PROGRESS, NEEDS and THE BEAUTY OF HUMAN MINDS

If we gauge progress according to the fulfilment of life’s needs through the satisfying of pleasure, then we could say that civilisation seems to do very well. This is a most hedonistic society, surely pleasure triumphs. But actually it doesn’t succeed at all. It tries hard but ultimately fails on the biological level of human life, and ignores over and over again the potential for creating pleasure on the psychological (artistic, spiritual and/or intellectual) level.

At the biological level civilisation operates in a rather perverse way. The needs to eat, defecate and reproduce have to be satisfied in a “balanced” way, whilst the civilisation of the homo economicus demands excessiveness and surplus. This in turn creates its own psychosis, as moderation is also a necessary part of the art of pleasure.

On the other hand, and this seems ironic, our psychological space needs to be constantly expansive in order to fulfil human potential. The art of psychological pleasure and the defeat of boredom has to be fundamentally concerned with finding the best way to unleash the creative and intellectual potentials of our minds. We have four areas to do this in: art, philosophy, science and technology. Four areas which are therefore interrelated as perpetrators of the art of pleasure at the psychological level, and which are retarded by the tools of Wealth.

The Big Economy reality that we live in deprecates the enormous wealth of creativity and know-how contained in the vast resource of the billions of thinking brains that make up the human race. Diverse thinking minds, all with an enormous potential that is unappreciated by the system of wealth-accumulation-for-the-wealthy that civilisation protects and propagates. The great cost of this is the enormous lack of exploitation of creativity. Yes, we do see enormous technological advances, but they are self-interested ones, and because of that “limited” advances, veiling the real technological progress that could be made if human creativity and thought were properly unshackled.

The culture of the homo economicus revolves around the cult of money. It disdains art, philosophy and science, except when it can ensure the continuation of the movement of wealth to the wealthy. In the place of these three elements of psychological pleasure we are fed another three more malleable ones: pornography, religion and sport.

But real pleasure is anchored in meaning, and the pleasure of meaningfulness is built through our humanity (unity, love, kindness and social intelligence); justice; transcendence (through hopes, humour, creativity, objectivity and spirituality); intelligence (curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning); temperance (forgiveness, humility, self-regulation) and our courage and integrity. And in all of these ingredients lie our real potential to be authentic human beings.

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KAFKA AND NECESSITY

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In Kafka’s Trial, K. confronts a priest who tells him:

“‘It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.’

‘A melancholy conclusion,’ said K. ‘It turns lying into a universal principle.’”

But in between the priest’s observation and K.’s conclusion there is another result of this acceptance – that of turning necessity into a lie. The effect of this, of course, is that real necessities can no longer be trusted. They all become suspicious. Real purpose likewise suffers from this. Action itself becomes suspect to all sorts of vanities based on dishonesty and illusion. When necessity is rendered absurd by no longer representing that which really is, nihilism sets in. From this, we can define nihilism as that which arises when necessity loses its character.

DIVISION AND LACK: OUR ANTI-HUMAN CONDITION

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Race, religion, nationality and gender are all ideological/identity forming forces that contribute to the segregation and annihilation of humanity. Subsequently the human condition could easily be defined by division and lack: the division into anti-human identities and the continuous yearning for what is lacking that stimulates and/or is stimulated from that division. Division and lack creates a very vicious circle. The consciousness of lack engenders an identity forming sense of “difference from”. This itself creates an anchoring in the identity defined by lack that searches for more differences and more lacks to set it further apart.

But can we call such a continually dividing cycle “the human condition”? Isn’t it rather the anti-human condition? Anti-human: that which pulls us away from our condition as a species. That which pulls us away from our authentic human condition.

If this is so then the vital human question must be, how can we escape this vicious scarring circle of continual separation from ourselves? How can we heal the divisions between us and reconstruct a true sense of belonging to the species we are?

We are not talking about a complete destruction of differences. Paradoxically, difference has to lie at the base of the human condition – but what we want to dispute is the way we perceive necessary division and lack. The great Identity factors (nationality, race … etc.) need to be de-valuated in order to allow humanity-unifying principles to breathe and flourish. Nationality, language, class, etc., are principal nodal points, fixing meaning in the chain of our perception of reality. But what this creates is a growing away from the whole, when it should be a growing within the whole. The growing within would be an elevator of real human affirmation, rather than our current stepping-stone ladder, running away and leaving each one of us on a tenuous limb away from the centre which is the individual as a human being.

By stripping away the anti-human nodal points, we achieve a more transparent beginning for each individual. Each one of us is essentially born into-the-world as a part of the human species, and that human, Sapiens identity should not be removed from any human being. As long as this condition is established as a first priority, even a later re-establishment of the nodes will not be as divisive as it is now. Being named and obtaining a language to communicate with will lose their divisive qualities and instead be appreciated as an element of variegation within the whole. Languages become things that need to be acquired rather than a means of distinguishing your difference from the rest of humanity.

But where the nodes of languages may be seen as an enriching element in the human experience other nodes may need to be radically nullified – or even completely eradicated if they inherently contradict human values.

Individual identity usually moves through the nodes of name, sex, family, neighbourhood, region, society, state, religion – or lack of it – economic class, politics, clubs, and so on. But human identity, on the other hand, only needs a recognition and empathy with other humans. As a homo sapiens, humans need to know things. As a homo habilis, we need to be technological and creative, as well as needing to ensure basic needs for survival: shelter, food and drink, protection against extreme climate conditions, etc.. Contact and co-operation with other human beings should be stressed. As should communication and cohabitation. Cooperation is creative. Technological and problem solving projects are desirable. Division and lack are not.

Humanitarianism, or Sapienism, should be a process of resolving divisions and problems caused by lack, it should not be a means of exploiting it. The vicious circle of division and lack has to be broken out of if we are ever to save ourselves from the destructive self-ingurgitating effects of the maelstrom it creates.

HOW TO FIND YOUR TRUE VOCATION IN LIFE?

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Imagine a future civilisation in which our technologies are so advanced that money has been rendered obsolete. Work, as something that one needs to do to earn an income which will pay for your survival or improve your standard of living, no longer exists. Now think: in such a scenario what would I do with my time now that I have all day to do what I want? Try and imagine something that you could spend most of your time doing without really needing to do it. If something comes immediately to mind that is probably your vocation in life. If nothing does then you’ll have to look harder for it. Or perhaps you can think of many things, in which case you probably have a holistic vocation that does not limit itself to specific areas and you’ve got a Renaissance soul.

What this also gives us is a measure of progress. The standard of living in a society improves when we can all actually do what we really want to do. Only when we have liberated society from the money system will we be able to make it a vocation-driven one.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, SAPIENS, AND TALKING TO THE ANIMALS

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The idea of a World Will as a Will-to-be-Known has become a pivot around which our positive philosophy of real necessity is concerned. Through it we hope to find the human-motivator, inspiring a positive impulse for a development of intelligence as a creative movement away from our system of vulgar competitiveness and its anti-human economy of alienation and differentiation.

Let’s sum up our main point of departure: a thorough revaluation is necessary. This needs to be anchored in necessity in order to redirect progress away from the current juggernaut, all-consuming destruction of the biosphere and ecosystem. Now, up to now we have assumed that this revaluation could only come about through a humanity made up of intellectually and morally advanced Sapiens societies, and because of this our philosophy is a new positivism, or positive humanism. Nevertheless, this same positive end may very well be achieved via less human-positive means. The acquisition and perpetuation of knowledge may well be far better ensured not by our Sapiens’ carbon-based minds, but by silicon-brain intelligences created by us. It may well be that the evolution of the homo sapiens will be into this silicon form, fixed in more durable and resilient bodies that can survive in even the most adverse climatic conditions allowing for space exploration and even the survival of intelligence in a post–apocalyptic lifeless-earth scenario.

If real Being in the universe is to come about by the universe itself being known absolutely and perpetually, then humanity, as we now understand it, falls short of guaranteeing such a portentous destiny. However, even if we are too fail as survivors in the universe, perhaps we might be capable of creating the real Sapiens and intelligence and knowing will find its ultimate realisation not through a final evolutionary leap, but rather through a development of our present technological know-how and the creation of an intelligence far superior to our own.

The idea of humanity being superseded by intelligent, self-reproducing machines of its own creation is a common nightmare of science-fiction narratives. From the internecine struggles between machines and humans in the Terminator or Matrix sagas to the madness of HAL in the Space Odyssey or the complex android psychologies in Ridley Scott’s creations, the idea of a collaboration with a robot that has superior intelligence is a deeply disturbing one. And yet, in all futurology it seems that the presence of the super-intelligent robot is essential. We cannot imagine progress, even if that progress is a suicidal one, without it. In fact, the dawning of the nightmare is already upon us and anthropomimetic robots that can think more or less like a human child have already been created.

Yet twenty years ago scientists like Roger Penrose were proclaiming Artifical Intelligence to be an impossibility.[i] Twenty years ago researchers were stumbling through an erroneous association between intelligence and logic, believing that decision making was a logical process. In reality cybernetics tells us quite the opposite. The binary algorithmic brain, whilst being very good at making calculations and winning chess games, can only go so far in answering meaningful questions. Human reason is more poetical than logical and the anthropomimetic work taking place in robotology demonstrates a link between the human corporal reality and our intelligence, or our form of intelligence. In order to construct a silicon brain that can communicate effectively with humans that brain will have to be inserted into a humanoid-type body, with human-type sensors. In other words, if a manufacturing leap into a more than human body is to take place, it will have to to be created out of our own image. We might be able to build robot octopi or robot insects, but we will not be able to communicate with them on any deep meaningful level for even an octopus machine fitted with a cyber-capacity for self-learning would need to teach itself a language appropriate to its own unique perception of the world. A perception that would be incommunicable to humans, or at least at first.

Perhaps the most profound discovery being uncovered by research into Artificial Intelligence will be a mechanism allowing us to interpret the languages of different kinds of animals. Research is being carried out to find ways of communicating with apes and dolphins, but no great in-roads will be made until we decipher how the corporal experience of different species and their very non-human sensory perceptions create their own knowledge of the world around them. A knowledge which we should not underestimate. A true Sapiens will not only benefit from communication on a complete human level, but from an even greater communication with diversity itself. True wisdom may only start once we can talk to the animals.

In this sense the creation of insect-like or octopus-like robots may have an interesting Sapiens purpose. Perhaps such robots could be designed to act as translators, allowing us to have conversations with ants and birds and elephants and dogs. But for we will ever be able to ever do that we have to firstly learn how to communicate properly with our neighbours.

[i] See Roger Penrose, THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES

THE CHEATING GAME

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It is obvious that the triumph of Western liberal democracy[i] and its subsequent process of Globalisation has done very little toward bringing humanity more closely together. Quite the opposite is true: we all seem to be drifting further and further apart. But, if it has failed with humanity, what has two centuries of liberal democracy achieved with the individual? How successful has it been in its attempts to forge a society of strong-selves? If we have failed with the whole, then surely we must have succeeded with the individuals who are the antithesis of the whole?

But again it is obvious that we haven’t? In Nietzsche’s terms, we have achieved neither the Human nor the Superman, just the Last Man. The pathetic Last Man, bumbling through a cheating-game world of relativity and conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories because, whether we accept them or not, they point an accusing finger at the basic fabric of the system, undermining all responsibilities and moralities with scepticism. How can one be morally responsible in a system which is inherently corrupt? The individual, rather than standing strong and finding a good position in the competitive world, finds him or herself immersed in a society of cheats. The system has now become a cheating-game and the strong-self has to be identified in such an environment as a morally irresponsible subject.

One can only be a strong, successful player in the cheating-game by being a good cheat. This of course makes all success seem suspicious. Eventually decisions need to be made in which “honesty” is needed, but… who can we trust anymore? A strong leader is obviously a good liar and a very good cheat. This kind of leader is useful at convincing us that we are happy in a world that in reality offers us very little… Useful that is until we start to understand the truth. And the simple truth is that we are being cheated.

The first great lie is freedom as individuality and its idea of the unfettered individual along with the creation of a passion for strong individuals. Freedom is now a term used to propagate the unfettering of power: freedom to dominate; freedom to manipulate. The second great lie is democracy itself. The lie of free choice. The lie of majority rule. The lie of the individual’s capacity for achievement in the system.

The only way to combat the lie is by establishing positive, human objectives. We must look beyond the individual and the tyranny of egos in order to establish goals that are out of the cheating game. Goals without any other reward except progress towards human fulfilment. Goals that would pull us out of the cheating-game into another game with real rules that we know will really protect us and protect the world we depend on for our survival. All the rest is petty bickering, which is inevitable when you’re playing the cheating-game.

[i] See Francis Fukuyama’s thesis THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Last_Man

GLOBAL THERAPY

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If there is to be a Great (and positive) Transition in the globalised world, the dominant global culture – which is the western-inspired, economic culture – will need to be radically transformed or completely abandoned.

Of course we are talking about wiping away a system, an operation that not only would require a complete change of blood but a re-plumbing of the entire artery system… Or perhaps not…

Before the drug therapy clinic suggests radical cures like blood-changing, it will first try psychiatric therapy. The primary option should be to change the patient’s attitudes, alter their desires, or perhaps even create a new “will” for the patient. But let us go even one step further and say that: if we don’t create this new will then, even after a complete blood and artery overhaul the patient will fall back into his or her vice, which, in our universal case, is the vice of “wanting more”.

While the cultural-economic model is driven by this will to wanting more, all political or economic changes will be doomed to failure. Capitalism’s greatest success has been its nurturing of greed, even displaying an ability to transform greed into a “norm”, convincing an entire world that it is a part of “human nature” to want more. That is the basic notion that we must now attack, and the only way to do so is to revaluate the system by dissecting its own libido-ego relationship and offer a different, profound, scientific and metaphysical vision of what humanity could really be – driven not by a desire to have more but by a will to operate according to necessity, with an optimistic rather than nihilistic vision of humanity within the world.

It could be argued that we already have such ideas, propagated by religious institutions and spiritual leaders – yet religion has not only always been used by capitalism, as Marx said, as an opiate for the people, but also as a way of anchoring its own nihilistic ideology of “freedom” with a morality that the free-market in itself does not possess. The Church saves the multi-nationals from the complete chaos that they themselves would otherwise engender. But the churches and mosques, even the communist party now are all part of the system. The world needs more than just a permanent cure. It needs a new, let us repeat, scientific-metaphysical conceptualising of our place in the universe – one that can seduce not only the nihilists and sceptics, but also the devoted to their useless religious dogmas – a profound human will for absolute necessity.

Uroboros vs. Ego : World vs. Humanity

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“The nascent ego becomes aware of pleasure-pain qualities, and from them it experiences its own pleasure and pain… The unconscious life of nature, which is also the life of the Uroboros, combines the most meaningless destruction with the supreme meaningfulness of instinctive creation…” (Neumann, 1949, p. 39)

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Human reality is a dual expression between pleasure and pain in a world of meaningless destructions and meaningful creations. A dual experience between the reality of the world’s nature and the fantasies and creations of our imaginations. The real is the great duality of Being: that we are in the world and the world is in us. A dual reality that breeds its own dualities: the agony of the ecstasy of creation, the senselessness and inherent natural necessity of destruction.

The Uroboric reality is an unconscious one, egoless. We preserve a sense of it in our subconscious for it was our prenatal reality. The unconscious being of being in the womb. With birth so to is born the ego: the self-consciousness that separates us from the Uroboric world and empowers us with contemplation of it and of ourselves. From sensory consciousness to cerebral understanding, to reason.

With its ego activated, life for the human becomes a tremendous, often overwhelming experience. At times there seems to be too much life; at others everything seems to be lacking. Yet the unconscious connection with the Uroboric is never completely lost, in fact it seems to manifest itself in the fabric of all our ideologies as a yearning for autarchy.

 

The yearning for the Paradise, for a return to the Garden of Eden, is a yearning for a return to the autarchy of the Uroboros. The simple autarchy of being-in-the-world without any other responsibility or necessity other than that of being-in-the-world.

The yearning persists, but the ego has turned against it, transforming the yearning into a melancholy that we dare indulge in only spasmodically – lest it annihilate us. The infant ego contemplates the overwhelming with more fear than wonder. Reality for the child is a constant struggle to face fear and overcome it. It is from this struggle that the idea of the hero is born, and the protector, which is another form of heroism.

Inherent in both heroism and protection there is the concept of power. Power is a struggle which has to be either provided, as a gift from the powerful hero or a god, or acquired, usually by passing a test, a quest, a coming-of-age ceremony, an initiation.

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According to depth psychology, ruling over the psychic stage of the adolescent ego is the Uroboric figure of the Great Mother of Mother Nature: the Earth Mother; the world in which we must be; the great womb enclosing our after-birth existence.

It is the Earth Mother who brings death and sickness: plagues, famine, floods, forest fires, droughts and earthquakes. She terrifies us with her thunder and will strike us down with lightning.

In the beginning we did not love the world, we could not love it, we were terrified of it. Our fantasies, instead of liberating us from our fears only worsened them – for human reality is not just being-in-the-world but being there accompanied by all the phantoms, beasts and monsters of our fecund imagination. It is not enough that there is a famine this year, there is also a terrible demon and dragon that is causing the famine.

Yet it is this fear which also fed the human ingenuity that created a human need for technology, art, science and culture. Every inventor is a potential hero. Every architect, every doctor, every sculptor… Every culture until now has been the result of our heroic need to overcome our inherent fear of the world, and in this detail we see our inherent problem with the world.

We have to stop fearing and learn to love it; learn to unselfishly live with it; to treat it with the respect that it deserves.

We are in this world and we would like to think that we control it, but that is a lie. We are never really in control. The force and power of nature is tremendous. We can but react to what nature throws at us when it throws itself at us. We do our best to protect ourselves, but ultimately we are dependent on the benevolence of the powers that be.

THE FOUR-CORNERED TRUTH

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“What is truth?” said Pilate, and washed his hands.

What the Roman Prefect understood was the enormous relativity of the concept. Even if Christ says “I am Truth” it still remains ambiguous. What does this Truth actually mean? Well, it can mean whatever you want, and that is what Christ became… whatever his promoters wanted him to be. Nevertheless the concept of Truth itself does have a meaning and a function. It is the anti-lie. If truth is relative then Truth is that which discerns the lies embedded in all relativity. For relativity can be used for honest and dishonest purposes. We have uncovered “truths” embedded in paradoxes, but we’ve also seen how the paradox is a powerful tool for covering lies[i].

Yet despite its ambiguity and elusiveness, Truth has to concern us. It is a synonym of reality and authenticity and will believe that an understanding of the triptych Truth-Reality-Authenticity is necessary for any real progress on a human level to take place. It is what really is, and this makes it the prime subject valid for humanity in the world. Truth is in the Subject and the Subject is that which encloses us. We can call it the Universe or the World. But Truth seen as the subject-world becomes a duality in which Truth has to be shared between the world and that which perceives it and brings it into true Being, and this is Intelligence. In this way we get a four-cornered truth of the World-Intelligence as Subject-Object. The world is the Subject to Intelligence because it only becomes Being if Intelligence perceives it. Likewise Intelligence is Subject to the World by perceiving and knowing and reflecting it in its brain before projecting it forward. In the same way it is also the Object of the World as it is equally dependent on the world for its own being.

Real Truth is therefore not just the Subject but the Subject-Object Uroboros. The reality of existence is that its Being depends on a Uroboric vicious circle – a paradox.  This idea, that the truth is a nasty paradox, may seem like a terrible nightmare or a liberation, but in any case it is a necessity.

The idea is not new: quite possibly, if depth-psychology theory is correct, it is the oldest idea. But though we still know it from the alchemical Uroboros and the oriental Yin-Yang, its profound relevance is not relevant to or even consciously realised by most people or their cultures.

 

That which is  not perceived does not exist. Perception illuminates that which is not and makes it that which is. Perceiving intelligence exalts that being with its knowledge. The Big Bang did not exist until intelligence made it real.  The ultimate purpose of the Big Bang, the desire behind the movement, was to create an intelligence that would evolve into something that could discover itself. Is this such a wild notion? How can a non-intelligence have desires? How could it conceive something without consciousness? Must we talk about Will or Spirit? Can we talk about these things?

Science is divided, but there are cosmologists who would have to say yes. In cosmology they now talk of the Cosmological  Constant and the Fine Tuning of the Universe. The Universe seems constructed in a deliberate way to allow life to form, and evolution on our planet would indicate that the culmination of the life forming process is “intelligence”. The intelligence that knows that it knows. If this is the truth then immediate ethical consequences can be drawn from it, the first being that our historical process of the segregation of humanity has been a totally equivocal one. From the simple idea that the Universe has a purpose rooted in the creation of and the subsequent existential partnership with Intelligence allows us to find new authenticities: a new purposefulness, a new meaning.

Our relevant beginning, our Genesis, is the beginning of the creation of the life-support system of our planet Earth. The concept of Truth as Subject-Object is a World-Humanity concept. Quality of Being depends on being perceived and “understood”. The key to our purpose is our responsibility as cognitive entities to the World-Universe that needs us for its own quality of Being.

The Big-Other narrative that we currently live in is a non-authentic one: it is a lie. The Truth is still to be discovered, but it is necessary for us to start looking for it “truthfully”, via our greatest tool for truth – science.


[i] See our article “Lacan, Poe, and the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories” published in the Australian journal Going Down Swinging, #33 http://goingdownswinging.org.au/site/showcase/going-down-swinging-33/

SING OR SWIM: HOW TO ESCAPE THE OCEAN OF FALSE NECESSITY

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Where is humanity now? Once we unveil the pessimism inherent in power we find ourselves immersed in an ocean of false necessity. We are dog-paddling in a lie-full sea of false-reality generated by the power ideologies of the Moloch system who have given us floaties for our arms and waist, allowing us to keep our heads above water.  The realization is disheartening: what can we do to escape an ocean? Even if we swim properly, dry land is so far away, we would just exhaust ourselves and sink. Yes, we need a raft or a boat, but even if we were to find one, what we still lack is a compass showing which way to go in this mundane landscape of the seemingly eternal sea.

Of course we have learned navigation from the System. We know the rules: how to estimate our position from the sun and guide ourselves at night by following certain stars. But the star-system navigating methodology seems to always bring us back to the same place. We are swimming in circles, we realise.

The first key to getting out of this ocean is to recognise where we are. Remember, this is the ocean of false-necessity. To get out of here we need to inspire our efforts with an enthusiasm for real necessity again, an enthusiasm that will bring us back to reality again. An enthusiasm which will stop our hopeless imagining that we are treading water and feel the solid ground that is actually beneath our feet again.

Of course to find such an enthusiasm is by no means an easy task. Many who search become lost in pessimistic religions driven by the cynicism of power.  Others immerse themselves in ideologies: a vain task, because all ideology hides the truth from itself. If one is in-ideology the truth is imperceptible – but how does one get out of ideology?

Or perhaps it is not imperceptible: after all we have millennia of artists who have dedicated their lives to the unveiling truth and dragging it out from the drains into which it gets dumped.

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The return to reality must be an artistic process:  the process of unveiling that which is obscured by the false reality. The first thing the artist does is take off his or her floaties in order to discover what it is like to really swim. The artist knows that the false-necessity ocean is full of floating jetsam that can easily be used to carry us forward. To where? The artist has an intuitive drive and an internal map: the artist’s love of the symbolic. Like aboriginal dreamtime paintings, the way forward can be found through poetry and song. Now it’s time for us listen to ourselves: not to our discourses but to our songs; look into ourselves and let the music out.