The Image is one thing and a Human Being is another

Elvis was the first and last entertainer that genre music fans could agree to because Elvis sang all genres.

There is just something magical about listening to his voice wringing every emotional nuance possible from every song he believed in. Heck, even his phoned in performances leave most performers in the dust, given that Elvis rose above the bad material that would have sunk any other performer.

Before Elvis, the music world was divided and after Elvis, it globalized and divided again along new genre lines.

Elvis’s immediate appeal was the sexual freedom, but his long term appeal was in his equality view of humanity – Elvis, having risen from the lowest socio-economic level to the highest, knew more than anyone that we are all where we came from – but it’s the quality of how we treat each other.

Elvis was an equal opportunity man – he paid as much attention to the plain fans as the pretty ones, because he knew that his success was owed to each of them.

He treated everyone with courtesy and respect and as an equal – that was and still is a rare quality and ability – and it’s that that allows Elvis to be a champion of universal human rights, a testament to human achievement.

And his end – well – what else could have happened to a man who believed in doing hard work and your best work – when all the movie studios and the record label wanted was product to churn out while the Elvis fad was still hot.

Since we are all only as good as the last thing we did – and it takes 7 good things to reverse one bad thing – Elvis was never understood by the label and studios who went for the cheap and easy money – and didn’t manage Elvis in a sustainable way.

I think that if they had continued making Elvis movies – alternating the Viva Las Vegas clones with Flaming Star and Wild in the Countries – that Elvis would have developed a movie based fan following as a serious actor – and making the musical Elvis vehicles wouldn’t have run out of steam and public favour.

Because Elvis only wanted to be taken seriously as an entertainer and the fans took him seriously – but the record label and Hollywood only saw Elvis as an inexhaustible source of money for their real projects.

Instead of allowing Elvis to grow with his audience, keeping him as a sanitized and slightly castrated version of his 50’s persona is how Hollywood killed the goose who laid golden eggs.

Flaming Star took a serious look at racial tensions between settlers and aboriginals caught in a zero sum game of settlers taking all the land; with Elvis’ Pacer caught in the third way – hybridization between the two camps – half settler and half native; of both worlds but belonging to neither – and in the end, with the two sides not able to reconcile, Pacer had no life to live in the world – and so Elvis dies in a second movie – but learning from Love Me Tender – he rides off under the closing credits to die off screen.

Wild in the Country a family drama of a sensitive boy raised by a sainted and deceased mother and left to the untender mercies of an alcoholic father, a bootlegging opportunistic uncle and a inner turmoil of trying to sort out how he wants to be – sensitive Glen with the good stand-by girl, the wild Glen with the temptress gril or grown up Glen with a future, college and writing, and mature relationships outside of the scope of his experience.

Both these movies said something about the world and how it treats people who don’t conform to easy or expected stereotypes. Something Elvis was very familiar with – and that understanding of the Elvisverse, when played in the early movies that were a kind of version of Elvis’ own story and facing the challenges to society that Elvis stood for – the movies were wonderful.

If they had alternated these more meaningful movies with the Blue Hawaiis and Viva Las Vegas  – Elvis would have probably enjoying making the movies and the movie music – and not tried to find comfort and solace in spending and eating binges and finally drugs to escape the disappointment of knowing what he was capable of doing, of meaning, of changing in the world – to settle for phoned in movie performances in movies about the appearance of but not the substance of what Elvis was about as an artist.

It’s no wonder to me that Elvis died young – a year younger than I am right now – but that he lasted to 40 at all.

Fairytales and Religion

My book exchange experiment with Jenny of A Religious Experiment continues on Jenny’s post – Fairytale of Christianity.

… there are atheist or naturalists who don’t believe in anything but what you can see and touch (they are standing outside the bubbles on the diagram).

They are looking at Me and other Christians, and all religions the same way, like we are all delusional!

I completely understand this, seriously, look at the diagram, the obvious conclusion is that we are all crazy and unable to look outside of our own bubble! A friend said to me yesterday, it’s not meant to be this complicated. I believe that! I tend to have two extremes; when I am researching and conversing about hard questions, my mind goes in every different direction, but I am learning, and understanding and I feel the need to understand others right now.

But, when I am simply having my time praying or reading, I have complete peace and nothing is complicated.

But I think that life and the world is exactly as complicated as Jenny is now seeing or understanding it. Because that step outside the bubble is understanding what it is to look at the bubble from the outside.

But life is also as simple – meditation, being still and quiet within yourself is the path to actually knowing yourself and understanding. It’s the quiet stillness – not how you attain it – that is vitial to a purposeful and meaningful life – and whether you find that stillness through the religion of your choice or through using the techniques of religion to attain that stillness – meditation, yoga, reflective prayer – they are all good and equally valid in that they are merely the process by which you are still and in tune with your body, your feelings, your thoughts, wishes, dreams, hopes and fears, and you are able to become the centre dot and see how everything spirals and arises from how you present yourself to the world.

And how you are is what people react to – but if you can’t or don’t take the time to think about how others might see you – you can never be assured of knowing how you intend to be in the world is how other people are understanding you to be.

And instead of reacting to you as you are – they are reacting to their image of you as if it’s you and if their image differs from your image – then you aren’t in relationship – you are at odds with each other because you are not dealing with any authenitic self – because the other part of the equation, is understanding that other person, as they understand themselves – so you are reaching out to understand their authentic self and dealing with them, as they wish to be dealt with.

It’s not an easy process – certainly something that’s new to me – so I am groping my way through as well – and part of that was reaching out to Jenny and others – to exchange the good parts of our respective worlds.

My graphic would be something like this – the green represents the natural observable and measurable universe to the best of our current understanding – and the gumball machine represent the world’s religions and philosophies that try to explain the universe through supernatural means – whatever those means may be.

So the choice is, do you life life according to the religious or philosophical gumballs or do you live life predicated in the natural world and what humanity has come to understand of that?

Because I really do admire the Amish who live entirely within their religion’s reality – in a human scale world and understanding.

But what I find confusing are the allegedly deeply religious who spurn science and human knowledge all while living in a very dependent way upon that very science and human acquired knowledge – specifically, if the televangelists really want to live as god intended, then it makes no sense for them to have mega churches the size of shopping malls – built on human acquired knowledge of structural engineering, all kinds of science that goes into creating television broadcasting and satellite broadcasting – they should be living in a Preacher’s Hollow existence – being in the calling range of the human voice, not extended by microphones and broadcasting.

Living within what you can accomplish with your own hands – not construction equipment.

If you are going to receive the benefits of the modern world, then it is not unreasonable to expect that you are also educated in the history and the science – the story of human achievement at it’s best and the story of human achievement at it’s worst – generally the story of the people and social movements that lead to advances versus the people and social movements that resisted change in favour of the status quo. How this modern world came to be – warts and glory.

But here’s something that I do know – fairytale or religion or literature or tv/movies – what people do to communicate is to tell stories – and the medium is just the container that lets you target specific audiences. We tell stories to understand each other, understand the world and how to be in it – we need to not get hung up over the container and look at the stories – because the stories belong to everyone and the truths in the stories – that being kind is better than being greedy and scheming – belong to everyone – truth, when it is real truth,doesn’t turn on the medium or container or even the details of the story.

Truth is the essence, the take away meaning – and all the stories about how to be in the world, to be the best you can be, are universally true.

We can get to seeing that truth, only when we look outside what we have already experienced and exposed ourselves to – and accept that there are many paths to those truths – but it’s the validation of them, throughout all the stories that we have told, through time and through all cultures – that commonality that we have to cling to in order to coexist and accept that difference is viva la diversity.