Men, Women, and Capitalism

My thoughts about men, women, and capitalism, have been brewing for a while. What follows is a loose collection of some of those thoughts with links to the sources that spurred them. This post is intended to serve as a marker. I plan to return to the ideas here in more detail over time.

At the beginning of the year, I read Caliban and the Witch by Sylvia Federici. It helped me understand how capitalism organizes society around production and resource exploitation. The book has a feminist viewpoint and Federici’s interest is in the impact of capitalism on women. Even so, it acknowledges that men have been shoved into roles and ways of living they didn’t uniformly want. Despite having the power position in a patriarchal society, capitalism hasn’t been the best of deals for men either.

The basic thesis of Caliban and the Witch is that capitalism organized men as laborers and women as the producers and caretakers of laborers. Appropriation of land and the severing of the connection of men and women from their intimate relationship with the earth was a consequence of the demands of capitalist organization. Women in particular, as healers and midwives, were removed from their connection to ancestral knowledge as men took over the management of health and birth in professionalized capacities. Through the church, there was a wholesale attack on the traditional mystical practices of communities. This attack on people’s direct relationship with the land and ancestral traditions would be echoed as western civilization tamed the indigenous populations of the new world. It continues to this day, wherever modern capitalist society encounters indigenous populations. Indigenous ways of life fascinate many of us who sense that something is wrong with the capitalist paradigm.

In The Matter With Things, Iain McGilchrist builds a detailed case that humanity, through its use of technology and science, is developing left hemisphere Hypertrophy. That is, the structure of the (capitalist) world emphasizes a superficial grasp for power and resources. The grasp for power and resources proceeds based on a world perceived to be a collection of disconnected and, therefore, exploitable parts. It proceeds without acknowledgement that all the parts are connected and interrelated.

Disorganisation: organisation is the essential nature of an organism, which does not piece together, but grows, its organs. Once there are no coherent enduring entities over time, reality ebbs away. This is a common trope in modernism, and is reflected in scientism and other reductionist philosophies. ‘I walk like a machine’, says one patient;258 ‘I’m a psycho-machine’, says another.1

Disconnection and disorganization are hallmarks of schizophrenia. As is the left brain tendency to compensate for the disconnection by grabbing hold of any explanation and set of rules that offers coherence, regardless of how wrong it may be, and refusing to let go.

And once again one sees parallels in some kinds of contemporary philosophy, and some kinds of belief systems driven by the irrationality of identity politics, which lead subjects to doubt everything except the validity of a bizarre conclusion which they feel driven to accept by formal rules. But never doubting the rules.2


Western modernity has many overlapping features with the phenomenology of schizophrenia, as Louis Sass has convincingly demonstrated in Madness and Modernism; and I submit that this is because modernity simulates not a disease state, but a hemispheric imbalance, as I suggested in The Master and his Emissary.3

And why wouldn’t society become schizophrenic when the system that organizes it has for centuries insisted on disconnection as necessary to growth and accumulation of capital?

In an article on dance as the antidote to capitalism4, Sylvia Federici comments on the mythic and mystic, but also practical, connection that people had to the land and the sea.

Not all these powers were imaginary. Daily contact with nature was the source of a great amount of knowledge reflected in the food revolution that took place especially in the Americas prior to colonization or in the revolution in sailing techniques. We know now, for instance, that the Polynesian populations used to travel the high seas at night with only their body as their compass, as they could tell from the vibrations of the waves the different ways to direct their boats to the shore.5

I won’t argue that traditional ways were always better. Technology and science have given us many improvements, but it’s all been in the service of capitalist growth paradigms, and at the expense of a deep connection to the flow of nature.

A problem with the present capitalist structure that has emerged from my reading in the past couple of weeks is that the capitalist organization of men and women into laborers and producers/caretakers of laborers is breaking down. The importance of superior bodily strength (for men), and the womb (for women) is diminishing. Work that requires physical strength is increasingly mechanized, as is the production of laborers through the automation of work processes by AI, robotics, and related technologies that have no dependence on human procreation.

Among the articles I read this week a couple addressed the crisis in manhood that is leading to a doubling down on gun culture and issues with toxic masculinity.

The current work climate seems to favor women’s long traditions of caretaking (nursing, hospitality, etc.), and juggling many roles and responsibilities in their lives. It appears to be harder for men to secure jobs they can raise a family on. The jobs that traditionally provided men with the ability to support a family are fewer. Women have entered the workforce and compete well in traditionally male jobs because physical strength is no longer a core requirement of most jobs. Even battle has been mechanized to the point where women fight on the front lines. And, in the conversations of women business owners I have been party too, there is a suggestion that women are more willing to do what it takes to care for a family, including generating the necessary income. Men are loosing their role in society. Women are too, but the effects of that are not as evident yet. The situation seems more critical for men.

A recent article on gun culture reported that:

“In places of economic instability, men are shifting from this attitude of man as provider to man as protector,” he said. “You may not be able to, as a man, be the primary breadwinner, but you can — through acquiring guns and the willingness to use guns for violence — reclaim your masculinity as a protector.”

Even in young people, this sentiment was notable and behind many of the things that participants expressed to the researchers during interviews. Dashtgard said this speaks to a larger cultural dynamic at play currently, where many White men are feeling unsure of how to articulate themselves as men in current society. As a result, many young men are turning to guns as an “unimpeachable access to masculinity.”6

And the need to recover the masculine role of past eras seems widespread. There are astonishingly popular influencers in the world of toxic masculinity:

Tate appeals by combining the bland aphorisms of a motivational speaker with the bombastic transgressions of a shock jock radio host; he delivers missives with drill sergeant intensity. His misogyny is less coded, and it is shockingly popular. By the metrics of the internet, Tate is one of the most famous people on the planet. Before he was banned, Tate’s TikTok videos had been viewed more than 13 billion times, making him one of the top posters on the platform. In 2022, he was the eighth-most googled person in the world—ahead of Trump and right behind Russian President Vladimir Putin.7

  1. McGilchrist, The Matter With Things — location: 8527 ^ref-51357 ↩︎

  2. — The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World by Iain McGilchrist. ↩︎

  3. — The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World by Iain McGilchrist. ↩︎

  4. As bizarre as this may sound, my own experience in life confirms it. When I was young and new to New York City, I signed up for modern dance lessons at the Alvin Ailey school and also took ballet lessons. This changed the way I perceived space and moved through it. Space became I kind of continuum that I continuously flowed through. Fast forward to me at the age of 68, and yoga. Yoga is a kind of ritualized spiritual flow of motion. I take three classes a week and feel deeply drawn to it. Could it be part of my attempt to cope with capitalist disconnection? Could yoga’s popularity in the culture be the same attempt to cope on a societal scale? ↩︎

  5. In Praise of the Dancing Body — RITONA // A Beautiful Resistance ↩︎

  6. Young people who identify with gun culture are more likely to believe in male supremacy, survey shows ↩︎

  7. Boy Problems – Mother Jones ↩︎

Smaller Is Beautiful

I had an argument with my wife the other day.

Not long ago, I bought a half gallon mason jar with plastic lid, handle and flip top pour spout. I have been using the pitcher to brew iced tea and sometimes to put water on the table during meals. We have two other half gallon pitchers, but I prefer the way this one functions.

Last week my wife decided she wanted to cold brew coffee. In an effort to be economical, she found a lid and filter setup designed for use with a half gallon mason jar and bought it. Only she drinks iced coffee, while we both drink ice tea. Her proposal was to use the jar to brew coffee, then transfer that coffee to two quart-sized mason jars, which used the same size lids as the larger jar. This would leave the mason jar available for tea or water use. No need for an extra jar.

I was doubtful about the efficacy of this plan. It seemed certain to me that my favorite pitcher was going to become her cold brew coffee pitcher. Indeed, she had already brewed some coffee and the pitcher was now residing in the refrigerator, unavailable for water or tea. She told me she couldn’t reach the quart sized jars which were on the top shelf in the kitchen. She had asked me to get the jars down for her a few days before, but I was annoyed that she was commandeering my favored pitcher and didn’t do it. Yah, I cop to it. I am passive -aggressive, a strategy developed in childhood to deal with a dictatorial, my way or the highway, father.

When I suggested we buy another half gallon jar, my wife accused me of always undoing her solutions to problems. I told her I modify them when they are not working for me. I reiterated that we should buy another jar. She wasn’t having any of it. Yup, we were engaged in something more than a conversation about pitcher use.

At this point, perhaps unwisely, I decided to site another example where her solution wasn’t working for me. She swims twice a week in the chlorine laden pool at our health club. Afterwards, she likes to rinse her bathing suit and soak it in the bathroom sink with some sort of bathing suit conditioning product. She leaves it there, usually for a couple of hours, but the day before, practically all day. The problem with her solution is that we have only one bathroom and one bathroom sink. When she’s soaking her bathing suit I can’t use the sink.

“So,” she said, “I have to make myself smaller for you? I’ve been making myself smaller for other people my entire life.” Yup, this is not about the jar or the bathing suit. At this point I felt it best to leave things alone for a while. We come to these impasses from time to time. We generally get through them in 24 hours or so, after we’ve had time to cool down and back away from whatever deep-seated trauma was expressing itself in the moment. And that is how it went.

The idea of making oneself smaller to accommodate another person stuck with me though, because it was true. I was asking her to make herself smaller. It wasn’t unreasonable for me to ask her to be considerate of me in her use of the bathroom sink but yes, I was asking her to make herself smaller for me.

To be in an intimate relationship, we necessarily have to make ourselves smaller in many ways. We have to make room for that other person. It’s not considerate to leave our clothes strewn all over the bedroom or our dishes undone in the sink, or to expect whatever we want whenever we want it. We have to make ourselves smaller to be in that intimate relationship. But, as most of us have experienced, there is great benefit to being in a good relationship. Good relationships are always more than the sum of their parts. So, we make ourselves smaller to become part of something larger. A larger something we benefit from in many ways.

We can easily lose sight of the benefits of compromise, especially when deep seated past traumas become engaged. And this dynamic is not exclusive to intimate relationships. It functions at the local, regional, national and, even global levels.

Presently, there is a crisis among the men and women of the mostly white patriarchy in my country. They are refusing to make room for people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people. They are insisting on extreme restrictions to the rights of women to manage their fertility. They are unwilling to make themselves smaller to be part of something larger.

There is also a crisis in our global economic system which is incapable of constraining itself to be in a sound relationship with the planet we depend on. A pathological relationship emerges when one part of a whole insists on being bigger at the continuous expense of other parts of the whole.

I have decided to let my wife have the half gallon jar for her cold brewed coffee. She’s right, we don’t need another jar. We have two more half gallon pitchers that are adequate for my purposes. So, I will make myself a little smaller for her because I value enormously the whole that is us. And the bathing suit soaking? Yesterday my wife found a plastic pail to soak her bathing suit in. She made herself a little smaller too.

It’s a simple thing, but…

This past week I [posted about the change in management] in our local movie theater and the disappearance of the “now playing” movies on the marquee. They were replaced by a note telling me to visit their website for “tix & show times.” This happened a few weeks ago.

I go for daily walks down Main Street where the theater is and one of the things I liked to do was check what was playing at what times during the week. To compliment the list of movies on the marquee there was a list of show times for the whole week posted in display cases on each side of the entry doors. That too has gone by the wayside.

When I posted this to Facebook there was a reply from the owner of the local butcher shop suggesting that I give them some time before I decided to boycott the theater, as she knew their manager had left without giving them much notice and right now they were just trying to hold the ship together. I explained that I didn’t intend to boycott the theater but that I thought they were probably loosing business because the physical building had become less inviting. It felt like the owners didn’t care about me the customer anymore.

I am not entirely proud of the posts I made about this to my micro blog and FB. I was not kind. I made assumptions about the new management that were not fair. The Dali Lama advises us to “Be kind whenever you can” and then advises us that “you always can.” Ok, i failed the good humanbeing test on this one. So, for the record, to the theater management trying to keep the theater running without a manager, I am sorry. Of course I can be patient while you pull things back together. I installed a button on my iPhone home screen that takes me straight to your website for “tix and show times.” We are all good for now.

Still, I hope the movie listings on the Marquee come back. It turns out they were important to me. It may be a simple thing, but it changed the character of the business overnight. It went from being my friendly neighborhood movie theater to some sort of distant corporate entity. A corporate entity that didn’t want to invest in paying real people to maintain its friendly marquee outreach and was now sending me to a website for the information I wanted. Ok, the website is nicely designed and it is pretty easy to get the information I need, but there was something about the analog way that was just better. It was the whole picture at a glance. As I walked by I could be reminded about what was playing which, if something interested me, would compel me to walk up and look at the posted schedule on a single piece of paper which told me, at a glance, all the showtimes for the week. I could note the date and time I thought would work best for my wife and me and we would make plans to go. Having to go to a website means I now have to have the urge to see a movie arise all on its own, check the website to see what’s playing and when, where there isn’t an overview on a single sheet of paper with all the movies and show times. I have to scroll through the listings for the week. It’s not as easy as the analog version even if it is graphically more interesting with little thumbnail movie posters for each listing, etc. No, the old analog system was much more friendly and inviting. I am going to guess that I am not the only one who feels that way.

This experience led me to think about how the brick and mortar stores present themselves to the general walking by public. This in turn has led me to pay more attention to the sandwich boards so many of them put out in front of their stores. Here are a few from a walk down Main Street a few days ago:

Sandwich board in front of a restaurant saying “mama said there’d be days like this”

sign outside our local “Cheers” bar

Sign outside local chocolate shop at easter time saying “Bunny Crossing”

sign outside our local chocolate store for easter

Sandwich board outside local vinyl records store saying “Records, by, sell, trade,”

sign outside the local vinyl record shop


Each one is a little “greetings human!” handshake from the store. They invite you to come in and get to know them. When I shop at Amazon there aren’t any amusing sandwich board signs to pull me into the store.

I love our Main Street. A little overrun with day trippers from New York City and other places on the weekend, but walkable and there is a little something for everyone. There are only three chain stores, Rite Aid, Key Food, and a Subway hero shop. Everything else is a unique mom and pop store.

I have been thinking a lot about local vs corporate national and international lately. About how local depends on a handshake and a smile, sandwich boards, a movie marquee and a Main Street that is pleasant to walk down as opposed to staring at my phone or computer screen and being manipulated by algorithms crafted to drive me to places I may or may not want to go.

Local is a walk down Main Street interrupted by frequent conversations with people you know which are much more satisfying than a text chat on your phone. Local is a coffee shop or a bar or a restaurant where everyone knows your name and you know theirs. Local is friendly and comfortable. Local is a theater on Main Street with a marquee that tells you what’s playing and display cases with a one page listing of all the show times for the week.

Long live local!


Finding the Mother Community

Fox News Corp (FNC) has been on my mind. The release to the public of the 1.6 billion lawsuit legal filing by Dominion Voting Systems has painted a picture of a company and its executives that is about as venal as it gets. The brief makes it clear that Fox News Corp was aware that they were spreading lies to their audience without regard for consequences. Ratings and profit were of paramount importance. Fear of loosing ratings and profits to other outlets that would pander to their audience drove them to feed the wild claims of the big lie to their viewership. The result was January 6, 2020. This is not a one off thing.

For financial profit, Fox has for years radicalized its viewers and reaffirmed their most profound apprehensions and most malevolent biases. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, Fox had to pander to what they had created or risk losing audience share. It chose the former, opting for demagoguery over democracy to make a buck.1


Murdoch’s company is being exposed for what it is: a disinformation-for-profit noise machine controlled by a vile billionaire and operated by a pack of jackals who distort and pervert the national discourse.2

Among the thoughts I am having is that the effects of this venality have been accumulating for a long time and they reach deeper and farther than the radicalization of a very vocal minority. I don’t think there are too many of us that haven’t had a relationship with a family member, relative or friend made more complicated because of it.

My dad and I had a very difficult relationship. I can’t blame that entirely on Fox News Corp, his main source of information, but vehement and bullying disagreements over politics was a threat that loomed over every family gathering.

My informal survey of friends and acquaintances indicates that my experience hasn’t been unique. All of us have at least one relative or friend that has been made angry by what they see and hear on Fox News and other outlets that feed distorted ways of looking at the world and one another. Estrangement is the other epidemic. Even the pandemic estranged us as we rallied to one political view of the crisis or another, making coordinated communal action difficult. How many lives were lost because of that?

I recently read Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard and came across this quote:

Ecosystems are so similar to human societies—they’re built on relationships. The stronger those are, the more resilient the system. And since our world’s systems are composed of individual organisms, they have the capacity to change.3

Two concepts are important here. Societies and Ecosystems depend on relationships. Systems are composed of individuals. Systems composed of diverse individuals in strong relationship have a capacity to adjust to new circumstances and meet big challenges.

Suzanne Simard spent her life investigating the ecology of forests. In particular, the outcomes of forestry practice that clearcut old growth, diverse forests and replaced them with monocultures of commercially valuable trees. She noted early on that the saplings planted to replace the forest didn’t fare well. A large number of them languished and died. She wanted to know why. The question “why” leads her to the discovery that trees in a forest are dependent on one another, connected by a mycorrhizal fungal network connecting their roots to all the other trees in their vicinity, both of the same species and different species. The network enables communication and the rendering of assistance to their offspring, other trees of their own species, and trees of different species. A “mother” tree can distinguish its own progeny from the progeny of other trees of the same species. Trees can warn each other of incoming pestilence allowing trees not yet affected to mount a defense. She makes clear that forests have intelligence.

Clear cutting, a practice of industrial production, destroys the network of connection and monoculture lacks the partnerships trees form with other species to share resources back and forth as needed throughout the year and their lifecycle. Discussing the practices of the timber industry and industrial farming:

We emphasize domination and competition in the management of trees in forests. And crops in agricultural fields. And stock animals on farms. We emphasize factions instead of coalitions. In forestry, the theory of dominance is put into practice through weeding, spacing, thinning, and other methods that promote growth of the prized individuals. In agriculture, it provides the rationale for multimillion-dollar pesticide, fertilizer, and genetic programs to promote single high-yield crops instead of diverse fields.4

I think one could adjust this description quite easily to capitalism and authoritarianism. In capitalism, the system I know intimately, it is profitable to promote competition and domination through monocultures of factionalism fueled by anger and grievance. That is, to make a buck, some of us are quite happy to destroy the networks that make us strong and resilient.

What is it about the human animal that lets us go so astray of what is good for us or become enmeshed in an economic or political system that exaggerates our most selfish tendencies. Why is it so easy for us to be provoked into anger and why is anger so much more powerful than love? Why do we crave power and wealth? Crave it so much we ignore the irreparable harm we do to each other and the planet. I suppose one has to allow for the possibility that this too is a way of nature, but if that is so, nature is far more grim a proposition than one might suppose from a study of forests. But then forests have had a longer time to evolve into cooperative communities. My best answer so far is that we remain primal beings in spite of our “advances,” driven by a basic set of instincts that are easy to manipulate. I don’t know that anyone has ever found the equivalent of FNC in a mature forest.

One of the articles that caught my attention this past week was about a spontaneous Christian revival that occurred at Asbury college in Wilmore Kentucky. After a worship service with an apparently compelling sermon, a group of students stayed behind to pray and talk. Those who were there describe a feeling that filled the sanctuary:

People I have spoken with who entered these spaces describe encountering a “sweet presence,” “deep peace,” or “the quiet, heavy presence of God.” A sense of awe prevails. It is, one participant told me, as if “heaven opened up.”5

Word got out and…

… a stream of pilgrims has made its way to Wilmore. All of the auditorium’s almost 1,500 wooden flip seats are occupied; the walls and archways leading into the gathering space are crammed with people hungering to join in. Crowds have congregated in auditoriums and chapels elsewhere in town, singing and praying and reading the Bible.6

I am deeply suspicious of organized religion, Evangelical Christianity especially. But there was something about this “revival” that spoke to me of a deep longing for spiritual connection in community. It struck me as honest and real. Not of organized religion, but of a need for connection, community.

Apparently Tucker Carlson of Fox News Corp wanted to do a segment on his show but…

… was asked not to come to cover the revival, because it has nothing to do with politics or business. No one wants to pervert or disrupt what God is seemingly doing in this community.

We live in discontinuous times. Everywhere, it seems, we are being atomized, disconnected from one another. There is madness afoot driven by capitalist greed and authoritarian lust.

In Modern Spirituality Is a Consumers Choice Now Conor Friedersdorf discusses the atomization of belief which is partially but not solely attributable to a rise in the embracing of a scientific world view writes:

But this kind of (scientific) intellectual disenchantment remains a minority phenomenon. Most people who have fallen away from organized religious life remain exuberantly credulous: as G. K. Chesterton put it, “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” More than four in ten Americans believe that ghosts and demons exist and that psychics are real; a third believe in reincarnation; nearly 30 percent believe in astrology. In Europe, the churches may be empty, but comfortable majorities continue to profess faith in God or some higher power.

I have generally had respect for what I call “religion on the ground,” which is religion at the local community level. It, along with shared history and rituals had the power to knit people together into resilient communities.

There is a lot of conversation about Indigenous wisdom. Four books I have read recently, Sacred Economics, The Gift, Braiding Sweetgrass and Finding the Mother Tree talk about it. We have to be careful not to romanticize native wisdom, but the message, over and over again, is that we have to recognize our connections to one another and to all life. We have to treat all life as a gift. This attitude is profoundly absent from capitalism and authoritarianism, which treat everything as a means to power, wealth and dominance, rather than as tendrils of connection and community and cooperation where we all not only survive, but thrive.

I am hopeful that we can find and learn to nourish our equivalent to mycorrhizal networks. I think this is a process that will happen at a local community level. That we can find and nurture “mother” communities all around the planet and nourish them. And then, in collaboration, we will work at riding ourselves of the pestilence of profit and power for profit and power’s sake.

  1. ↩︎

  2. Ibid ↩︎

  3. Simard, Suzanne, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. Kindle edition, location 3103. ↩︎

  4. Ibid, location 2285 ↩︎

  5. ↩︎

  6. ↩︎

In Praise of the Choir

When I looked back on my week of attention paid, as represented by what I chose to post to these blog pages, this post by Maria Popova resonated. The title, Against the Cult of Originality, caught my eye.

As I thought about the proposition of a “Cult of Originality” I thought about the number of times I have come across the idea that one had not arrived, could not hope to arrive, as an artist until they had found the unique voice that distinguished them from all others, the voice that made them an “original,” a soloist.

Maria Popova writes this about genius and originality:

The best things in life we don’t choose — they choose us. A great love, a great calling, a great illumination — they happen unto us, like light falling upon that which is lit. We have given a name to these unbidden greatnesses — genius, from the Latin for “spirit,” denoting the spirit of a universe we can only submit to but cannot govern.1

She is talking about the spark of creativity as a gift. Our charge is to become the medium through which the genius of the cosmos is delivered to our species and to take no ego gratification from it. Of course, the very idea of genius in our society is that of the prodigy soloist.

In the paragraph immediately following her declaration above she cites Wordsworth who proclaims that genius does that which hasn’t been done before and is worth doing, well. But wait, isn’t that the same as being unique, qualified as it is by the stipulation that it be done well and in a direction deemed useful? Even while writing against the cult of originality it is hard to free oneself from the adoration of… originality.

But then she gets to the point with Emerson, who has a take on genius more in line with her own thoughts at the beginning:

Great genial power, one would almost say, consists in not being original at all; in being altogether receptive; in letting the world do all, and suffering the spirit of the hour to pass unobstructed through the mind. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am more in line with this thinking about genius which moves it away from prodigality and in the direction of a gift transmitted through us. This is the Lewis Hyde concept of the creative act2. The idea that we are gifted an ability and set of circumstances that favor a different way of seeing and that we have an obligation to suffer “the spirit of the hour to pass unobstructed through the mind.” In this way of thinking, we are the medium, not the point. We are participating in something larger than ourselves.

As I am writing this I am listening to a recording of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. I think it was probably my most listened to recording of 2022. I adore choral music. And what I adore most are the passages utilizing the full choir. I understand and appreciate that soloists are important and appreciate their counterpoint to the choir as they deliver whatever piece of information and beauty they have been charged with delivering. But what truly gut punches me every time is the full choir in all its synchronized beauty and power. There is little in this world that is more sublime to me.

Personally, I think we place way too much emphasis on the soloists of the world, as exemplified by our fetishization of genius and originality. We are fascinated by the individual, the celebrated, the notorious. I would guess that most of us harbor the hope, deep within or psyches, that one day the world will discover the wonderful soloists we are capable of being. I know I do. We must all be exceptional at something? Right? But the idea that we should all be soloists is untenable and leads to disappointment in most people’s lives, in addition to being a recipe for a dysfunctional society.

I remember, many years ago, attending an exhibit of space photography in the then named IBM building in Manhattan. The photography was made by the Hubble Space Telescope which had recently launched into orbit. What I saw was the most beautiful art I could imagine and what blew me away was that it was art made by all of us. A choir of engineers, scientists, analysts, technicians, politicians, educators, tax payers, and on and on.

We need soloists. But we also need to appreciate that no soloist exists with out a choir. It needs to be ok to be part of the choir and we need to value it as we value our soloists. It requires all of us to receive the gifts of the cosmos and move them out across our collective being.

  1. ↩︎

  2. See Lewis Hyde, The Gift. ↩︎