The Four Agreements, All We Keep Saying…, “Astonishment Theory,” Choice Theory, Early Dion’s “Theory,” Mar-a-Lago Trump Documents Scandal and Tom Tomorrow, British Monarch Stuff, Flag Grammar

Welcome to this week’s “zine.”

by Mark M

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is a self-help book by bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills.

I never read the book, but, knowing the 16 words of the four agreements which I think are definitely worth “cultivating,” seems enough:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Concerning Agreement 2, many are the times, for instance, where a person or other has slighted me in some way, and I think they must not like me. And then I compare notes on that person with another and it turns out they experienced similar behavior on the part of the person in question. Finding that out reinforces not taking the slight personally.

It seems like standard operating procedure for politicians to utterly fail at Agreement 1.


All we keep saying is give peace a chance, and did you know this?:

“For those who say negotiations are impossible, we have only to look at the talks that took place during the first month after the Russian invasion, when Russia and Ukraine tentatively agreed to a fifteen-point peace plan in talks mediated by Turkey. Details still had to be worked out, but the framework and the political will were there.

“Russia was ready to withdraw from all of Ukraine, except for Crimea and the self-declared republics in Donbas. Ukraine was ready to renounce future membership in NATO and adopt a position of neutrality between Russia and NATO.”

What happened? The U.S. and the U.K. put a stop to all that. Details here where the quote above comes from.

If you like the idea of negotiations instead of war, I encourage you to write the White House and/or the State Department (e-mail form at bottom of page) and tell them so.


Astonishment Theory

Astonish — to surprise someone very much.

Occam’s razor has it that between two competing theories, the simpler one is to be preferred.

I have a highly-subjective alternative razor:

Between two competing theories the more astonishing one is to be preferred.

It’s possible Niels Bohr would side with me as he said:

“Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true.”

or, alternately,

“We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The

question which divides us is whether it is crazy

enough to have a chance of being correct. My own

feeling is that it is not crazy enough.”

–Niels Bohr

Russian impressario Sergei Diaghilev persuaded Jean Cocteau to write a scenario for a ballet, which resulted in Parade in 1917.

In some formative discussion for that project, Diaghilev told Cocteau to “Astonish me.”

That little piece of conversation was formative for Cocteau. He regarded it as a key moment in his life. For instance, he included such an exchange between a critic and the hero of Orpheus in his film of the same name which postdates his conversation with Diaghilev by some 32 years and which happens to be my all-time favorite film.

The film has some simple special effects (this is 1949) which are, simply, astonishing.

A lot of Jane Roberts’ “Seth” material I find astonishing.

And indeed, part of why I like Orpheus so much, besides its surrealism, is that it has some subtle “Seth” touches to it though it predates Jane/Seth by some 14 years.

It is hard to put into words why I find astonishment to be something very vital.

The way Jane Roberts’ “Seth” tells it, even God gets astonished:

“All That Is, as the source of all realities and experience, is so psychologically complex, so multidimensionally creative, that it constantly surprises itself….”

–Seth/Jane Roberts, Dreams, “Evolution,” and Value Fulfillment, Vol. 2, Session 916, May 14, 1980

And, why not?



Choice Theory

It wasn’t clear to me why William Glasser called his book Choice Theory, but I think it’s a good one nonetheless.

The ten axioms of choice

The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
[So] All we can give another person is information.
All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
All we do is behave [as in behavior].
All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable. [Such as “I am headaching” or “I am nervousing (such as before a speech),” etc.]

Regarding the last point, Glasser maintains that our thoughts have a very large effect on our physiology.

Here is a personal example:

Once I was at an art opening, not a particularly large gallery, and in walked in an ex-girlfriend, our break-up not at all my idea, with a new guy in tow, and immediately I felt this feeling I can only describe as a very strong, undeniable sinking feeling. In four words: I felt utterly rotten. This pervaded my body — physiological. I even felt a physical weakness. And my evening seemed ruined.

I contemplated my options:

Slither out of there.

Pretend she’s not there.

Acknowledge her with a nod or such and try to look markedly happier than I feel.

And then I stole a glance in her direction.

It wasn’t her!


And then I immediately felt completely elated! What a great time I was having!

Such are the effects of thought on physiology. When I thought it was her, I felt, all over, utterly rotten. When I realized it wasn’t her, I felt elation.


Early Dion double standard:

The first song below is a warning about a loose woman.

The second, released two months later, is about a proudly-bragging loose man.

Runaround Sue
Released September 1961
Songwriters Dion DiMucci, Ernie Maresca

The Wanderer
Released November 1961
Songwriter Ernie Maresca


Mar-a-Lago Trump Documents Scandal

One thing that’s weird to me is Trump even taking an interest in such documents. Seems he hardly read anything, his underlings could only get him to read something if they contrived to include mentions of him in some piece of writing such as a memo or report or whatever. He apparently wouldn’t even bother reading the intelligence-related daily brief. I would think that would make for the juiciest presidential reading, but he couldn’t be bothered. I’ve read speculation that he took interest in these documents in order to sell them. In any case, he needed accomplices to pilfer all this stuff, people who would know what to take based on content, whereas his non-readingness would have him not knowing what is valuable to take.

I like cartoonist Tom Tomorrow so much, I actually subscribe to him which gets you his weekly cartoon a day or two before general release along with background comments on the decisions he made to come up with a given cartoon. And, lately, he’s been including a cartoon from the past as a bonus.

Here is his totally on-target “Mar-a-Lago documents” cartoon. Tom Tomorrow, for me, has a really high “batting average” at nailing things.


Excerpts from British author, broadcaster and human rights activist Craig Murray (from “That’s Enough Monarchy for Now, Thank You”

“…Still more absurd is the millions in feudal income that goes with that title, all real money paid by actual ordinary people as feudal dues….

“I witnessed [the queen] at very close quarters working on two state visits which I had a major part in organising, to Poland and to Ghana. She was very dutiful and serious, genuinely anxious to get everything right and worried by it. She struck me as personally pleasant and kindly. She was not, to be frank, particularly bright and sharp. I was used to working with senior ministers both domestic and foreign and she was not at that level. But then somebody selected purely by accident of birth is unlikely to be so….

“I turned down a LVO (Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order) in Warsaw and a CVO (Commander of the Victorian Order) in Accra. Because of the unique circumstance, I am one of very few people, or possibly the only person, who has ever refused an honour from the queen and then had a private audience at which she asked why! I must certainly be the only person that happened to twice.

“(I had earlier in my career been asked if I would accept an OBE (Order of the British Empire) and said no. As with the vast majority of people who refused an honour, I very much doubt the queen ever knew that had happened.) 

“Anyway, in my audiences I told the queen I was both a republican and a Scottish nationalist. I should state in fairness that she was absolutely fine with that, replied very pleasantly and seemed vaguely amused. Instead of the honour, she gave me personal gifts each time — a letter rack made by Viscount Linley and a silver Armada dish. 

“I later auctioned the letter rack to raise funds for Julian Assange….

“In the U.K., 29 percent of the people want to abolish the monarchy, excluding Don’t Knows; in Scotland that is 43 percent. In the U.K. as a whole, 18-to-24-year-olds are 62 percent in favour of abolition of the monarchy, excluding Don’t Knows….”

U.S./American writer Jeffrey St. Clair notes:

+ The “Royal Firm” (the Windsor Family business) is a $28 billion a year enterprise, yet the struggling British taxpayers still pay Elizabeth — and now Charles — a “Sovereign Grant” of 86 million pounds a year…

Musical accompaniment for this excoriation.



Once on a Time?

Once Upon a Time.

Don’t Tread Upon Me?

The End.

Next week (subject to change): Selections from Mcyclopedia, Restorative Justice, Beatles Count-Out: 4, 3, 2, 1!, Sunrise, Sunset

Boilerplate: As part of my community project as Racine Writer in Residence, I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” So far, there have been no responses. So, former Racine Writers in Residence, I want to explicitly include you in this invitation. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain the copyright for the material you submit. Send to at with “Racine WiR” in the subject line. Thank you.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel-sized basket; it is recommended that you let it be all bright and stuff.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dawn says:

    Hi Mark, congrats on your new project!

    When I read the bit about they discrepancy in perspective (for lack of a better word) for the songs below, it reminded me of my pubescent crush on Leif Garret; I remember that he sang both songs on the same album. Even in my early years, I noticed the difference and said “HEY, THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

    Runaround Sue
    Released September 1961
    Songwriters Dion DiMucci, Ernie Maresca

    The Wanderer
    Released November 1961
    Songwriter Ernie Maresca



    1. ArtRoot's Racine Writer-In-Residence says:

      Hey, Dawn. Thanks. I’m having a lot of fun. I didn’t see this comment of yours until now, Oct 6. I thought for comments, I’d get some kind of e-mail alert. I thought I’d have a look on the WordPress comments section “behind the scenes” of the app and saw it just today. Not familiar with Leif Garrett. Good that you noted the discrepancy when young.



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