of my brain would be a scary place if it were exhibited for everyone to see. For that reason (among others of a more cosmetic nature) I am grateful that my brain is not on public display.
I think of this often because of one of my favourite reread books - trilogy, actually - by Judith Tarr, called The Hound and the Falcon (The Isle of Glass; The Golden Horn; The Hounds of God) about a monk in the early 13th century who is more than he seems. Alf was a foundling taken in by the monastery, but it isn't until much later in life that he learns the truth about who he is - one of the elven folk. Does this stretch your imagination too far? If fantasy isn't your thing, these may not be the books for you, but I'm entranced by Alf, a gentle and wise monk who finds himself taking part in the Fourth Crusade, trusted advisor of King Richard of England. Tarr interweaves historical fact with an intriguing plot and fascinating characters - a combination I really enjoy.
Anyway; Alf is able to perceive the thought patterns of other people. He sees the workings of their minds as though their thoughts were threads of a tapestry. For example, his young friend Jehan has a very tidy, orderly, mind. One of the bad guys has a mind like a black hole, while most people are more like the tangled back side of a tapestry, all knots and confusion.
That's what my brain feels like to me: tangled knots and confusion. It doesn't help that when I try to sleep at night, I subject myself to obscure radio broadcasts of libertarian-type pundits like Lew Rockwell or Scott Horton (the latter from Antiwar Radio). They have turned my ideas about the reality of our society - politics, foreign policy, economics - on their ear. The groundwork for this was laid a few years ago by an American friend who shared YouTube links with me about alternate history (unrevised history, as he insisted on calling it) in which the Second World War was unnecessary and the government was manipulating vast portions of our life. He also told me about the Austrian School of Economics and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (their economic thought has to do with a market economy, private property, and sound money). I didn't realize before this that there were different schools of thought when it came to the economy. I thought the government was supposed to intervene, because... well, because that's what it did.
Those conversations with my friend really freaked me out. My brain in those days would have looked like scrambled eggs pressed against one side of the frying pan in fear and trembling. Then recently, when I was looking for something other than music to listen to at night to help me drift off to sleep, I stumbled on Antiwar Radio, and realized a whole lot of people out there think the same way as that American friend of mine. I was intrigued to learn more about Libertarian ideology and I started to think about politics and world events in a different way.
I haven't become a radical anarchist, wanting to do away with government completely, but there is a fair bit of Libertarianism that is beginning to make sense to me, given the state of affairs, not just in the US, but in my country and most of Europe as well. The monetary system is messed up, armed conflicts instigated by meddlesome third parties are dangerous and senseless, the lack of honour and - to use an overused word - transparency in politics is becoming dangerous.
Nevermind what the inside of my brain would look like to Alf the monk; what would the power centres of the world look like if we had the eyes to see what was really going on?
(Libertarianism is, loosely, a political philosophy valuing personal freedoms over state authority)
The Republican Party of the United States is undergoing the process of nominating a new candidate to run against President Obama in the upcoming federal election. What an interesting field it is! Thanks to Dr. Ron Paul, 12 time Congressman from Texas, the candidates are talking about the Constitution, about limiting the powers of government, decreasing the bureaucracy - not to mention the debt. I admire him for his boldness in calling politicians on their voting record, for addressing the dysfunction of Washington, and for proposing radical solutions. It takes someone like him to effect real change rather than just bring in a different colour of tie to the same old suits in public office.
Some of the other candidates have promise as well. I can't predict who will eventually win the nomination, nor will I ever have the chance to vote for one, but watching the Republican debate in New Hampshire last night, I was electrified by this one moment from Newt Gingrich. As a Catholic, I wanted to shout "Hallelujah" from the rooftop when I heard these words come out of his mouth, and I am tempted to send this clip to every major news outlet in Canada, as well as a few politicos north of 49: