Archive for the Misc Category

Movie Review: The Tree of Life

Posted in Misc, Review on July 8, 2011 by S.A.

“A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” – Gustav Mahler

It is fitting that snippets of Mahler’s First Symphony can be heard in Terrence Malick’s amazing new film The Tree of Life. It is an endeavor with such grand aspirations that the Austrian composer would certainly have approved of it. How many movies include a prologue that starts with the Big Bang itself and goes from there? And just as with Mahler’s longest work, his Third, we are taken on a voyage through all of time, where the void gives way to inanimate matter, giving way to primitive life, leading to mankind, our troubling questions and spiritual ruminations, and eventually ending as a hymn to Love.

I had rather high expectations for this film, considering the near-worship which reviewers have been showing towards it. When multiple critics compared it to my favorite film of all time, Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey, I began to obsess about seeing it. Having done so a few days ago, I can say that it is indeed a great film, and I’m no less obsessed with it now, as I fumble about trying to find words to express how moving it was. And while some of my hopes were not met, others were exceeded: there were times I was bored and disappointed, there were moments when I openly wept at the beauty of what was unfolding, visually and sonically.

It would be difficult to write anything that would qualify as a spoiler for this film. It isn’t plot-driven, and there really isn’t anything to give away. It is (largely) the story of one Jack O’Brien (played by Sean Penn as an adult, though most of the film is a flashback to his childhood), grasping for meaning and healing in a puzzling life that is the same life we all lead. We start under the influence of two Giants, exerting opposing and powerful forces on us; the nurturing mother that brings grace, love, forgiveness, and the stern father that simply wants to harden us against an antagonistic world far more unforgiving than he.

As an aside, I only know the main character’s name because of what I have been able to read about the film. It occurred to me shortly after the film ended, that I could not recall any names being used in the dialogue at all. There was only The Son, The Two Brothers (whom I could not keep separate), The Father, The Mother. In a movie where the characters are archetypes, this is actually very fitting indeed. Why give them names at all? We already know who they are.

“It takes fierce will to get ahead in this world,” says the masculine. “Unless you love, your life will flash by,” says the feminine. Both statements clearly ring true, but how do we go about embracing them both in some integrated way? How many of us can claim to have done so? “Father, Mother. Always you wrestle inside me.  Always you will, ” says the child. And then come the lessons of pain and loss and we ask huge questions that never get answered; we become adults scarce half made up, without the knowledge we thought we’d have.

If you want tidy stories with no loose ends at the conclusion, this one is not for you.

What you take away from the film will largely be a function of your religious persuasion (or lack thereof):  while the biblical references are rather clear, starting with the scripture from Job that opens the story, one can as easily see the movie as and indictment of religion and its lack of an answer to the Problem of Evil: “Where were You? You let a boy die. You let anything happen,” Jack says to the christian God he was raised to worship, after witnessing an accidental death. “Why should I be good when You ain’t?”

What everyone who has an appreciation of the numinous will agree on, though, is that The Tree of Life is as spiritual a film as has ever been made. And while I hope that some day, a pantheist composer will write an oratorio celebrating quantum electrodynamics and galactic evolution, fractal geometry and the Incompleteness Theorem, biochemistry and ecology. Until then, the brief history of time, as laid out here in The Tree of Life, is a damn fine approximation to it.

And then there is the fantastic use of music throughout. The scenes that witness the evolution of the cosmos are narrated by the ethereal soprano singing the Lacrimosa from Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem For My Friend. Interestingly, this was a work written for the deceased director Krzysztof Kieślowski, another artist that conjured up art on a large scale indeed. (Music fans that lean more towards prog-rock than classical may recognize Preisner as the artist that provided orchestration for David Gilmour’s On An Island.) Also lovely was Malick choice of Smetana’s The Moldau, a divine piece of river music, to accompany the images of the young boys growing up. Just as the river was the primary symbol of the Mother in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

For now, I’ve lost my desire to watch other films, because they’ll seem so banal in comparison. I instead go back to the music of Mahler. It’s as close to the same feeling as I’ve been able to find.

If only more art would dare to aim this high.


One Nation Painting

Posted in Misc with tags , on January 27, 2010 by S.A.

If you’d like a really deep belly laugh, I can do no better than suggest you visit some of the following links.

The first one here will take you to an interactive painting by an extremely confused artist that understands little about the religious views of the American founding fathers. This site, in and of itself, is hilarious.

If you can stand it, a “patriotic” video about the painting can be found here.

Finally, here is wonderful “parody” of the site – though I hesitate to call it that. The “parody” is far more in accord with reality than the original work.


Posted in Atheism, Misc, Religion with tags , , on October 22, 2009 by S.A.

Below are some excerpts from an essay by Pastor Douglas Wilson, as part of the promotional material for a new film that he made together with Christopher Hitchens, called Collision. It looks like a very interesting idea for a film, by the way, as it chronicles a series of debates between christian Wilson and atheist Hitchens. Unfortunately, based on the poor quality of Wilson’s arguments as sampled in the essay, it looks as though the theist side might be rather poorly represented. I also saw an online clip from the film that features him talking to a group of rather inarticulate college students that apparently were members of a campus atheism club. I hope more of the film features legitimate interlocutors for him.

In addition to the quoted excerpts from his article, I’ve added some of my thoughts. Wilson makes a number of facile arguments that have will provide a certain emotion compulsion to some people, and they warrant being corrected.

From the perspective of a Christian, the refusal of an atheist to be a Christian is dismaying, but it is at least intelligible. But what is really disconcerting is the failure of atheists to be atheists. That is the thing that cries out for further exploration.

What does it mean to be an atheist? It is a definition of negation. It says little about what you do believe. It merely means that there is one kind of thing that you do not believe in, namely, an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-Powerful Being Outside of Time that Somehow Created Everything. That is all. To say that most atheists somehow fail to be atheists is a bit odd, because it can only mean that the ostensible atheist really does believe in “God.” Is this what Wilson is trying to say? It turns out, no. He is rather setting up a strawman to represent all atheists, which he’ll then try to knock down.

The atheistic worldview is nothing if not inherently reductionistic, whether this is admitted or not.

First of all, there is not a single cut-and-dried “atheistic worldview” any more than a lack of belief in goblins constitutes some kind of worldview. One could, by definition, be an atheist and believe that we exist in some kind of computer simulation devised up by alien minds, for example. Some atheists as Buddhists, and others (myself included) are pantheists.

Second, the only reductionism that Wilson might be able to speak of, in trying to globally assign all atheists to a particular philosophy, is the reductionism that lies at the heart of the scientific method. As a matter of investigative routine, we usually start with more complex phenomena, and, to understand and explain them, break them down into simpler bits. For example, to understand how some mental or nervous process occurs, physically, we need to understand how the nervous system is formed, which means understanding neurons and their electrochemistry, which requires cellular biology, which leads us to organic chemistry, which leads us to molecules, and atoms, and electrons and quarks. To approach it any other way would be impractical. But, having used this method to unravel how the parts fit together, it hardly follows that “that is all there is” –  because the universe doesn’t necessarily function in a top-down, the-whole-is-the-sum-of-its-parts way, but more probably in a bottom-up mode, where emergent complex behavior can and does arise. It is a Fallacy of Composition to assert that because the subatomic components of brains follow certain rules (or exhibit certain random behaviors) that complex structures built from them are merely agglomerations of them with no additional properties or meaning.

Everything that happens is a chance-driven rattle-jattle jumble in the great concourse of atoms that we call time. Time and chance acting on matter have brought about, in equally aimless fashion, the 1927 New York Yankees, yesterday’s foam on a New Jersey beach, Princess Di, [etc…]

What does he mean by “chance-driven rattle-jattle jumble”, do you suppose? I’m a physicist by education, and an atheist by choice, and I certainly do not regard “everything that happens” in the facile terms that Wilson patronizingly uses here. The tacit implication is the simpleminded one, that if the Universe was not planned by the kind of god he has in mind, then everything is happenstance randomness. This is a false either-or dichotomy.

What I do know is that we have luckily become smart enough to develop a pretty effective method to study the world around us, and to understand that nature consists of a number of different kinds of particles that behave in consistent ways, with a certain degree of randomness sprinkled in. The result is a tremendous amount of both order and diversity, seeming chaos amidst rigorous structure. And given enough time and space, it isn’t surprising, really, that from such a bedground could arise self-replicating molecules and self-replicating cells acting under external pressures that force them to continually improve and diversify, with the end result of the highly goal-directed, emergent activity of life.

The problem is that this atheistic assumption does the very same thing to the atheist’s case for atheism. The atheist gives us an account of all things which makes it impossible for us to believe that any account of all things could possibly be true.

But atheism, of course, is not an attempt to “give an account of all things.” Moreover, the lack of positive belief in an untestable conjecture in no way invalidates our ability to make meaningful observations and draw conclusions about the world that have predictive and explanatory merit.

Educated persons generally understand that there are fundamental limits to our knowledge, at least at this time, and probably forever. We know from both physics and mathematics that the world is far more complex than would allow us to account for everything. There are forbidden questions in quantum mechanics. We understand that there are no mathematical systems that are both complete and consistent. There are metaphysical question that lie outside the purview of our tools, that certainly seem valid enough, but which answers likely do not exist for (e.g., “why is there a Universe at all, instead of just nothing?”)

I do not know any atheists that actually think that any worldview delivers “an account of all things.” Most of us are well aware of the difficulties of finite minds that make mistakes grappling with a complex world, and would not be so brash as to think we have it all figured out, or ever will. But the one idea that all atheists share is that facile, wishful-thinking-based explanations that appeal to our vanities, fears, and emotions, and which do not have any kind of empirical support but are rather correlated with whichever ancient myth our particular ancestors might have invented, don’t deserve serious consideration as being factually true.

Nor does atheism allow us to have any fixed ethical standard, or the possibility of beauty.

These are the kinds of comments from certain kinds of theists that truly are offensive. They’d deny a sense of morality and aesthetics to all manner of good people that lived rich lives without theism. (And it is the atheist they they turn around and label “arrogant”!)

What most atheists (but not all – go talk to any Ayn Rand fan or Objectivist and you’ll see) would probably agree with is the idea that there is no universal standard of ethics or beauty that is somehow established as empirical law, in the way that gravitation, for example, is. This isn’t a terribly difficult idea to grasp, given the centuries of human history that would tend to confirm it. But with the either-or fallacious thinking of Wilson and his ilk, we are presented with an implicit choice of “either you have fixed, eternal standards of ethics/aesthetics, or you have absolutely nothing.” There is no entertaining the notion that these concepts could indeed come from human minds, yet be no less valuable or profound for it. In fact, they might even be moreso.

And not content to let sleeping dogs lie, reason also brings us the inexorable consequences of atheism, which includes the unpalatable but necessary conclusion that random neuron firings do not amount to any “truth” that corresponds to anything outside our heads.

There is nothing in the rejection of an unsupported conjecture about a Superbeing that in turn entails that the human mind cannot ascertain knowledge of what is going on outside it, through a meticulous, self-correcting process of observation, test, corroboration, and repetition. Wilson’s suggestion is absolutely absurd. And yes, our statements of truth in science come with error bars, because the relentless complexity of the world necessitates that we quantify and account for the ways in which our work can go wrong. Not only are the patterns of neuron firings not random, the results of clear and structured thinking do indeed correspond to the world about us. Sometimes what it ends up telling us isn’t exactly what we’d like to hear, in our vanity – for science has removed us from the center of the universe and has, in some sense, made us another twig on a vast phylogenic tree of life. I’d guess that the accompanying humility does not sit well with the likes of the Pastor Wilson, who divides the possibilities into two cases: “God’s special creature” or “meaningless automata” with no other possibilities.

Now obviously, [Christianity] is a message that can be believed or disbelieved. But the reason for mentioning it here includes the important point that such a set of convictions makes it possible for us to believe that reason can be trusted, that goodness does not change with the evolutionary times, and that beauty is grounded in the very heart of God. Someone who believes these things doesn’t believe that we are just fizzing.

Translation: Since it is all too difficult and demeaning to think that we (and our emotions) have a natural origin, let’s have a “God” to explain why and how we are just so damn special. So we can feel better about ourselves. If our imaginations are not up to the task of seeing how a naturalistic cosmos might produce self-aware beings with cognition that can in turn act upon the canvas that they slowly sprang up from, then we’ll just call the process “divine” and be done with it. It is the Argument From Personal Incredulity again, and here it is no more persuasive than when it is more commonly used by biology-ignoramuses when they think they have made an argument by stating “but I can’t see how we could have evolved!”

You can deny that this God exists, of course, and you can throw the whole cosmos into that pan of reduction sauce. And you can keep the heat on by publishing one atheist missive after another. But what you should not be allowed to do is cook the whole thing bone dry and call the crust on the bottom an example of the numinous or transcendent. Calling it that provides us with no reason to believe it — and numerous reasons not to.

The “numinous and transcendent” can describe emotional responses to the world around one. That anyone can react positively and with genuine feeling to the ineffable sublimity of nature without thinking there is some Magical Being Behind It All, is apparently offensive to Wilson. Well, his views are even more offensive to those of us about the globe, stretching far back in time, that have lived and loved and wondered every bit as much as this pompous pastor may have, but without the Sky-Father explanation to fall back on.

Book Review: Burmese Days

Posted in Misc, Review on September 27, 2009 by S.A.


I was fifteen or so when my book-lust started in earnest. That is the stage when one makes the discovery that these little rectangular paper miracles will be the among the most important things in your life, because they are so much more than mere things.

I recall starting the never-ending process of compiling a list of all the important books I’d have to read. This generally consisted of perusing the bookstore shelves, noting the total number of volumes of a given title, and absorbing the back-cover copy–and always, in my case, scanning for the keyword “classic.” Ah, the important books, the ones that were not mere ephemera; those that had endured.

High on the list, then, were the two famous books of George Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm. I read them, I loved them, I recommended them, and in the case of the latter, re-read it several more times over the years (and have now had my own fifteen year-old son read it). But to my mind, that was all that Orwell ever really wrote. I vaguely knew of other titles, but given that they were never mentioned in the same breath as his two great books, I assumed they were second-rate.

I have just learned that there is absolutely nothing second-rate about his novel Burmese Days. Quite the contrary, I found that it towers over the other works I reflexively associate with Orwell. Set in a small British colonial village in what is now Myanmar, the story traces the repercussions of the political and social scheming and machinations that both the English and the natives constantly engage in. The main character, John Flory, suffers from the same boredom and dipsomania as the handful of xenophobic Europeans that gather nightly at the whites-only “Club” – but his innate fairness and desire for a more meaningful life set him at odds with the others. The arrival of a single young woman, the attractive but shallow, soulless Elizabeth Lackersteen, is the catalyst that sets off what feels like an inexorable march toward disaster.

The writing is lean, rich and honest – Orwell is a master of that parsimonious use of language that is the first prerequisite of a great novel. His similes are abundant and spot-on. (I particularly liked like his description of Flory awaking with a hangover such that his “head felt as though some large, sharp-cornered metal object were bumping about inside it.”)

Often brutal, occasionally very funny, it relentlessly exposes human ugliness and weakness, and the consequences that seem inevitable when an occupying imperial class stagnates and festers in the midst of people they consider subhuman. The story never flags and the pacing is perfect. Every major character is so well-drawn that each rapidly becomes something like an archetype.

One aspect that might pose difficulty for some readers is Orwell’s continuous use of the common vernacular of the time and place of the novel. There are many terms and names that few readers will recognize. I just let the words flow over me and avoided the urge to stop and find somewhere to look up their definitions; I found that this did not diminish my appreciation at all. Eventually the foreign terms began to make themselves clear. Perhaps some other edition exists that has a glossary – it would be an attractive addition to the book. In any case, I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, and I cannot wait to read all of Orwell’s other lesser-known books.

Book Review: Buddhism Without Beliefs

Posted in Misc, Review with tags , on August 22, 2009 by S.A.


I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, though I admit I’ve had a long fascination with it, as well as an affinity for many of its tenets. Mostly, I’m impressed with it because it provides for a “spiritual” (for lack of a batter word) path that can be free of dogma, supernaturalism, and other negative features that often accompany religious traditions.

This isn’t to say that all flavors of Buddhism are reasonable. When I lived in Singapore, I watched many of the Buddhists there celebrating “ghost month” by placing food offerings in shrines, or burning money for the sake of the “spirits” of dead relatives. While this is not a practice that originated in Buddhism, it is an example of how other mystical beliefs have been incorporated into it for assorted sects.

But stripped down to its core, the essence of what the Buddha taught isn’t about adhering to a set of convictions about the world (and especially not about placating one’s deceased ancestors), according to Stephen Batchelor, in his concise and thoughtful book, Buddhism Without Beliefs. As he writes, “The four ennobling truths are not propositions to believe; they are challenges to act.”

Batchelor details how the origins of Buddhist thought are unlike the typical genesis of a religion: “The Buddha was not a mystic. His awakening was not a shattering insight into a transcendent Truth that revealed to him the mysteries of God.” He goes on to suggest that Buddhism focus only on the simple and profound considerations that it was born from, and eschew the concepts of rebirth and karma that are not only not needed, but detrimental to it.

What I particularly liked about his approach is the notion that our “spiritual” lives revolve not around answers, but questions. Or as the author says, “An agnostic Buddhist looks… for metaphors of existential confrontation rather than metaphors of existential consolation.”

An example of this kind of “existential confrontation” comes in the form of a query that Batchelor suggests we ask ourselves regularly: “Since death alone is certain and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?” It is one thing to treat this question superficially or rhetorically, responding with a “make the most of every day” cliche. To actually meditate or think upon it deeply for a length of time, I have found, is both troubling and invigorating. If one is concerned with living an examined life, and every advocate of rationality should be, it is the key question to ask, as often as possible.

There are some nontheists that will not find anything to like in any tradition even remotely associated with “spirituality.” But the fact remains that most people desire a systematic worldview that can provide meaning and structure, and this fact isn’t going to change anytime soon. The eradication of all religion is not a realistic goal, but the gradual growth of more humanistic sects such as Unitarianism, or the kind of Buddhism that Batchelor describes, is. Even if you find none of them of any value personally, if they can help displace fundamentalist thinking at large, they are invaluable.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in seeing a version of Buddhism that is totally free of supernatural or mystical elements. If you are not familiar with the core ideas, this is a great way to be introduced to them sans the religious baggage. If you already know a lot about Buddhism, it provides a fresh perspective that will only increase your appreciation for the genius of Siddharta Guatama.

Book Review: Deadly Persuasion (or: Can’t Buy My Love)

Posted in Misc, Review on August 9, 2009 by S.A.

One of the criticisms that is unfairly leveled at atheists, from time to time, is that we necessarily embrace a narcissistic, materialistic worldview. It’s a simple image to conjure up: that of the live-for-today, to-hell-with-others egoist that is bound by no moral code; the purposeless scoundrel looking only to use others for nothing but his own benefit, fearing no afterlife retribution. This is an absurd notion, of course, and one that most every nontheist that I have ever met disproves through the daily example of his or her life. Without the prepackaged goals, rules, and dogma, the nonreligious I’ve known have had to look inward to build a deeper life full of meaning.

I think it behooves us, then, to point out not just the ill effects that religion and dogma can bring, but other aspects of our modern culture that promote a shallow and banal sense of life. One such example involves the crass commodification of our social environment.

Ironically, this is an issue on which I find myself in agreement with a certain subset of religious people. While it goes right over the head of many of the devout (generally the ones that adhere to the “prosperity gospel” ), there are plenty of Christians, and others, that recognize the the pop culture of consumption and branding is in many ways at loggerheads with an examined life of purpose, meaning, and personal growth.

There is no greater expert on the subject of how aggressive marketing can degrade the quality of a culture than Jean Kilbourne. As a writer, filmmaker, and internationally recognized expert on advertising, addiction, and women’s issues, it has been estimated that she has given lectures at roughly half the universities and colleges in the U.S. Her unique talent is her ability to see and expose the underlying strategies and tools employed by purveyors of all manner of goods to persuade us—methods that seem all the more shocking when we actually see them. Her book Deadly Persuasion, which has also been published under the title Can’t Buy My Love, is a fascinating study of the power of the ubiquitous ads that surround us in our every waking moment.

(Before I go on, I’ll point out that to oppose the manner in which much modern advertising is performed is not to oppose a healthy capitalistic economy, a system that quite clearly has worked better than any other. This is not a diatribe against the availability of every imaginable trifle, or the competition amongst companies to market a more useful product. It is rather about certain methods that advertisers continue to use that have, Kilbourne asserts, a negative effect on the way we interact and the way we view ourselves, others, and material goods. It is about devaluing the currency of genuine human contact.)

The book considers advertisements in magazines as television, and considers a number of different kinds of campaigns in dedicated chapters. There are individual discussions on alcohol marketing, the auto industry, food, tobacco, and the exploitation of human relationships.

“Advertising encourages us not only to objectify each other but also to feel that our most significant relationships are with the products we buy.” Kilbourne states in her introduction. “Although we like to think of advertising as unimportant, it is in fact the most important aspect of the mass media. It is the point.” She goes on to show how a key goal is to make us insecure about our present lives, for example, as is done in the ubiquitous women’s magazines that juxtapose images of cheesecakes or pies on the cover with articles on weight loss tips and images of skinny models inside. After all, “people who feel empty make great consumers.”

“Advertising… twists the notion that we can recreate ourselves – not through dedicated work, but merely by purchasing the right product… [It] often sells a great deal more than products. It sells values, images, and concepts of love and sexuality, romance, success, and perhaps most important, normalcy… we are surrounded by hundred, thousands of messages every day that link our deepest emotions to products, that objectify people and trivialize our most heartfelt moments and relationships.”

To give some examples of the objectification she cites, I’ll just mention the commodity that receives perhaps the most lavish attention from Madison Avenue: the automobile. Kilbourne devotes an early chapter to the subject of car advertising (Can an engine pump the valves in your heart?), and through a series of oddly similar examples, shows how many ad campaigns aim to humanize their machines: “Rekindle the romance”; “If anyone should ask, go ahead and show them your pride and joy” (this under a picture of a wallet showing two photographs – one of a couple of children and the family dog, the other a Honda); “We don’t sell cars, we merely facilitate love connections”; “Stylish, responsive, fun–if it were a man you’d marry it”; “Drive the new Paseo, fall in love”; “She loves her new Mustang. Oh, and whatshisname too”; “A change from you high-maintenance relationship”; ”It’s not a car, its an aphrodesiac”; “What makes you happy? Is it the sparkle in a lover’s smile? Or the warmth of a goodnight kiss? But could it be a car?”;“While some cars can hug the road, very few can actually seduce it.” And so on. Kilbourne does more than list these and countless other examples: she deconstructs them and their implications.

Another troubling issue that the book addresses is the pernicious effect of advertising that is directly aimed at children. This is even more troubling in light of studies that show that young children don’t differentiate between the shows and the advertisements. The chapter on children led me to wonder how much of our national drug-abuse problem among teens is stoked by the way advertising is generally presented. While certainly the causes are many and varied, I think about my own typical childhood, growing up with hours of television every day. And the ads are still relentlessly telling us that purchasing a product makes wonderful things happen: a man opens a soda and a marching band explodes out of his TV into his room; the interior of an SUV becomes a landscape with waterfalls; wearing the right brand of jeans causes your world to shift into a nighttime city scene where a lovely brunette looks at you longingly. It seems quite rare anymore to see to a commercial anymore where use of a produce does not result in some kind of supernatural effect. Perhaps in the process of growing up, when we come to realize that the implicit, fantastical promises of the ads are not true – perhaps this adds to the appeal of drugs that can help make the world seem as magical as we thought it would be?

In short, if you’ve ever wondered how advertisers try to manipulate us, and what the consequences of the onslaught of false promises might be, I highly recommend Kilbourne’s fascinating book. You will not look at your TV the same again, and you’ll likely come to agree with the author’s observation that “advertising and religion share a belief in transformation and transcendance… [but] in the world of advertising, enlightenment is achieved instantly by buying material goods.” And that although one may “love” their possessions, they cannot love one back.

Everything I Ever Needed To Know In Life, I Learned From Rush, Part II

Posted in Misc, Review with tags , , on July 15, 2009 by S.A.

Rush-74-2-patti2112More words of wisdom from my favorite lyricist. No one has ever framed the Problem of Evil better in verse:

Faith is cold as ice

Why are little ones born only to suffer

For the want of immunity or a bowl of rice?

And who would hold a price

On the heads of the innocent children

If there’s some Immortal Power to control the dice?

And a few more nuggets I missed the first time. Got others?

1. Race is not a definition

2. The more that things change, the more they stay the same

3. Each of us, a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete

4. We’re linked to one another by such slender threads

5. A tired mind become a shape-shifter

6. Big money got no soul

7. Life in two dimensions is a mass production scheme

8. It’s true that love can change us… never quite enough

9. We fight the fire, while were feeding the flames

10. Plenty of people will kill you for some fanatical cause

11. We each pay a fabulous price for our visions of paradise

12. Most of us just dream about the things we’d like to be

13. Though we might have precious little, it’s still precious