GEMINI JIVE • “Calamity Jane Rides Again?”January 14, 2009
You would never know the world’s blessed with a “new, improved” branch of mental heath called POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY, would you? I mean, gauging recent cringe-and-flinch-inducing calamity-oriented-type headlines, emails, events, situations we all are far too familiar with lately.
Suddenly the Bad-News Bears are everywhere! Harbingers of Hopelessness! I mean, even lawyers, let alone Buddhists, agree life is pain and suffering — therefore, you pop a few thousand doses of Big Pharma’s Anti-Depressants — and then you die, right?
Well, enough of those Nattering Nabobs of Negativism of yore! Never before have we so desperately needed a cognitive tool such as PP to lead us out of the Morass of Pessimism, 21st century successor to the Slough of Despond. Positive Psychology’s nothing all that new, really. New Whines in Old Bottles, or Old Whines in New Bottles. But it does strive for the Sunny side!!
Call it what you will, Positive Psychology’s been around for eons, maybe even since Cave-Man days– long before French motivational maven Émile Coué postulated in the last century, “Every Day in Every Way I Feel Better and Better.” Coué maintained curing our troubles requires a change in our unconscious thoughts, which could be accomplished through activation of the imagination. Although he claimed he was not primarily a healer but one who taught others to heal themselves, he maintained he could achieve physical changes through autosuggestion.
PP’s precursors are legion: from Napoleon Hill, Andrew Carnegie, to the Reverend Ike, armadas of used car salesmen, and, yes, well, its self-styled putative progenitor, Famous Penn Psychology Professor Martin Seligman, someone I have a hard time loving even though he supposedly recanted if not repented his decades of dog-torment research while devising and deriving his “Learned Helplessness” theories of depression which he eventually repackaged as — TA DA!– Positive Psychology.
In this, the not-so-new-anymore Millennium, his avatars, however, are legion. Obama, a persuasive practitioner of Positive Psychology himself, promised us “Hope” and “Change,” made us swoon during his successful campaign for the Presidency and then barely even before he’s Inaugurated, suddenly traded Hope for dire words like, well, “Dire.” Actually Obama may be the Overlord of Bait and Switch, which is not Positive Psychology at all, is it? We’ll see. Wah! I think I want my vote back. Now he’s hinting we’ll all have to make — shudder– sacrifices! You know what that means! The rich get richer while the poor… struggle and suffer even more.
Meanwhile, the momentary Patron Saint of Positivity is, of course, recently impeached Illinois commuter governor, grandson of Serbian pig-farmers, embattled Anchor-Hair Poster-Boy and rudely defrocked Presidential wannabe Rod Blagojevich, AKA “Blago,” barely corrupt at all comparatively speaking when you stack him up against catastrophic Evilmeisters Bush, Cheney, & Co. — since, really, Blago merely exemplifies Politics as Usual.
His real crime? Perhaps perpetuating a quirky resemblance to a Superannuated Elf, or, at worst, with his seeming eternal youth, being a Dorian Grey for our times. Someday they’ll find a wizened geezer portrait of his real disintegrated face hidden away in a closet someplace. While Blago’s hypocritical former political cronies were gleefully impeaching him, what did he do? Go out for a jog! My hero!! And when he returned to meet his Greek-Tragic Fate, instead of citing dead British poets as he is wont, this time he brazenly dared quote a semi-obscure but durable work of great literature, Allan Sillitoe’s powerful 1958 short story, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” Oh, the effrontery! Be still my heart!
The Sillitoe tale’s a resonant one. As Wickipedia puts it, “… an impoverished Nottingham teenager has few prospects in life and enjoys few pursuits beyond committing petty crimes. His home life is dismal as well. Caught for robbing a bakery, Colin is confined in a borstal, or prison for delinquent youth. He seeks solace in long distance running, attracting the notice of the school’s authorities, but, during an important cross-country meet which he is winning, he stops running just short of the finish line to defy his captors.”
Clearly, the piece portrays what Amazon.com characterizes as “the filthy realities of a [British] working-class family.” Indeed, I can only give “Blago” my highest accolade: He deserves his own TV reality show! But hurry! Before his head gets shaved in prison and he loses his looks!
Is the American Empire disintegrating before our eyes? To me, it’s like watching road-kill twitch on a superhighway. Our economy’s crumbling. China’s balking at assuming any more US debt, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s one more nail in the coffin. Our so-called Shadow Government’s clearly doing its clandestine best, as always, to disrupt and foment and destabilize and discredit its most vocal critics and ‘enemies of the state’ ? Our new President’s citizenship faces court challenges in a last-ditch effort to plunge this country into even more chaos and disorganization.
So, what we see is what we get: political “indictments” of various outspoken, controversial Governors and Mayors used more to smear and silence and neutralize than to “wipe out corruption.” What corruption? What could be more corrupt than the blood-and-oil-fueled Military-Industrial-Pharma complex and its insatiable desire for war without end? Remember the movie “Team America World Police”! Hey, gang, Russia’s out there waiting in the wings, ready to rise again, restlessly flexing its muscles for the inevitable show-down and tragic aftermath. Their warships wanna dock in Cuba, so they can make their move. Time to get our act together, before it’s too late, and uplift our collective spirits, NOW!
© Copyright 2009 ML Polak/All Rights Reserved. DO NOT reproduce or disseminate in ANY form via any medium under penalty of beheading. Yes, you can link to me. But that’s it. Contact author for syndication rates and tell your local newspaper editor they need to run this column before actual newspapers go extinct like the dodo, the auk, the bison, and real men.
ML Polak — it’s not a pen-name, it’s a real person! – is an award-winning Philadelphia-based journalist, screenwriter, essayist, novelist, editor, spoken-word artist, performance poet, workshop leader, lecturer, cat-and-dog companion, Reiki channel, and occasional radio personality. With architect Benjamin Nia, she completed a short documentary film about the threatened demolition of a historic neighborhood, “MY HOMETOWN: Preservation or Development?” on DVD. She is the author of several books including the collection of literary profiles, “The Writer as Celebrity: Intimate Interviews,” and her latest volume of poetry, “The Bologna Sandwich and Other Poems of LOVE and Indigestion.” Her books can be ordered by contacting her directly via email: Langwidge (at) aol dot com.