My New Journal

Yes, yes, there has been a pause. I took a week off, but I have been writing, just not to you. Yet who would I be if I didn’t say something?

So how do I say what I need to say without revealing too much?

It’s just that I’ve been able to write in my private journal for ten days straight now. It may seem like nothing to you, but I think I might have a formula for success. I’ve never had consistency or discipline, so anything consistent and disciplined is a step in the right direction. So far what works is taking a religious angle. I suspect that one or more Gods exist, and when I write I simply assume that they do, relying on them completely for anything I accomplish. It’s by constantly resisting the notion that I am the one writing and by dishing out all of the credit to said gods that I’ve succeeded for the past ten days.

Before you accuse me of being crazy I would ask that you imagine what it’s like to have NO MOTIVATION, for very long periods of time. If I found a way to get motivated, then it comes as a welcome relief. Now the more unmotivated you are, the less picky you might be about how the motivation arrives. But neither am I going to hide that method from you, dear readers.

The big message is that I now have two avenues for expressing myself, this blog and my private journal. It seems that the gods don’t want me to have the private journal at all ready for publication, since the only way I’ve gotten the motivation to write it is with a pen on a legal pad. It is not in digital form, but it does exist.

Okay, this is not my most profound blog post, but at least you know I live.

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Mode of Perception vs. Mode of Survival

I think I’ve come up with a good story for my life. I need to explain my life to myself in a way which justifies the time spent. I’ve never felt like the years were a waste and yet it is nonetheless hard to say exactly why. By any surface criterion, I appear to be in exactly the same position career-wise as I was ten years ago.

If any valuable changes have been occurring, they must therefore have been internal changes. The value of such internal changes is to be understood, if at all, from the point of view of the hero’s journey, specifically its wandering-in-the-desert phase. My new point of view says that the purpose of this phase is to achieve changes in one’s “mode of perspective”, or, how one sees the world.

What I have neglected during this time is my “mode of survival” (what one *does* in the world to survive and prosper). There are some people, stronger or luckier than myself, perhaps, who are able to tend to their mode of survival and their mode of perspective simultaneously. But the heroic literature is nonetheless rife with stories of “creative illness” and the “dark night of the soul”, being lost at sea, wandering in the desert. These are all metaphors for the lapse in the wanderer’s ability or willingness to attend to their persona (the generally recognizable role one plays in society) during this phase.

To a person whose goal is to embody a specific persona with every scrap of energy they have, it seems absurd to leave it behind for any reason. For this person, their persona is what distinguishes them as a worthwhile person. By effectively playing such a role they are expelling the “nothingness” that they would otherwise become. Their secret hatred of their own inability to let go and fall into the nothingness for fear of what might happen, such hatred is the genesis of the Christ image. Christ crucified is a symbol of the result of a whole society collectively succumbing to its fear of letting go and falling into the nothingness which each of them feels individually. That hatred is projected onto Christ who is seen to inhabit that nothingness. He is seen as an opportunity to vent one’s own frustration and disappointment at one’s own lack of courage onto something which “deserves” what it gets for being so foolish as to venture into those scary realms.

The heroic phase of wandering in the desert represents someone who, either by force or by choice, or by both, has fallen into this nothingness. The process by which someone can expect “crucifixion” for making this choice varies from culture to culture and by individual circumstance.

At any rate, the main idea I wanted to convey was that I have spent many years developing my mode of perspective but not my mode of survival. Yet my mode of perspective is doing pretty well by now. I’m starting to have energy available for improving my mode of survival.

I made a distinction which is helping me a little. Many of the profound discoveries I make in the desert are nonetheless ambiguous as to their purpose. What seem like profound nuggets of wisdom to begin with, may or may not turn out to be valuable as gifts. To my surprise, they are often just ways of seeing which play a role only in my own little world. While I live with and use such pieces of knowledge in my life, I am often surprised at how unimportant they are when analyzed externally.

Relating the above paragraph to the topic before it, something profound discovered during my “mode of perspective” phase will not necessarily be something to shout about when I’m merely surviving. It is kind of shocking and humbling to realize how selfish many of my “discoveries” are. The heroic journey has been rife with discoveries both of the kind which are generally useful and probably worth communicating at some point in the future, and of the kind which merely assist me to get by day-to-day, but would be of little interest to anyone who didn’t have these exact same foibles. It can take a surprisingly long period of time to sort out into which bin any given discovery should be placed.

It’s hard to admit that *any* discovery which seemed profound at the time would actually be of limited use to anyone besides yourself. And yet at the same time, if you don’t expose yourself to the risk, you won’t make any discoveries of the other kind either. That’s the essense of the game, I suppose.

Doing Nothing except Blogging, and Jung’s Answer to Job

Note: Check out the comments. They are probably worthy of one or more separate posts themselves.

Once again, I’ve discovered something in myself which prevents deliberate, scheduled activity. I am blocked in the realm of making videos in the same way I was blocked from applying for work study at Esalen. Something pushes me toward inactivity. I hope that this thing knows what it’s doing. 🙂

If I post these words, then it might be said that whatever it is that blocked me has pushed me toward blogging. Words are important, so I’m not about to discount their value. But it’s not particularly satisfying to have mere words in exchange for what was previously an intention to do more.

So do I accept the exchange? Do I take these words and be glad I at least got them instead of nothing? Yes. I can take them because it’s not an either-or deal. If I could do anything else, I would.

Why are other things so hard? It’s a question I will continue to explore.

Some of the reasons I find other tasks hard are, I suppose, ordinary reasons – fear, risk, change. These are the kinds of things which, while difficult, are equally difficult for everyone. It makes it hard to know how much support or sympathy one can expect when one’s problems are identical to anyone else in the same situation. Just face it and get over it. What else can be said?

I would also suggest that I am bringing the readers of my blog along in my journey. I’m about as comfortable in blogging as I am uncomfortable making videos or applying to work-study programs. By telling this story I am perhaps syphoning off some of my comfort in blogging and redirecting it towards areas of greater risk and change. I only need convince myself that my friends from this blog are coming along to gain this confidence! Or maybe not.

If there are any other reasons I am so bad at planning and executing things I’d like to discover them as well. For example, there could be a genuine lack of desire to do these things apart from the usual fear, risk, and change. Lack of desire is certainly a good reason not to do something!

My actual desire is to do something, I think. What exactly that thing is, well…

I often want things to be handed to me, a very common situation in which a person, myself in this case, is reluctant to take responsibility for the entirety of their situation. I’d venture to say I’ve never met a man who does not in some way fall victim to this temptation. Perhaps I’m just angry at my father and projecting it onto all men. Anyway, the result is that instead of doing things myself, I secretly want it to be done for me, presumably by someone else who wants me to succeed so badly that they will invest their own time and energy into it.

Some people have such people and some don’t. The rule of life is that you don’t get to choose whether you have such a person or persons. Those who have no support must support themselves. It’s the hard and fast rule. My conscience might rebel against it, but show me the point in life where someone has no support to begin with, and then, merely because they find this situation morally offensive, is granted the support they need. Being morally offended seems to have no effect on a world which isn’t already rewarding someone with love and attention. Carl Jung talks about this situation a lot in Answer to Job.

Answer to Job is about a human being who feels offended by God’s inhumanity, and who’s very offendednesss is actually so offensive to God, who lacks a moral conscience himself, that God must become a human being just to feel good about himself again. That’s the idea with Christ, God becomes a person so that he can acquire a sense of good and evil, i.e. morality. God’s ego is so puffed up that he has to go through the humiliating process of being crucified in order to get over himself. Christ is not saving people from themselves, rather from God, and his unfeeling indiscriminate unpredictability.

The payoff of the book is that, while being morally offended at God’s cruelty may have no immediate results, it’s nevertheless not entirely worthless, because according to Jung, it actually has an effect on God. I’m not sophisticated enough to know more than this. But I will say that when no one will help you, you must help yourself. And I don’t like helping myself. I am angry and slow and unreliable. But if I intend to live, I have little choice.