The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Self-Image and success

Tomorrow I take off for Iowa. Today is a mad dash, getting everything together for the trip. Included in what I have to do is talk to Jason's preschool teacher. Apparently, he was making reference to the karate games we play, talking about how he was "going to kick Daddy in the face and the back and the butt..." Needless to say, she was a bit disturbed.

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I think that Nicki hit a node of insecurity about her future chances to be an actress. Self-doubt is a part of human existence, and for the artist...fuggitaboddit. In general, artists either have a drive to create that obliterates considerations, or an ego so huge that it overshadows their fears and doubts. What I have to do is help her craft another way...born of genuine Self-exploration. I may need to guide her toward more of a safety net, however. Say...a Masters, which would allow her to teach. But this Summer she will be serving an Internship at a small movie studio. That will give her some real-world experience, and hopefully, a taste of the real world.



I suspect her self-image is going to have to shift, and that will be a tough one. It requires either major life shifts or long hard work to shift our concepts of self. They form to protect us (or our society) and any break-up of these constructs can be traumatic.



The trouble is when your self-image is "A" and your conscious goals or values are "B." You can tear yourself to pieces, and destroy your self confidence battering into the limits of image as you strive to reach goals, lose weight, form healthier relationships, or whatever.



The "Psycho-Cybernetics" approach is to visualize (and emotionalize) the successful completion of your task. To see yourself vividly as the kind of person who can do it. This probably requires about...twenty minutes a day. That number keeps coming up.



A deeper approach is to clear the mental stage altogether, and then build upon that empty clarity. This requires more patience--it doesn't seem that anything is happening at first. The advantage is that progress, when made, seems more genuine. To visualize the goal without removing the rubble of past self-image and personal history can be like building a house over a cesspool without draining it.



From my perspective, the difference between art and craft is that art demands both craft (technique) and self-expression. The deeper your contact with your true self, the easier it is to eschew what others have done in your field, and make a genuine contribution to the cultural dialog, based upon clarity rather than imitation.

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Jerimiah Wright is genuinely rat-fucking Obama's campaign, so far as I'm concerned. And this is where I think that the idea that Obama's race somehow works to his advantage is absurd. IF he could LOOK black without any of the load or damage, perhaps. That goes along with my observation that he has an advantage in his father being African, rather than African-American. He did not inherit certain aspects of slavery's legacy. On the other hand, in order to have a community, he had to associate with those who did and do suffer that legacy--the walking wounded. Unless he wanted to walk alone (or almost exclusively among whites) he probably had to look at himself as a doctor among patients. Wright's politically loaded sermons probably hit him as "wow. People are really, really hurt and frightened. I must find a way to help." When stuff started coming out on Utube, the politically expedient thing to do would have been to utterly reject. "Not "A", but rather "B". Instead he tried to resolve the duality, "Both A and B"--the comments were abhorrent, but represent an honest set of emotions that whites would feel were historical positions reversed.



The controversy was dying down until Wright started his traveling show. Now, regardless of what Obama says, one thing is true: he is constantly reminding America that he is black. Over and over again. Endlessly, in every news cycle. And that (I believe) is a losing position. In my own professional life, I've noticed that if I can keep people's attention on the project, I can get the job. But if race comes up in the conversation before the deal is sealed...I'm screwed. If he could have kept the conversation off race, he had a chance.



Like I've said: if Will Smith can't get laid, Obama can't get elected. And vice-versa. Just my take on it. But it looks to me like Jerimiah Wright's ego is out of control. He claims to be protecting "the black church" but most of his comments have been personal. Sadly, I don't buy it.



But if Obama doesn't win, the sad thing will be all the black folks who say: "see! Nothing has changed" without realizing the absurdity of that position. Massive change has occurred. A path has been marked out. A black man with zero baggage can make it now--that simply wasn't true a generation ago. A generation from now, he'll be able to have baggage, like a normal human being. I see nothing but ultimate positives in what has happened here, in the sense that an accurate diagnosis is ALWAYS better than having the doctor lie to you, or make a mistake. Unless I believe blacks are inferior, I know we'll work it out. The only way to do that is with clarity. I think Barack Obama is remarkable, really more of a philosopher than a politician, and it will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. I'm determined not to be too depressed or exalted, no matter what. And as long as Hillary fights (relatively) clean? I'll be happy to vote for her.

25 comments:

Frank said...

From my point of view it has become impossible for anyone but Obama to get the nomination despite Jerimiah Wright. And despite the fact that the Superdelegates know, or will know soon, that Obama can not win the general election.

This is because at this point he will, in all likelihood, go to the convention with more "pledged" delegates and the lead in the popular vote (when Michigan and Florida are discounted). So it will be impossible for Democrats to nominate Clinton without doing irreparable harm to the Party.

However to avoid this, they are going to have to lose the election.

And if Obama can't draw the votes, it might very well be that Democrats suffer in Congress as well.

the sad thing will be all the black folks who say: "see! Nothing has changed" without realizing the absurdity of that position.

It could very well be that consciously or unconsciously this is precisely the result Jerimiah Wright wants.

Call it a self-fulfilling "prophecy".

Pagan Topologist said...

Frank, I do not for a moment believe your premise that Obama cannot win the general election. The passion he elicits in many of his supporters is such that he is likely to increase Democratic turnout to a level we have not seen before in our lifetimes. I know several women who characterize all Obama supporters as "woman haters." No doubt these people will vote for third party candidates. But the Libertarians will take votes from McCain, so I expect that this will be a wash. My mother, an 86 year old southern white woman, has decided she wants to vote for Obama. I doubt she is alone.

For myself, I wanted Edwards to be the nominee. I just cannot trust Clinton. But I believe Obama will be the best President of the candidates now in play.

Reluctant Lawyer said...

Frankly, I'm still amazed that Obama has made it as far as he has, even if he doesn't win the nomination. He is the first African-American presidential candidate was is seen as a legitimate contender.

I agree with Pagan... I just can't trust Hillary. That said, I'm really not sure what I will do if she gets the nomination.

Mike Ralls said...

Hey Steve,

Writing question here: Can you recommend any cell phones that can double as a mini tape-recorder? My current cell phone only lets me record 30 second messages to myself, and only 10 of those. I figure with the gigs of memory that are found in the more advanced phones, some of them have to double as tape-recorders and was wondering if you could recommend any of them?

Cheers,
Mike

Frank said...

Frank, I do not for a moment believe your premise that Obama cannot win the general election. The passion he elicits in many of his supporters is such that he is likely to increase Democratic turnout to a level we have not seen before in our lifetimes.

They aren't enough to win. Do you really think the people still supporting Clinton are going to switch when there is a moderate alternative? Every indication is that at least 20% of them will vote for McCain and it may be as high as 30%.

And that is now when they haven't gone head-to-head in debates.

Will you reevaluate if Obama loses the most or all of the remaining primaries? This is likely. But it will not prevent him from having more delegates and more of the popular vote (again, discounting Florida and Michigan).

I think Hillary had a good question when she asked, If his support is so solid, why can't he close the deal? If you think Wright made Pennsylvania difficult, that's nothing compared to how difficult he is going to make the rest of the contests two of which are next Tuesday.

And forget 3rd Parties. None of them are going to drain enough votes from anyone to matter. And I'm including Nader in that.

What you have to watch is not the national polls, but the state by state polls regarding Obama v McCain. Because in the end, it's the States you win that matters.

No proportional allocations in the General. It's (overwhelmingly) winner take all.

mjholt said...

Hi,
Frank is right, and the Clinton's are crazy. Hillary should cede the nomination and support Obama.

Wright could be moving into the "self-fulfilling prophesy" stage of self- and Obama-destruction.

I think that it is possible for Obama to win the general election, but then I talk with white people in a rural setting, and I despair.

The whole Rev. Wright "issue" is a distraction from the real issues:
1. world food shortages
2. US posturing against another Islamic country
3. Another Islamic country posturing against the US
4. China now being short of food as well as water
5. Everyone else being short of food.
6. Costco limiting the amount of rice they will sell to a member
7. Bizarre weather: in WA we had snow, sleet, hail, and something called freezing rain that is not any of the above, and night-time temperatures in the 30's and 40's.
8. Food shortages will be part of the coming year

mjholt said...

Mike,
Check out the iPhone. I am told it does what you want, as long as you get enough memory. I have not personally used one, but a recording feature was on the tour of the one I fondled.

Mike Ralls said...

Man, I went into Costco the other day and they told me that I could only buy a mere 70 pounds of rice. Damnit! How am I supposed to break the world record for biggest sushi roll with only 70 lbs of rice? I need at least 71-lbs! This is surely a sign the Republic is in grave danger.

Anonymous said...

If I had to bet I would place odds that Obama will our next president. In my small circle of acquaintances I have spoken to no one who will admit that they won't vote for Obama because he is black or Hillary because she is female, but a number of people(most of them older like myself) who have said they won't vote for McCain because of his age. I believe that it is a democratic year and between that and the age factor McCain can't win.

Marty S

Dan Moran said...

Steve, I don't think you need to worry about voting for Hillary. The damage to the Democratic Party if Obama doesn't get the nomination might not be irreparable, but it would be huge.

As to the general, I like Obama's chances. People hate what's happened in this country the last 8 years, and while Obama might be a little shaky with independents, the base loves him the way the Republican base loved Bush in '08. (And the Republican base despises McCain -- while there's no chance they'll vote for Obama, a lot of them will stay home.)

Heard speculation the other day that Wright is a Hillary supporter. Would explain a lot....

Dan Moran said...

"the way the Republican base loved Bush in '00." Not '08, '00.

Frank said...

Dan Moran

while Obama might be a little shaky with independents, the base loves him the way the Republican base loved Bush in '08.

The Left Wing portion of the base maybe, but not the center or the Right of the Democratic Party

And the Republican base despises McCain

I think you are misjudging the situation greatly. Republicans will come out for McCain if for no other reason than Obama scares the bejeezus out of them.

If I had no other reason to vote for McCain, I would vote against Obama just on his gun control position alone.

Heard speculation the other day that Wright is a Hillary supporter. Would explain a lot....

I don't think so. But I also think that after Obama's Philadelphia speech Wright is no longer an Obama supporter.

Hence the publicity tour.

mjholt said...

Interesting poll concerning Obama and Clinton on the Wall Street Journal. The link is http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-flash08.html?project=DEMOPOLL0508&party=dem&demographic=sex

Nancy Lebovitz said...

How can you tell if you have enough information and understanding to make intelligent predictions? (This is a real question.)

Nonetheless, here's what I think. I'm pretty sure Obama has enough support to get the nomination. And I agree that him getting this far is proof that things have changed a *lot*.

McCain has a lot of negatives. The two biggest are his age (which makes his choice of Vice President extremely important) and his connection to a very unpopular administration.

If the economy is the most important thing for voters (and I think it will be) McCain loses. I don't think there's any way for Bush and crew to get the economy in better shape, and I keep worrying about hyperinflation.

As for volunteers, my impression is that the religious right isn't nearly as gung ho for the Republicans as they used to be, and they were crucial. They haven't gotten much of what they wanted. Afaik, the idea of faith-based initiatives upset a lot of people, but actually, not much was funded. And abortion is still legal.

The random factors I see are war in Iran-- if the Bush administration tries that, will the public say "we can't change parties in the middle of a war" or will they say "those idiots are making things worse"? Likewise for a major terrorist attack on US soil: "they didn't keep us safe" or "only the Republicans are strong enough to keep us safe"?
And I have no idea whether we'll get an honest count of the vote.

If Hilary gets the nomination, I'll vote for her. She was wrong about Iraq, but I believe she'll throw out Bush's incompetent buddies and put in reasonably capable people. And originally all I wanted was Bush and crew out and back to politics as usual. Obama gives more hope, but if he isn't running, I'll take second best rather than third or fourth.

From one angle, the election looks like pure chaos with randomness mixed in. We don't know how much influence Republicans voting in Democratic primaries will have. We don't know how many people will cross party lines because they're pissed off or because they just seem to have weird preferences.

Frank said...

Nancy Lebovitz

How can you tell if you have enough information and understanding to make intelligent predictions? (This is a real question.)

Oh come on. We all make it up! You know that.

But from my point of view, except for those of us who are interested in politics, and are in fact political, most people do not vote for other people based on issues.

Sad my true in my opinion.

They vote for people they think they can trust and who they think are trustworthy.

Obama has taken a lot of hits on trustworthiness and it is my feeling that in the end, McCain will be more trusted by more people when it comes time to vote in the general election.

Look at all the past races. Bush was considered more trustworthy than Kerry in '04 mostly because of the Swifties, but also as a result of a bunch of other gaffs he made. The off-camera "Republicans are a bunch of crooks" comment just made him seem mean and arrogant. It may have played well to the rabid anti-Republicans but a candidate needs more than that to win. Not to mention his wife and her "little people" comment.

Before that Bush and Gore. People couldn't really decide which is why the race was so close. I don't know if most didn't think either of them was particularly trustworthy or the opposite, but it is clear that people couldn't pick one over the other.

Before that Clinton. Say what you want about the guy, but people liked him. And people trusted him. Even after his "dalliances" were made public.

Before that was Reagan. Again, people liked Reagan. People trusted him. And most still like him. He is generally held in high regard by most people.

Carter people trusted at first. But is awful performance as President depleted that trust. And when he ran against Reagan in '80, there was no contest.

It is clear to me that the longer the election cycle, the more time people have to judge the candidates with regards to their personal qualities. In my opinion, Dukasis' bloodless answer regarding what he would do if his wife was raped sealed his fate and the election went to Bush 41.

Obama has been knocked off his post-racial horse. And his credibility has been seriously undermined. It doesn't matter that he no disavows Wright, it is incredulous to ordinary people that he "just discovered" what the Reverend was all about. And even if true, it undermines his "superior judgment" argument.

With Wright, Ayers, Rezco all stacking up even before the general, I'm looking at how he appears to the ordinary person who is not a policy wonk.

And it doesn't look good.

Dan Moran said...

Frank,

I think you are misjudging the situation greatly. Republicans will come out for McCain if for no other reason than Obama scares the bejeezus out of them.

Shrug. I haven't read FreeRepbulic in a month or two, but there were a ton of posts from people swearing they'd never cast a vote for McCain. How large a % of Republicans that really is I don't know, but I'd rather be in a situation where the base loved me (Obama) rather than one where the base despised me (McCain.)

And liberls (or people even further left than that) are the base in the Democratic Party, just as hardcore conservatives are the base in the GOP.

Frank said...

Dan Moran

just as hardcore conservatives are the base in the GOP.

You may be surprised at who the Republican base consists of. I analyzed the Republican Primary for reason you will read and got, what some might think are surprising results.

And many who self-identified as "very conservative" voted for McCain.

People like Rush Limbaugh (and of course Democrats) like to believe that Republicans are more Conservative then they actually are. And I have challenged that idea as well.

Not that Rush knows that I have challenged him and probably wouldn't care if he did. But there it is.

The fact is most Republicans are pretty much like McCain.

And most Christian Evangelists, might as well be Democrats.

Which is one reason why Bush grew government instead of shrinking it.

No, I don't believe McCain will have a problem with the Republican base as it actually exists, as opposed to what people think it is.

Anonymous said...

Whoever the Democratic candidate is, I hope they hammer away on this one point:

The Republicans had control of the Presidency for 8 years, with control of Congress for the first 4 of those 8 years.

Given the present state of things, why should we reward them with another president?

Anonymous said...

Steve:
I think I'm as stubborn as you. I still think being black is helping Obama "during this campaign". Look at the break down of the super delegates that support Hilary versus those that support Obama. If the super delegates holds elective office and have to run again they tend to support Obama. If they are not they tend to support Hilary. The logical deduction from this is that many of those who need to be reelected support Obama because they are afraid to alienate the black base.

Humorous sidebar. I think the spell checker is racist. Even though you capitalize the name Obama it insists on calling it a spelling error.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...

"If the super delegates holds elective office and have to run again they tend to support Obama. If they are not they tend to support Hilary. The logical deduction from this is that many of those who need to be reelected support Obama because they are afraid to alienate the black base."--
That might convince me if these particular Superdelegates are in very high place population areas. Otherwise, it is more logical that they just don't want to alienate their voters, period. Then you're back to the question of "is the number of people who voted FOR Obama BECAUSE of race larger than the number who voted AGAINST him because of race"--which you haven't proven. And unfortunately, we're not just talking his skin color. We're also talking about Wright, and to a certain degree even his NAMe--the downside of his father (African and Muslim), which otherwise would have been an upside for a black American (doesn't carry the generational psychic scars of slavery). Be as stubborn as you want. I don't know exactly how I'd set up a survey to quantify the factors I'm thinking about, but one of the biggest is that blacks would have to be 10X as racist, on the average, as whites for the advantage to be even-steven. Sorry, but that matches nothing I have ever seen or heard. If whites are only 1/5th as racist as blacks, because they outnumber us 10 to 1, he still loses twice as many votes as he gains, all other things being equal. It just seems to go against everything else I see in the culture, or in human nature. I'd need some hard, hard data to make me reinterpret a lifetime of data and impressions gathered on this subject.

Steven Barnes said...

And Frank--the fact that Rush Limbaugh's public pronouncements on the subject pretty much exactly match yours makes me think you're engaging in a little mischief. Have fun. McCain is going down, and in your heart, you know it.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

The logical deduction from this is that many of those who need to be reelected support Obama because they are afraid to alienate the black base.

Another logical deduction would be that those who need to be reelected are more reluctant to go against the candidate who's in the lead in the popular vote and primaries. Are they afraid to alienate the black base? Probably, in at least some cases, given that it's the black base that would be most pissed off if Obama wins the popular vote and loses on superdelegates. But if HRC were in the lead, they'd be similarly afraid of alienating her base of support by having her victory in the primaries reversed on superdelegate votes.

Then you're back to the question of "is the number of people who voted FOR Obama BECAUSE of race larger than the number who voted AGAINST him because of race"--which you haven't proven.

I'd be hard placed to believe that, especially this week. But I sometimes think that he may be getting less of a downside from being black than Sen. Clinton is getting from being female - not because I think in general that black men have it easier than white women (I'm more inclined to think the reverse), but because I think these biases kick in at different levels, so that, once you've gotten past all the crap at the lower levels to be in the rarified position of being a Senator running for President, people who would normally be biased against you are may be more likely to do the exceptionalism thing and put you in the "not like those other ones" category. That the stuff a black man has to do at that level to counter his perceived negatives - the Harvard education, the conciliatory style - are less likely to boomerang against him than the stuff a woman needs to do to counter her perceived negatives - prove herself tough, keep her emotions close to the chest, etc. (But, the flip side, black men are hitting lots more crap than white women that keeps them from ever getting to the Ivy League education stage.)

And, then again, on other days, stuff will come up like Wright, and I'll be less sure he has even that advantage.

Mostly, I think he's gotten as far as he has because he's just really exceptionally good at playing this particular game.

Josh Jasper said...

One good point I think is being missed about Obama is, despite all of his getting tarred by Rev. Wright by people who're using it as an excuse to condemn Obama for being black, he uses the language of people of faith faith authenticity.

I think he's more sincere and devout in his religious convictions than McCain. I've also noted that he's been really inclusive in his language towards Republicans. During his history as a legislator in Chicago, he got a lot of accolades for being bipartisan, and reaching across party lines.

You get the sense that he genuinely cares about people outside of political parties or the liberal/conservative divide. he may not always agree, but at least he considers them important and worth listening to.

That's one thing Bush has never done. The irony of his "uniter, not a divider" speech is still with us. I can't think of one president who's alienated more of the country than Bush. Even Clinton, at the height of his impeachment was less divisive.

Bush actually *enjoys* poking liberals in the eye. It's like a game to him. To a lesser extent, McCain is like that as well. But really, Obama feels more genuine to me.

I can't understand McCain's vote against prohibiting water boarding and other torture methods, especially when he's puffed himself out as being against it. It's like he sold out his entire military record for one vote. No explanation. No regret. I just don't get it. He's *said* it's torture.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very strange year politically. My wife and I have both voted in eleven presidential elections and we have both voted republican in nine of those eleven elections, but we both favor Hilary over McCain although we favor McCain over Obama. My sister, a life long democrat and my wife's best friend also both favor Hilary over Obama. My sister also favors McCain over Obama but my wife's best friend will stay home if its not Hilary. To be truthful I don't think any of these votes are related to Obama being black, but I can't sneak into other three peoples mind. In my wife and my case, I know that its foreign policy that is most important in our position. When Hilary said she would nuke Iran if they nuked any country in the Mideast, we said that's our girl, "GO HILARY".

Marty S

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