The One Cosmos Interview: On Finding Your Real Self in the Virtual World
WILL: John, I know you're a southern California guy, but could you tell us a little more about your background?
JWM: That's an invitation to an autobiography. I started out life as a baby, but that was a long time ago. Just kidding.
WILL: You are forgiven.
JWM: Here's the condensed version: I was born in Michigan. I lived there until I was in the sixth grade, when we moved from a suburb of Detroit to a suburb of Los Angeles. That was 1963. We left Michigan a month after Kennedy was assasinated, took off on the cross country drive after school on Friday, the thirteenth of December and moved into a house in North Orange County on Christmas Eve.
WILL: Hmm, Interesting that this huge change in your life came at such a pivotal time in American history. Would you say you were self-aware as a child? What kind of student were you?
JWM: I was always told I was smart, but I never did well in school. I slouched through high school with C's, mostly.
WILL: I swear I've never met anyone with spiritual inclinations, even if those inclinations were buried, who didn't float through grade and high school in a cloud of indifference -- you know, they failed to "apply themselves." I know there's got to be some out there who actually did well in school, but --
JWM: Well, all I know is I graduated in 1970 without the faintest idea of what I wanted to do. So, of course I signed up for junior college that Fall.
JWM: But even in 1970 they wanted more homework out of you than I was willing to do.
WILL: I hear ya talkin'. So what did you do?
JWM: I took a few crappy jobs, moved out of the house when I was nineteen, and decided to be a self educated intellectual. I got a job working as night custodian for the local school district. I drank a lot of sour wine, smoked a lot of crappy pot. I listened to a lot of great music. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Monteverdi, William Byrd.
WILL: That's not a bad education, right there.
JWM: Well, I read a lot of garbage, too.
WILL: Like what?
JWM: Existentialists. French authors.
WILL: Any theology, spiritual stuff?
JWM: No, I despised religion, and the religious. I was living like a character in a Simon and Garfunkle song. [Hmm. Reminds me of this one -- "Michigan seems like a dream to me now." Sorry. Continue. I'm all ears. -- BG] But in '74 I went through a seismic shift. It was the first of several I would experience. [Hmm. This also comes to mind... ]
WILL: What happened?
JWM: I threw all that intellectual crap over for the True Education.
WILL: Which was... ?
JWM: I took up surfing.
WILL: Whoa! You've no idea how cool that sounds to a Midwest flatlander such as myself. The Beach Boys, endless summers, Dick Dale, "hangin' ten".... So you really lived that "Zen and the Art of Surfing" thing?
JWM: Will, let me tell you, the ocean is a merciless instructor, but every lesson is allegory and parable that you can apply on many levels.
WILL: I can believe it.
JWM: Well, my salad days -- where the hell did they get that term? -- wilted when I met my first serious girlfriend.
WILL: I'm guessing it's because the first thing served at a dinner is a salad, thus one's early days are the "salad days." Or maybe it's because in our early years we are "green" like a salad, or --
JWM: Right. Anyway, my days went from: surf, work, beer, bed; to: work, beer, bed. I was hearing, "Can't you get a better job? You're smart." So I left the school district for a utility company.
WILL: How was that?
JWM: Hated it. I quit the job. Then another seismic shift.
WILL: Which was . . . ?
JWM: I went back to surfing.
JWM: But then I went back to school when I was 30. I wanted to do something "meaningful". To me the most "meaningful" job was teaching school. And the most meaningful subject was English because being able to communicate clearly and understand communication is the most important thing. It never occurred to me that a degree in English, even with high honors -- State College can't afford Latin, like the UC system -- was like getting first prize in a coloring contest. It's a blue ribbon in getting a blue ribbon.
JWM: All it did was kill any love of reading that I ever had in me. But it taught me how to think. I gave speeches in speech class about the need for socialized medicine and I roundly loathed the Puritans in American Lit class. In short, I came out well indoctrinated with kneejerk liberalism.
WILL: Most of us have been in that bus station at one time or another. So then what did you do?
JWM: I taught English in inner city Los Angeles for ten years.
WILL: Admirable thing to do.
JWM: I married. I divorced. I bought a Harley. Crossed the continent ten times over before I sold it. I was teaching continuation at an insanely bad school. I was burning out very badly. So badly that I did not not realize I was burned out. I cracked. I just lost it, completely. When all was settled and done the school pushed me out the back door with a disability retirement. Even the hired gun shrinks didn't fight it.
WILL: That's another thing that people with serious spiritual intentions -- even if they aren't consciously aware of those intentions -- have in common. At some point, they hit rock bottom. Dark Night of the Soul. How did you cope at this time?
JWM: Well, I threw myself into artwork for the next six years, and spent my time working in stone. I carved a lot of alabaster, got invited to shows, won some awards, and even sold some stuff. And... out of the blue I met Mary. I wanted no relationship but... we took a bike ride and were married within the year. Didn't expect that.
WILL: Excellent! Are you still involved with the stone work?
JWM: No, the art dried up. The last of the creative process went into the epic toyshelf serial that I published on Robot-Japan.
WILL: For those readers who don't know, '"Doesn't Play Well With Others" is JWM's online serial comic. I hesitate to use the word "charming" to describe it, but that's exactly what it is -- particularly if you find the bizarre, off-center, very clever, and hysterically funny to be charming. I urge everyone to check out DPWWO. Anyway, John, that take us pretty much up to the present. What's been going on lately?
JWM: Well, by the time I published the last exciting DPW episode, the creative energy that had sustained me for over fifteen years just vanished. A spiritual hunger took its place.
WILL: It really is interesting how the intensely creative periods in our lives seem to camouflage a spiritual desire that we aren't fully aware of -- until it really makes itself known, of course.
JWM: It had been eating at me ever since 9/11. It's what drew me to certain people on LGF, including the mysterious Gagdad Bob who dropped those awful puns in his otherwise hillarious one-liners.
WILL: Oh yeah, that guy.
JWM: I spent a lot of time walking. I live near the hills, so I took the energy that used to go into doing art, and used it to stay in decent physical condition. Besides, I always appreciate the times when I can hike up there alone. Then last fall I had some heart trouble. Another seismic shift. Had to give up hiking for a while. But they got me fixed. And broke. The part isn't all that expensive, but the labor to install it is kind of steep. So as soon as I got on my my feet again I got a job working part time for the local elementary school district. I'm substituting for the custodial staff. Right back where I started.
WILL: The symbolic full circle. And as with full circle completion, I don't doubt you have been transformed in the process. How do you see yourself at this time?
JWM: Well, one of the wonderful things about what we are doing here on the internet is projecting what is as close to pure thought out into the ether as is possible. The impressions we have of one another are built entirely of electrons ordered just so to reflect the inner workings of heart, mind, and soul.
WILL: Yes, agreed.
JWM: I'm sure we all wonder if the person whom we project on line is the person whom we want to project. The very first time I posted anything on a message board, it struck me that I was creating an on-line reputation. I decided right then that I'd use the same nic and signature all across the web. I wasn't going to try and create some on-line alter ego with a flashy name and a goofy style -- although much of what I post on LGF falls into the Goofy zone.
WILL: Goofy is good. It's an important part of the spiritual kit-bag, I think. it helps to lighten the load, so to speak.
JWM: It does. And that's one thing I like about the gang here at OC. There are lots of very sharp senses of humor. I'm 54 years old. I have some "been theres" and some "done thats." Some small successes and some spectacular failures. I try to stay simple. Point is, if I say I did something, then I did it. I don't make stuff up or pretend to know things that I don't know. The overall topic here is theology. Many of the regular posters and all of the Raccoons are better studied than I am. I'm no theologian. Neither am I well read in philosophy. Even though I have practiced daily prayer for decades, I am a neophyte at this business.
WILL: It's interesting. I always have the feeling that I'm "just beginning," even though like you, I've spent years splashing around in the shallow end.
JWM: Well, I have my first hand experience, some small knowledge of Scripture, and that which I seem to sort of intuit, the stuff that the voice just seems to place in my head.
WILL: And that voice sort of led you to One Cosmos?
JWM: After 9/11, I turned to the one person in the world whom I trusted to make sense of things -- Dennis Prager. I bought a cheap radio just so I could listen to his show while I worked on the stones. I listened every day for months. One day Prager talked about Little Green Footballs. I was new to the internet, but I found the site. I was drawn to a couple of people in particular out of the LGF crowd, BabbaZee, and Gagdad Bob. It was like following a trail that seemed random at the time, but it led me to address the real issue that was drawing me in the first place -- a spiritual hunger. I was looking for religion. Bob's writing gave me the doorway that I had been looking for.
WILL: I think that's a good note to end on. John, I think I speak for many when I say I find your story to be really inspiring. Thanks for the interview.
JWM: Thanks, Will, I'm honored.
That's pretty weird, because I was listening to that same Dennis Prager show that led me to LGF, which opened up a whole new world to me, an instant rapport with a community of generally kindred spirits that I never would have found without the internet. Interestingly, I rarely posted anything explicitly spiritual there, since that's not what the site is about. Rather, I simply tried to come up with humorous gags as a way to deal with my disgust with the psychotically hateful Islamist world and its satanic leftist allies (all-lies) in the West. Hence the nic "Gagdad Bob," which was actually coined by another reader. Before that, it was just "Bob G."
Only after a couple years of posting on LGF did it occur to me that I might start my own blog, which I did in October 2005. Now I literally can't remember what it was like to not have this outlet. What did I do before with all those thoughts? I think I just overwhelmed people in conversations. Now I am not nearly so compelled to speak.
This certainly highlights what Will always says about the "quickening" effect of the internet. I think the idea of an instantaneous virtual "global community" has prematurely become a cliche, to such an extent that most people are utterly blind to how truly revolutionary it is going to be. It will be foundational to man's future evolution in ways that we can scarcely imagine. The most clueless of all are the MSM and academic elites, who don't even realize they are working for the other side. They are truly dinosaurs, but unfortunately, it will take another meteor hit of the magnitude of 9-11 for them to become extinct. It's coming, and we can only hope that a man such as Rudy Giuliani -- which is to say, a man -- is in office when it comes.
Only then will more than a handful of people in the West begin to rediscover the surpassing value of our traditions and of America'a spiritual mission -- a mission that can be brought about by no other nation. And this may awaken the ruthlessness necessary to defend our uniquely beautiful values. In the process, all the vacuous spiritual careerists of the "new age" variety will be exposed for the narcissistic frauds and fascist enablers they are.
It reminds me of a discussion I was having with a colleague at work a couple of days ago. We were talking about how the mind has this miraculous ability to "somatize" anxiety and conflict. There is a certain type of person who spends his life going from doctor to doctor, trying to find out what's wrong with him or her, even though nothing really is, except mentally -- we call them hysterics or hypochondriacs. And then finally, when you hit your 50s or so, something finally is wrong -- heart disease, or diabetes, or some other condition, and it kind of blows away all the hypochondria. You go from the obsession with fantasy illnesses to dealing with a real one.
Our liberal media are hysterics and hypochondriacs, obsessed with meaningless trivia for the purposes of managing and channeling collective anxiety, including their own. You might remember, for example, that prior to 9-11, all of the networks were obsessed with the Gary Condit affair, day in, day out. Then something real came along -- 9-11 -- which rendered the Condit affair totally meaningless, even though it had been utterly meaningless before.
If you've ever stepped on an ant hill, you may have noticed how the orderly lines of ants suddenly become chaotic, but within a matter of minutes they sort things out and are back to their mundane routine. It's the same with our lamebrained MSMistry of Truth. Within weeks of 9-11, they were back to purveying their mindless substitute reality of leftist lies and hysteria. (Here is the appropriate response to Al Gore's weather hysteria.)
So there's a straight line that leads from 9-11 to JWM and I bumping heads and hearts in cyberspace. For me, my life is so utterly different than it was pre-9-11, that I've almost lost any sense of continuity between my past and present selves. When I pause to think about it, it's a little disorienting, and I don't quite know how to assimilate my past into my present. The image that comes to mind is those rockets that jettison their lower half as they leave the earth's atmosphere. Naturally, there's no turning back at that point. Nor is there standing still. Rather, you can only continue to hurtle forward into the unknown.
I want to thank Will for coonducting the interview, and JWM for submitting to it. It provoked a lot of other thoughts that I think I'll discuss later. Suffice it to say that I always love reading any meaningful spiritual autobiography. In a way, it's the most important testimony or witness we have to the reality of spirit. In the absence of this kind of unfolding and very real transformation, even the greatest theology is just theory. For the transformation is a result of ongoing conformity to a reality that simultaneously transcends and abides within us. But it is always retail spirituality: the cosmic tumblers can only align themselves one Raccoon at a time.