Skip navigation

(Originally posted in mid-2011, shortly after the Occupy Wall Street protests had begun, this post’s original appearance had garnered over 20,000 views and almost 1000 Shares. Subsequent events have made the article even more pertinent than it was when it was first written.)

The Corporate Citizen is in the dock. He (and let’s be honest, the Corporate Citizen is implacably masculine) has a fire under his ass right now that no amount of bribery, mockery, or denial can extinguish. He may have bought the Supreme Court, Congress, the cops and maybe even the president, but he’s in trouble. The crows have come to roost, and this time we’re not going to just go away.

This protest isn’t about overthrowing the economy or killing the Corporate Citizen. It’s about HOLDING THE CORPORATE CITIZEN ACCOUNTABLE. Just as a private citizen must be responsible for his or her actions, so the invented legal entities that reflect corporations must be held responsible for their own.

Supposedly, they ARE accountable. This, however, is not the case. The current economic crisis, for starters, was not caused by natural or random events. It has been caused – and continues to be exacerbated – by deliberate corporate malfeasance: epidemic outsourcing, continual pollution, political bribery, criminal negligence, tax evasion, theft, even mass murder. Deep pockets and legal arcana keep the Corporate Citizen immune to most of his actions.

This. Must. End.

That’s what this movement is furious about. Not about market-based capitalism, but about deliberate exploitation far beyond point of harm.

When a private citizen endangers or damages his society, he is held accountable. Society’s citizens and agents call him to account for his actions, demands and end to them, judges restitution, and often delivers punishment.

That’s what’s happening here now.

The Corporate Citizen is a criminal. And We The People are holding him to account.

Corporate_crime_2

Unlike the so-called “tea party,” this movement is not being underwritten by corporations and fueled by racist Fear Of a Black President. This, simply put, is righteous fury – fury in the classical Greek sense of punishment for one’s misdeeds.

The Corporate Citizen has been running amuck, and continues to do so. For the last few years (the last few DECADES, to be honest, but it’s all finally catching up with the white middle class), the effects of this rampage have been catastrophic. My partner and I are business owners ourselves, and what has been done – by Exxon, BP, Goldman-Saches, Enron, Blackwater, Halliburton, GE, News Corporation, Monsanto, Blue Cross, etc. etc. etc. – is NOT “business as usual.” It is deliberate rape, pillaging and scorched earth in the name of profit for a handful of people.

These Corporate Citizens, and many others, are damaging our personal environment, poisoning our physical environment, dismantling our social environment, and purchasing our political environment. This is causing untold amounts of disasters for the world at large. For the sake of a few executive bonuses and some fat stockholder checks, these Corporate Citizens are committing vast global crimes. They are dumping toxins. They are buying police forces. They are holding the truth hostage in exchange for trivia. They are allowing contractors to rape and murder human beings, then using legal loopholes to escape punishment. They embezzle government funds, undercut public knowledge, and dodge the taxes that help pay for the infrastructures that support them.

Individuals are not allowed to do such things. Corporations should not be allowed to do them either.

An individual who dumps poison into a lake is jailed; an individual who commits murder is imprisoned; an individual who steals, defrauds or otherwise takes someone else’s property against her will receives a criminal sentence. Corporations do these things EVERY SINGLE DAY and yet remain untouched.

This movement isn’t about overthrowing one’s ability to buy food at the corner store. It’s about holding Corporate Citizens to the same standards as we ourselves are held – by strength of outrage and force of law.

Some critics – many of whom support “citizen revolts” that upend queer rights or question Obama’s citizenship – dismiss the Occupation because it supposedly lacks a “list of workable demands”… as if Occupy Wall Street was a hostage situation, not a rightful protest. First off, this circism denies the legitimacy of the FIRST Official Statement approved by the movement – its Declaration of Independence, if you will.

Secondly, it ignores the fact that the media-darling “tea party” has made no such unified statement in three years of existence, beyond a pathological hatred for the President, “liberal agendas,” and a “Big Government” they fully supported when the GOP was in charge.

Most of all, it declares contempt for a movement that’s actually on their side because LESS THAN A WEEK INTO THE UPHEAVAL, no list of “ransom demands” has yet been issued. No doubt, an actionable process is already in motion. Before change can occur, however, the wronged party must make itself heard. That’s what’s going on right now. You can’t issue reforms until after you’ve being recognized.

And really, folks – if the current lack of a An Occupy Wall Street Bill of Rights is what’s bothering you about this movement, please go pick up a few history books that weren’t published by News Corporation and approved by the Texas Board of Education. If and when you do, you’ll see that the first American Revolution (the one we know by that name), and the second (aka, the Civil War), and the third (aka, the Civil Rights Era) all began the same way: with no more “structure” than a bunch of people who were fed the fuck up with “business as usual,” and who were determined, despite all opposition, to change it.

——————————–

Copyright (c) 2011 Satyros Phil Brucato. Rights of circulation with attribution are expressly given by the author. Rights of reproduction for profit, with or without attribution, are expressly DENIED to outside parties, with the exception of fund-raising agents for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  

Advertisements

We The People of the 21st century,sharing in common one Planet, one Species, one Home, DO DECLARE the following Rights for ourselves and the following Responsibilities to one another: 

THESE RIGHTS:

THIS ABOVE ALL, the Right to Self-Determination in Terms of Identity, Belief, Vocation, Location, Companionship, Relationship, and Expression, assuming that practice of said Right does not violate another Citizen’s Rights as given below

The Right to be Recognized, Protected, and Respected as Fellow Citizens Under Law, regardless of Gender, Sex, Orientation, Age, Creed, Ethnicity, or Social or Economic Caste

The Right to Remain Free from Forced Slavery, and Indentured Servitude

The Right to Remain Safe from Rape, Torture, Genocide, Assault, and Murder

The Right to Remain Safe from Theft, Fraud, and Seizure of Property (physical or intellectual) without Due Process of Law or Trade

The Right to Education, Information, and Knowledge

The Right to Petition, Express, Vote, Protest, and Abstain in Social and Governmental Discourse

The Right to Unfouled Air, Unfouled Water, Unfouled Food, and Unfouled Living Space

The Right – as Consenting Adults – to Love Who We Will, and to Be Loved As We Will

The Right to Protection from Unlawful and Intentional Corporate, Religious, or Secretarian Predation

The Right to Retain Our Personal Information or Property from Sale or Discovery unless We Choose to Share it through Fair and Open Trade

The Right to Remain Free from Forced Incarceration, Relocation, Violence, Seizure, Discrimination or Persecution by Government, Clerical, or Legal Bodies, until and unless We have been Found Guilty of specific criminal activity through the Due and Fair Process of Law

And the Right to be Treated Fairly, With Justice, and Without Vindictive Cruelty or Ethnic/ Religious/ Cultural/ Sexual Persecution if We have been found thus Guilty.

THESE RESPONSIBILITIES: 

THIS ABOVE ALL, the Responsibility to Recognize and Respect the Rights, Safety, and Property of other Citizens

The Responsibility to Contribute in Constant, Meaningful and Measurable Ways to Our Shared Society, whether through Art, Nurture, Labor, Invention, Knowledge, Service, Financial Support, or Combinations of the Above

The Responsibility to be Honest, Ethical, Compassionate, Honorable, and Fair in our Actions, Commerce, Behavior, and all Aspects of Our Employment with Ourselves and Other Citizens

The Responsibility to be Civil, Truthful, Knowledgeable, and Respectful in Our Discourse, Debates, and Disagreements

The Responsibility to remain Informed about Our Culture, History, and Politics

The Responsibility to Nurture, not Abuse, Children, the Helpless, Animals, and the Infirm

The Responsibility to Recognize the Consequences of our Actions upon the Environment We Share

The Responsibility to Clean Up Our Messes, in all forms they might occur

The Responsibility to Provide for Ourselves to the Best of Our Current Abilities

The Responsibility to Hold Ourselves Accountable for Our Behavior

The Responsibility to Be Held Accountable for any Injuries we might cause to Others

The Responsibility to Make Restitution for Our Actions if and when we Cause Injuries to Others

The Responsibility to Nurture, Protect, and Aid – especially in times of War, Disaster, Violence, or Civil Distress – Our Fellow Citizens

The Responsibility to Avoid Behaviors, Actions or Substances that Present Hazards to the Lives and Property of Others

The Responsibility to be Humane and Respectful, whenever possible, to Our Fellow Animal Beings

The Responsibility to Limit Our Impact upon Our Shared Environment whenever possible, and to Rebuild, Restore, or Otherwise Sustain that Environment to the Best of Our Current Abilities

The Responsibility to Live Up to My Potential as a Valuable and Ethical Citizen

And the Responsibility to Uphold the Health of Our Society, Sustain its Infrastructures, and Protect it and Our Fellow Citizens for Current and future Generations.

In short and simple terms:

WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE OURSELVES

AND THE RESPONSIBILTY TO NOT MAKE THAT SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM. 

We’re all in this together.

Our World.

Our Future.

Our Home.

Please pass this on.

Sure, it’s a Dream. 

But that’s the way histories change.  

———————–

Copyright (c) 2011 Satyros Phil Brucato. Permission granted to circulate, with attribution, for non-profit purposes. Permission explicitly denied for reprinting for profit without express consent of the Author. 

Our world does not want us to be heroes. Heroes make folks nervous. They challenge us by standing out. While society shows us what we can buy, heroes show us what we are not. And that display makes folks profoundly uncomfortable. As a result, I believe, most people shortchange their potential and smother the hero within.

First, let’s clarify what “hero” means. It does not mean “nice person.” The Greek root haeros means “to sing of,” and while the Greek heroes were so “sung of” that we remember them 2500 years later, they were not “nice people.” Quite the contrary: Theseus was a rapist, Odysseus a liar, Herakles, a hot-tempered murderer, and Achilles a psychopath. Not a Boy Scout in the bunch! The gods may smile on the meek, but they don’t remember them.

Heroes, by definition, are memorable.

I got to thinking about this a few years ago. Channel-surfing past the E! Network, I’d stopped to watch a few minutes of the “E! Hot 10.” Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton! “Why?!?,” I bellowed. She isn’t especially good-looking, has no talent, displays no brains to speak of, and has contributed nothing to the human condition except gossip and waste. So why were so many people fascinated with the Barbie Mark-5 Paris Hilton Unit?

Paris_hilton

Then I noticed her body language: angular, exaggerated, direct and unspeakably arrogant. Her matchstick frame and little-girl voice may indicate fragility, but there’s nothing fragile about her stance. It says “I am who I am. You love me for it, and if you choose not to love me, fuck off — I don’t care.”(*1) Y’know, I thought, she’s right. Insufferable, arrogant, obnoxious, and 100% correct… if only because she says so. Paris and the rest of her E! Network celebricult peers are the living embodiments of Billy Idol’s old boast “I can be an idol just because I call myself one.”

These days, Lady Gaga provides a far better example of this principle. Not only does she display far more brains, talent, and inherent decency than the Hilton Barbiebot, but her staggering success – a “fame monster” (*2) crafted almost entirely from Stefani Germanotta’s determination to succeed artistically – comes from the artist’s understanding of fame itself. Unlike Paris, Gaga is an actual artist, mirroring the human condition through potent, focused creativity. We respond so powerfully to her – pro or con – because she knows exactly what she’s doing and refuses to apologize for doing it. (Besides, anyone who considers Lady Gaga to be just another brain-dead pop diva with nothing significant to say isn’t really paying attention to her work.)

Gaga_yoga

Does this make them “heroes”? Well, not in the “does great things for humanity” sense, but they certainly are sung of, if only for the moment (*3). There’s a disposability about their fame that would be heartbreaking if it weren’t so amusing — but even in that amusement factor, they still have our attention. We slammed Paris Hilton out of envy. We watch the inevitable flameouts of Tom Cruise or Britney spears with derision because such people dare to be so bloody arrogant… and even then, we’ll still be watching the next one down the line. Why? Because such people TELL us they’re worth watching.

That, my friends, is called “claiming your power.” And society hates it — we hate it! — when someone claims their power so fully. Because to claim your power is to stride outside the mainstream, stake claim on your personal island, bask in the sun and get rewarded for doing so. We call this “arrogance,” and it is. But to be a hero, to be sung of, demands a certain amount of arrogance. And most of us are too afraid of being disliked to truly assume our power.

Now, by “claiming power” I don’t mean taking dominion over others. I’m referring to dominion over yourself — although, as most confident people can attest, those who have dominion over themselves are often given dominion over others, too. (This has certainly been my experience.) Sadly, a lot of folks assert their “power” by abusing other people, animals, or worst of all children. Perversely, such people show how little power they truly possess. Violence (emotional or physical) against an unthreatening target is an admission of weakness, not a display of power. Aggression comes from a need to prove one’s self; a truly powerful person doesn’t have anything to prove. (*4)

Even so, the dominating nature of power, combined with the submissive behavior of those who give their power away, means that most people have a love/ hate relationship with confidence. On one hand, they’re drawn to the person who lives his/ her life on his/ her own terms; on the other hand, they feel threatened by that person, too. As I said, most people don’t really want heroes sitting in their living rooms. If nothing else, such a person points out the powerlessness of others simply by existing. Think about it: would you be truly comfortable inviting Paris Hilton over for dinner? Or would her presence, even if she were remarkably nice to you, turn you into a blabbering idiot?

The power principle can be seen starkly dramatized in the filmAmerican Beauty. Kevin Spacey’s character Lester Burnham begins as a pathetic schlub until, inspired by Wes Bentley’s character Ricky Fitts, he takes command of his life and starts speaking up for himself. Both Lester and Ricky shake up everyone in their vicinity by refusing to play the game by society’s rules. Both wind up punished for their “heroism” but it’s okay, really… because both of them also realize that their refusal to play by those rules has put them in a better place than they would have occupied had they remained “good.”

American_beauty_movie_poster

(My old friend Brenda once said “Arrogance is what the weak call confidence.” Her “attitude” got Brenda fired from work not long after, but although Brenda’s sentiment didn’t endear her to our management, she wasn’t exactly wrong. The fact that she got a better job afterward sort of proved her point.)

I myself have an uneasy relationship with power. Since the mid-1990s, I’ve been a celebrity — not Paris Hilton-level, certainly, but I am. Many of you wouldn’t be reading this if I weren’t; there would have been no Deliria, no Mage: The Ascension, no Satyros blog or readers for anything I wrote if I had remained a shoe salesman in the early 1990s. And so yes, I seize my power on occasion. But to this day, I have an uneasy relationship with that. I hate being thought of as arrogant. I want to be liked. I want to be nice. (*5) I don’t usually want to make other people uncomfortable. And so I occasionally defer, and pull back, and deny myself opportunities because someone might think I’m arrogant. I might think I’m arrogant, and that may be the worst sin of all. In that way, I’ve often sabotaged my own potential. Then I’ve recognized what I’m doing and knocked it the hell off!

In high school, my nemesis was Greg, a guy who apparently got whatever he wanted because he simply acted like he was entitled to it. He wasn’t a bad guy, really – didn’t really do anything wrong to me. Still, I hated his guts because he was arrogant enough to claim his power… and I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be like Greg… and yet I did. There’s a part of me that hated myself for that… and a part that gleefully embraced it. That ambivalence made me uncomfortable until I understood it, and sometimes it still does. This discomfort, however, doesn’t usually stop me when I get a notion in my head. And so, yeah — like Greg, I can be an arrogant bastard sometimes. I don’t often like that part of myself, but without it I wouldn’t be who I am. When I claim my power, I choose to be heroic.

You can do it, too.

Satyr3

(Arrogant enough to post a picture of myself as an illustration of the point…)

The most essential part of claiming your power is believing that you are worthy of it. You can be a hero if you assert the right to be one. Doing so is an ongoing process, one that involves starting your day by looking in the mirror and saying “I am who I choose to be today, and I choose to be HEROIC.” Stretching out and breathing, warming up your body and reminding it what it can do, you take on your day head-on, looking people in the eye and considering opportunities whenever you see them. (*6) Not all opportunities should beaccepted, of course (your girlfriend might not appreciate it if you took a co-worker up on her flirtations!), but by at leastconsidering them, you begin to recognize that they exist. From there, be wary of your boundaries, and remember not to give away too much of your self for another person’s benefit. In small doses, giving way to others is consideration; done too often, though, it becomes subservience. And outside of aBDSM relationship, there’s no power in that!

These four steps — recognizing your self, your potential, your opportunities and your boundaries — break down the wall of hopelessness that we are conditioned to accept. Once that wall is weakened, opportunities to manifest your power appear… and your ability to see them and take advantage of them appears as well.

Will these steps turn you into Paris Hilton? Of course not. (And thank all the gods for THAT!) They will, however, bring you one step closer to being memorable. And if the moment comes when you must act in some heroic way — whether by commandeering a bus, jumping at that job you always wanted, or hauling a person out of a car wreck — you’ll be more able to act heroically because you believe that you can!

Claiming your power, however, will not often make you liked.Admired, perhaps, but not liked. Because, as I said earlier, society does not want you to be heroic. It wants distant pageants of heroism and villainy, but balks when someone actually tries to star in them. Y’see, religions want congregations; governments want citizens; businesses want consumers and contributors. None of these institutions has room for heroes. Heroes rock the boat. They don’t take orders or fit into neat little packages. Rock stars and sports legends look great on TV, but their lives are marked by combinations of worship and spite — often from the very same people!(*7)This often explains the quirks and addictions that plague so many powerful people. The achievements that make them who they are also isolate them from most of humanity.

Hey, nothing worthwhile is free, right?

We are conditioned for subservience, you know. Church, school, commercials and psychotherapy all reinforce the idea that we are dysfunctional. We’re too fat, too poor, too stupid, to sinful to be prosperous. To get ahead in life, they tell us, we must consume. They have the products that we need, and whether those products are clothes, cars, exercise programs, high test scores, drugs, or whatever brand of salvation the church prefers, you need them in order to be “healthy.” This is, of course, a self-serving program — it keeps those institutions in business. It’s pervasive, though. In a world where everything is for sale, the illusion of confidence belongs to those with enough cash (hello, Paris!) or talent (Hi, Gaga!) to claim it. That “power,” however, is an illusion. Reject it, and like some old Phantasmal Force spell, it all fades away. The only truth you can count on is the truth in the mirror. Accept that and nothing else truly matters.

There’s an old Japanese saying: The nail that stands out is the nail that gets hammered. Of course, the underlying irony of that sentiment is that without nails, there wouldn’t sheds for the hammers or houses for the hammerers. Heroes are a social necessity, if not always a welcome one. As one author — I think it was Robert Pirsig — wrote, “heroes move the world forward”… even when the world might not comfortable with that momentum!

So – are you a hammer or a nail? Both are essential in our world. Which do you choose to be?

As I wrote in my book Everyday Heroes: Adventures for the Rest of Us, every person has the potential to be a hero, but very few people actually become one.

It’s your choice, really.

These days, most of all, we need more real heroes.

So be one of them.

Claim your power, and have a heroic day.

Gypsy-in-the-rain1

——————————–

BOLDLY HEROIC FOOTNOTES OF DOOM

*1 = The intentional vulgarity here makes my point precisely.

*2 = The Latin root of “monster,” incidentally, means “portent” or “warning,” and comes from the related term for “to reveal.” Thus, a monster portends events, warns us, and ultimately reveals a lot about us.

*3 = Again, I don’t consider Lady Gaga to be some disposable pop princess. I believe she’ll remain as enduring – for better and worse – in her accomplishments as her fellow media chameleons Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Madonna.

*4 = I’m not referring to violence in survival situations. The very fact that survival sometimes depends on violence, however, points out that no one is all-powerful all the time.

*5 = “You’re kind,” an old friend once told me, “not ‘nice‘.” I appreciate the distinction, and I suspect she’s right… even though she may very well disagree with that assessment these days.

*6 = No one is going to give you permission to be powerful. To assert control within your life, you must give yourself permission and then take yourself up on that offer. No one else can do it for you — nor will they! Confidence must come from within.

*7 = During my days as a line developer at White Wolf Game Studio, my friend and editor Ed Hall got promoted to the Wraith line developer position. Within days, he was being ripped apart on the White Wolf fan forums. “Why are they doing this?” he asked me. “I haven’t even done anything yet.” “Because,” I replied, “you’re doing it and they aren’t.” Many times, it’s that simple. We excoriate a Paris Hilton or Ed Hall because they have a power we only wish we could claim.

————
Copyright 2011 Satyros Phil Brucato. Permission granted for circulation, with attribution, for non-profit purposes. Circulation for profit explictly DENIED without prior authorial permission. 

Who is “Satyr,” anyway? What do I mean when I say I’ve been “dancing with my Muse,” and why do I still enjoy roleplaying games as a pastime, art and profession after all these years?

Aspecting. 

I often refer to “aspecting” during various chats, posts, articles or conversations. What, though, do I mean by that term?

In the practice of aspecting, a person essentially creates (or recognizes) different “aspects” of herself as individual characters. These characters may have different personality traits, skills or knowledges than the original “core” personality, and can be really helpful if and when you’re trying to understand things about yourself. As Walt Whitman said in “Song of Myself”:

Do I contradict myself? 

 Very well, then I contradict myself, 

 (I am large, I contain multitudes.) 

Wolf_girl

Aspecting is an essential part of ritual, a vital skill in art, and an underrated gift in psychology. Carl Gustav Jung hinted at its uses, though I don’t think he truly understood (or was willing to understand) that the “archetypes” he wrote about can be found, employed and even created by one’s self. I view aspects as creative masks and mirrors through which we can understand ourselves better… and thus, grow further than we would grow otherwise if we stuck to a stubborn (and often self-deceptive) sense of one Self.

You know how people often say, “I would never do that,” and then go on to do it anyway? Or how folks say “You’re not being yourself,” or “I didn’t think she had it in her”? The way people can manifest radically different personality traits or behaviors when they’re drunk, or tired, or stressed or overjoyed? These things are manifestations of unconscious and often unintentional aspecting. As Debbie Ford points out in her books (most especially The Secret of the Shadow and The Dark Side of the Light-Chasers), we all have the potential to be almost anyone under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Well, aspecting is a practice that allows a person to tap into that potential  deliberately,  intentionally, and with conscious self-knowledge.

Lots of people perform aspecting all the time, often without realizing it. When a cop puts on his uniform and becomes Officer Whatsizface, he’s aspecting someone different than the person he tries to be at home; when an actor assumes a role, when a gamer creates a character, when a priest dresses himself in vestiments to become an avatar for his god, they’re aspecting. When you take on a nickname or dress up for an event or somehow “create another self” for a given situation, you are aspecting. It’s something we humans do naturally. Folks at FaerieWorldscosplayers at conventions, Burning Manregulars, Live Action Role Players and face-painted football fans are all aspecting to a lesser or greater degree.

Football_paint

(So who are the real “weirdos” here…?)

Society in general, however, doesn’t really understand aspecting. Folks don’t talk about it, much less figure out ways to handle it or balance it. And so we constantly see people broken by the stress of their “other lives”: the Marine who can’t snap out of killing-machine mode, the teacher who treats her partner and kids like students, the gamer who prefers his Half-Elf Assassin to the “boring” person he is out-of-game. At extreme levels, this can lead to dangerous disassociation: the cheating spouse who refuses to acknowledge what he’s doing, the football hero who treats girls like touchdowns, the  abuser who “would never do” the terrible things her lover’s bruised skin and terrified eyes reveal. At the extreme end, folks with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) unconsciously create new “personalities” to deal with unendurable trauma. And so, roleplaying an aspect becomes something “weird”in the popular imagination – a symptom of mental illness. According to popular legendry, roleplaying gamers supposedly worship Satan by pretending to be vampires or whatever because “normal” people aren’t supposed to do it.

“Satan,” however, manifests most fully in the people who most deeply fear him. Biblically, “satan” is actually an aspect of God, often portrayed as His servant and “the Adversary” (which is what satan translates to in Hebrew: adversary) but actually showing up as a sick sort of bridge between God and Man.

In The Book of Job, Satan bets God that Job would betray his faith if enough misfortunes attacked him; in the course of that book, Job eventually has a sit-down with his God, during which God reveals many elements of Himself to Job and becomes, oddly enough, closer to humanity as a result. In the New Testament Gospels, Satan tempts the Christ to show off His divine power; by refusing to do so (and thus become a slave to “his adversary”), the Christ asserts self-mastery through the ironic method of remaining humble despite His divine power. In Revelations, a titanic struggle for Creation itself wages between the “dark sides” of humanity and God, and the ultimate Unity of New Jerusalem.

Theoretically, the final resolution of that struggle results in a new Whole. If you know about Kabbalah, however, you recognize that the end ofRevelations creates a new Qlippoth – a collection of broken “shells” discarded by (or cutting themselves off from the presence of) God. According to Kabbalistic lore, those shells remain on the dark, unexpressed side of Creation, a “howling” (goetia) of angry spirits waiting to be recognized again. Even God, it seems, has a Shadow which the Divine Presence (or at least His/ Her/ Its most fervent followers) refuse(s) to acknowledge… and thus, constantly expresses in spite of themselves. The awful spectacles of religious violence and abuse become manifestations of the Shadow of each religion’s best “self”… ones often hidden and denied by pious practitioners even as they become obvious to everyone else.

Ironically, by denying our tendency to aspect, mainstream society actually nurtures situations where it can become mental illness. Jung referred to the terrible expressions of unacknowledged “selves” asthe Shadow: the elements of our selves that we refuse to admit about ourselves. We see this depicted in popular culture as the Mr. Hyde phenomenon, as the werewolf, as the psycho who “seemed so normal” until cops found 13 heads in his refrigerator. As Jung, Ford, and other folks have pointed out, the tendency of mainstream society to force us into little boxes of “self” creates a tension between our “normal” personality and the sides of our selves we don’t usually express. We have holidays like Halloween where people are encouraged to “be someone else,” but at the heart of the matter, we all, as Whitman said, contain multitudes. Most of us just don’t know what the fuck to do with them.

Over a decade ago, I adopted the nickname Satyr as a way of sorting out a frustrating duality within myself. At the time, I had been wrangling for years with the inner tension of being a sensuous creative rebel who also feels deep compassion for other people and a stubborn streak of what a now-former friend referred to as “your fucking integrity.” I love to defy authority and do things that most folks consider crazy… and yet I also maintain a powerful sense of self-preservation and responsibility for my actions. A few years ago, I articulated my ethos as “Live vigorously and with honor”; at the turn of 1999, however, those words had not yet occurred to me. I had, as long ago as 1983, recognized that the characters I created in my acting roles, stories and roleplaying games were aspects of my own personality; later, in the mid-90s, I referred to the struggling parts of my self as the Vagabond and the Knight. “Vagabond” wasn’t quite the right word for what I felt, but it was close enough to describe my wild and rebellious elements.

When I would describe this to my then-therapist (whose name, again ironically, was Janis – the feminine form of the two-faced Roman god), she initially seemed concerned. “These… other selves – they don’t talk to you in voices, do they?” I had laughed: “No – I’m a writer, and putting things into archetypal poetic conceits just works really well for me when I’m trying to describe these things.” In the years since then, I’ve delved deeper into the concepts of Jung and his followers, taking those archetypal “selves” to a richer, more significant level. By around 1998 or so, I had acquired the nickname “Satyr” by way of my work on the Changeling: The Dreaming line and my affinity for the Satyr kith. When Changeling authors Nicky Rea and Jackie Cassada turned me on to the Waterboys song “The Return of Pan” sometime in the late ’90s, I felt a deep resonance with the tension expressed within the song – with Mike Scott’s internal tug-of-war between his inner Christ and his inner Pan. To me, it mirrored that struggle between Knight and Vagabond… and now, I had a new name for the latter aspect: not the Vagabond, but the Satyr.

Shortly afterwards, when I had left White Wolf’s staff and was seeking a new path and identity for myself beyond “Phil Brucato, that Mage guy,” I had a mental flash of Pan throwing back his shaggy head and laughing – laughing at me, at White Wolf, at all the foolishness that went down between us, and at the follies of the world in general. At my request, my old friend and collaborator Mark Jackson drew a laughing Pan; my then-wife Wendy Blacksin bought that image for me as my first tattoo, and I soon named my next project – Laughing Pan Productions – after that aspect. By 2004, more people knew me as “Satyr” than as “Phil,” and I realized that I liked it that way. In 2010, I was gifted with the slightly more dignified Satyros by our tribe in Greece, and the synthesis of all of those “selves” has been instrumental in my personal, spiritual and professional growth. So yes – aspecting consciously, as some of us do, allows us to use this phenomenon with healthy and conscious intent. Those of us who know what we’re doing – whether we’re cosplaying Na’Vi, roleplaying werewolves, or incorporating whole “self-aspects” into our daily physical and metaphysical lives – choose to use our aspects as mirrors and masks through which we reflect, explore, create, and heal.

Masks

Originally written as a response to an artist friend of mine, this just seemed like something worth sharing on a larger scale. Enjoy!

——————————————–

Image

As I told Sooj a few months back, some of us cut ourselves to bleed Art… not because it’s fun (though it can be) or because we want to (we often have no choice) but because it’s what makes us feel alive. 

Like you, I’ve wished my life could be simpler. More financially secure. A life that didn’t involve tearing my skin off for an audience that could range from single digits to thousands of people I might never see. I’ve been vilified by people who haven’t met me simply because I did things they had not done. Bruised egos, creative rivalries, endless insominacal nights wondering how the fuck I’d pay the bills, and the occasional job or friendship or love relationship that justDISAPPEARED for no reason I could see. The passion of daring what other folks dream about doing, and the fits of mercurial temper or dredged moodiness that bubble up from nowhere – all those things and more are part of this quicksilver lifestyle that drives us on. 

It’s no wonder that you, like so many other artists, wonder why you fucking bother. 

Here’s why: 

We are the dream of Life personified. Our passions, our awareness, the crafts we hone and the things we dare and the insights we claw out eyes out to see – they’re bigger than just us. 

Through the things we do, we change the world. Sometimes person-by-person, sometimes in vast numbers, we speak for people who don’t know the words, dance for those who can’t feel their legs, sing and scream and throw paint at the walls inside our heads on behalf of all the people who feel the same way but don’t even know where or how to begin to express it. 

Life is fury and joy eating itself every second of each day. It’s the perpetual birth-death scream of endless ecstasy – the recreation of each cell and molecule, the constant thunderstorms across the brains of every living thing. It’s the whirlwind of awareness that every human heart feels but few can truly understand. It is unpredictable and capricious and it always ends the same way: with death, decay, and rebirth into something new. 

Those of us who embrace Art – not kiddie-school play or consumer product, but the Real Deal that speaks the Truth – feel Life rippling underneath our skins. It drives us sometimes literally crazy with the things we feel and can never truly express. Our limitations – of time, money, fear, social constraint, physical capacity – seem at times like razor-barred cages. We can pace back and forth, drug ourselves blurry, lash out at the people masochistic enough to share our lives, throw ourselves against those bars or cower in the middle and pretend they aren’t there… except they are. And we know it. And we might never escape them all… except maybe, just maybe, if we dare enough to be raw enough, we might dance our way past the worst of them, inspiring other folks to do the same. 

That’s what Art does.  

It expresses things beyond words. 

It speaks for those who HAVE no words. 

It celebrates and warns and cherishes and mourns, and the whole human condition – perhaps far beyond just our own concerns – is mirrored and intensified by acts of Art. 

This is a holy charge, a sacred duty. That’s why we’re alive. 

It’s scary and it’s painful and it’s totally fucking worth it. 

THAT’S why. 

As Bikram said, This is going to hurt. Don’t be afraid. 

Love, 

– Satyr

 

And here we go...

And here we go…