Ampersand Gazette #24

Ampersand Gazette #24

“The Trumpian fiasco [in Pennsylvania] shows what happens when candidates make the race all about themselves, embracing [extremes] MAGA and being out of step with the electorate.”

So, yeah, the midterm elections happened. And? And … not much really, except for some journalists who are brave enough to say the emperor’s new clothes, uh, aren’t. In fact, let’s clarify: weren’t, aren’t, and will never be.

Isn’t this the perfect guideline for all conscious choosers and creators everywhere and everywhen? If it’s — whatever it is — only “about me,” it’s the wrong choice. Which means … the much more real, vital, and applicable question is:

Will it help us?

This is how the cult of narcissism poisons itself. And, thankfully, it’s not just the political circus. We’re watching it play out everywhere. As with evil, extreme narcissism holds the seeds of its own destruction.

But we must not rush to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Really! We all have the potential for narcissism within each of us. In fact, I believe that the current epidemic of narcissism began with hugely benevolent intentions. Hear me out.

The classical definition of narcissism is Good enough. Now let’s do a quickie Western history lesson. Hold on, this should go rollercoaster fast.

The 40s: world war — people all over the world bonded to defend a collective way of life.

The 50s: a time of huge conformity; keeping up with the Joneses.

The 60s: a counter-revolution begins — make love not war. What do you, the individual, want?

The 70s: a time of bonding within self-identified groups. Where do you belong and with whom?

The 80s: HIV/AIDS begins the culture divisions that start as polarity. You fer us, er agin us?

The 90s: Greed, consumerism. Ever-worsening narcissism. What’s in it for me?

The 2000s till today: a full-blown epidemic of narcissism and polarity crystallized into polarization.

Healthy narcissism lets an individual know where they end and others begin. If we’re not going to put our own self-preservation as a priority in our own lives, who’s gonna? But now, as usual, the West has taken it too far, to its extremes, and our political mishigas is a microcosm that shows it to us all too well.

What is it about Americans that we seem to have to take us all to these fringes before we return to a semblance of civility? Of course, I’ve written this again and again in these pages, but until we know — truly, viscerally know — the truth of Martin Buber’s wondrous book title, that I am only I in the context of a Thou, and Thou art only a Thou in the context of an I — we will continue to suffer these ludicrous narcissistic irrationalities.

The next time you hear someone ask a self-based gain question in the context of a group stakes situation, Beloved, consider correcting them gently. Don’t you mean, Will it help us?


Highly-excerpted words of Brian Eno:

“Why does art exist? Why do we have aesthetic preferences? There are all sorts of ways of explaining this. … What I want to say is that culture — art, if you like — has an important set of functions in preparing us for the future. … What happens when you go look at a painting you’ve never seen before? What I think happens is that when you look at that picture, you’re seeing it in the context of all the other pictures you’ve ever seen. …

“I think charisma comes out of the sense you have that not only is somebody different but they’re also confident about it, committed to it, obsessed by it even. We don’t find uncertainty charismatic. … I would like to cultivate a charisma of certainty, a charisma of admitting that you’re making it up as you go along. … You can be amazing, but you could admit too that you’re bewildered.

“What I’ve become interested in is listening clubs, where people get together and listen to a record. This strikes me as a very interesting development. There are strong signs that people are resisting the atomization of everything. It’s suited capitalism to have us all as separate as possible because then we have to all buy things individually. People are getting fed up with that and wanting to do things together.

“What happens to humans when they multiply their feelings together? We’ve been so atomized over the last 50, 100 years and told that we have to have our own completely independent lives and that the real human is the one who can stand alone. The real human, to me, seems like the one who can support his neighbors and work with them. That’s a feeling that I pursue. Whenever I see it, I want to encourage it.”

This profile of ambient music innovator and composer Brian Eno did my heart good. I highly recommend you read it.

Consider his gems in this article alone …

Art prepares us for the future …

A charisma of certainty …

People are wanting no longer to be all alone, no, we want to be together … and together with feeling …

There’s a button on my refrigerator that I was given my junior year in college. It’s lived on a lot of fridges since then. It reads: You Gotta Have Arts. It might be a good epitaph for my gravestone.

Ya do. Ya gotta. Because art is the premier reflection of our human experience. Its purpose is mirroring, and mirror us all — for better, for worse — it does. And it doesn’t matter what kind of art — any kind, all kinds, kindergarten kind.

Art is the consistent draw for this gathering is the theme that again and again, human diaspora after human diaspora, draws us all together again. Art. Not politics. Not family. Not real estate. Not money. Nope.


Brian Eno summarizes why. Art prepares us for the future.

One of the hardest things for anyone is to see themselves as others see us. In fact, we really can’t, but we can do our best to witness ourselves. It is witness that allows us to reflect upon our lives and change them if need be. Art bears witness.

Art says, “Hey, can you see yourself in me?” Art stops us wherever we are, and makes us look again, listen again, touch again, wonder again. That’s what it’s meant to do, and whether you like the art that prompts this behavior or you don’t doesn’t matter. What matters is the reflecting.

Reflection is what shows us where and how and when and why we can actually be charismatic — which comes from Latin roots based on the word But gift, not as in present, gift as in talent. One of the most magical realizations ever to come to me is that all of us, each of us, no matter what, has our own brand of charisma. Introvert, extrovert, no matter. It means we all have our own gift to give.

And that’s what really makes us all artists — whether we call ourselves that or not. And that’s also why Mr. Eno’s idea to create a charisma of certainty is nothing short of brilliant. Really. Because all of us, when we are discovering what makes us charismatic, are uncertain about it. I tried on a lot of creative identities before teacher/author solidified.

The best part of discovering our own talents is that we need to express them to find out whether they make us charismatic. And that expression needs a witness, not only from within you, but also from outside you. If a Rembrandt is hung on an old-growth forest tree, is it a painting if only the trees see it?

No. That painting needs your eyes, and mine. Just as your talents need external witnesses. And so do mine.

That’s why we’re drawn together to witness art — theatres, museums, concert halls — to together, just as Mr. Eno posits. I love the notion that divide-and-conquer, every-man-for-himself consumerism separated all of us and that, of all the simplest ideas, that little three-letter word art holds the key to all of our narcissistic separatism.

See, it’s really true what’s on that button on my fridge. You Gotta Have Arts. I gotta have arts, too. And because we all gotta, we gather so that we get to have arts, and isn’t that a swell notion to enter into this commercialized season of gift-giving?

Give art for your gifting this year, Beloved. Your own or that of others. Just make sure that whatever you give makes sure that you get to have it together … with feeling.

P.S. And isn’t that Ampersand Living at its best?


In the spirit of holiday gifting, may I recommend some lovely books about the art and artists and artistry of the theatre — my very favorite form of art.

by Ted Chapin is the story of his internship on the original production.

by Albert Poland is the story of a luscious theatre career by one of its best storytellers.

by Billy Porter is a heart-rending, uplifting rendering of the multi-talented, gender-code expanding actor/singer/dancer/director/writer/artist Billy Porter.

by Randy Rainbow is a delicious romp through the life and becoming of the brilliant political satirist whose real name is Randy Rainbow.

Anyone who’s a theatre aficionado will eat up any or all of these!


LOTS more podcasts … the latest will be featured next time, but for now, have a listen to The Skeptic Metaphysicians!

You’d think, with a name like The Skeptic Metaphysicians, that Will and Karen would be borderline cynics about all things spiritual and especially metaphysical! NOT so. So not so. The two are edgily curious, totally interested in applying what they hear to their own lives, and dedicated to their growth just as we all need to be. These delightful skeptics wanted applied chakra work … yesterday, today, and forever. They totally appreciated the Less/MORES — my fast-&-dirty way to start working with the chakras RIGHT NOW, and downloaded the digital free gift before we even ended our interview.

Learn more about them here:

Speaking of that free gift, did you know you can go to and grab your own copy of the Chakra less/MORES? These are a fast way to start working with your chakras RIGHT NOW. Two behaviors for each chakra — one to do less, and one to do MORE. Easy and immediate.


This one-year course will begin in January 2023 for an elite group of six who want to learn how to do chakra work for themselves and others. If you are drawn to this please email me.

It was quite exciting, I have to say, that when I reached out to the podcast hosts who’ve interviewed me to let them know about the Cohort, I received an invitation to appear on one of them again! The host was so excited about the program he wanted his listeners to hear about it.

As part of my ongoing commitment to reach out about the metaphysical work that I’ve been doing for so long …

May I ask you to follow me on MEDIUM and LINKEDIN?

May I invite you to choose your own monthly donation and become a patron on PATREON?

This is where the will debut as soon as we’re done proofing it. So, so, so exciting. Forty years of work in 350 pages of detailed chakra information. It will be available as a PDF for a required donation — to be determined by you. I’m hoping to have it live by the middle of December.

And may I further invite you to visit and subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel to see years of my videos, podcasts, and the occasional spiritual riff?

To you and yours, deep gratitude for the spiritual work are doing in the world; please use your energy wisely over this holiday season, I’ll be back in two weeks with another issue, and in the meantime, of course, be ampersand,




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Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso a metaphysician with a private counseling practice for 40+ years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is