No matter how many times I say it to myself I still go ahead and make another plan. I’m not sure any plan I’ve ever had has worked. I’ve been trying to come up with a mode of life by which I need no plans, since they never work anyway.
This is harder than it seems, because necessities creep up on you. Food, shelter, money. I guess there’s a difference between plans of the body and plans of the Ego. The plans I make with my Ego attached are the ones which don’t turn out right. The Body itself makes “plans” too, although they don’t feel like plans. The body’s plans aren’t even “yours” since they don’t require consciousness to make. But we all have such plans. I think that in our sophisticated state of civilization we have tremendous guilt complexes about our Body’s plans, or at least I do, and I think it’s tied to the feeling of superfluousness we have at a very subtle level. As far as the advancement of our civilization is concerned, virtually everyone in it is superfluous – we sometimes substitute the word “consumer” – mindless, meaningless “consumers” of the material products of our fancy civilization. Only a scant few are changing it or advancing it in any meaningful way. The rest of us are just “consuming” it. This creates a spiritual pressure on my psyche. When I feel my Body’s instincts and I am able to recognize them with my conscious mind, I feel like total crap, I see the Zombie in me. Do you see the Zombie in you? The Ego, born and bred in civilization, looks with contempt on the mindless Id.
Why such contempt? All the wonders of our age are built on the wonders of preceding ages. Our whole idea of the meaning of life is built on the notion of progress. We have the wonders. But we don’t have the progress anymore. Thus 99% of everyone are superfluous. If we are of the Ruling Class mindset, that is, “college educated”, then we have been taught that we are the preservers of our culture. Yet here’s the catch. The meaning of Civilization, or let us say, the meaning of our Civilization, lies in that the individual is supposed to contribute somehow to the progress of Civilization. But we don’t. Therefore 99% of us possess a Civilization without possessing its meaning.
The Ego disdains the Body’s plans. The Ego disdains the Id. The Ego developed and learned under Civilization. The Body developed over millions of years in Nature. The Ego in our civilization is preoccupied with trying to derive its distinctiveness from all the other Egos. Why are we terrified of mass-mindedness? Speaking for myself, I recognize in myself a huge drive for power, a Will to Power. I want to be King. I think that our civilization has managed to suppress the inner human being’s natural drive to rule by allowing the power drive to channel itself into other means. Specifically, the advancement of technology and art. Bill Gates can sit and be King of his little self, safely ignored by Democracy, and George Lucas can do the same.
But what if we fill up all the creative gaps? Technology is not endless. It is limited by the laws of physics and the availability of sources of energy and minerals. The advancement of the Arts is also limited. With each innovation, innovation gets harder. When innovation is impossible, the meaning of Civilization has been removed, especially for those individuals of the Introverted Type. (see Carl Jung’s Two Essays on Analytical Psychology for a brief explanation, and his Psychological Types for a rather in-depth explanation). The Introverted Type is ruled by the drive for Power. But his moral life is ruled, at least within the modern West, by the righteousness of technological and artistic progress. The Extravert is ruled by Eros, the lust of objects – I’m not sure what civilization is like for them, but I can only imagine that so long as the Introverts are distracted by Arts and Techonology, the Extraverts can only enjoy too much the availability of positions of Power in the worlds of Politics and Commerce.
The moral life of the introvert is ruled by the righteousness of technological and artistic progress. So long as there are spaces left for innovation, the Introvert’s natural drive to Power will be fulfilled. Innovation garners much praise in our culture, and it’s been good enough as a motive force for living for a while now. But I don’t expect it to last forever. Eventually there will be too few ways for an Introverted type to attach his name to achievements. These achievements because of their novelty can occupy the high moral ground of being gifts to all humanity! But as I said, the achievement space is drying up rapidly. A whole new dimension of life begins to unfold. That dimension? Tribal warfare. Eventually even the smartest nerds will have nothing to add to the noble Arts and Sciences. What is left then?
The advancement of Power will never leave the human race. Those seeking security and power will soon be forced to choose to serve one tribe at the expense of another tribe indistinguishable from the first in terms of its essential morality. Nowhere is this conflict more poignant than in what it means to “Serve Your Country”. Rarely is it mentioned that the subtext of this line is, “yes – at the Expense of Everyone Else’s.”
We’d all like to think that we can serve our country without necessarily harming anyone else’s country. But how is this possible, barring the previously mentioned advancement of Arts and Technology? Perhaps certain advancements in Societal Relations could arrange a mutual benefit for two countries. But this of course at the expense of all the others. I have dwelt too long on the simple notion of serving your country. Perhaps you will be serving your Treaty Alliance. Or maybe your small little state at the expense of nearby Little States. But the day comes when nations will be morally indistinguishable from each other. The will be no way to justify a Crusade, for example, in which the war is against heathen filthy pagans. But there will be War nonetheless. Or more broadly, there will be Power Struggles.
The Western Ego has been obsessed with individualism for many centuries. It has turned to Technology as the last clear bastion in an otherwise overcrowded contest for individual fame-through-Innovation. Pretty soon this obsession with individuals, as a mode of competition with other Civilizations, will become weaker and weaker, as the net contribution to Civilization per person shrinks to next-to-nothing. We will have to choose a side. We will have to choose some as-yet-unknown side, on some as-yet-unknown groups of factions. The drive for Power, built up over millions of years and visible even in animals, will long outlast our Individualized West.
Nor can we hide behind the naive belief in the moral superiority of our faction over anyone else’s. The fight will come from our nature, our innate drive to Power. Our wimpy Christian consciences – developed under the Western World’s belief in the significance of individuals – are actually our weakness and we must try to advance our moral understanding as quickly as possible toward a broader outline which can handle the complexity of the amoral Struggles ahead.
My Ego hates my Id. But my Id is millions of years older than my Ego. My Ego derives its values from the Western Culture I was raised in. My Ego has no way of coping with the fact that I am a superfluous member of a massive civilization I hardly understand and didn’t ask for. It hates my Id because my Id has no concern for my Ego’s values. Because I am an Introvert, my Id is centered around the Drive to Power. The Drive to Power can hardly settle for the accolades associated with Unique, Individual Contribution to the Arts and Sciences. They don’t really seem powerful enough. It seems like the values of the arts and the sciences are drying up. Indeed, there is no contribution to make but one which has resulted from the kind of searching I am doing.
This Blog post is a Contribution, and therefore meets the demands of my cultured Ego. Perhaps I will achieve the Fame-through-Innovation I spoke of above. Perhaps such fame will satisfy my anguish, my dread of being superfluous. But now that I have contributed this thought, there is one less thought to be added to the total. The Drive for Power will remain even after all good thoughts have been thought. It will outlast our civilization. It will lead to a condition in which we must learn to be effective members of various groups. Perhaps we should jump off the moral high ground of individualism now while it’s still possible to make a dignified landing. Jump off it before it disappears and we are forced to make a crash landing.
Well, at any rate, things never go as planned. I didn’t plan to write the philosophical part of this post, for example. Perhaps my Body wrote it. (Id and Body are the same thing) But it is probably one of my best posts. It only came from a sort of subtle urge to write a post, not any particular post. But it sure is hard to learn to trust that type of thing. And I want it to happen all the time. My Ego wants it to happen. “Ego” and “Eagle” are very similar sounding. Which gives me a perfect opportunity to link to my favorite post again. “Toad” and “Id” don’t sound alike… well, they sort of do. “Toad” and “Body”?
Oh, and, uh…
Merry Christmas Everybody?