Hayden! One of Jane Fonda's husbands, I believe.

I well remember the SDS, which was minimally active on my campus. Being commuter students paying our own way, most of us didn't have time for the SDS. They did some agitating, though.

 
At 8/30/2005 5:46 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I read the article which you mentioned in an earlier comment and noticed this:
"Buddhists who enter the meditative state frequently and for prolonged periods, and people who use drugs and alcohol regularly, have different views and values from the dominant culture of consumption and attachment to objects in the material world."

Altered mental states produce counter-culture? And in an altered mental state, that bond to counter-culture seems right because the brain cannot perceived it as anything else.

It will take me some time to read through your longer comments. I'm a slow reader from the computer monitor, and the material you've posted requires some mental concentration. Not complaining, not at all. I enjoy the mental stimulation!

 
At 8/30/2005 7:58 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Before I read your comment about the Stones, I thought of their dissipated ways. Just the other day, I was catching up on my reading of periodicals and came across a recent photograph. Keith Richards looks like a caricature of Scrooge or Fagin; Mick Jagger's cheeks are so far sunken in that it's obvious he's been busy with the bong. Definitely, these fellows are not "virtuous chorusmasters." They are cetainly the old men of rock 'n roll.

The Stones concerts are liquor- and drug-fueled orgies--or so my neighbor's son tells me. (This is not the same neighbor to whom I've earlier referred. This neighbor of whom I'm now speaking brought up her children in a Godly way, but once off to college, her son followed a different path) He loves getting high and rolling in the mud, if available, as he "rocks" to the Stones. At the age of 35, he considers himself a child of the 60's (Never mind his birthdate of 1970). Definitely a Dionysian, wouldn't you say?

From what I've observed and read, gangs are partial to some pretty foul Latino music. Of course, it's not just the Latino music which has sunk to a vulgar and violent level. Rap music--if one can call it "music"--is, by and large, promotion for crimes against women.

As your long comments from the philosphers show, there is nothing new under the sun. Dissipation has always been with us.

In the words of the Athenian:
"[R]eason is beautiful and gentle, and not violent, her rule must needs have ministers in order to help the golden principle in vanquishing the other principles." Parents would do well to pay attention to the influence of the arts on their children. Remember our earlier discussion of right brain/left brain?

BTW, the student author here is an individual very interested in the creative arts. A.N. has no patience for what some call "music." For A.N., music should be of the higher sort and should not conflict with what one might term traditional values. No MTV at A.N.'s house!

PS: No wards of mine would be given "wine" and told to party with the Stones. I myself have been to only one rock concert--a few years ago, I went to see Bruce Springsteen. A lot of beer, but no obvious drug use. I would guess that the audience's age was close to 50, though some younger ones were present because of Sprinsteen's position on the Iraq War. Some of Springsteen's songs laud counter-culture (criminals), but this particular concert was more of a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

 
At 8/30/2005 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drug use is one form of "brain-washing" that disengages and allows re-programming of the "repressive" Super-ego. You hang-out with gang members and smoke crack all day, and the bonds you had for your mother/ father as an ego ideal are replaced with your "gang-buddies" memories. The "dopamine" channels that serve as the brain's "pleasure/reward" center get filled during the drug encounter. Add the "charms" of music and dance (like at a rock concert), and it almost performs a complete, but temporary (unless oft-repeated) right-hemisphere re-programming. You listen to Bob Dillon and say, "Hey man, it IS the eve of destruction. Heavy".

Plato suggested using the technique in his "Laws". He wanted to take the older and more cantankerous males, and get them drunk so that he could re-program them. He needed them to set an "example" for the younger generations. While drunk at rehearsals, they were made to sing and dance paeans to "virtue". They were then forced to repeat their performances sober and "publically", with "shame" providing a similar chemical-mix and substitute for the alcohol (especially if you were not used to giving public performances). It was how he "re-formed" them. I believe the idea comes from the ancient Corybantine rituals for "curing" the "insane" and the annual Dionysian festival.

And of course, the whole purpose of a Dionysian festival was to get a "community" to bond. Everyone would join the "revel rout", form a kind of "conga line" and get drunk and let loose out in the woods. This usually lasted three days and on the final day, you would go to see a series of "tragedies" performed, in the hope that it would help "re-form" you, and "purify" your soul, so that you could be allowed back into the city. It's kind of like the South Pacific Island war tribes. After a raid killing your enemies, the warriors were forced to sit in a hut for a couple of days while the witch doctor "purified" them... and only then were they allowed back into the village (Freud - "Civilization and its' Discontents").

Sorry to fill up your blog like this. I know this is "off-topic".

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say always, is that "public performances" of the arts perform a similar "programming" function as drug use. And so, Plato either "banned" the poets, slapped strict laws on what kinds of music they could perform, or only allowed "foreigners" to play "bad-roles". The adrenaline-rush of a public performance forms strong and permanent "chemical memories". It's also why many veterans suffer from Post-traumatic- stress- disorders. The repressive "right brain" can't let go of the visuals, the left brain doesn't want to remember, and so the brain invents means of re-visiting these "strong" memories, especially at night during sleep when the "right hemisphere" is in charge.

I think that short of the Emperor Calligula, no Roman citizens were allowed to be hypocrites (actors), and all comedies (criticisms) had to be done in pantomime (sic?).

The ancients took these restrictions seriously. It's obvious that today, we don't. It isn't "scientific".

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps - Tell A.N. he/she did a great job! It was an outstanding article for one so young. I criticize everyone harshly. I'm an old "crank". But I mean well. I don't believe in "self-esteem" enhancement... unless it is "deserved". Great job A.N.!

-FJ

 
At 8/30/2005 8:25 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Please don't apologize for filling up, off topic. It's good to be able to talk to you. I miss Neptune's Gazette.

Besides, I'm learning so much with all your "off topic" material.

 
At 8/30/2005 8:32 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I was wondering if there really was a place called Reston, Va - it sounds too horrible to be true. But it is true! Here are some pictures of the schools. They look like factories.

In any case, I wish I could write like A.N. at his or her age.

 
At 8/30/2005 8:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
You are not an "old crank"! Or maybe I'm an "old crank" too because like you, I don't believe in promoting students' self-esteem when the praise is undeserved. I'm a pretty harsh teacher, but I want students to reach for a high standard.

I'll pass on your compliment to A.N. A.N. will be thrilled that you think so highly of the essay here.

 
At 8/30/2005 8:39 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
In a way, the Reston schools are factories. They crank out students who have been indoctrinated in multiculturalism.

BTW, the Muslim pr people are very active in the school system here. Students receive instruction in Ramadan, but don't try to mention Christmas. Winter Holidays, Winter Trees, Winter Songs.

Reston is a dystopia. Rampant crime, gangs, etc.

 
At 8/30/2005 9:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I had to laugh when I read about the Dionysian revels in the woods. So much like rock concerts, right? A different venue, of course.

And what you said about Bob Dylan rings true. I saw it numerous times in my younger days:
"You listen to Bob Dillon and say, 'Hey man, it IS the eve of destruction. Heavy'."
Because I was straight and a mere observer, I found the monotony of the comments amusing. Now that I'm more educated as to learning differences, that droning on and on puts me in mind of perseveration, a particular manifestation of brain damage. Of course, drug usage does cause a type of brain malfunction akin to brain damage.

Also, I've read that drug users have incredibly vivid dreams when they are trying to get straight or when there is a hiatus in drug usage. And post-op neurosurgical patients also have vivid dreams. A connection there, I think.

But what you said in two of your recent comments here is serious business. Repeated drug use leads to reprogramming of the brain, and establishment of a Super Ego which does not conform to a society's ethos. Furthermore, once dopamine (uptake?) receptors are repeatedly damaged, SSRI's may help to remedy the situation, but SSRI's are not a cure and often require increase in dosage. A book called The Noonday Demon discusses some of this chemistry.

Those same dopamine receptors are involved in Parkinson's Disease, right? Just look at poor Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali to see what happens to a person with chronic dopamine problems. The movie Awakenings also touches on this matter in its story of those suffering from encephalitis lethargica ("sleepy sickness"); each individual's dopamine needs vary, and therefore L-Dopa is hard to regulate for effectiveness.

Why anyone would voluntarily damage his/her brain escapes me. The only explanation is the feelings of pleasure. But those feelings are obstructed by the dopamine imbalance, so more and more of the drug is used, with less and less of a resultant high. I believe that these drug users reach the point at which they cannot feel any pleasure other than that induced by the drug's chemistry, even though the first, intense drug-high is forever unattainable.

While the ancients were not always wise, they were certainly onto something with their restrictions on the fine arts. And wasn't Caligula particularly hedonistic?

What about Nero?

Too many today do not understand the science behind some of what you and I are speaking of here. Young people need to have certain restrictions if they are to function later, as successful adults.

 
At 8/30/2005 9:28 PM, Anonymous Mustang said...

"The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison."
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne

 
At 8/30/2005 9:57 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

A cemetery and a prison in Utopia? I guess that death is one of the certainties of life, even in Utopia.

Offhand, I can't think of any cemeteries in Reston, and I know that area fairly well. As to prisons, the schools bear a remarkable resemblance to penal institutions.

Nathaniel Hawthorne believed in original sin. Certainly he was familiar with this Bible verse: "The wages of sin is death." And jails in Hawthorne's time were intended to punish sinners. Remember The Scarlet Letter? Of course, in that novel one of Hawthorne's themes was the injustice of hypocrisy.

To my way of thinking, the concpt of Utopia is in sore need of a reality check.

 
At 8/30/2005 9:59 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Typo alert! Make that "concept." Another manifestation of the uh-oh nanosecond.

 
At 8/30/2005 10:08 PM, Blogger Warren said...

FJ said:
"After a raid killing your enemies, the warriors were forced to sit in a hut for a couple of days while the witch doctor "purified" them... and only then were they allowed back into the village"

The Cherokee also had a similar ritual.

After a war, the warriors were required to go through a ritual purification lasting 24 days before they were allowed to return to their families.

AOW,
A big "thumbs up" for AN.

 
At 8/30/2005 10:18 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Warren,
I recall that Cherokee ritual. Did the Plains Indians have a similar custom?

Yes, A.N. is a good writer. He has a way of getting to the heart of the matter.

 
At 8/31/2005 12:37 AM, Blogger Warren said...

AOW said:
"Did the Plains Indians have a similar custom?"


Its hard to say, the plains Indians were raiders and I doubt that many of the tribes considered it "unclean" to shed the blood of an enemy.

Dr. Yeagley has said, (to paraphrase), the Comanche did not have much use for a formal religion. I know the Sioux would dance, in petition/prayer before a formal battle and the whole night after a battle. The Apache would mourn the dead for one day after a battle, (or the warriors return), then their names were not to be spoken again.

Take it all with a grain of salt, these are from oral tradition as told to me by various people.

More is known of the Cherokee, (Tslagi), than any other Nation because of the great amount of contact with Europeans and the rather numerous whites that were "adopted" into the tribe.

Oral tradition lends itself to corruption from outside influence and the interpretation of the story teller.

My grandfather told me stories that I, later on, found out were traditional stories and legends. He changed the settings and many of the characters became relatives.

I remember one of them quite well. Its a ghost story, of sorts. Here is the traditional story.

He replaced the two men with himself and one of his brothers. In my grandfathers tale, his brother was thrown up on the bank and the big fish didn't get him. He called the place, Boiling Pot Creek.

 
At 8/31/2005 5:30 AM, Blogger unaha-closp said...

FJ,

Please, please get a blog so we can see your back argument in full.

 
At 9/01/2005 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

warren,

24 days seems about right. Wilhelm Fleiss was one of Sigmund Freud's major "early" correspondents. He was a "nose specialist" who practiced medicine in Berlin, and who exchanged "theories" with Freud regularly. One of his theories, which he shared with Freud, was the "male" hormonal cycle, similar to the 28 day female menstrual cycle. I think that cycle was wither 22 or 23 days (which I take is the standard period between uninduced nocturnal emissions). And since the "sex drive" was the Freud's theory of mind, one can see how the Cherokee's might have discovered a similar "natural" relationship.

-FJ

ps - Loved the ghost story!

 
At 9/01/2005 9:28 PM, Blogger Warren said...

FJ,
The ritual must have been of benefit. If it wasn't it wouldn't have been used.

The Cherokee have always been practical people, quick to acquire the useful and discard the useless.

After the smallpox epidemics of the mid 1700s, the priestly caste was dismissed as useless and disappeared. Very little remains of the original religion(s)/spiritual tradition although herbal medicine continued.

Glad you liked the story, its my favorite.

:^)

 

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