The Fate of the Book

How well do portable electronic devices substitute for Books?  Somebody needs to answer this question.  I didn’t intend to answer it when I sat down to write.  It sort of just came about of its own accord.

Books advertise themselves.  Electronic books do not.  Electronic books cannot facilitate conspicuous consumption.  Conspicuous consumption is important to many people, even if unconsciously.  Good books will always be published.  Deep meditations.  Statements of belief.  Books may also represent the most sophisticated means of tagging oneself.  Conspicuous (i.e., public) reading of a book identifies one with the associated philosophy or readership.  If it’s a heavy book, it shows commitment.

There is a connection between the physical presence of books and the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, the notion that the ritual of the mass effectively transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ideas are always fleeting, as are all the images displayed on screens in the age of electronic media.  When I say that ideas are always fleeting, I mean that human beings, the descendants of brute animals, must always tax themselves if they are to retain in their minds the presence of any kinds of ideas.  The book was, for many ages, the means by which a complicated strand could find anchor in the physical world.  Now what are these complicated strands?  They express the individuality of their authors.  The book is the transubstantiation of the individuality of its author into physical matter.  The printing process is the equivalent of the Catholic Mass.  The printers are the priests.  The strand of words is the bread and wine, given ornament by the editors, and turned into the body and blood by the printers on the altar of the printing press.  But since the thoughts of an individual are always an inextricable mix of both heterodoxy and orthodoxy, printing actually represents the beliefs of a different religion which elevates the individual instead of the mass.

Electronic screens are as fleeting as ideas.  They do not perform the transformation of words into the individualistic Eucharist the same way as books.  (Since screens are the only way to display moving images they have their own sacred tradition, as does the use of speakers to relay sound.  These are formidable new technologies which can’t be ignored, of course, but the question is how well the screens used in portable electronic devices substitute for Books.)

The book will evermore become the Eucharist of the Individual, the symbol of the religion of the Individual.  It will never relinquish this role until and unless the church of the Individual dissolves.  Which it could, by the way.  No cultures besides ours exhibit such a concern for the individual.  In Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 we see the persecution of this church.  We don’t know its destiny.

One question is whether the printing of books will always be free to anyone with a press or on the other hand relegated to those in power.

Another question is how the financial models of publishing will change given the onslaught of electronic media.  It’s not books which are in peril, just those models.  The current models rely on sales to support the process of publishing.  We might have to revert to a patronage model based on private resources if people can’t sell books directly.  Whether supported by wealth or by popularity, books will be printed.  That threshold is reached when the need is felt for the transubstantiation of ideas into physical matter.  This need is as unlikely to disappear as the Church.

Has anyone drawn the parallel between the Eucharist and Books before?  Or did I reinvent the wheel?  Either way, at least somebody said it now.  On a blog.

Hmmm…  It’s just a draft anyway.  I needed to talk about how blogs are better as drafts than as final products.  Maybe next post…?

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Saving the World

Interesting topic, hmmm?

Any given person’s take on what “Saving the World” means will be different from everybody else’s.  As a topic it is of particular concern to me.  Indeed I became obsessed with this topic at about the age of 19 when I discovered the life and works of Joseph Campbell.  (If you don’t know who Joseph Campbell is, look up the Power of Myth, a set of video interviews which is his perfect introduction.)

Looking back, I think that Joseph Campbell’s ideas offered me the opportunity to believe that I myself was far more important than I otherwise could have concluded.  I felt insignificant.  Those were dark times.  I came from a family which had no use for me.  The women – my mother and my father’s second wife – were particularly abusive.  I was most emphatically unnecessary to them.  So how does the fact that I was unnecessary relate to “Saving the World?”  That is what I intend to analyze.  It may seem odd, but the only way I could counteract my inner sense of shame was to have a task assigned to me in which nothing less than the world itself was at stake.  In every situation such as this, the correct question is: to what extent is the World at stake as compared only to the perception by the individual that the world is at stake?  If it becomes clear that the world is not in danger then we wonder, what is it that the person is perceiving?  But the truth is, each of us has an image in the back of his or her own psyche depicting the state of the World.  In most people that image does in fact indicate a world in peril.  This complicates the question enormously because most of us agree that the world is in fact in danger.  This is a remarkable psychic image.

I’m going to detour a bit and talk about the psychic image of the world as it appears in each individual psyche.

I suggest at this time that the extent to which someone has a clear idea of the World, as it occurs as a psychic image, corresponds to the extent of their consciousness as a whole.  As consciousness increases, so does the clarity and resolution of the person’s picture of the world. Now certain intellectuals among my readers will immediately contest that the vast majority of people have no understanding of the world at all.  That may well be true, but it doesn’t stop them from having an image of the world which lies in their psyche and is just as active as the intellectual’s worldview.  Indeed it seems that this image, this primordial image, the archetype of The World, as Jung might say, arrives for people at a very early age.

I remember imagining the world as a very small child before I could reasonably have learned much about it, as we understand from a scientific perspective.  Take the game of peek-a-boo, played by all parents with their small children.  For a time, peek-a-boo is an active and interesting game for a little baby, because the baby only reacts to its immediate environment.  After a while the baby begins to understand the persistence of objects even after they leave the visible sphere, and peek-a-boo becomes so much less interesting in the normally developing child, since they know the parent is still there.  It is in this knowing that the parent is still there that the baby now has formed a psychic image of the World, that the archetype of the World has become active in the baby.  They now know that objects persist outside of their sensible range, many years before anyone can instill in them a scientific understanding of the picture of the planet Earth with its corresponding mass and atmosphere and so on.

What’s notable about this description of the archetype of the World is that the world consists basically of things which happen outside the sensible range of the person, the range of the senses.  The archetype serves as a container for all these events.  Therefore even people who have little or no knowledge of the “World” as the intellectual man sees it, nonetheless have a World just as active as that of the intellectual’s, if not more so.  The number of events occurring in this Archetype multiplies far beyond what the conscious mind can process or imagine.  All such events fall into the unconscious.  But the unconscious nonetheless continues to construct an image of the World.

The formation of the World happens in each person.  As we grow older we are exposed to information indicating to us just how many people there are.  We don’t experience their worlds directly, but that people exist becomes an important part of our own world.  We experience the worlds of other people indirectly, through their expressions and actions, by encountering their personality (“person” comes from Greek, meaning “through the mask”) through our own senses.

I’ve now talked about the psychic image of the world.  It involves the interactions of active but invisible entities outside our sensible sphere.  People and things we know continue to exist for us within the psychic activity I have called the archetype of the World.  With this image, there is a connection to alchemy, in which it is called the Macrocosm.  Here is an alchemical picture depicting the relationship between the Macrocosm and Microcosm (picture A006):

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/emb_lion.html

I pointed out that each person has their own world, in which everyone else appears as an outside person.  We can get an idea of what occurs in the worlds of others by encountering those others as seen through our world.  If their face shows anger, for example, our response is almost instinctive.  People’s emotions float around in a group, such as when one person laughs, many laugh, or when a yawn gets passed around the room.  Indeed the operations of the social group become the most important thing by the time a person hits a certain age.  But while the waking life during this phase may be totally preoccupied with assimilating to the behaviors of the group, each person actually spends a lot of time alone, doing mundane activities and sleeping, for example.  Let’s leave out the compulsion to belong to a larger social group for a bit, and talk about the smaller group, the family.

Now my family was not so good overall.  Not for me, anyway.  Family members have the strongest presence, and their behavior conveys their world to a growing child.  I cannot talk about the idea of Saving the World in general without asking a more specific version of my above question:  To what extent is an individual’s desire to “save the World” related to his/her condition within the context of her family?

Indeed it is in asking this question that we find the most probable explanation for the person’s interest in saving the so-called world.  The truth may be that the “world” collectively participated in by the family as a whole, the family’s “world”, has become dangerously contradictory, and most likely in a fashion highly unconscious to all of the family members.  In my particular family there was enough unconsciousness, at the time I became obsessed with saving the world, to drown a large troupe of apes.  It can’t be ignored that, for someone like me in a condition like this, the amount of force required in order to produce a corrective balance in the consciousness and structure of the family would have been enormous.

I choose to end this post here, despite its glaring incompleteness.  I experience what I’m writing as pretty heavy stuff:  Is this an abstract account of the idea of saving the world or a personal account of my own story?  When I’m having trouble conveying an idea, it seems that I default to describing my personal experience.  It’s not that I don’t have more to say about all these things… indeed it is precisely because I have much more to say about all these things that I have so much trouble.  I seem to write ideas here as drafts.

Spiritual Presence in High School

I have received a few comments to my posts.  So my urge to write this post is now somewhere between “dogmatic slumber” and “horse being whipped”.  The ghost of Blog-dom receded far from my consciousness since my last post.  But the comments I received felt like someone whipping the horse.  I must compromise, and write.  Life is about finding the balance between individual and society.  For some reason I didn’t feel like writing.  I think it’s because when I write, the power of my own words begins to affect me.  Until I dig my way through even what I just wrote, I feel nervous and “exposed”.  There is a storehouse of the emotion of guilt which piles up any time one does something outside one’s comfort range.  This guilt takes time to process.

I have two choices with where I can go with this blog.  I can be conservative and quote Carl Jung.  Or I can discuss the flight of my inner mind without attaching to conservative groundposts.  As I said above, life is about finding the balance between individual and society.  Somehow I must unite the resistance I have to blogging right now, and the duty I feel to say something – not just because it has been requested, but also because sometimes when you assign work to yourself you end up pleased with the results.

When I was about 13 years old, my parents paid for me to attend a “Science” summer camp.  I went for two summers, for four weeks at a stretch.  In this camp, the basic rule was that there is a tight schedule and everyone is supposed to follow it.  It was an extraordinary part of my life in that I fell into the pattern of the schedule and I really felt like I belonged.  I could hide the rather strange parts of my individual nature within the opportunity to conform.  I actually knew what I was supposed to do!  This was what was so extraordinary about that brief period of my life.  In general I would give up a lot, if given the chance, to experience that kind of belonging.  But I found, as I think we all do, that unless we want to join the military (for which we give up a lot of peace of mind instead, as the population of war veterans of any modern war will demonstrate), our culture has nowhere where you can fit in and play your role.  In my case in particular, by the time I was 16, there was a thought in me which suggested that such a coherent life was nowhere to be found in all of society.  For anyone who has seen The Matrix, that thought was like “a splinter in [my] mind.”

In anthropological studies of primitive cultures this problem is essentially solved, by tribal units defined by rigorous initiation rituals.  We all feel deep down that our true nature would be as members of a small tribe.  Most of our psychic apparatus is conditioned to work perfectly in such an environment.

The issue I’m analyzing here is that of the effect of uncertainty on the life of the individual.  I’m talking about it from my own perspective.  The uncertainty goes so far as to call into question, who is my tribe?  If I am called into service of some higher power, what is the nature of that higher power?  Am I alone in this world, meaning, is the higher power I serve only to be recognized by myself and no other?  Most people ask and answer this type of question unconsciously.  If you want “most people” go read something else then.

The uncertainty of which tribes one belongs to is a major problem for a person living in our culture.  I definitely enjoyed “serving” the tribe when I was in summer camp.  It would take a lot to cause me to give that feeling up, if indeed it were available to me at all.  In regular school there was no such schedule, or even a sense of what was expected of you.  I went to an upper-middle class public high school in an era when most norms are breaking down and in which political correctness and teachers unions have virtually eliminated the notion that you could give someone a rigorous schedule and then proceed to discipline them, if they fail to follow it.  Perhaps if I’d been sent to boarding school or something things might have been different.  But that just re-emphasizes the problem we have in society, because public schools are a core feature of our culture and a symbol of our egalitarian social values, and to say that public schools are crap is in many ways to say that our society is crap.  Whether it’s crap or not isn’t my point.  My point is that there’s no way you can experience tight schedule and strong expectations in the high school I attended.  If you’ve seen the movie Dead Poet’s Society, you can get a great glimpse of exactly what public high school is not.  The issues dealt with in that film are precisely the opposite of the ones public schooling must cope with today, which I would say is – kids who don’t care, parents who don’t care, teachers who don’t care.

The issue which settled the tribal question for me was when I got rejected by that girl in 10th grade (Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 18 years ago).  It seemed that no tribe I knew of would help me be better accepted by that woman.  There was no longer any masculine authority who could hold any sway for me so long as he remained unable to console me as regards her.  That was the weird part.  That no one could console me as regards her.  I hardly spoke of it to anyone.  I didn’t trust anyone.  It wasn’t until much later that I discovered the writings of certain philosophers who would put my experiences into a context both large enough and sensitive enough to contain them.

What’s weird about it is that I still stand alone, as the writer of a blog who has never discussed these experiences except to you the reader.  The eighteen years since then may have been all for naught.  But who is to judge right and wrong?  Who out there can either confirm or deny the reality and validity of my experiences?  I suppose she could.  Have I evolved so much that she could no longer determine my fate as she once could?  If not her, what else can be the judge?

I certainly would disdain to use the opinions of my colleagues at that time.  Already in high school there were people who looked upon me as a worthy judge of them.  I didn’t see myself as such, but it was not uncommon that people would shrivel in a strange awe of my intelligence.  It didn’t stop them from pursuing their selfish interests, but I think they couldn’t have said anything to me which I hadn’t already considered, and dimly sensing this, they would freeze and subside.  That moment in tenth grade really was as if some spiritual presence showed up in the middle of a high-school context, and absolutely no one was prepared to respond to it either by conscious acknowledgment of what it was or even by correspondingly unconscious superstitious rituals designed to ward away such an appearance.  The public schools have banished God from the classroom, and the result was that there was no response whatsoever to the appearance of a spiritual entity there.

I’ll end this post here, since I feel good about the literary quality of that last sentence.  But I have a lot of themes to pick up on later – Carl Jung’s quotes about guilt, what really did happen in high school at that time, all sorts of themes related to which tribe a person belongs to and how one might serve such tribes.

Actually, it makes sense just to throw a couple paragraphs up on here which I wrote before digressing to the other subjects of this article.  Here they are.  Cheers!

How much one fears following his individual nature is in proportion to how badly he has been treated in the past by the herds and is associated with the emotion of guilt.  How much one desires to follow his individual path comes from the power of his inner force pushing him to such behavior.

One of the major themes of my life has been the question, How much does society need to be saved?  If you look at individual people who are trying to “save the world”, in many cases it’s only the individuals themselves who need to be saved.  As regards one person, there are two sources from which the need to be saved might arise.  The problem will be either an inner problem, or an outer one.  Inner ones are more fascinating to me.  Outer ones are more obvious, but it can’t be overlooked that our culture has focused more on the outer problems than the array of possible inner problems.  Outer problems take two forms, which can also be thought of as inner and outer.  So how shall I discuss this matter?  Should I say “inner-outer” problems, or “outer-inner” problems?  Well neither.

Either my ideas themselves are too unformed to present in a formal way, or I just haven’t discovered particularly good terminology yet.  I shall review what I’ve written so far and begin from the  most important point therein…

The Eagle and the Toad, continued

Continued from the previous post.  If you’ll remember, I had had an original thought about the link between the number ten and the three functions of ego-driven consciousness in relation to the little toad driven by God and the non-ego.  The thought was this.

First, a little description of Jung’s idea of the functions of consciousness.  In Jung’s psychology each person possesses four functions, namely Thinking and Feeling, which are opposites, and Sensation and Intuition, also opposites.  At any rate the individual ego develops by mastering at first one function and then as needed by developing two more.  The development of the ego is restricted to the use of three functions.  Should the fourth function need to develop it does so of its own accord, without the involvement of the conscious will of the person.  For some reason the conscious will can only construct its view of itself by excluding the fourth function.  Perhaps it’s because at heart the ego defines itself by what it is not, that in order to construct itself it must move away from something which it only vaguely perceives.

The ego nonetheless has a very strong power drive.  In conscious life it means that people are almost exclusively preoccupied with serving the needs of their conscious ego, regardless of how utterly insignificant are their efforts from another viewpoint, say, that of the society as a whole.  Or from the perspective of a clan of bunny rabbits, or from the perspective of creatures on a totally different planet.  The perspective of GOD would clearly include of all of these.  The ego however confines the general scope of a person’s consciousness to a much smaller domain.  Without digressing too far, I will talk about my original idea.  The relation between the human ego and the human hand has been well described, as the hand is the primary instrument of human power.  The hands have ten fingers.  Now each time the ego adopts the use of a new function of consciousness it could be said to have the power of multiplication at its disposal.  Therefore when the ego uses three functions it represents ten times ten times ten, or a thousand levels of power.  The Eagle in the above description represents the ego.  It flies fast and in three dimensions, ten times ten times ten (two hands, times two hands, times two hands).

The little toad, by contrast, “is a contrary element, namely earth, whereon alone it moves by slow steps, and does not trust itself to another element.  Its head is very heavy and gazes at the earth…  it is firm and solid.  Upon it as a foundation the Golden House is to be built.”  The toad could be said according to this description to possess one level of power.  It represents the mysterious Fourth function, which is actually the function of what historically was known as God.  Therefore to build your house upon this function feels one thousand times slower than building it with the ego.

I can only attest from my own experience that this is an accurate ratio.  I’ve been on my weird religious mission since I was 20 years old, and I’m almost 34 now.  I have one accomplishment, which is this blog.  In all those years while I was piecing myself back together again I always was demoralized by the slow rate of my progress.  I was saved so much torment by reading Jung and the Alchemists.  If you look at Jung’s life you will see that he essentially followed his own advice, building his house on the toad as opposed to the eagle.  Jung had several extraordinary talents, and we can’t tell how much his success was dependent, not on anything he chose to do but rather on the sheer number of talents he was born with.

Still, that he dredged up this old advice is certainly an invaluable service to civilization.  Whether it’s enough to insure the survival of civilization remains unknown.  We shall see.  Jung said, “if enough people will become conscious,” but he was by no means certain either.  Speaking for myself, I totally wonder if there’s any salaried positions extrapolating on the meaning of alchemical texts.

The Eagle and the Toad

I ended last post saying I would continue, but I’m going to leave the description of videogames out of this post because a blog need not be so orderly as a formal presentation.  Indeed, the topic of my last post may itself have come as a surprise.  Perhaps I will use this post to lay the groundwork for a clear connectivity between the different topics I blog about.

Without too much further ado, I want to quote my (current) favorite alchemical passage.  This one is quoted by Jung on page 4 of his Mysterium Coniunctionis.  There is an accompanying picture, which is picture A112 on the Alchemy Website, available for viewing thanks to the internet:

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/amclglr6.html

(picture A112)

The image was originally in black and white.  It was colored by Adam McLean.

I’ll just quote the whole passage from Jung:

I would mention the eagle and the toad (“the eagle flying through the air and the toad crawling on the ground”), which are the “emblem” of Avicenna in Michael Maier the eagle representing Luna “or Juno, Venus, Beya, who is fugitive and winged like the eagle, which flies up to the clouds and receives the rays of the sun in his eyes.”  The toad “is the opposite of air, it is a contrary element, namely earth, whereon alone it moves by slow steps, and does not trust itself to another element.  Its head is very heavy and gazes at the earth.  For this reason it denotes the philosophic earth, which cannot fly [i.e., cannot be sublimated], as it is firm and solid.  Upon it as a foundation the Golden House is to be built.  Were it not for the earth in our work the air would fly away, neither would the fire have its nourishment, nor the water its vessel.”

The point is here not to worry about the unfamiliar words.  As I have said, Jung uses them in abundance (link to post about Jung’s language).  It is the image as a whole which I love.  The quote doesn’t mention that the eagle and the toad are chained to each other.  What this image is getting at is of the most profound significance.  Firstly we would call attention to the similarity to the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  The basic principle of that story is that “slow and steady wins the race.”  The alchemical image is much richer though, because the eagle can fly in three dimensions, is a bird of prey, eyes fixed looking forward like those of a person, and in general “receives the rays of the sun in his eyes”.

It seems that almost all young people take on this aspect of the eagle.  But the quote tells us specifically to avert our gaze and ground our work in the slow and steady and humble toad.  This is the most anti-glamorous approach to almost anything.  Because of this, very few people will take this approach to life.  That why I am so grateful that the alchemists stated so clearly how important it is.  Jung himself adopted the approach of the alchemists, so we are not wrong in receiving the same message through his books instead of reading the almost unobtainable alchemical texts directly.

To live a life in which you see so many other people living a glamorous existence, as you do when you turn on the TV, for example, it becomes necessary to find a way of living that gives just as much credit to the humdrum and the mundane.  Most of us want to escape our bodies much of the time, so as not to have to live within the limitations of our nature, but the truth is that our bodies are the best place for us to do the hard work of figuring out how to live.  The more we figure out how to live, the closer we are to building the Golden House, but it’s a Golden House for ourselves, indeed our only individual self — we don’t have to live in it through our imaginations, as we do when we watch TV.  But all this is easy to forget, which is why the alchemists and people like Carl Jung are so important, because they learned through real life how the right way to proceed – especially when you are working on yourself – is like the toad, and they announce strongly the need for this approach.

It has also been said that this philosophy in general is more suited to those who have reached “the second half of life.”  I have always had mixed feelings about this terminology, since I’ve never been able to get a solid foothold on the “first half of life” myself .  But we should say that the hard work of working on oneself does drain resources which many younger people would use to make achievements in society, and it would be hard to convince people who were perfectly happy achieving within society to start “gazing at their navels”, as it were.  I must therefore class myself in a rather peculiar group of people who found it necessary to learn about all these things starting even as a teenager.  It is easily attributed a few basic facts.

One, that society really is pretty messed up and that someone coming from a dysfunctional family will easily find that no one has reached out a hand for them.  Without a little mentorship and guidance it would take a particularly strong person, who is more-or-less naturally adjusted to the tempores et mores of their culture, to find his way into an established position.  Some folks are naturally adjusted, and some aren’t.  Secondly, I found that there was so much secret stuff in what Carl Jung would call the Unconscious, which to my natural senses seemed even more important than all the stuff everybody in society was preoccupied with.  Over time, I have concluded that if society weren’t so messed up, I wouldn’t have had nearly such a hard time finding an appropriate approach to the so-called “first half of life.”

As it is, however, I’ve spent my life since about age 19 in the process of recovering a large bunch of components from the Unconscious.  This is to be understood as a naturally occurring corrective action on the part of the collective psyche, that I should have been put to such a task at such a young age.  In Jung’s model of the individual psyche, a person who has developed too far in precisely one direction will suffer a nervous disability as the result of being now too far from the person’s instinctive center.  The reasons any given person will have arrived at this point are too complex to mention right now (perhaps in a later article), but when it does happen, they suffer a powerful pull in the exact opposite direction in which they are used to traveling.

Jung’s model for the individual psyche is very powerful, so powerful in fact that it can easily be seen to apply to entire cultures as well.  This is how the hero’s journey comes to be intertwined with mental illness.  The hero performs some deed for the whole of the society he or she lives in.  If society itself has traveled too far in one direction, then that person who can recall the lost information and have the courage to stand against the herd is a hero.  At the same time there’s no reason they shouldn’t be mistaken for someone with a mental illness since they have taken up a place where no one else is standing.  What isn’t realized is that the reason no one is standing there isn’t because it’s a bad place.  In this case it’s because the herd momentum has carried it far from that place, through unconscious herd-mentality.

The herd doesn’t realize that it has no shepherd who can in any way claim to have consciously led society to its current place.  People are apparently so susceptible to being transfixed by the movement of groups that they hardly ever detect the lack of a shepherd of sufficient consciousness within that group.  It’s likely that this is a characteristic rooted so deeply in the human psyche that we’ll never be able to triumph over it completely – a thought which reminds me of Jung’s favorite story, about a population of people who surround the newly sprung fountain of water in such a way that they don’t detect the lack of water until far after it has dried up and appeared again in some far away place.

To be continued… I had an original thought about the link between the number ten and the three functions of ego-driven consciousness in relation to the little toad driven by God and the non-ego.

Introduction: How Do Turn-based Videogames Tell Stories?

A survey of Turn-Based game styles.  I want to try to detail the spectrum of ways in which games deal with actions in turn-based video games.  This is another topic I feel to be huge.  But I think I am ready to produce an outline of the categories.

What’s at Stake?  What’s at stake here?  Well, the mysterious nature of video games has haunted me for years.  If I am ever to expand my range beyond the writing of this blog, it seems likely that I’ll try to tell my stories through the medium of games.

After considering the question for some time, I decided that I would focus on turn-based games.  A turn-based game is one in which the players take their turns, one after another without mixing their influences during the same time period.  Almost all table-top games are of this type.  Contrasting to this is the Real-Time game.  Most sports are of this type.  The question has been raised countless times, how closely can a computer simulate human thoughts and actions?  The question must necessarily be divided into the two categories – how well does it simulate real-time human behavior and how well turn-based behavior.  I decided that turn-based simulation was the most interesting to me.  A turn gives the computer a chance to respond with the whole of its programming.  It seems to be the best way of telling a story because it doesn’t force the person to match reflexes with the computer.  It’s hard a to get a real-time simulation right.  The more time you spend trying to calibrate your real-time game the less time you spend telling a story – at least it seems that way to me.

How do you tell a story in a turn-based computer game?  ( I use the term “game” because it has become a convention, not because I confine my desires to what is traditionally associated with “games”.  Many other terms have been suggested or used, but the genres haven’t been completely defined.)  Well that’s what I want to explore.

I think I’m ready to make an outline of how turn-based games tell stories.  I’ll leave it till next post.

The Anxiety of Influence and the Collective Unconscious

Being granted a vision of the depths doesn’t exempt you from having to live on the surface.  As I thought of this I glanced at Carl Jung’s Red Book, which depicts in its rawest form Jung’s encounter with his own depths.  On the surface he had already established a successful career as a psychiatrist, married into wealth, and was supported during his journey by his wife and, uh, his other wife, a woman named Toni Wolfe.  This is the best possible way to enter the underworld – when you’re established and surrounded by supportive women and children.

On the one hand we can be thankful that Jung was able to enter his journey with the fewest external distractions possible, because it enabled him to bring back so much wisdom from the Unconscious.  But it doesn’t necessarily help those people with as many problems in the outer world as in the inner world.  It’s possible that Jung was just an extraordinarily lucky bastard, since he could know that his outer life was full of loving and supportive people and tremendous professional success.  I say this because I have no idea how to confront the problems of my own life.  Anyone who studies Jung must reconcile what part of Jung’s life could be attributed to the luck of Jung’s circumstances.

Under what conditions is it possible to encounter the Unconscious and live to tell about it?  Is it appropriate for someone like me, for example, to encounter the Unconscious?  Should I expect to survive the ordeal, given the objective facts of my own life?  On the one hand I’m grateful Jung was able to survive at all.  If it took great health, tremendous professional success, wealth, a perfect home life, not to mention a second wife — if it took all these things in order to allow Jung to bring back his treasure, then why should I wish he had less of these things?

It kind of relativizes his success in a way.  For example, I wouldn’t know where to get a blank Red Book even if I wanted to fill one up.  I guess you’d go to an art supply store?  Here’s another example.  Jung said that he didn’t know how anyone could live without being near water.  Well, Carl, there’s a whole shitload of people who don’t get to live near bodies of water for all sorts of fucked up reasons.  Take, for example, the fact that we’re not all fabulously wealthy, and that we can’t all just up and move to expensive waterfront property like you.  I have another example.  We’re not all Swiss.  Some of us are just stupid Americans who grew up in suburbs.  Individuate that.  We didn’t have cute little parents who actually gave a crap what happened to us because they were too busy with their own selfish lives.

Well, at any rate, at least I can say it’s a love-hate relationship I have with Dr. Jung.  He happens to have opened up channels of exploration which no one else did.  The difficulty we have now is in trying to calculate the value of his more mystical works.  It should be evident to anyone that there is a substantial mind exploring some very deep places.  Ironically he has also given us the best terminology for discussing the value of his works, that of personal unconscious and collective unconscious.

Almost all moderns will admit to believing in a personal unconscious if you define it for them.  For example, if anyone has ever had a dream and not understood parts of it, then that demonstrates that they have a personal unconscious.  What few people believe is that what happens in the personal unconscious may be connected to forces operating in their environment among more than just themselves.  I need to mention that there are necessarily different kinds of collective unconscious, because different groups of people may be implied.  You could have a family unconscious, for example, in which one member’s dreams produce symbols which have validity for their entire family, and yet could not be extended reasonably beyond that.  A specific uncle for example.  But the idea of an uncle could apply to anyone who has an uncle, or knows someone who has an uncle.  Sometimes in a dream the idea actually matters more than the specific person.  So if I dream about Uncle Charlie, the fact that he’s my uncle might be the more relevant factor — his peg leg might not come into it at all.  But if its the peg leg or another detail that matters, then you can’t really say the idea of Uncle mattered.  At any rate, the idea would be called the Archetype of the Uncle.

The meaning of the Archetype is by no means determined though.  It could mean different things to different people.  Jung’s claim is that some of the Archetypes carry the same meaning for ALL people.  That’s the total opposite of the personal unconscious, in which the figure appearing in the dream would have meaning only for the person who dreamt it.  This is actually a pretty audacious claim, since there are so many levels in which the meaning could vary from group to group.  Dreaming of a butterfly might mean something totally different to an aboriginal Australian than to a suburbanite like myself.  But the difference could extend to much narrower spheres.  For example, my High School mascot was the Panther.  Therefore anyone from my high school will have a slightly different understanding of the symbol of the Panther than the people from the neighboring High School.  This part of Panther-ness would be a part of a collective mythos of my High School, but would only extend to people who went there (or encountered it somehow), and the appearance of a Panther in my dream might appear to a naive psychoanalyst to mean something completely different from what it really does mean.  Therefore a local version of a symbol could modify or contaminate what the symbol might mean in a broader way.  This local effect can extend to all sorts of various regions, large or small.  The appearance of a compact Japanese car in a dream would have generally different connotations in an American than in a Japanese.  There are many levels of groupings starting from the individual and moving all the way up to the whole human race.

Because of so many possible contaminations on so many different levels, it becomes very hard to declare some symbol or experience to be characteristic of a Universal Collective unconscious.  Nonetheless this claim is made by Jung.  Another important item to point out, is that as soon as contact is established between one group of people and another group then arguments for the collective unconscious become that much harder because one can then claim that the one group’s knowing the other group was the reason their symbols carried the same meanings.  In a digitally connected world, needless to say, it will be virtually impossible to prove by experiment and analysis that the meaning of a symbol comes directly from the universal collective unconscious, as opposed to by means of cultural diffusion.

OK, now that I’ve described the meanings of the personal and collective unconscious(es), I’ll return to the main point.  I said that these two terms are the best way of evaluating Jung’s works.  The question is whether Jung’s more mystical works are better described as expressions of a personal unconscious or of the collective Unconscious.  As I have just described, there is actually much room in between.  They could be expressions of the Collective unconscious of the Swiss People, for example, of the German-speaking peoples, or, to continue that analysis, of the unconscious of those people living in the Protestant countries, or in all the Christendom, or in all the monotheistic countries (hence including the Muslims and Jews as well),  or in all the Advanced Civilizations (thus adding China, India, Japan), or indeed in the Universal Collective unconscious, which then adds all the primitive cultures and whatever else I didn’t mention as well.  The value of Jung’s (mystical) writings must necessarily be limited to those cultures into which his unconscious was tapped, which might well be all of them, but there’s no reason to assume so.

The harshest critics will limit Jung’s contribution to exactly one person, himself.  There’s actually a guy who did this, and I found his book in a used book store.  It’s called What’s Wrong With Jung.  I don’t want to comment on this book, other than to say that it shows how varied the responses to Jung’s efforts have been.

So what was I talking about?  Anxiety of Influence – the phrase coined by a literary critic named Harold Bloom.  “Genius recognizes genius,” he said.  I certainly suffer Anxiety of Influence when it comes to Carl Jung.  When I start reading him it’s like diving into an ocean of paradox and knowledge, experience, and just plain weirdness.  But I also recognize genius.  For me, when it comes to Carl Jung, “The way out is through.” (I just discovered that phrase today in a film on the internet – look up Doraleous and Associates – it’s quite funny.)

Anyway, Anxiety of Influence is what happens to all English playwrights who come after Shakespeare, when they have to consciously confront the existence of Shakespeare’s plays.  Harold Bloom says that the good playwrights cannot avoid confronting this, that indeed their creativity comes from their attempts to adapt to the existence of the great ones before them.  I imagine all music composers after Beethoven have had this problem.

Well, Carl Jung is my Shakespeare.  I consider my topic to be Philosophy rather than Psychology, but that’s actually an arbitrary distinction because the two seem to merge so completely with Carl Jung.  Philosophy means The Love of Wisdom, and that’s where I build my camp.  I can’t comment on the extent to which Philosophy, as it is taught in modern classrooms, is related to the Love of Wisdom, since I don’t know any Philosophy Professors.  Who knows?  The modern Philosophy classroom may have as close a relationship to the Love of Wisdom as the Defense Department has to Defense, which is probably why we need both a separate department called “Homeland Security”, and actual Philosophers like myself.

Carl Jung’s Writing Style

Originally called Privatio Boni, but obviously sidetracked so I changed the name

I have a couple things I want to begin.  I reminded myself in an earlier post to talk about the privatio boni.  This is a huge topic, and I want to start it, but I’m trying to figure out how to climb the mountain here.  I’m also typing this in a continuation of the theme in which I type what I’m thinking.  It’s not certain whether typing a whole lot is better than typing very little, but since it’s not proven, maybe I’ll type a lot and see where that leads.

The privatio boni is a doctrine of the Catholic Church established in the early middle ages which denies the reality of Evil.  Jung makes the claim that this doctrine was taken up because Christianity needed to defeat the Manichaean religion.  But Manichaeism has left its mark on our Western history, if Jung is correct, because doctrines established at that time have followed the Church since.

I want to pause here, and say that I’m not a scholar on these topics.  What interests me is how Jung characterizes things.

Carl Jung has an infuriating habit in his writings which I’m not sure has been pointed out.  He will drop thoughts of the most profound significance in one part of a sentence, and then continue to finish the second part with apparently no awareness at all of the depth and difficulty of what he just said.  The reader is left wondering whether Jung intended the sentence as a riddle, or whether he naively assumes the reader to know what he means, or whether he’s just disguising his own ignorance by using fancy terms and obscure references.  Since I am generally a fan of his writings I have been forced to conclude that either he doesn’t himself know how difficult his choices of words can be, or that he wants to emphasize the importance of studying and learning by refusing to condescend to people who don’t have the discipline to study and to think through what he means.  One might almost say it’s his Achilles Heal.  The problem lessened the older Jung got, though.  His writings improved tremendously, actually, such that his clearest and best writings all seem to me have come from his old age, say, 1950 and later.

He could have done the world a tremendous favor if he had somehow clearly described how his near-impossible language should be interpreted.  He admitted that all his writings except Answer to Job needed improving.  Therefore I might take Answer to Job as a standard, noting that I don’t read in German, and so I’ll have to settle for evaluating the English translation.  So how is that book written?

  • As in all Jung’s writings, almost no attention is paid to the extreme difficulty of the ideas he conveys.  This may be a way of passively encouraging the reader to bone up, so to say, on the ideas he mentions.  I assume this is the case for Answer to Job.  In earlier works, it’s not as clear.  Those who cannot grasp the ideas he mentions cannot understand his point, and the subject matter is too important to let the reader off the hook.
  • He writes very long sentences.  I suppose Jung could never be cured from this problem, since it’s present even here.  Some say long sentences are a good thing.  Admittedly, the book is so difficult, that there’s probably no one alive who could break up the sentences into shorter chunks authoritatively.  This is the core difficulty of Jung for me.  He’s the only philosopher whose writings I respect highly enough to wish someone had cleared up what exactly it was he was saying.  As it is, he represents the farthest frontier of philosophy and human thought, and no one can paraphrase him without misrepresenting him.
  • The sentences are in fact very clearly stated.  This book is free from some of the strange ambiguities and references which saddle his earlier works.  He even shows some consciousness of the degree to which he is referring to obscure texts as opposed to less obscure ones.  For example: (to be continued – book of enoch, greek influence )

Taking Answer to Job as a reference, I would guess that in about 60 percent of the cases Jung himself would like to have cleared up the ambiguities and obscurities in his other writings.  In perhaps 35 percent of cases, Jung would seem to have either no awareness of the difficulties I encounter, or, just as likely, to have deliberately left those difficulties in the text, intending to call attention to their importance.  In about 5 percent of cases I can do no more than to guess that Jung was either deliberately being an asshole, or that he was merely in agreement with the general consciousness of his time in saying certain strange things which sound awkward to us now.

I’ve been thinking these things for some time.  I wanted to get them off my chest.  I should provide a few examples to clarify.  I may or may not provide them.  Eventually I also should get back to the privatio, too, since that’s what I thought I was writing about.

Swamp

Following the impulse of the previous post to write to my heart’s content.  Perhaps just typing whatever’s on my mind is good enough.  I wrote a couple of posts ago that a blog is a legitimate way to establish a social identity.  I said it.  I believed it.  But I can’t prove it.  Spending so long as a total loner may backfire when it comes to honestly talking in one’s own blog.

I had a conversation with someone who said that she liked it when people totally revealed all in their blogs.  I’m not sure if that extends to when they’re down in the dumps.  I’m sure that the process of writing all this can turn dirt into gold, somehow — okay, I have no idea whether or not there’s gold in here.  I somehow want blogging to be therapeutic, to have the capacity to heal the blogger.  I think that in theory it does.  Right now I’m just going through the motions.  Much of the therapy resides only in the potential of dialogue with the readers.  Now if you write say, only in your private journal, the therapeutic effect is different, since it must come only through having produced the writing rather than the possibility of dialogue.  In my current case, I’m not provoking too much dialogue with readers.  Now here’s the thing.  If little dialogue is being provoked, then the total value of posting shrinks.

It’s likely that I’m going through some kind of phase.  If I get through it, perhaps the posts will reflect that.  Little pieces of social repression from infancy are coughing themselves up.  Or I don’t know, maybe I’m just some kind of saint, useless to himself, but great for everyone else.

My standards for writing are sometimes high, but sometimes they’re not.  I don’t have an editor.  It’s ironic too.  I thought I could use this blog to catch somebody’s attention.  Who knows?  Needless to say, without an editor the quality of the writing may be so bad that in fact I can’t use it to catch somebody’s attention.  No, I do not think it’s a delusion that having a blog, even a bad one, can create some form of social identity.  To rely on it completely is clearly foolish, yet, compared to the nothingness which came before it — it’s something.  Maybe after a long while I’ll have sufficient fame to curtail my honesty and directness on here.  But that will be in a long while.  Right now, I guess that I can blog my bad days, capable of accepting that my blog’s depressing, totally unfit for popularity.

Advantages:

  • It is very cheap.
  • Written records may have a therapeutic effect on the writer.
  • Written records may be enjoyed by the public.
  • Written records may have possess historical significance.
  • It is very cheap, costing only my time, and somebody else’s electric bill.
  • Why are you so ashamed of keeping a blog?

The answer to the last question is that I want it to represent far more than it probably does or ever will.  The simple fact is that it’s something more than nothing.  And I must accept this simple fact as a step in a good direction.  I just want it to explode into much greater significance.

  • Apart from the time wasted writing it, life is just as good as it was without your useless writings.  Seriously, you’re nobody.  What is it about the blog that gets under your skin like that?

It’s the potential, dude.  What kind of potential?  Hmmm.  I guess I should just be grateful that the internet keeps my information and that, at least in theory, anyone who wants to read a blog can, even though, in practice, few will.

  • Every time you blog, the friends that do read the blog know that you haven’t committed suicide.

Now that’s probably just narcissism.  They’ll get over it either way.

  • Historical record.  Did I mention historical record?  You may be a great genius some day, and this will be where you got your start — right here on this blog!

Yeah, actually you did mention that.  It was point four in the original list.

  • Oh.  Well, I suppose I was entitled to have a little fun.  Wasn’t I?

That was not an advantage of blogging.  Stop wasting mine and other people’s time by distracting us with totally random digressions and tributaries from the main river.

The swamplands of New Orleans are destined to disappear unless the people of Louisiana voluntarily flood their city with the replenishing soils contained in the muddy flow of the Mississippi.  In other words, the Bayou surrounding New Orleans is destined to disappear.  Saddam Hussein engineered the eradication of the entirety of the swamplands of southern Iraq, home to village cultures for thousands of years.  A restoration program has been initiated in hopes of getting them back.  Faust, protagonist and namesake of German writer Goethe’s epic masterpiece, by the time the final act rolls around, wants nothing more than to drain a piece of swampland in order to reclaim a bit of property, and ends up losing his soul to the Devil in the process.

 

Remotely smells of optimism

Remotely smells of optimism.  Goddammit, write something which remotely smells of optimism. Well sorry I can’t.  I’ll try to put a glossy sheen over it.  Seriously, what’s the point of writing a blog so depressing? Look, nobody asked me that.  I accused myself of being too sad.

How about this?  Practice makes perfect… if I write enough entries, surely they will become easier to read?  Now wait, is the goal to make what you write easy to read?  No, I can’t say it ever was the goal.  So I’ll keep practicing, making writings which are somehow easy to read.  Maybe that is a proper goal.  No, not easy to read… just somehow… less personal?  OK, less personal it is.  No, wait, I have to think about that.  It’s a blog, yes.  People expect it to be personal — no, maybe I just think they expect it to be personal.  Maybe what I have to offer is personal, maybe it isn’t.  As far as the events of my life are concerned, I’m sure I could put a glossier sheen on them…  So the goal is to write optimistic posts…

Maybe I need a new goal.  Well, what do you think, reader?  Can’t say my most recent writings have met that goal.  If I wanted to dry, I’d lay in the sun.  If I wanted to purge the pessimistic mildew from my posts, I should lie in the sun.  Any ideas, readers?  All I need to do is to believe in the Sun, believe that it still exists.

Now, how do I explore that?  Believe that the Sun still exists.  Well, the one Sun we have isn’t sufficiently inspiring.  First of all, we know that of all the suns, ours is about mid-sized.  We know that its fusion reaction will slow down as it does with all suns.  Suns burn hydrogen fuel.  Hydrogen is finite and so are all the other elements a sun can burn.

No, dummy, the point is to understand the Sun as a metaphor. OK, so I’ll just believe in the metaphor of the Sun.  I’ll go lie down in the metaphor.  Ahhh, that’s better.  I guess that it can last as long as you can stay awake, being a metaphor.  And if you believe in it, it will last longer than that, because it will not require conscious approval, being a metaphor.

A quote from my favorite author:

You cannot predict the direction you inner work might take, but in bringing more consciousness into the world you are assisting the evolution of the collective as well as yourself.  The Torah says you may pray at one altar for the fire to fall and instead it falls on your neighbor’s altar.  If you invest in the marriage of the inner and outer worlds by putting honest energy into dreaming a dream on, all the people in your life, maybe the whole of humankind, is enriched, though it may not produce the result your ego was seeking [my italics]. This is a saint’s task, clarifying a bit of the collective unconscious of the good of all humanity.

— Robert A. Johnson (and Jerry Ruhl), Living Your Unlived Life

Reader, if you have any other quotes like this one, please let me know.  This guy is the only living person I know of who can define the hard work of consciousness using the medieval idea of sainthood.  From my ego’s point of view, I haven’t yet struck upon the teleology of life, but it’s nice to know that someone somewhere has made a saint out of what otherwise seems a worthless pile of experiences.  In other words, quotes like this make my experiences seem a lot less worthless.

Thank you, Robert A. Johnson!

So does this post remotely smell of optimism?  I won’t know until I look back on it a few days from now, just like I didn’t know how pessimistic my other posts were until I read them now.  Goddammit.  Honesty need not be pessimistic. Just lie in the metaphorical Sun.  OK, where is that?…  I guess if I’m thinking about optimism then I’m already optimistic to begin with — therefore freewill does not exist.  Why do we have to be upset by this, though?  It means at core there is no Hell.

Remind me to talk about the privatio boni, next time.  I’ve been trying to work out for myself how the whole privatio boni process occurred.  I’ve got a handle on most of the factors —  Manichaean Dualism, the difference between Quantity and Quality.  It’s not easy tracing your mind back to the third century A.D.  Note to self: try to talk about the privatio boni.  Also, talk about the relationship between Time and Christianity. I think there might be some comparison between Time and the privatio issue.

A Bush

I am sick of my own company.

But I am sick of the company of most others as well.  I seek the strategical dimension to solving my problem — I seek the proper strategy for me.  Of lesser value is the sympathetic dimension, in which stating a sympathetic fact causes others to try to see if they can do something.  I know from experience that the Jewish people are more inclined to appeal to the sympathetic approach, by openly delineating the nuances of their immediate suffering.  Other groups have habitual approaches as well.  Roman Catholics, for example, postulate the general principle of need and the existence of a “correct” response “out there somewhere”, assuming that analysis of specific cases is of secondary import.  While I want to carefully delineate the nature of my suffering, I don’t want to imply by such that I expect a Christian type of “overgeneralizing” response.  In fact, I’d like to best approximate a personal ad, of the type previously in newspapers.  Thus I must perfect the art of the personal ad as blog. Another metaphor is the pruning of a bush.  I’d like to give enough details to prune away a response of too-much generalized compassion, while not pruning away the whole bush.  Thus far, should ye review my previous posts, ye might think me not a bush but thick brambles, or conversely, a stump, pruned to extinction.

I must be neither of these things, but a lonely bush, standing on its own roots, seeking company proper to it.  Shall I erase my previous entries?  They might need pruning.

I must prune myself too, though.  Most people coming to my blog will know nothing about me except what they see and read here.  I expect my social life to be very slow until I produce something notable, and I expect that producing something notable will be slow so long as my social life is slow.

This second comment runs up against the main issue of my life — that I can’t find anybody who can discuss the things which matter most to me.  It seems to me like a catch-22, and I readily admit that the only way I can resolve the issue is by imagining myself as one of the “elect”, as in the Book of Revelation, where exactly 144,000 people in white robes are chosen for the good life in the afterlife because they were subject to such ridiculously acute suffering in real life.

Furthermore, one can never know how to place blame for this situation.  To blame myself for my lack of friends may be simply a lack of self-esteem, as the trouble may truly lie in the inferior quality of people I’ve met.  To blame myself would be wrong, as the unconsciousness and/or enmity of people surrounding one should not be blamed on oneself.  But I can’t excuse myself either.  Perhaps my character flaws really are why I have no friends.  I must be willing to examine myself without blaming myself, and this is unnatural to someone whose hasn’t had friends for a while, since people almost always blame themselves for their peers’ rejection of them.

People who are willing to blame someone who will accept that blame are so common, that the vulnerable must really be informed of how common this is, so that they don’t prematurely blame themselves.  I naturally ask, if this event is so common, is there any meaning to it?  I’d like to think that a society, in which such devastation is wrought so regularly upon the innocent, does so for some higher purpose.  But this is a point of unbelievably huge contention — whether or not there is a Divine purpose to Scapegoating, that ugliest habit of Man (and Woman) — so I’ll just leave it alone.

But back to the main point, whether not having anyone to talk to will slow down my creative process.  On the surface, it seems obvious that this is so.  And thus it would be a Catch-22.  This is why this blog is so important.  Even if I am slow to write it, it represents my first chance in many years of having a social identity I can be proud of.  The internet is not going away.  Therefore blogging is a legitimate way to establish a social identity.

The internet is not going away.  The internet is not going away.  Repeat to self.  Life is so shockingly different, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away.  The internet is not going away.  Repeat to self.

 

Desires

Sometimes it might be just as well to blog when I could write to each person I know and say the same thing.  At least to blog is to have a statement on official public record.  So what was it I wanted to put on official public record?  What should be self-evident.  That my life is about as bad as anyone whose greatest accomplishment is their almost totally ignored blog.  I’m not sure whether the reader is better off rejoicing in their own lot which must be greater than mine or in finding some way to deny my thought.  Those who prefer denial will probably shy away from my blog anyway.

I do not think this statement is the result of a bad mood.  Aside from considerations of the personal impact knowing me has had on people I’ve met, this is my greatest accomplishment.  As far as those considerations, I know that knowing me has had some significant effects.  I’m not discounting those effects.  The distance in both time and space between myself and those people I’ve affected creates a kind of empty space which dims my enthusiasm for life as I now lead it.

Now how would I lead it any other way?  This is the question of great moment.  I can readily tell you I don’t know the answer.  I think might best find a monastery, retreat center, camp, organic farm, or some other program which in many ways rescues lost spirits like myself.  Not that I can even affirm that I am a lost spirit, mind you.  While it seems doubtful, I’m not opposed to the notion that my current habits are the best way to live.  But right now, the thought that my current life is the best one possible, that typing a post for you, my dear readers, whoever you are, is my best life…  I don’t know.  It appears doubtful on its face.

It appears doubtful on its face, but why should I stop merely at the examination of the surface?  An issue so momentous demands more scrutiny.  If we believe in an all-powerful God, then we know for a fact that the life I live is the only one I can live.

But to be overwhelmed by thoughts of an all-powerful God dampens our possibility of imagining a future better than our present.  Therefore, what future is better than my present situation typing this blog entry?  I shall have to identify the organs of my desire, or suffer being powerlessly vague in describing it.

Therefore…

The pleasure of writing, that is, the pleasure of determining the best configuration of words to convey one’s thought, must be accounted for.  Writing is not all pleasure, but there is pleasure both with arriving at a well-phrased sentence, and with the sense that one will please the audience with one’s constructions.  But this second sense is certainly not pleasure derived from the writing process itself, but from the anticipation of praise and approval.  This second sense makes evaluating writing a blog difficult, since I have no sense of how many or how few will ever actually read it.  Oftentimes, for example, a writer who appears to take pleasure in his work really takes pleasure in anticipating how he shall wow his audience with his skill.  This writer places a high value on the response of the audience, and comforts himself with the conceit that he knows them and what they will like.  I do not deny that I experience this kind of desire, and that I wish to be acknowledged just like anybody else.  Clearly, then, a second pleasure must be distinguished from the original pleasure of pleasing oneself with one’s writing — that of pleasing the audience.

I am trying to present an anatomy of my desires.  Thus starting with the pleasure of writing I move to the rest.  I wish to be enchanted by the presence of Femininity.  I want to state this grandly, and then get to the details.  In no way is Darwin’s theory of evolution more obviously on display than in the lust Men have for women, which is of two orders, lust for the body and lust for the soul.  Whenever I am around one or more beautiful women I experience powerful lust for their bodies.  I don’t do it crudely, or with some kind of animal method, mind you.  But this is a difficult topic to raise, and I expect that I won’t finish with it until I am completely honest.

So as to the matter of women’s bodies.  Let us speak of how lust for bodies varies according to the bodies themselves.  Each woman’s body will rank upon a basic scale of attractiveness, with higher ranks of attractiveness producing more lust.  Three categories shall suffice to describe what matters here, Beautiful Woman, Plain Woman, and Old Woman.  I raise none of these categories to be mean, but to be honest.  Strangely, honesty seems so rare around these matters, yet seems so important all the same.  If I could have an honest conversation about any of this and feel secure that all people could cope satisfactorily with the truths I’m discussing, I would not bring any of them up here.  Now, Beautiful Woman and Plain Woman are categories rather obvious enough, and each type must cope with her lot.  Plain Woman must of course take consciousness of what she lacks so that she can respond and adapt to the truth of her condition, which is that she will attract fewer and less commitment from men.  Sometimes she is actually the best conversation, however, because she will often allow more idiosyncrasy, more divergence from the norm, more strangeness, in her conversation partner because of her own familiarity with these domains.

I want to stop here and try to put out some fires before they light up the whole street.  Life is pain.  I’m not an ignorant fool.  The problem I have is that the only people I see who talk about these topics are ignorant fools.  There has to be someone who, while understanding the pain, also broaches the subject matter.  I cannot talk about my desires, and hence about what would make my life better than it is now, unless I talk about them honestly.  I hope the reader believes me here.  My desires are very much dependent on many factors, one of which is the physical beauty of women.

In a way it’s only disgraceful that I must beg your forgiveness that I might bring these things up.  That the discussion of these matters must be relegated to the low places in our civilized world, because the high places have developed no etiquette for them?  Beauty is very very desirable in a woman.  It should not be left only to the very vulgar to acknowledge these facts.  First of all, everyone knows it.  Second of all, it grants respect to all people to possess a formal etiquette dealing practically with its implications.  It’s as if we think that there aren’t obvious and practical implications to a greater or lesser degree of beauty in a woman.  I believe there are.  I don’t know how many others agree, but there you go.

Back to discussing my desires.  On an average day I see no beautiful eligible women at all, a sad situation indeed, since I am magnetically drawn to this kind of beauty.  I admit the obvious, which is that being drawn to women increases the chance that I will spread my genes into one or more offspring.  From a naturalistic point of view it would seem the explanation is clear.  But subjectively, it does not seem like this.  My feeling is that I’m drawn to beauty for romantic reasons.  Since I was a teenager, my sense of the meaning of life was always derived from Womankind.

So what’s the difference between the biological drive to spread one’s genes and the romantic feeling that the whole meaning of life comes from women, and in particularly, very beautiful women?  I don’t know.  The romantic feeling seems to encompass my whole personality.  The analysis of biology encompasses by comparison a very small portion.  The real question we should be asking, but that no one is asking, is how can we integrate the obvious parallels we can observe to ourselves in the realm of biology into our whole lives as human members of the various cultures we find ourselves in, with all that being members of those cultures implies?

The mere study of biology will not give us answers as to the specific choices we make, but take my case for example.  How should I feel about the power that Womankind holds over me?  If I pursue women, I cannot lie that I do this for some high-minded romantic reason, since our culture has nothing better to offer by way of explanation, and biology points to a clear reason for my lust.  I directly feel the Lust to be a greater force than my sense of how romantic love might offer an explanation and a pardon for my pursuits.  Every time I’ve loved, it’s been for an attractive woman.  My behavior has not reflected high-mindedness.  It has reflected a creature pursuing its own interests, be they ruled by Sex or by the Power Drive.

I do not mean that I don’t feel the power of romantic love in the moment.  I mean to say that, while in the moment my pursuits would seem to be compelled by romantic motives, I cannot distinguish my behavior in retrospect from those behaviors which would precisely benefit myself as one individual organism among many.  From a rationalistic point of view, I was not distinguishable from any one of the lower mammals, despite, or maybe even because of, my internal state.

I would like to think that someone who confesses this, while not a bearer of the high-minded ideals of the tradition of romantic love, at least might find some place in society, some acceptance for who he is, since from everything that I know it seems to me like this is a person who knows more than your typical pair of romantic lovers, and is wiser than they in the real affairs people live through everyday.

I cannot make the connection between my attitude toward myself and that I haven’t found a real place in this culture.  They may be separate conditions.  But I also do not know in what venue I might safely raise these topics.  Aside from writing to you on this blog, I don’t yet know how to talk about these things, or with whom, despite that it might powerfully improve my life to do so.

Which brings me to a third desire, that I might have proper discussions with people curious about my ideas.  This one is much harder to figure out, since I’ve kept to myself in many important ways for years.  Two strong desires, in such tremendous conflict with one another that I have no outlook on it.  Am I finally ready to present the fruits of my labor?  Why did I keep to myself?  Could I have gained my confidence in my own views of the world in any other way?

I spent time alone so that I could prevent people from taking advantage of my wisdom.  Perhaps some of it resembles the wisdom of the alchemists, who knew the significance of keeping secrets.  A thick, earthy character underlies the brittle flying truths, which only the will of God can teach.

Short post

Enticed I was.  Perhaps the briefest post…  the aura of the newsroom, where the scoop is All.  Secret outcomes, or perhaps, a habit well participated-in… is there a flow of honesty revealed by repeated and relentless postings, missed by the lone pillars of honesty which are my occasional postings…?

It was not to be.  God writes what She writes.  It was merely my planning self overstepping its bounds again, wasn’t it?  Aren’t we all put into this Giant Glob World, where all wisdom must be re-written?  It’s easy to give into temptation then, isn’t it?  Short post.

No more decisions; Individuation, continued

Well, Hello There, Children!

Decided to read my blog, have you?  I have some exciting words written for you this time.  Only one topic have I decided to write about, but I hope it will please the senses and delight the ears to hear aloud.  I cannot make decisions… Is it perhaps my final “decision”, to write for you this evening about how I cannot make decisions?

How could I possibly have come to such a piece of knowledge?  And is it truly substance enough to entertain, if it be entertainment ye seek?  Indeed I beg of you patience, for what other could I write than that which hath been ordain’d?

I was like you once.  But changed hath o’ertaken me.  That I could but type keys, construct words in fashion ordinary!  But ’tis not I wrote even these words, but another, far greater in frame than myself.  No decisions ever more hath it seen fit to allow the pitiful thing sitting and staring into the blank darkness.  I awoke this morning and knew that my time granting myself credit was over.  To you the reader it matters not, but for me it means I can’t choose what, prior to today, I thought I could.  And it is Right, for choice is an Illusion, a paltry gift I would gladly exchange for Knowledge of Fate.  Is not Fate the true master of us all?

What was told to me this morning was that I would never choose my projects, that no connection was there to be between my will and the most important events of my life.  Nor even events so simple as the posting of written material to the Internet.  Choices like this are no longer to be made by me, but rather — and to some it may sound the same — based on the connection I have with the deity which rules me, which lives only for the present moment.  Like a fireworks display I projected all my possibilities onto the stars above, all the possible personae I could achieve, but the only one I will ever achieve is the one filling the present moment, which cares nothing for spectacle and glamor.

So this Deity decides to take up several HOURS of my time writing this post on my blog, and I don’t understand it, but it’s my understanding which is flawed, my understanding is flawed.  Flawed, because it got caught in a dungeon somewhere.  Teshorin.  A world I remember from my childhood, which I wanted to create.  I dismissed what I was doing.  Why should I worry about several HOURS when life contains so many?  I was worked upon during that time.  But I think only of the surrounding hours?  Nature was drained out of me in youth that I might serve home life and society at large.  Drained so well that only now does She return?  Is it so long?  Individuation, Carl Jung’s name for the modern drama of redemption.

Your enemies will be found wherever human weakness congregates.  Each weakness crucifies its corresponding strength, but not in the light of day.  Weakness is ashamed of publicity.  The weaknesses are many, and each has its own Christ which it gladly crucifies in private.  Avoid these private crucifixions.

 

Confession

I want to confess to a philosophical fence I regret remaining on.  I was thinking about my short life, and I constructed a narrative which led to the thought, “I’ve experienced a lot.”  But it wasn’t true.  I’ve never experienced success.  I’ve seen a lot, but they were predominantly dark things.  Little successes, yes, but no big ones, nothing which garnered recognition from anyone I respect, particularly not the men.  Women have different values which I seem to have honed in on, to the point where I do feel more respect from that quarter than from men.

So I wondered what decisions I’ve made which I might alter given the chance.  I can identify several, but the one which stands out is my avoidance of institutions since my final devastating break from associations with institutions in about 2001.  It was a fatal flaw in my understanding, which was incapable of making important distinctions between various institutions such as different schools and different types of work.  My bad experiences with work have made me avoid all manner of paid work since.  Likewise with attending schools.  Early ideas I had about the scarcity of money persisted in my unconscious, allowing me to justify my non-participation by noting how much money I was saving.  I unfortunately have used the notion that money was scarce to avoid many things which might have benefited me.

What I regret is that here I am, typing an entry into the internet, with no friends nearby who might act as a substitute for talking to the internet.  Even those readers I have as friends live far away, and I can’t help but wonder – if I had had more faith in one or more of the institutions which were available to me whether I might now have friends living closer to me, and more of them.  Allow me to give an example, in which the institution in question is a Zen Monastery in Germany.

Following a Craigslist posting about a local Philadelphia event concerning the meaning of Life, I found myself talking to a Zen Master who had left Vietnam many years ago as a young monk when things were going particularly badly there.  He very quickly diagnosed me as someone who needed to be in a monastery setting with a regular schedule, where nothing much was expected of me for a while until I regained some confidence and self-esteem.  For some reason I avoided taking his suggestion.  I have an odd idea that my suffering was determined by God and I thought a monastery would be a cheap way of lessening it.  As a result I took the approach Doctor Frankenstein would have taken and have been in my isolated setting ever since, presumably creating my ingenious monster, instead of developing my sense of self in the company of monks and others devoted to their own development, but within a monastery setting and with the help of each other.  I was very very scared of that idea.  But I could never rationally disagree with the diagnosis of the Zen Master.  Let me tell you that he is one of the very few people whose opinion about me I’ve never been able to prove wrong.

A monastery, for crying out loud!  And I was dogmatically against it because I felt as if my road was supposed to include a kind of Spartan toughness which I could only get by being completely alone. What I ought to have done was to find out just what the requirements for this monastery life are, and go through them detail by detail asking myself whether I could agree to this detail or that.  I guess it’s just a good old fashioned brand of cowardice.  I felt that attending would imply some sort of commitment I didn’t want to make.  But I defended my avoidance with the most paltry arguments.  Most of them had something to do with how the destiny of my suffering was supposed to continue in the fashion of the Western Man, that is, in a terrifically lonely way.

The net result of my refusal to further involve myself was that I did indeed find out how it is for one who goes solo through the darkness.  And also that I have no friends from the monastery; no way to benefit from the wisdom of any of the people who might have passed through the place when I was there, including the Master; and no experience of the location itself, Germany, which might have filled my life with its own richness.

I find very painful my choice to avoid institutions such as this.  I was possessed by a painful sort of pride, which made me believe that all could be endured alone.  I thought it would indicate weakness to attend such places.  I should have known that any argument based on the notion that one must not show weakness is in itself a show of weakness.  One might recognize in this an American, cowboy-style trauma, as elegantly illustrated by a foreigner, Ang Lee, in his film Brokeback Mountain.  I’m not sure what to do with this trauma.  But I can confess it and perhaps by identifying it prevent it from ruining my life.

I’m not saying I would not defend any given institution simply because I admit to an unhealthy fear of them all.  Many, if not most, institutions have deep shadows which very often counteract the light associated with them.  But how can I not defend WordPress.com, for example, which makes possible the publication of this little post?  They don’t care who I am, but their sense of egalitarianism — combined with internet technology, which makes holding such a publishing philosophy comparatively easy — makes this confession possible.  The reader and I benefit greatly from this one.  Surely our Shadows remain far away from us now…

I have another story, about my interactions with the local community of Jungians — that is, followers of the great Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who invented the use of the word Shadow for psychological purposes, by the way — which I will relay soon.