Free-Fall – The Herd – Love It  or Leave It

A series of postings offering perspective and commentary on art and global environmental issues from Joe Carlisi

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Ulysess Leaving Circe 5.29, 5/29/03, 7:43 PM, 16C, 9388x12536 (741+749), 133%, JC 5.28.03 hyp, 1/10 s, R74.7, G52.8, B53.6
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We are bombarded daily with news and information concerning man made environmental changes that are altering and reconfiguring the landscape of the earth’s surface. The events being reported are undeniable and disturbing, as they are reducing rather than nurturing the carpet of life that once covered the planet.

Why is this?

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spe·ci·a·tion – noun –  BIOLOGY – the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution.


Perhaps, humanity has not yet defined itself as a single species. We seem to have formed several subspecies, differing profoundly in levels of awareness and behavior.

The primary subspecies consists of a vast herd – like conglomeration that comprises the majority of individuals. A lesser but rapidly growing subspecies is comprised of individuals in varying stages of awakening.

This description of the two primary subdivisions, in no way intends to suggest superiority or inferiority to either group. This discussion seeks only to describe the impact and consequences of this division on the ability of the planet, to support life as we understand it.

The herd is and maintains the status quo. It is the guardian and guarantor of the system, the social order. This system is the cumulative set of agreements, beliefs, common perceptions and behavioral patterns that define human existence. This apparently, seamless system is consistently programmed into us from the moment of birth to the moment of death by parents, teachers, religious leaders, political leaders . . . . . all of the sources of authority that we are plugged into. Uniformity and conformity are scrupulously enforced in ways that range from direct and obvious to subtle and subliminal. Penalties for deviation can include death, imprisonment, humiliation, rejection and disenfranchisement.

Herd members avoid taking responsibility for their individual and collective acts. Rather, they choose leaders from their ranks and entrust them to make decisions for them . . . . .to lead them. If things go well, they commend the leaders; if things go wrong, they blame the leaders. They often replace them.

Environmental free – fall is steadily approaching a point of no return and is the direct result of the historical, collective acts of the human herd subspecies. Herd members are driven, individually and collectively, by the ego centered mind or me, that has been carefully and steadfastly fashioned and fitted by the system . . . . .the social order. This vast collection of me units compete and strive for self-fulfillment based on the accumulation of things and the achievement of transient goals and objectives which serve only to temporarily inflate and bolster individual and collective egos.

The satisfaction is passing and leaves the individual or herd group with a renewed and intensified thirst for more. Nature, the host environment is seen as an unlimited, disposable, warehouse of items set in place by a higher power for man’s exclusive use.

The awareness of the herd has not extended to a point where it is capable of grasping the unity and inter- connectedness of all life in nature and, of course, the resonant effects of its destructive activity on the web of life which includes itself.

Neither good nor bad . . . just the way it is.

Where does this leave us?  The possibility of deferring change to a future agenda is no longer possible. The window of time available to alter human behavior to an extent necessary to avert an irreversible, catastrophic chain of ecological events is closing rapidly. This is not a matter of soon or maybe. This is right now. We are approaching the threshold of extinction. It comes down to two choices. We can make our stand with the herd, take no responsibility, look for someone to blame, maintain the socially engineered fictions of separateness, specialness, superiority and continue navigating aimlessly, without connection, in darkness. The journey will be short and one way.

NU 9-15-05 Carlisi, 9/15/05, 4:28 PM, 8C, 5312×7050 (4945+3799), 133%, SG 9.13.05, 1/8 s, R90.0, G51.8, B52.8

The other choice is to quietly detach from the herd by simply taking responsibility for our own lives and

actions . . .  allowing one’s essential self the chance to awaken, prevail and navigate . . . to move beyond larval awareness.

The future is unknowable. The environmental free – fall that we are experiencing will play out and rebalance. That is all we can be sure of.

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Joseph Carlisi – Biography     

Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T.     

After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”.

Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil.

Joe’s art is available for purchase.

Contact him at carlisijoseph@yahoo.com.

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Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T. After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”. Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil. Joe’s art is available for purchase.