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The Siren Call of Darkness

by on November 14, 2014

                                                           The Siren Call of Darkness

                                                                   by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The COMMENTS sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.  Comments that do not specifically address content will be trashed as SPAM.

“Although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is — for he knows nothing and thinks that he knows, I neither know nor think that I know.”  Socrates (470-399 BCE). In Plato (427- 327 BCE)  Apology, 21.

In 1961 William J. Lederer published A Nation of Sheep.  Prescient in many of its descriptions that apply today, it outlined his view on how the orchestrated mechanics of a power elite cabal influence the direction of American policy and the nation goes along with it.  Perhaps the title, suggestive of counting sheep, put people to sleep across the land.  More likely the failure to respond was based in the flowering of television’s “golden age”,  a spectrum of new channels airing an array of fictional programs with plots that could be initiated, developed, and solved within the hour.  On to the next one. Stay tuned.

In 1970 the futurist Alvin Toffler published Future Shock, an explanation of the inability to cope with the pace of technological and cultural change.  This time, reeling from the turmoil and assassinations of the 1960’s, the birth control pill, the nightly broadcasts from Viet Nam, the successful lunar landing,  and the plethora of new products and gadgets coming to market, some people actually read the book.  Indeed, a Congressional hearing, scheduled for Toffler to explain his findings, vacated early as members of Congress began experiencing symptoms of future shock.  Among the several symptoms cited by Toffler at least one should be familiar: Tuning out, the conscious selection of frivolous distractions such as meaningless television programs, sports events, and other activities in lieu of investigative journalism or even just the evening news.

Of course, there can be a price to pay for those who seek to bring reality to light.  In 1998 journalist Gary Webb published Dark Alliance,  an exhaustive and thoroughly documented analysis of the Reagan Administration’s facilitation of the importation into the U.S. of almost countless tons of cocaine as part of the financing (aside from weapons sales to the Iranians) for Reagan’s Contra and Salvadoran death squads.  One of these operators discovered the processing of cocaine into “crack cocaine” and the epidemic grew beyond anyone’s imagination.  With various epi-centers during those years,  I was stationed in Houston, Texas,  Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, South Florida, and Orange and San Bernardino counties in Southern California.  The wreckage was beyond description.  Using the media and other resources available to it,  the Administration in power when Webb’s book was released crushed him professionally, bankrupted him personally, and then pronounced his death “a suicide”.  One must wonder for the safety of Jeremy Scahill, author of the recently released “Dirty Wars”.

Had Webb’s book been serialized for television it would have made Dallas look like outtakes from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Yet, the machine won, at least for then.  The book is currently available and a film, “Kill the Messenger” has been released.  There are those who dismiss concerns over these releases, citing the remarkably low readership of the American public, the ease with which the population is seduced by books such as Fifty Shades of Grey,  the televised marketing and sale of Bachelors and Bachelorettes,  the BREAKING NEWS about some new phone device, the sports galas, and, of course, the porn panorama just a few clicks away.  We’ve come a long way from Bread and Circuses.       

Until my last two years in high school I was educated in Catholic schools, some quasi-monastic boarding and some parochial.  My instructors were either Ursuline nuns or Brothers of the Holy Cross.  One of the more frequent assertions aimed at me was, “You think too much.”  Well, um……. I’ve got this thing in my head that keeps asking, keeps pushing, keeps peering out and listening, keeps crunching answers to see if they work.  I don’t know where the off switch is, and don’t think I would use it if I did.

There have been times in those intervening decades when I, like so many others, sought peace.  But I carried with me certain lessons learned.  Had I not been raised in those monastic settings I might have taken myself to a monastery (Buddhist) in search of peace.  However, I knew even from my early exposure that monasteries are, if anything, crucibles in which one must meet with and come to terms with one’s most formidable live-in counter-part: The self.  My relatively recent friendship with Brother Mark Dohle, a Cistercian monk, confirms this reality.  People should not go to monasteries to escape something; they should go to embrace something.  Darkness is not to be found there.

Going through the SERE programs, spending lengthy solo tours, and conversing with men released from solitary confinement brought home the reality of being with self.  One man emerged from 15 years in solitary in a Hanoi prison, another from 19 years solitary in a prison somewhere in China – he never even knew where.  Interviews with prisoners confirm that true solitary confinement, with never a glimpse of or sound from another human, is more feared than execution.

But solitary confinement occurs not just in prison cells.  It can occur within the self.  An Operations Officer working NOC (Non-Official Cover) especially in a hostile setting experiences a form of solitary confinement inasmuch as his true self is imprisoned in the persona arising from his fabricated legend, knowing that a slight slip, a glimmer of light escaping from within may send him to a prison cell or summary execution.  This is significantly different from a Case Officer reporting to his new U.S. Embassy posting as Deputy Cultural Attache and greeted with smirks from the local housekeeping staff.  Of course, this might be carried too far.  I knew two high ranking officers whose wives,  after the (natural) death of one and the medical retirement of the other, discovered they had not worked for the government agencies or departments they had claimed.

For most of us darkness is all around us.  It is the promise of relief from thinking of anything truly meaningful.  It is the exploding marketplace lurching and plunging from one “holiday shopping season” to the next, one Black Friday to the next tax free day.  It is the quandary of whether to get that new phone when you know it will be obsolete in months, maybe even weeks. It is the lure of wondering what to do with a four hour erection (…if you go blind, you will remember what your mother said all those years ago).  It is the television or the radio that must be turned on when entering a room, or the ear buds that must be inserted before the first step of a long walk.  It is anything but the self.

“Seeing the light” simply means opening the shades.


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    I recently bought a townhouse. I had always lived with other humans.. I have been living alone for the last two months and it was lonely at first but my step-mom gave (gently coerced me into taking) my brother’s cat, and it is nice to have another mammal around.

    One night I was feeling particularly deprived of other human companionship even though the cat was being very cute and affectionate. So I decided, why discriminate? Here is a living thing who is willing to spend time with me. Since then I have been making a conscious effort to be thankful for both human and non-human conscious things who choose to engage with me. –Maybe I should practice being thankful for plants 🙂

    My step-mom is one of those who is great at engaging at small talk and thinks the television is comforting because she can make herself think that there are other people in the house. I don’t know if this is healthy or not.

    You once made a comment that everyone dies alone. I am not sure if I agree with this statement because emotions are (for the most part) individual and in that case you do everything alone even in the company of others. [as an aside, I can feel or intuitively detect other’s emotions to a degree and it is very useful.]

    Is it worse to be alone with company or alone by yourself?


    • Thank you. I feel it is worse to feel alone with company, obviously if it is company not of your own choosing. It highlights the sense of alienation.

      Somewhat along these lines I asked a well documented alcoholic how he spontaneously stopped drinking. He said that, after losing all his relationships and friends it one day dawned on him that absolutely no one cared if he drank himself to death. That left him wondering, and he decided he did care – and that was all that was important to him. Seems to have worked..


  2. Mark Dohle permalink

    Your mind my friend is like a scalpel, able to speak what many intuit but don’t have the language for. Little time for reflection for many, but lots of information constantly being absorbed, perhaps most of it garbage and brainwashing.



  3. Thank you, Mark. I follow your writings and gain from your meanings, especially when I find myself reviewing them on my daily walks. Marco


  4. Being the introspective type, I rather enjoy my time alone. I find that the world, with it’s inane chatter and ever glowing “idiot box”, to be a source of simply “too much input”. The dark hours of the night, when I am the only one awake, are the best times for me. Silence, interrupted only by my own thoughts, is simply bliss.

    This doesn’t mean I want to be alone all the time. I occasionally enjoy the company of friends, and especially the conversations I find here on line, but generally speaking, I like my own thoughts best. I don’t like knowing without understanding, and much of what I am beginning to understand simply sickens me. This world is a horrible place, and it’s only getting worse. Still, better the bright light of reality than hiding in the dark. To quote a well read volume, “Let there be light.” Rose


    • Thank you, Rose. I agree. Sometimes I’m drawn to observe the world as one is drawn to observe a train wreck. I recoil from people who can name every NASCAR driver but not one member of President Obama’s Cabinet. Yet, that feels like rejecting one part of the train wreck in favor of another. All the same wreck.


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