Leftwing, Rightwing



Karl Paulnack of the Boston Conservatory, in a speech to an incoming Freshman Class, said, "[To the Greeks,] music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and Music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects ... If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, ... the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."


One bright morning in San Francisco, in March 2009, in the back seat of Yellow taxicab 1010, a quite capable woman, fluent in both German and English, related to me, the driver bringing her in from SFO to the Financial District, how she'd been looking for a job and was quite shocked when a woman interviewing her had said, "Well, I hope you don't start this job and then say, 'Fuck that!'"


The sentence was a treasure for me because I do research on mean people ... and a few weeks later, when I mentioned my deep interest in social linguistics to another person in my taxicab, who had just been laid off and had borrowed a suit and tie for a job interview downtown, with not even enough money to pay for the fare, he asked me, "Why don't you do research on happy people?" ... another treasure! ... though certainly more subtle (this unconscious imitation of his mother), and slightly diabolical.


It's not that people are good or bad, authentic or unreal, mean or happy ... it's that people set things up to ignore other people. Everything is inside us. There's the big O, Obama, Oprah, the Orgasm of State, The Nigger in the White House. We're all black on the inside and peachy white on the outside, pretending to see each other ... We're the black keys and white keys on a piano, all 88 of them, so many notes, so many chords, so many counterpoints: The Left Wing. We're also the stars at night, and all 88 constellations of antiquity, making sense of an infinite number of worlds, stars and galaxies: The Right Wing.


On one side, inside every honest two-year-old, is fear, anger, murder and rape. Theatrically, that is. We keep the lid on. On the other side, inside every honest nine-year-old, is the cool, cozy, clean and confident, or the crisp, cognitive, calm and collected, with cascading sheets of conviviality, camaraderie, charm and counterfeit compassion covering up what's really inside us ... "I am the walking wounded."


People set things up so we can ignore these things in day-to-day life: Sexual energy (In Sufi mysticism, the lamp within a niche), gestures towards being human (In Buddhism, attentiveness and meditation), mutual support (In Christianity, care for the sick and injured), understanding (In Judaism, playfulness, treats and pats on the back). How can you see another person if you're saying, "Well, I hope you don't start this job and then say, 'Fuck that!'" – ? How can you understand another person if you totally ignore them and ask, "Why don't you do research on happy people?"


People in the nineteen-thirties and forties applied a little of what was known as "tonic" to these situations ... a little merriment, twinkle and light, and I've been arranging this research on ways warm, kind and generous people stick up for themselves into eighty-eight "stargates," clinics or classrooms, in an imaginary Japanese Mental Hospital on the Internet, namely taxi1010.com, wherein this knowledge from previous tough times, from the Great Depression, can be transferred to current and future generations.


Because why? Because in the twilight, between dark and dawn, between left wing and right wing, an inner child, communicating through symbols and dreams, can wake up and become conscious, so as to "grow through things," through the slights, hurts and misunderstandings of childhood – then to become small enough to identify with a tiny spark of light, and become whole again. Because that's what a "bad person," or awkward person, or simply ordinary person can do.


We have the tree of knowledge (astronomy), the tree of life (music), and the tree of understanding (subtle human experience).



"Well, I hope you don't start this job and then say, 'Fuck that!'" [At a job interview]
—Networking, eh?
—That's all they do, those people, is use other people, one way or another ... There's a lot of competition for jobs like that.


"Why don't you do research on happy people?"
Clean slate!
—Everyone can do it – It'll take two minutes.


"If we reduce high-level executive compensation, the University won't be able to retain or attract top administrators."
—Go figure.
—You know how relatives are ... and they pretend they know something, that's the problem ... It goes back to ancient times ... Let Jesus do it! ... That kid is smart!


—Big time!
—It takes very fine energy to make a painting; but your coarse energy, your hatred, builds up ... Jealousy is an attempt to diminish yourself in comparison to another person; to try to make another person seem bigger than they really are.


"Because why"
—Big time!
—The idea is to clear it out – You don't want it backing up into your system.