Neoliberalism Follies, Part II: No Newspapers in Montreal

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

From the cover of National Post/Financial Post cover May 8, 2015.

From the cover of National Post/Financial Post cover May 8, 2015.

With this series, I define a “neoliberalism folly” as a situation where a more efficient method or practice comes into play that has some liberating aspects to it for the end user, but the price to society and the economy at large also outweighs the benefits.

I visited Montreal for a little under a week to revisit my past of living and working part-time in the city in 2012, and found not so many structural changes, but a world transforming as a consequence of the smartphone. In 2012, there were at least 10 places I can recall physical, printed newspapers available for sale (primarily at dépanneurs, a pedestrian community type of convenience store) in the neighborhood I lived in near Concordia University en route to Westmount, the primarily English-speaking well-heeled neighborhood toward the West Island. However, with visiting in May 2015, I was only able to find one location offering newspapers for sale, the Pharmaprix (known as Shoppers Drug Mart throughout anglo Canada, similar to a Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy in the US) on Saint Catherine Street, the main drag or High Street. Canada has a number of high quality newspapers, The Globe and Mail, National Post, and Montreal Gazette is another local English newspaper from the city that I follow from their Facebook page. While Canadian newspapers, at least in English, follow a less sensationalized pattern than US ones usually do, I do feel like they retain a quality of journalism perhaps higher than what you find Stateside.

When inquiring with the dépanneur owners, mostly Asian or from North Africa, they said they could not bear the risk of having the newspapers on site because they no longer sell in their stores because “everyone” is now getting their news from their smartphones. That said, I have heard from a variety of sources from varying professions and perspectives that print ads in newspapers are still perhaps the most effective campaigns a company or retailer can invest in. Perhaps home subscribers fiscally see the newspapers through and have predictable enough consumer habits to be reliable investments for the advertisers. But for young, urban, scholarly types, what will be the most influential methods of pushing forward breakthrough products?

The question at hand is a cost-benefits analysis of perhaps greener practices involved with not printing so much newspaper that will be thrown away or recycled in a matter of days versus the quality interactions purchasing a newspaper can create, as well as the reliable segment of income this product used to offer newsstands and dépanneurs. This may save consumers a dollar or two a day but what other groups or products will capture this money in a low-interest and soft retail environment?

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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Remembering Lisa Falour

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

Taken from Bossa Nova Beatniks' Facebook page.

Taken from Bossa Nova Beatniks’ Facebook page.

Many of you will fondly remember the participation and remarks of Lisa Baumgardner Falour on this website and from YouTube. I had a strong premonition as January 2015 wore on that she had passed, and sadly, to the best of my knowledge, it appears she did die in her home in early January according to fineillstartagoddamnblog, kitwenclas, Club 57 The Book, and Bossa Nova Beatniks. She died at the age of 57.

An artist and philosopher, among many other credentials and talents, her Bikini Girl zines have been shooting up in price, now showing in the $125.00 range and showing up in higher positions on Google. Her two primary places of living were in New York City in both the Lower East Side and Brooklyn and later what she referred to as a Paris suburban ghetto, the city of St. Denis, France. She was a very strong influence on my own activities and assisted many who frequent this website in one way or another, building vast social media networks, particularly on her YouTube channels slobomotion and cutecatfaith, and a lisafalour Daily Motion account, all of which I recommend that you visit for highly useful insights and guilty pleasure, non-politically correct humor. Chemtrails, abductions, financial wizardry and crimes, spousal relations and tribulations, and more than anything, her experiences as an expatriate in France are the main subjects. Lisa Falour released well over 2,000 videos on her channels from 2010 to 2014. There are so many that are useful to watch, but I have selected several here that may be particularly poignant, amusing, or informative for you. Rest in Peace our friend, and to those reading, spread the good word of an amazing artist who needs to be researched and remembered.

“Bondage Model in a Haunted Apartment”


“Lisa Falour’s Bizarre Expat Exploits – France”





“Immigration is Traumatic!”



“Losing Everything … (Bus Ride, France)”

“ — Part 1″

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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2015: Debts, Miracles, and Good Conscience

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

This is the third year I have done something like a tarot State of the Union address or summary and the fourth I have assigned a theme. 2012 was The Year of the Opiates, a series of media sensations and euphoria to see the US through a presidential election with faith the in the system in tact. 2013 was The Year of Deconstruction, a period where institutions were upended and structures were questioned. 2014 was, to my estimation through last year’s reading, The Year of Self-Assuredness. The previous year was fairly robust in economic performance and the mood was more optimistic than in recent years. For 2015 I really had to focus on the experience of people in North America and do my best to accommodate Europe and Australia at the same time, because our experiences are more divergent this year than they have been in the last decade with the US prospering more than the rest of the pack for the first time in many years.

Once again, the sentiment in the media now is divisiveness, terror, danger! But the tone has changed as the commodities of oil and gas are more readily available.

The prayer I prefaced this tarot reading with proceeded as follows once I had earlier done a brief reading to determine that our theme this year is Debts, Miracles, and Good Conscience (determined by III: The Empress and Five of Pentacles):

Basel, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland

Dear God: With the theme of “Debts, Miracles, and Good Conscience” going forward for most people in Western countries reading this summary, what is the most helpful thing for them to know in 2015? Please bless us with useful, constructive information from truthful, benevolent sources.

PAST, PRESENT: Nine of Wands, Two of Cups

This tells me that the fundamentals of developed countries are actually sound. We are equipped with everything we need generally. The long-term picture has always shown improvements and the standards of living are still good when looking at conditions one decade at a time. The Two of Cups points to more actual unity and agreement on the ground than we acknowledge. This also alludes to, on a more negative outlook, the prevalence of mergers and standardization. There is a blandness in the uniformity of some of our thought processes and mundane, bourgeois dealings.

FUTURE/APPLICATIONS: Queen of Swords, rev.; Six of Cups

The West must not throw its weight around. We are becoming less liked, and spreading a version of darkness. There is a bit of a loss of the “illuminated” quality coming from the West. People are having a more difficult time communicating effectively. Also, there is a bit too much nostalgia taking place while people seek stability in rapid change. This will be reflected with a very strong interest in the 1960s and 1970s in terms of fashion and outlook (some of the political upheaval of the day).

Six of Cups also speaks to a bit of indulgence and naivete. I take this to mean that the Western bubble of relative security and material comfort is not going to be upset for most people this year. We have been granted an extension.

Are there any major epidemics we need to worry about?

FUTURE: Five of Cups, rev.; Page of Wands

This pairing refers what has already been suffered in regards to the ebola scare. We are not really living up to our health potential, in fact, a general quiet crisis is cresting right now. We are turning a corner slightly as the worst figures are peaking at the moment since many people are taking positive steps and the availability of better food has improved in most urban areas where the majority of people live. The Page of Wands refers to hype and light on facts. There may be many announcements or promises of cures this year, but they do not have efficacy or real results for the most part. I do not see biological attacks as a big threat this year, which surprised me a bit.

Will a war with Russia kick off this year?

FUTURE: XIX: The Sun; The Emperor, rev.

I believe The Sun this time represents how western countries see themselves, as the Allies or the superior virtue in the world. I see the term “Union” being used more frequently, starting this year, but not to represent the EU or trade unions necessarily. I believe this term is being reassigned as those two institutions, or institution types, are partially dismantled. This card also refers to, again, the masses not really being affected by geopolitics, or getting benefits from them, such as the cheap gasoline while Russia is subjected to various degrees of economic warfare.

The appearance of the Emperor in reverse tells a lot. Default, stubborn leadership on all sides, and it could represent the declining popularity in Russia of Vladimir Putin. He will have to make other members of the government more visible to take the attention off of himself. The view of Putin as overly rigid and obsessed with power will take hold more. While the population will quiet down in Russia to some degree (at least in the capital), people will get along with their business and not engage politically for the most part… however, this is something of a lame duck or ineffective term for Putin and a lot of his peripheral support will lose interest.

I do not see a war, which also surprised me to some extent.

What is going to happen to Australia this year?

I asked this question because I see this country as one that successfully held onto high wages, high interest rates and returns on investment, and one with the most rapid dismantling of these foundations. The terror events, and even more the reactions to these events and engagement with Russia have been uncharacteristically aggressive. Also, I have reason from past life regressions to believe that Australia will not remain a sovereign nation this century.

FUTURE: Seven of Wands, Ace of Wands, rev.

The struggling and sputtering of the ideals and magic of “The Lucky Country.” This is an earnest, productive nation at a hard turning point, but it is not a hopeless situation. However, many federal goals and aspirations will fall far short this year. There is not any real leadership or genuine steward to see things through. Through very strenuous organization and sticking to values of strong work ethics and tolerance, this hurdle can be overcome but I think there is a sentiment of not reaching full potential that will likely plague the year in Australia. Once again, a new government will be formed – I think December 2015 or January 2016.

Are there any interesting trends or is any excitement afoot?

FUTURE: XVIII The Moon, rev.; King of Wands, rev.

Lots of questioning of values and ethical shifts. “Why do we always do it this way?” I also think lack of loyalty or permanency is a feature of how things are going. In this case, it makes people vulnerable to intolerance and all kinds of negative bias. There will be some spectacular scary media stories this year that keep people in the highly suspicious and paranoid modes we have lived through for the last 14-15 years. There can be a thrill and amusement to it, but the Moon reversed suggests to take control and be your own moral compass. Self-control and an approach of social inclusion will be rewarded and appreciated in the long run and in the afterlife.

Will any countries break away from the EU?

FUTURE: XIII: Death, Three of Wands, rev.

Yes. I would not have suspected that anything could break this now forced union but yes. Death symbolizes renewal, break from past patterns, and an inevitable turn. The EU itself is not breaking up now, but I think a provisional break off will happen for Greece based on what I see here and it seems like perhaps one other country to the East – though movement of goods will remain in tact and less traumatic calculations of debt repayment will be decided upon (for once). All kinds of avoidance of core dysfunction and disagreement in the European will be employed because I feel like at the highest levels, it is known that the future of Europe is quite different from the rest of the developed world – in the distant future I see a very localized type of many cultures, eschewing of some aspects of globalization, and much more administration at the municipal or “county” level. There will be many rather high-profile blow ups exposing abuse of expenses and I think France and Italy will have some unrest against the centralization of power, while Spain may be quieter this year with a noteworthy start to economic recovery.

Will the economic boom in the US continue?

FUTURE: Ten of Wands, Eight of Cups

We are coming near the apex of the bubble which will start popping in places this year. The Ten of Wands is associated with a tremendous amount of pressure building. This year will see the investment side of things start experiencing distress due to overvaluation and too much idealism, but it will not affect the population so much this year. Much like 2007-2008, unemployment will continue to go down for the better part of a year.

The perceived abundance in non-renewable energy and the political makeup will, for a time, delay better investments for the long-term interest of the environment and even equity or value of assets as people do not think far ahead. Eight of Cups speaks of environmental problems, particularly with water. Good opportunities are missed and some visible irreversible environmental damage will occur this year in the US.

Taken at the site of a scene of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in Salzburg, Austria. You never know what great things are in store once you’re out of the ornamental tunnel.

There is far more to be said and to be analyzed but far too much material to cover this year. With the tumult of automation and the speed of life picking up, there will be a strong element of nostalgia. When many of you come home in the evening, you pause at the front door and lean against the door in relief that your sanctuary is in tact and a constant in your life. We are spared any catastrophic upheaval yet another year, and several major crises are averted, which many will attribute to the supernatural or their own resolve. There is so much to be grateful for and your resources are both numerous and near, within and external. The greatest combined task is to set your own agenda and to be resourceful, open, and yet retain more than a modicum of loyalty – more for your own sense of worth and self-assessment than anything.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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All Eyes on Putin and Russia: Encounters on the Ground

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

It was a great discovery to have my eyes land upon the relatively new book by Marc Bennetts Kicking the Kremlin: Russia’s New Dissidents and the Battle to Topple Putin at my local public library. While I do not follow the news religiously with a discerning eye for legislative procedure, I do my best to keep a good read on a situation in a country of interest. I suspect that in 2015 Russia will be a still more enlarged topic everywhere from between friends to academic circles. Ever since the banks in Cyprus were forced to tax their general savings accounts in May 2013, I have been watching for cues for other western countries to start putting pressure on Putin, Russia, and Russians, and this has come to two boiling points in 2014 with Ukraine and now pushing the prices of oil down to six-year lows. I will return to this subject more with the 2015 tarot analysis next week.


St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow

I do not want to give the impression at all that I think Vladimir Putin is a benevolent figure or to give the so-called oligarchs unfettered access to resources and markets. I also had a rather dark experience myself when visiting in 2005. However, it seems most reasonable to take these two items into consideration: when it comes to corruption and above all deceiving the public, we could probably benefit from looking at every leader and administration as a series of line items rather than a total package. If Putin or Barack Obama takes a negative action, call them on it, but strictly stick to the fact and do not try to discredit everything they do or the entire administration. Likewise, if something negative happens, it is not necessarily the fault of the team in power. There are forces in trends that are extremely difficult to overcome. The second important factor is that even if there is a nasty coup, to some extent we get the leader that reflects our true nature as a collective, or the leader that fills a particular need that we think we have. Once the administration or regime has taken over, it’s often hard to undo, and there is the acerbic juxtaposition of most leadership situations then not representing the majority at all, but at the same time, they will get re-elected again and again because the electorate is scared of worse to come or the establishment controls the narrative to the extent that nothing else can be imagined.


The vehicles for Putin, cabinet, and higher level support staff at the Kremlin.

I have not finished reading Kicking the Kremlin, but the means by which Putin seized power, as told in the book anyway, are far more systematic and vicious than I fully understood – environmental activists opposing some of the rapid development having their children seized by child protective services, liberal use of batons to be cracked on protestors’ heads, busing in skinheads from the provinces to intimidate and threaten dissenting Muscovites, arresting and sometimes possibly ordering the assassinations of journalists not loyal to the Kremlin… it goes on and on. However, Bennetts still writes that Putin may be the most lenient leader in the history of the USSR and Russia. Particularly in Putin’s first term in the early 2000s, the rising economic prospects of the nation were greatly appreciated by the population and most were willing to look the other way from any kind of opposition.

Upon arrival in Moscow at the train station, nearly everyone was wearing black.

It was right around this time, right after the beginning of his second term, that I visited St. Petersburg and Moscow with a study group in 2005. It is very difficult to encapsulate the spirit of a time and culture in a short passage, but the New New Russia in its two principal cities was a bit like the Wild West from my limited visitor’s perspective. The first impressions largely revealed a surly way about a lot of transactions (visa stamps, ordering food, checking into a hotel, and so forth) that cannot fully be discomfort or resentment with differences in language if one is not able to speak Russian, however, this is coupled with a frankness that Americans in particular are not used to (see The Evil Eye is Not the Stink Eye). Relations between the US and Russia were particularly good at the time, at least as far as the public was concerned, and Putin had given the impression of his approval for George W. Bush in a recent visit, so there was not an anti-American or anti-English sentiment at the time (I would fully expect that as of this writing in late 2014). There was a certain climate of “hustling” that could be seen everywhere with vendors on foot rushing to our tour bus with each stop, prostitutes camped in the lobby of both of our hotels (many who studied with me that year will remember their stupefied reaction when I bought each of them a flower in an attempt to break the cynical atmosphere). Our guide indicated that the previous year that he had come to St. Petersburg to that same hotel, one of the former students from our school was working as a call girl in the hotel because she had secured two regular clients she met twice a week and charged 150 for each interaction, thus bringing in $40,000USD per year in those days, much more than she could earn in any other profession. The income disparities were quite obvious with this backdrop, not to mention an intense paranoia with any type of loitering especially in the capital, as they were still reeling from the Beslan Massacre that left 334 dead the previous fall, Russia’s own traumatic 9/11 event.

Most dramatically, a few of my peers were held up at gunpoint by the police or people posing as police when they had hailed a taxi. Three of them capitulated out of fear and handed over approximately $200 each, while the fourth insisted that he be taken to the police station to report them, a threat that worked, incredibly. This fourth person left the group in disgust and ventured into the Moscow night alone. My memory may be distorted but his father was in the CIA or some kind of Special Branch and his outlook was such that he had a bit more knowledge of the rules of engagement with brutish transactions at the street level. We later learned that police officers made the equivalent of $300 a month (corroborated in Kicking the Kremlin, unchanged several years later) and this kind of tactic was sometimes a necessary supplementary income. We were all, even at 21- and CAM0070322-years-old, familiar with the business culture of the Putin era, joking about oligarchs and such, but the extremes of propaganda versus the actual human condition can only be understood when facing them yourself: a vigorous campaign to bring the Olympics in 2012 to Moscow was everywhere, but the public was very much against it due to the expenses, and though this city had the most expensive commercial real estate in the world, most people were getting by on less than $1,000 a month, with long commutes to the suburban highrises.

Though I expect the middle class has gotten a bit more prosperous in these ten years, that particular combination of rising prospects coupled with downturns being easily attributed to the activities of foreign powers (in their case, with the commodities trade, particularly with oil) makes a population vulnerable to nasty nationalist propaganda and strong support for a dictator. Again and again we hear that Russians want a strong leader, and when Putin makes aggressive remarks in response to actions by the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Israel in particular, his popularity figures increase. My unsolicited advise is no matter what the long-term goals of Western private interests are, it is better for the safety of the world if there is more delicate rhetorical kowtowing practiced in order to negotiate the most amicable situations, even if a fair bit of corruption persists. All of the tactics and conditions described here from Russia are actively in use in the US, but to a lesser and more subtle, perhaps covert, extent. My hopes are that a nice balance can be struck whereby the intellectual capital of a great nation can coexist with the big-scale business interests that also bring the nation prestige.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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2015 Theme!

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

In early January 2015 I will be doing my annual tarot theme for the year with a few major issues addressed. This can by no means be tailored to every individual, but is rather a common experience theme encountered by western people who will comprise the vast majority of those individuals reading the material.

This time however I wanted to question and reveal the theme a bit in advance. With the CAM00594usual question of what will be the major theme of the year, prefaced by asking that the cards have benevolent forces steering information that will be helpful to us, the two cards that surfaced were: Five of Pentacles and III: The Empress. Therefore to my estimation, this year’s force and theme is:

2015: Debts, Miracles, and Good Conscience

More to come in early January! Subscribe for free and for instant email delivery when the assessment is released. To see what was anticipated in 2014, please revisit 2014: The Year of Self-Assuredness.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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Third Regression: Encounters With Defeat, the Closing of Eras

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

It is with a heavy heart at moments that I report back recollections from my third past life regression from today. It was a profound and expertly organized affair as usual but themes generally tie what seem like unrelated life scenarios together. What I can conclude unifies the timelines from today is accepting at times that some historical events are inevitable and any amount of pushing against them can be wasting your time. It is also important to remember that the whole of the human experience looked at as a whole provides context and some assurance that events are never totally wasted occurrences.

My regression guide is a good friend I have known for over ten years and we had a fairly profound connection immediately. We have often wondered if there have been extensive past-life tie-ins. Again, I do not want to profess anything as undisputed fact for myself or other people who have traveled this planet, though I strongly believe that at bare minimum, if you are having a regression, much of the time you are tapping into the eyes of someone who has lived somewhere at some time. With my friend who is my regression guide, I have always seen her as a daughter, even though in this lifetime she is more than 30 years older than me. Today we wished to explore our first encounter in another lifetime.

We went through our procedure of linking to the past (described in A Journey Across Time – My Unorthodox Past Life Regression Experience and Breaking Time Taboos – Another Regression) and I could immediately tell that this was going to be a more challenging session than what I experienced before because we had set out the intention of finding our links and also the task of looking at my life in this existence in five years’ time (2019).


To try to find my link with her was really unlike anything I’ve visualized before. It was something like flipping through a Rolodex with historical images and feelings impressed on the cards, or a few seconds of hundreds of movies spliced together while a gentle falling sensation ensued. I seemed to traverse Europe many times and see failed harvests, early libraries, rivalries, children, and so forth in very quick succession. Finally I seemed to land in a foggy environment with a Viking ship in front of me. I determined that I was a 45-year-old red beared man setting sail for “Anglia” or today’s England, in 1060. I will say that I know of the Norman invasion of 1066 but I am fuzzy on the Vikings that late in history. What I saw was myself with five other men landing on the eastern coast of England (a part of it with cliffs) and instead of looking to ransack monasteries like my predecessors may have, we pushed inland and split company to carve our own winnings somewhere. My regression guide asked if I was a pirate and I explained that we did not view ourselves that way – it was economic expansion and trade. She asked if I had family – they were all tucked away and out of sight and this was something I accepted without question.

I was able to get inland and with what I was “told” or could understand from a distance is that I was near what is now Leeds. I did find my guide in her other incarnation. She was a decrepit, stout 30-year-old bearing a resemblance to Mrs. Patmore on ITV’s Downton Abbey, probably a widow, running a primitive mill on her own. She was grinding grains and made some breads. She was somehow an informant and advisor to me and no one local interfered with her collaborating with an invader because she was a major instrument in their food source and local economy. She lived in a tower of sorts and I lived somewhere in that vicinity for some time, until knights with horses showed up (horses seemed foreign to me and I wonder if horses were not used by Vikings or the Norse people at this time) and pushed Nordic people, including myself away. I was then instructed to look forward, and I could see myself visiting the area in 1073. My old collaborator was by then dead and gone, but the town was prospering under the new order and I was somehow able to freely travel this land without obstacle in a civilian capacity.

There was a lot of carnage I was aware of going on in the background, but somehow I was spared from watching it happen again, though I did see one of my colleagues snap someone’s leg off shortly after landing on the island. It was witnessed with an air of aloof indifference because this would have occasionally been commonplace at critical moments.

My regressionist friend and I then tried to find another critical scene to our friendship and connection but I wound up seeing her on a plane in 2008 and visiting with her whereby I could see myself from her perspective, but we could not really extract any particular meaning, though perhaps that year being the major kickoff of the financial meltdown we have all lived through had a connection to the next scene.


I wanted to see this lifetime in 2019 and parlay my own role in it to the greater events of the world. I landed in the bathroom of my childhood home, where I now live alone. Seeing myself, the top of my head no longer had hair and I was about 15 pounds (seven kilograms, one stone) thinner and lighter than now. It took me a while to establish more details of the time, but looking into the driveway, I saw a small black, modern hatchback car. I learned from peripheral senses that we had begun harnessing nuclear energy a bit again and there was a definite energy crisis on.

When taking in my childhood and current community of Topeka, Kansas, it was a very gutted commercial real estate situation I witnessed. This is not something hard to conceive DSC05625of since there are dozens of formerly vibrant areas up to the 1980s and 1990s that are now vacated, but this was quite bad to see, including a shopping area not far from me that is performing decently at the moment. What I saw indicated that only places with food purchasing or consumption seemed to be doing well or still in existence. There were almost no people on the streets or driving around. My regressionist asked where the people were. “At home,” I replied and felt. A lot of commercial activity had continued to move through the mail and people were even writing letters a bit more to avoid consuming too much fuel. I sensed that many people started their cars with activation from their phones and Smartphone technology was still a big instrument in our lives, but had migrated to more voice commands and responses.

Furthermore, I was advised by some unknown teller that all over the world, circumstances were more authoritarian, but it was more severe in the US. I almost wish to say there was a curfew instituted. The unemployment issues were handled by a greater number of people receiving stipends and subsidies though the official unemployment rate was just above 10 percent. By all measures, the economic center had shifted to Asia. I did not see people starving or rioting but rather, people had retreated home. What really surprised me is that it was going into 2020, another US election year, and I overheard that Hillary Clinton had been president during this interim but was grievously unpopular and was not expected to be re-elected. I was advised that most of the key people in my life now were still living but I did not have the time or wherewithal to engage with any of them to learn more.

I sensed I had been in Asia for a while again and had returned to shore up or access my assets before heading to Canada to live. My personal prospects were in good shape but I was too depressed with my surroundings to go on in them.

With a transition I cannot fully remember now, we decided to move forward to another significant time and I was all too happy to leave 2019 behind. We landed in 2044 and I woke up in a sterile cosmetic surgery clinic.

If you have ever seen the more recent version of Stepford Wives from ten years ago, what I saw reminded me very much of that movie. It is very hard to relate to someone who has not had a regression how details of a society or place are revealed to you when you land in such a place. It’s a bit like someone is providing a narrative you cannot exactly hear while you walk through mini scenes that are a slice of that lifetime and setting. I learned that I had something akin to a younger face transplant and the entire economy and society had shifted toward health, beauty, education, and personal achievements. I told my guide that this was the first time I could recall in my lifetime since the late 1990s that the future felt optimistic (at this point in 2044, if I were to still be living, I would be 6o or 61) and technology and science were embraced without much debate since good was coming of it. My guide said that I typically do not talk about celebrities or sporting events or anything of that nature in a regression, so I was able to relate to her more of the same: the magazines (still thriving or thriving again!) were mostly oriented toward attainment of youth and personal fulfillment. It was insinuated or understood that there was something on par with relative world peace and a unified global system though I could not really report on what life was like outside of major urban areas. The only area that really operated outside of this super optimistic mindframe and governance was South America. Everyone spoke very sweetly and said everything in a “kindly way” (unlike what I saw in the 22nd century in A Journey Across Time – My Unorthodox Past Life Regression Experience which was all about speaking in heroic, absolute terms, or at least in my caste) but it became apparent to me that a large part of this setup was due to very effective and almost universal pharmaceutical opiate use deployed by central planning. While there was an obvious artificiality to everything going on, it was a definite improvement upon the reduced circumstances of 25 years ago and what authorities and the public saw as perhaps the only answer to the post-industrial way of life.

This was a very strenuous regression session that was a fair bit of work for both of us. When I was coming out of the session, I was swept up in the spirit of 2044, witnessed from either North America or western Europe, which at the time was not that distinctly different from North America. I felt something like a synthetic tear of nostalgia as I was symbolically waving good-bye to the very sweet people of that time who bore little prejudice or animosity except against physical limitations from getting older. The people reminded me of theme park employees in their earnest way of going about things, and I have reservations about that kind of chemically induced peace and already in 2014 resist milder forms of this kind of activity, but understand that it may be an interim solution we arrive at in the not-so-distant future.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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The Evil Eye is Not the Stink Eye

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

My own "hamsa," purchased in Istanbul, May 2012.

My own “hamsa,” purchased in Istanbul, May 2012.

For a long time, I have been wanting to tackle the broad subject of the Evil Eye, or more generally, the cultural handling of showing gratitude. It seems particularly relevant with the end-of-year holiday season which places great emphasis on gratitude.

There has been much debate and discussion about the use of the hashtag #blessed in social media in North America and Australia. Many people are wishing to express their gratitude for good fortune, while others point to the watering down of the actual meaning of the word, which refers to holiness, or worse, the implication that “I am on God’s side and am being rewarded, while someone less fortunate may have somehow asked for it.”

As a Midwestern American, I did not realize the emphasis on public display of gratitude in my culture, which stems from the general religious outlook in this part of the world, and is part economics. I continually feel compelled to publicly express how grateful I am for great co-workers, family, a happy event, or to just have an overall pleased countenance, but I also have some reservations after what I have experienced in the world, particularly in Greece, Turkey, and Eastern Europe.

The first time I experienced this withholding of exuberant behavior was in Poland, which is probably one of the most underrated countries in the world on the traveling circuit (it’s affordable for tourists, has remarkable architecture in many places, and there’s interesting food). I was particularly happy at that time because I had just finished my undergraduate degree, so I was smiling at lots of people, particularly children and trying to indicate admiration for families, because in my experience in the US, people appreciate “approval” from strangers over how cute their kids are or if they excel at something. The reaction I got in return was not disapproval or worry, but Polish people did not really know how to take it – the expressions were something akin to “I wonder what he wants or thinks is so special about this everyday scene.” At a 750th charter anniversary celebration in Krakow in June 2007, I noticed the crowd was very reserved though everyone was enthralled with the concert. I was raving about it at the youth hostel later that night and the staff had a watery-eyed reaction that suggested a sense of validation, but responded with polite but terse “We are so happy to hear that” but no gesticulating or further comments.

Much of Asia is this way as well, but I did not really begin to understand it until I went to Turkey and Greece five years later. The caution was exacerbated in Greece by the depths of the financial crisis that year.

“As an American, the object is to be seen as generous to others but at the same time keep the focus on one’s individuality and sole accomplishments.”

In Turkey, I started seeing the hand emblem or amulet on a lot of jewelry (pictured above, the hamsa) and a black eye surrounded by blue. I had heard of the “evil eye” all my life and thought that it was something like a Sicilian curse. While variants of that do exist and all kinds of cultures and religions have appropriated or misappropriated it, I would say that a broader application of that is a general “don’t draw attention to yourself – doing so will cause you bad luck.” In Turkey, which was doing very well economically at the time (though Syria was a worry already), I often said to Turkish people “You have such a happy country.” “What?!” I would hear. People would then conjure up any kind of negative point on the country they could, though if I said anything in kind, the one major point that people would get defensive with is any observation of collectivism or stronger family ties. As an American, the object is to be seen as generous to others but at the same time keep the focus on one’s individuality and sole accomplishments.

A few weeks later in Greece, I landed in Athens where I knew a few people who were pickpocketed within a matter of days, I could not get money out of an ATM at times, and there was a deflationary depression going on with 25% unemployment. There were many places I went that were unsafe. And yet the sun perpetually shines there, it’s remarkably beautiful, and so where there is a glimmer of “hope,” oftentimes Americans will try the Pollyanna approach – or at least a number of them will and I am among them – and thus think that their will and prayers can overcome the darkness. Very little of what I have experienced in the abundance of the US contradicts this, and when circumstances are lean, we are trained to double down and smile even brighter until it becomes believable. This has always worked for me. However, in Greece, it brought trouble, suspicion, and oftentimes it is why Americans do not seem trustworthy or sincere to people from different backgrounds.

As soon as I was smiling and joking with other tourists in a way that was maybe too ostentatious, someone mentally deranged would come shouting in our direction. At a cafe, somehow the barista started talking about the economy in Greece when he indicated that he makes €1,200 a month for full-time work, net, in a city where the rent is now around €300-350 a month. I responded that this was great and he has done very well for himself and he stepped back, stupefied as to how to respond. Again, bad luck to call too much attention to good fortune when so many are suffering.

In countries with unstable governments or irregular tax collection, one also needs to discriminate how and when to show off because that can draw the attention of auditors or other types of retribution.

In other climes, such as in northern Europe, it is also not appreciated to express too much gratitude or point out one’s attributes or good fortune. There are many reasons for this, but I suspect that the biggest is economics. In the deregulated environment of the US, one has to constantly attract in order to be seen as a viable, relevant “product.” In deregulated Asia, this is mainly expressed through keeping up physical appearances but not crossing the line into standing out. In extroverted US, declarative statements and professing of otherness is required in order to hold market share (so long as one does not become too marginalized), which has applications in all spheres of our lives. Though western Europe is rapidly Americanizing in this sense (I started noticing pharmaceuticals in advertisements there in 2012 for the first time, and changes in consumer preferences as well as advertising), there is still resistance toward the striving for attention that characterizes American culture because the enlarged public sector and emphasis on cultural institutions makes that behavior less of a necessity.

In no way do I think that any of the shades of showing gratitude or not showing it are fundamentally wrong. Though I have a strong cultural preference for itemizing the reasons I am thankful, I can no longer do so without reservations. Is a highly optimistic, grateful approach one that uplifts everyone and builds stronger community, or simply a way of building a platform to draw more positive attention to ourselves?

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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