Afterword: Function of Failures

by Milo Clark

October 15, 2001


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My analyses, critiques and comments are a function of failures. Failures mirroring personal and societal inability to learn. And it is only those failures which now fuel whatever degree of understanding I may have, a key part of which is recognition that those who may share such understanding are quite impotent within the larger forces now dominant.

What would I or could I do were I "President of the Free World?" It is the vacuity of that phrase which renders alternatives superficial, at best. Rome moved from republic to empire to history in the space of a few hundred earth/sun cycles. Why? A short form possibility, absent Gibbon, is failure of will. I think failure of will is inadequate as an explanation. I would add failure of spirit.

The radical will of those Roman times was contained within the nominal barbarian hordes swarming in from above geographically and the freshness of spiritual drive represented by early Christianity creeping up from catacombs below. The barbaric will persists and now has again grabbed our collective attentions. There is no freshness of spiritual drive yet apparent. There is only spiritual hunger seen in multiple quests into other pasts without present force adequate to challenge the dominant barbaric will.

Perhaps failure is our most potent possibility at this time. A daring leader with a firm grounding in history and awareness of potentials for peace in the face of barbarity may risk personal failure in organizing or recognizing a societal failure. Anybody got a spare cross to drag around?

Dylan can wail "When will they ever learn?" and "The times they are a changing." The failure of learning is overwhelmingly evident. Yet, times are changing.

As we can see if we will look, it is so very easy to whip up barely latent barbaric impulses. At one level, it is important to release such emotions in order to recognize them for what they are: barbaric. The question then is, how to begin bringing forth a shruti of decency to ground our responses to barbarity received as well as given?

Indian ragas depend on the sounds created by a tamboura which is a very large gourd with strings. That underlying base, shruti, is that on which the improvisations constituting raga are built. It is the ability to improvise within the constraints of form which decide mastery. The shruti is a constant four beat thread. Tamboura players are rarely acknowledged or featured on dust jackets of truncated Indian ragas recorded for western consumption. A listener without understanding of the function and role of the tamboura's shruti loses context. Also, Indian music comes from places within human awareness almost utterly foreign and incomprehensible to westerners. And, yet we can learn to understand if we will. Will in all of its senses.

With the disasters of 9/11/01 pushed into our faces, we are also confronting places within human awareness utterly foreign and incomprehensible. A culture which rewards a gentleman's C at Yale and a capacity to chug-a-lug brews as the epitome of education is bankrupt. The Connecticut Cowboy seated at the White House is merely symptomatic of our overall failure as a society.

Can or will he or those for whom he fronts overcome their blindnesses?

In a separate commentary, I am exploring oligarchy as a more adequate way to frame our contexts. It is not politics, per se, which frame our times, it is oligarchy. As, so definitely emphasized in recent official statements, the simple context dominant today is whether one is with or not with oligarchy. Not whether one was with it yesterday or any time in the past, but whether one is with it at the moment. It is oligarchy which links the diverse forms of government around the world. These are shared interests, not necessarily shared politics.

When peace is within the shared interests of oligarchy, there will be peace.

As President, I would have to frame any responses contemplated with the contexts of presently dominant oligarchy. I would have to guarantee the power and perquisites of those forming world oligarchy while marshaling both will and spirit to contain the barbaric impulses and to unleash positive forces around which they could also coalesce.


[Ed. Note: This is the last part of a four-part essay: Previous «]


       Milo Clark, a founding member of Swans, had it all: Harvard MBA, big house, three-car garage, top management... Yet, once he had seemingly achieved the famed American dream he felt something was missing somewhere. As any good executive he decided to investigate. Since then, he has become a curmudgeon and, after living in Berkeley, California, where he was growing bamboos, making water gardens, listening to muses, writing, cogitating and pondering, he has moved on to the Big Island in Hawaii where he creates thought forms about sunshine. Milo can be reached at Swans.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Milo G. Clark 2001. All rights reserved.

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This Week's Internal Links

What Would You do if You Were in Charge? - by Gilles d'Aymery

Casualties Of War - by Alma A. Hromic

Sparrow - by Michael W. Stowell

10 Years to Peace - by Deck Deckert

I'm Against Terrorism: Now, If Only We Could Get Washington On Side - by Stephen Gowans

Preface: Bingo! Simplicity Itself; Oligarchy - by Milo Clark

Back to Basics on the Way to Going Ahead - by Milo Clark

The Presidential Speech - by Milo Clark

Suggestions for Concrete Actions - by Jeff Lindemyer

Change the Education Paradigm - by Philip Greenspan

Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action - by Andreas Toupadakis

The Media Marches off to War - by Deck Deckert

A Day in Kafka Land - by Alma A. Hromic

Civil Disobedience (1849) - by Henry David Thoreau


Milo Clark's Commentaries on Swans

Essays published in 2001

Essays published in 2000

Essays published in 1999

Essays published in 1997

Essays published in 1996


Published October 15, 2001
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