Nervousness and Relaxation, and My Video Game

I’m simultaneously nervous and relaxed. One part of my psyche in complete confidence, another assailed by imagined enemies. They must be separated somehow, unless nervousness and relaxation can coexist as one, which I doubt. They are mutually contradictory, right? But to admit that you are nervous invites the very assault you might want to avoid. Therefore people make a habit of not admitting they are nervous.

A better metaphor is a magnet. The one side is confident, but it has a shadow. That shadow is unconscious, which means it is susceptible to surprise. But if it goes on long enough without being surprised, its defenses come down. The confident bright side now rules, until a dark surprise puts the fear of God back into it.

What we all are searching for, which may be an illusion, is a place where we have no need to fear dark surprises.

And yet I’m relaxed, too. What’s that all about? It’s the sequel to the relaxation which helped me write the last article. The mysterious force which causes the defenses to come down. You’ve formed a working relationship to the source of the dark surprises, the demon behind the curtain. You know what he’s capable of. Yet there could be more demons like him, even darker ones than you’ve yet seen. The horror could return, yet instead of panicking you relax, because life goes on.

Perhaps the fear, of discovering even darker demons, relaxes when the greater unity of being has let go of its hold over things it once valued. If you don’t value something, you can’t fear losing it. Maybe I’m relaxed because any further fear would simply be overkill. I’ve already let go of anything which might cause further fear. Yet I could still become nervous, and so I must also let go of wanting to be relaxed, or I will be susceptible to fear.

You might think that a relaxed person is a good person, a desirable person. Thus you are nervous for holding on — to being relaxed. The relaxation becomes pale echo in a demonic vortex of fear, fear that you are not the relaxed person you once thought you were.

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I keep thinking about my video game. It’s half-alive and half-dead. I simply don’t have the wherewithal to go any faster than I’m going. Which means that at this rate, it will take far more than the rest of my natural life to complete. If anybody ever wants me to finish this game, then don’t hesitate to lend me your wherewithal!

That’s it for today. See you Tuesday!

p.s. I heard that a strange video link appeared in my blog, which didn’t show up in my browser. I didn’t put the link in there, nor do I know how erase it.

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An Idea for the Future, and Further Commentary on Carl Jung

Something told me not to write today’s article until today. I had written a few paragraphs, about how I’m still questioning whether Jung’s difficult writing style is deliberate. Or whether it’s his IDEAS which are difficult. But since then – then being about three days ago – I’ve been allowing a certain kind of relaxing energy to dictate how I would go about writing this article. It’s the same kind of “late summer” relaxing energy which makes you want to push off everything you have to do and enjoy the moment.

I’ve yet to settle on a follow-up to this eight-week run (of two articles per week) which enters its seventh week today. I have to balance what I’m personally capable of with what I think is appropriate to a blog. There is a difference between me and my blog. The limitations of the format should not be confused with my own limitations. I wonder if I could benefit from a high-intensity exercise in which I blog at least once a day for ten days or so. Could the dynamic energy which plagues my unconscious be turned into a series of blog posts on a variety of topics? Contrasting to the slow (sometimes too slow) and steady approach I’ve been using?

I could write many articles on the topic of the blog itself. Most people can’t handle the pressure of individuality which is implicit in the idea of the blog. Since the internet grants you no authority other than that you know how to type and click the controls, the blogger must make up the slack with the supposed interestingness of his personality. Yet to truly have an interesting personality is virtually impossible.

Ten days seems like the right amount. Three articles per day. I would spend every spare second trying to think of interesting things to write. It would be a public showcase of my personality (for whatever that’s worth), plus it would distract me from the heavy problems I always face. Any more than ten days would be forced, and thus no escape from said problems anyway.

But for those ten days, an exciting challenge and a distraction. A ten-day blogathon!

Yet there is an energy which provides me with the motivation to do anything. The exact same thought and the exact same exercise, done at the wrong time, and I will have none of the enthusiasm I have when “the Force is with me”. That Force is traditionally called God, but many of its characteristics are different from the known Gods (those of today’s established religions). Of course this idea is not new. Even in St. Paul’s epistle, or the Acts or something, he refers to the “shrine to the unknown God” when trying to help the Athenians distinguish between his God and the gods they customarily worshipped.

Yet you wouldn’t know it was the “unknown god” from the way God gets talked about by preachers today! But nonetheless it is the unknown god who gives me motivation. The only thing I know about it is that without something helping me to wake up and to care about my life, I am utterly drained of any energy and even the will to live in most cases. Also, if merely by getting an idea – a ten-day blogathon, for example – I could solve all my problems with meaninglessness and loneliness, then of course I would do it all the time and for much longer than ten days.

Every one of these blog articles for the last two months was part of a plan which I was able to follow, but the mystery to me is why I now have motivation to go through with such a plan, whereas for many many years before I was not able to do so. I’m sure that with time I will actually understand more and more of that mystery, but for now, it seems fitting to call it the unknown god.

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I still want to talk about Carl Jung. I think his writing is made difficult both by his writing style and the difficulty of his ideas. There is even a kind of difficulty which goes beyond mere intellectual difficulty. There are many ideas, which although true, are difficult to grasp because of what they imply about life, the universe, and everything. The reason is that people’s lives, their entire consciousness structures, are built upon foundations of which they often know very little, and which often prove brittle if uncovered. It’s a whole different kind of difficulty, in which it’s not the person’s mind which rebels, but rather the whole supporting structure of that mind which rebels. The whole issue is completely different from what is normally suggested when someone is “smart”. I’m calling this “moral difficulty”.

To give an example, the very idea that you might be standing on a house of cards is very threatening. Thus, the very first obstacle to discussing the idea of moral difficulty arises as soon as it is defined. You not only must talk about the house of cards upon which the person is standing, but you must also talk about how hard it is to imagine yourself in such a precarious situation. The person must be made to feel okay about their situation, because what happens is, they have a moral difficulty with the very idea that they HAVE a moral difficulty, even if the latter difficulty is totally unrelated to the former.

The source of this difficulty is in a certain process which seems to be present in every human, while absent in every computer program, for example. Everyone, at all times, holds in her mind a conception of “the Good Person”. She will face a moral difficulty any time a suggestion is made that she is different from her idea of the Good Person. That subliminal comparison creates moral difficulty, however easy the idea is to grasp from intellectual standpoint. The moral difficulty can produce cold sweats, sleepless nights, all sorts of things which mean nothing to the mind, per se.

Much what Jung has to say, in addition to his not necessarily saying it perfectly, generates moral difficulty. So it’s an elite audience to begin with who isn’t faced with moral difficulty on top of its substantial intellectual difficulty plus the difficulty associated with Jung’s idiosyncracies. This stuff really needs to be sorted out, since his ideas are really important, but his idiosyncracies are not.

It is a work still to be done. I continue to find very important statements in Jung’s writings which I’ve not found repeated, or even echoed, anywhere else.

But enough for one day!

 

Orphan, Widow, Moon… Foolish Goose Chase?

I’ve spent the last three days trying to understand Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis, a truly astonishing book. It’s the closest thing to a “Wizard’s Book of Magic Spells” written in the twentieth century, by anybody. For anyone who has seen his Red Book, Mysterium represents the culmination of the creative effort Jung began with the Red Book.

But there is too much to say about it, not to mention the issue of who is talking. I started studying Jung at the age of twenty five. Now I have the impulse to begin a discussion of Jung’s deepest ideas.

But I must first address the issue of who I am. I have no connections with other “Jungians”. I haven’t undergone “analysis” with any Jungian. I haven’t “studied in Zurich at the Jung Institute”. I have no professional Jungians as friends, although I do have a number of casual fans of Jung as friends in far away places.

So why would I analyze Jung’s hardest book in depth, when I have no formal connections with any other Jungians? There is a simple answer.

Just as “war is too important to be left to the generals,” Jung is too important to be left to the Jungians. Despite what I can only assume are the Jungians best efforts, there is still a “High Castle” effect surrounding his legacy. How I came to this conclusion is an interesting story unto itself, but I will reserve it until I’m more relaxed.

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We have the section called “The Orphan, the Widow, and the Moon.” Now the Orphan and Widow both are exemplified for me in stories by Charles Dickens. I’m not even particularly well read on Dickens, but I know the plots well enough to say, firstly, that Oliver Twist is the best orphan in terms of the idea of the Orphan. As for the Widow, we turn to A Tale of Two Cities, which I haven’t even read, but I was told that a bunch of French people are being beheaded in the Revolution, and no one knows who is really in charge. A woman, who I think is widow, sits unobtrusively in the corner knits while the others talk. It turns out she is encoding the names of those who are to be killed in her fabric… how grotesque! That’s the Widow, a powerful image.

The name of the overall chapter in Jung’s book is “The Components of the Coniunctio”. Jung puts plenty of material in other chapters, but he leaves it for me to guess why Orphan, Widow, and Moon are important enough to be in the first chapter. The names of the chapters are:

I. The Components of the Coniunctio
II. The Paradoxa
III. The Personification of the Opposites
IV. Rex and Regina
V. Adam and Eve
VI. The Conjunction

If alchemy is a recipe, then the “Components of the Coniunctio” are the raw ingredients. In this chapter, there are four sections:
1. The Opposites
2. The Quaternio and the Mediating Role of Mercurius
3. The Orphan, the Widow, and the Moon
4. Alchemy and Manichaeism

I’m searching for a unifying thread tying the subjects of this chapter together.

It’s as if Jung is weaving a picture of something so odd that there’s no easy way to approach it. However, it’s also possible that his style is deliberately dense in order to scare off anyone not truly dedicated to understanding it, which suggests a moral dimension to what he’s saying. But maybe Jung is playing an evil power game, including secrecy for its own sake.

Maybe he believes that his message should not fall into the wrong hands, which, believe it or not, is actually a common aspect of many alchemical texts. They are often filled with warnings about how the Art is a gift of the Holy Spirit, granted only to the few. My guess is that his style is so difficult at least in part to force anyone who would know his message to work hard to get it. He’s trying to discourage the hare, which races too quickly, and promote the tortoise. Certainly we are all subject to the instinct to just get to the end without having to go through the whole obstacle course.

Thus, on the one hand, all the difficulty of Jung’s book could be part of an evil power game, and on the other it could be part of his belief that you must work hard and be of the right moral character in order to understand his message. Or maybe he just is a bad writer, or his ideas are so difficult that it’s hard to boil them down to something simple. Maybe the difficulty of the book is not at all deliberate but a consequence of his limitations as a writer. Yet this book is SO strange that I actually prefer the “it’s deliberate” explanation. The closest thing I’ve found is Faust, Part II by Johann von Goethe. Indeed Jung says that his book is actually an extended commentary on one particular section of Faust, Part II. Jung could be initiated into those mysterious ways which, from the outside, look like Charlatans and sellers of Snake Oil, but from the inside may carry truths too deep for ordinary minds to grasp.

All this puts me in a tough situation, because this is a blog, and I’m trying to speak to ordinary people like I’m “one of the guys”. At the same time, I insist on being true to my beliefs, which may be offensive at times. This is the internet, where everyone believes he or she has the right to know everyone else’s secrets. I guess I’m living up to my tagline, “A Blog For All and None”. (That title is taken from Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra_, by Friedrich Nietzsche, a strange and difficult book indeed)

As far as the Moon, I can certainly see how the Orphan, the Widow, the Moon could be connected in a “Halloween” motif. Gothic, cold, windy. In other words, the Components of the Coniunctio have an undeniably “Gothic” tinge to them, an inescapable darkness and grotesqueness. This is actually consistent with the tone of the chapter, although Jung’s wizardly ways prevent him from confining himself merely to Gothic themes. He ranges from the ancient religion of Manichaeism to Jewish Mysticism, to traditional Christian theology, to a bunch of alchemical books only he has access to.

All this would be unforgivable except that the ideas are so tantalizing that I’m pulled in anyway. The hardest part of this book is how little guidance Jung provides. He pulls out so many odd facts, from the most bewildering array of places, many of them extremely esoteric, that I suppose I can see why so few people know about this book. But it’s a great book for just that reason. Jung is deliberately pulling out facts you might otherwise never hear of and juxtaposing them so as to create a dense picture of a difficult and subtle idea.

We are all so proud of ourselves that we assume as a matter of course that we already have access to all of the ideas we need. Jung’s book is an effort to discourage that kind of assumption. The downside is that you constantly suspect him of playing some kind of game with you. When you ask someone to learn something unfamiliar, you force them to decide whether it’s worth the extended mental effort you require. From my perspective, it feels like a real risk, because a lot of effort will have been wasted on useless trivia. Yet, like alchemy had on the alchemists, Jung’s ideas have such a pull on me that I keep walking down that road in spite of myself.

I may continue my commentaries on Mysterium next time. Foolish goose chase?

 

Week Six, Bitterness, Loneliness

Today’s article has been difficult for me to write. I had no set topic to jump off from, but I thought I would talk about the emptiness which is approaching due to the fact that this exercise of writing two articles per week is now in week six.

But it turned out to be hard to talk about the emptiness. Go figure. I have to find a way to make what’s on my mind either interesting or informative.

How do you take bitterness and turn it into something else? I’m tempted to just be openly bitter. Yet that doesn’t seem consistent with my idea of this blog, which is that it’s a source of wisdom. God may or may not be reliable.

I want God to help, but He has by no means won my trust. That may be my fault. On the other hand, there is an abundance of those who have little faith in God, suggesting there may be an aspect of God which is indeed untrustworthy. Unlike many atheists, however, I find little reward in logical arguments. Carl Jung says “it is far better to admit the affect and submit to its violence than to try to escape it by all sorts of intellectual tricks or by emotional value-judgments,” and I am of this school too.

My bitterness may be simply the result of my having to face God’s darkness without any help. At the same time, can one really expect any help when God’s darkness is being faced? The help would itself remove one from the direct conflict, since help gives one a sense of communion with others, whereas a large part of God’s darkness is derived from the feeling of loneliness.

What is the purpose of this confrontation, though? It helps when Jung, in his _Answer_to_Job_, raises it to the most important possible status, that through seeing God humans can give God what God can’t otherwise give himself, that is, a sense of right and wrong. It feels good to think about this, although I admit that I don’t really know if it’s true. And in my case, so what if it is? Much of my misery comes simply from being disconnected, and I’ve not yet discovered how increased consciousness helps with that feeling.

Yet many highly respected sages say that loneliness abates when God is found. Robert A. Johnson says, “Others cannot assuage our loneliness. Loneliness is an interior matter. Even being in love has nothing to do with the other person.”

Actually, he has a TON of good things to say about loneliness in his book _Inner_Gold_, of which that was only one quote. He discusses three types of loneliness, the first of which is Loneliness For The Past. At the end of this section, he says, “Being conscious is your greatest ally. If you are able to admit to yourself how much you wish to fail, this is the beginning of a cure.” I’m not sure how much of my problem is related to the wish to fail. It may be an important part of it.

Robert A. Johnson is so awesome! I tried to write a wikipedia article for him, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it past “wikicustoms”, the random people who are authorized to accept articles on the site. One thing I know, if I had to guess which would survive longer, Wikipedia or the works of Robert A. Johnson, I’d guess the works of Robert A. Johnson. You might think I’m playing personal favorites here. Maybe not.

It seems that the most effective defense against bitterness is distraction. Distraction means that you still have stuff to learn, which means that until you learn it, you can’t complain. After all, your ignorance could be to blame for your unhappiness.

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One of my goals is to understand Jung’s more difficult ideas. Many philosophers write weighty tomes, but Jung’s tomes are saturated with the most fascinating tidbits. It seems to me that the current generation will need at least one person who has really digested what Jung said. Probably his most difficult book is _Mysterium_Coniunctionis_, five hundred pages of hard-to-follow statements about medieval natural philosophy. It’s not written particularly well, in my opinion. Even when I finally figure out what he’s saying I often think the presentation was poor.

I’m currently reading the third section of the first part. The title is “The Orphan, the Widow, and the Moon”. It’s a particlarly baffling section. He lists merely a series of facts about the appearances of the themes of the orphan, the widow, and the moon in ancient and medieval philosophy and religion, but I can’t find anything which ties the three together. What do the Orphan, Widow, and Moon have in common? A death in the family, weakness, frailty. An emphasis on alchemy’s darker aspect, but why? A good example of where I can’t, or simply haven’t yet, found what ties them all together.

Intelligence and the Alien Presence Which Helps Me Write These Articles

Something besides me is helping me write these articles. An alien presence. Originally I was unable to separate my ego from the alien presence which uses me to communicate its point of view. However, I think it’s far better for my mental health if I am able to separate the two. In Jungian psychology there is the idea of Ego and Self, the two selves within the one self. If the ego confuses itself with The Self, what’s called an inflation results.

At first it’s difficult to imagine two souls residing in the same body. Imagine what an ordinary psychiatrist would think of that! Modern psychiatry goes in direct contradiction to what is good for people. If a god is using you to communicate its message, it’s far healthier to realize that it’s a GOD in there and not yourself. When was the last time any psychiatrist said anything like that, though?

The reason psychiatrists can’t see reality is that they have no notion of higher powers. They think that what a person does is entirely the result of a single personality trapped in a physical body. But how could they miss something so fundamental to understanding human nature?

Any at rate, the stronger the god within me is, the more I must let go of my simple self (my ego) and allow the greater Self to express itself in the gloriously archaic language gods often use. There is a mysterious power to other languages, even older versions of the English language. But to speak as a god in today’s world would appear insane on the one hand and foolish on the other. Of course, the little ego wants nothing of the kind. But the stronger the god, the more critical it is for the two personalities to form a good relationship. This is the secret to mental health, in the case of the person who speaks for a god.

As far as the nature of this relationship, it can be spoken of in many ways. The god is an entirely separate soul within the person. The person, therefore, is used by the god. Does the person carry the god within himself, or does the god carry the person? My experience is as if I’m a radio receiver, but that I can’t turn myself off until the god is finished speaking. As an ego I feel used. Since the god doesn’t exist in physical space, I can’t claim to carry the god within me. On the other hand, many people’s only exposure to the god who uses me is through me. Therefore, it’s easy to assume it’s inside of me. The question is, if I believe the god is inside of me, what does that do to my mental health?

It depends on what kind of god it is. If it ever grows larger than the size of my body, then it’s wrong to believe I carry it in me. If it’s a tiny little god, then I guess there’s no harm in thinking it’s squirming around inside of me. How powerful are tiny little gods, though? Gods are, perhaps by definition, spirits bigger than people.

It’s surprisingly hard to instill into one’s brain the notion that one is simply the mouthpiece FOR the deity and not the deity itself. The reason it’s hard to embrace this notion is essentially the weakness and nakedness of the human life itself. As a person I have insecurities, some obvious and others less so. Many of them I’m only aware of through observing my behaviors, after the fact, whereupon they become a source of shame and embarrassment.

The urge to BE the deity, and not merely the person channeling the diety, is the urge to escape the life of the person with insecurities. The more insecurities you have, the stronger will be the urge to escape them, and I live the life of someone for whom this is not a trivial temptation! It seems to me to be the obvious way of dealing with my condition to adhere to the notion that there are indeed two different souls operating within me, one my little ego, whom I’m responsible for, and the other a God whom I must essentially submit to.

To believe what psychiatry believes, that I am only one entity and must act like it, is nothing but misery and suffering. (The end result is often the total supression of the deity through medications, which are themselves often so toxic as to damage people’s physical health.)

I think it takes a strong person to separate out the two personalities. The weaker person will need everything they can get just to survive as an ego. This can cause problems for the person doing the honest work of separating the personalities, because all the scraps of the divine process in the weaker person will go toward bolstering the weaker person’s ego. It’s pure survival mode in that case, and no help whatsoever to the process of separation and distinction, which is also very hard.

I might as well point out now that psychiatry could perhaps be blamed for making no distinction between weak and strong people. From that perspective, you might say that our whole culture fails to make that distinction. To show you what I mean, take the presidential race as an example. At some point in history, I suppose someone running for president would be expected to make intelligent arguments in order to garner the votes necessary to win the race. But the problem is with the fact that ALL citizens have a vote, not just the highly intelligent ones. As a result, the presidential race is little more than saying and doing whatever it takes to get ORDINARY people to vote for you. There’s no point in honest, high-level discussions in the race anymore, because the risk of saying something which might alienate the dumb people is so great that it’s probably better to have no discussions at all.

Therefore it is a major weakness and a difficult problem that we no longer have a morally (or legally) sanctioned way of distinguishing smart people from dumb people. Certainly we’re still a long way from making any changes in politics, for fear of the possibility of tyranny, should any group of people lose their right to vote for any reason. But in the realm of mental health it would be a profoundly useful distinction to start making. The reason is, that intelligent people with mental health problems can go through a process by which they eventually become mental health experts themselves, whereas dumb people, in my experience, cannot and should not do this. Instead, EVERYBODY gets treated as if they are profoundly stupid, and, generally speaking, only the stupid people are helped. But it’s even worse, because the inherent betrayal of humanity which accompanies treating everyone as if they’re idiots grates at the mental health of the practioners themselves, which results either in their own mental illness, or in supression of their natural openness and generosity, which is essential in their profession.

Now I need to address the ambiguity I’ve created regarding the difference between strong people and smart people, and between weak people and stupid people, if any. The danger in evaluating how smart a person is comes with the failure to realize just how many TYPES of intelligence there are, and that a person can have a high or low intelligence each type without its necessarily affecting the level of the other types. Nonetheless, it is my opinion that all the types added together can give you the person’s total intelligence.

How do you estimte people’s intelligence? It is a task which must be approached with humility, since your own consciousness may be overlooking something. For this reason, I advise reserving a specific category for the “unknown” factor, which accounts for an unknown percentage of total intelligence. Life forces you to act. The “unknown” factor is simply a way of acknowledging that your system is not perfect and that you will make mistakes.

Besides intelligence, what other factors contribute toward a person’s being strong instead of weak? I’m not sure exactly. Another important factor is appearance and bodily fortitude, which are often matched. Beyond this, there is upbringing, which varies so widely that I simply don’t know how to integrate it into my system. Therefore, my idea of a strong person is based mainly on intelligence, somewhat on physical appearance, and somewhat on background and upbringing. Someone who has been particularly abused will spend a long time recovering from it, which could slow down what otherwise might be his natural “strength”. Intelligence, however, is my main criterion.

Perhaps no society will ever reliably be able to distinguish strong people from weak ones, because there is too much at stake and no one wants to be weak. However, it would make healing from mental illnesses easier — possible, sometimes, whereas before impossible. The strong person’s journey is different from the weak one’s. Why is no distinction made? Does our culture really have that little faith in people?

 

Do “Good People” Exist?

Hello!

Today’s Article has the peculiarity of its being written in the Public Library because our internet is down at home. It also has the peculiarity of constituting whatever I can produce in 35 minutes worth of the session time alotted.

So what had I planned? Something about how I had increased confidence in my ability to write articles, how nervousness had receded. I was speculating as to the cause. The two possibilities were that simply had developed confidence and that I no longer cared about the quality of the writing. But I concluded that even if it were the latter possibility I couldn’t tell you, so I decided it was the former. It’s a good sign. that confidence means that I may indeed want to expand my activities.

Writing from the library FEELS easy. The time pressure makes me know that failure to interest you is not my fault. I was going to use this time to excuse myself from writing at all, but now that I’m here, I can blab for 35 minutes as well. I had actually drawn up a draft of an extended inquiry as to why I had increased confidence, and I remember it being at least half-interesting. Something kind of spiritual was involved.

Confidence almost always seems to be accompanied by ego inflation, infortunately. I distrust confidence so much that I am always wary of it now. I used to like it. It used to mean liberation to me. Now I scrutinize what I am escaping INTO more than what I’m escaping from. Any escape must be accompanied by cautious analysis of the new situation.

There’s a passage in one of St. Paul’s letters where he declares that there are no good people at all. Not even one. It’s probably a good passage to keep in mind whenever you feel you’ve escaped from your current situation. The reason people are arrogant is because they believe there is such a thing as a good person.

Christians shade their religion with optimism by focusing on the person they believe WAS a good person, Jesus, but this kind of thinking can get pretty shallow pretty fast. Jesus as a historical figure is lost to history, so any research into the actual person of Jesus will always come up empty, which leaves the remainder of our thoughts about Jesus to be found in the realm of pure speculation, which reflects more about the speculator than it does about the object.

The overall contents of the speculations abou Jesus bias toward the idea that he was in fact a good person. However, observation of the way in which he is imagined shows that he takes the place of someone rather superhuman in their imagations. As a person he always seems just far enough removed from the speculators to allow them to retain their fantasies about him. The area in which he must be analyzed as a person who came from dust and will return to dust is empty and fuzzy. He is a supporter of a Christian’s psyche rather than a real person.

New Age people often talk about enlightenment as something which is available to us. There seems to be the idea that nothing more than a trick of the mind is needed in order to enter the state of enlightenment. Here is the question, if you’ve never seen an enlightened person, doesn’t it make enlightenment more difficult to attain? Anything for which an example was set for me became easier for me to obtain than if I had merely to imagine it without encountering it in real life.

Generally speaking, I believe that there are no good people, that St. Paul was right on that count. It’s possible that all ideas we have of good people are just helpful projections and nothing more. They may be instinctive, so deeply rooted that they can’t be gotten rid of. The idea of “good people” is an instinct we can’t escape. If it is, though, it were better that we become aware of it as such.

This makes for a good experiment. What can I write in 35 minutes? I was offered by the computer to extend my session. I feel stupid now. I’m not particularly happy about the last paragraph. I will either keep it for demonstration purposes or edit it later, but I don’t feel like continuing just because the computer surprised me like that.

See you Friday!

Two Parts: Cars + Freedom, and Does Personal Suffering Come From Inside or Outside?

Today’s article has two parts. It’s really two articles, the first focusing on an aspect of the outer world, cars and their effect on me and others, and the second part focusing on my inner condition, but talked about in a general way: Is my personal suffering due to flaws in myself or in the world?

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I’m a walker in a world of cars.

I decided to write about my relationship to cars today. I live in the suburbs, but I don’t own a car. I owned a car once in my life. The thing which bothers me about them is that they seem to me to turn petroleum into mother’s milk without people being aware of this. I don’t have all the answers, since I’ve never lived in a world without cars, but I’ve never understood the quickness with which people adapt to living with cars. As much as they might seem like a liberation, they also seem to imprison people into a fast lifestyle. I don’t know what things were like before cars. Village life may have truly been so miserable that it justified turning everything into a car culture.

Are cars are symbolic of something I don’t like, such as the disappearance of many types of communities, and the habit of ignoring the slow and careful approach to life? Part of me wants to rail against them in self-righteousness, but they might be the wrong target. They might be a symptom of whatever it is I can’t reconcile to my happiness. The consumer culture? The idea that what you drive is an expression of who you are? So many people, so little apparent meaning to it all.

Indeed I might attribute my very existence to my parents’ ability to *ignore* many of these questions. My father is a complete product of the suburbs. To my knowledge he’s never lived anywhere else. And he’s no philosopher. There’s nothing in him even remotely close to the kind of consideration I’m doing here. Yet his ability to blindly accept the conditions he found himself in would seem to have allowed him to be a perfect “consumer” and to raise my family accordingly. I wonder how much of the fact that I even exist is due to my parents’ ability to ignore many of the questions I wrestle with. By my standards my parents should not have had kids at all. Those bubbles of illusion, the ability to go with the crowd *because* it is the crowd, is responsible for my physical existence. I would be willing to take more credit for my *spiritual* existence, however. Although no one can choose the circumstances of their physical being, my willingness to exclude nothing from my thought process, which is a spiritual characteristic, does not seem to come from anyone but God, or whatever word you use for God.

The combination of suburbs and cars so natural to my parents is nonetheless still alien to me. I don’t know where the people out here find their reason for being. Just because you give peasants cars doesn’t make them not peasants. Peasantry is a state of mind. Cars feel like the epitome of the illusion that material items will set you free.

All this said, I must still bear in mind that the alternative is no cars. While I live this way personally, I still ride with people. Cars are, in a lot of ways, like little internets, facilitating quick transport to widely varied experiences. Both entities seem to have the effect of inflating the individual ego, granting it an apparent significance I’m not sure it has. I suppose that the traffic jam is the pin in the balloon for cars. The pin in the balloon for the internet is harder to know. The internet continues to change the basic fabric of society in such a way as its hard to know what will still be standing tens years from now. One thing I might suggest is that the distractions made possible by cars and the internet make it possible to escape self-examination, which for me is a sine qua non.

I’m not sure if self-examination has ever been easy. I can probably safely say it hasn’t. The faster a person can remove themselves from where they are, the easier it is to find a distraction from knowing who you are. I could be wrong though, because knowing who you are may depend upon being able to see as much of the world as possible in order to provide the basis for comparison between yourself and others. My complaint about cars and internet may be subtly connected to a deeper fact about society, possibly in particular about America, which is that we have far too high an estimate of basic human nature. All our talk about freedom implies that individual freedom is good for society. We forget that this is largely unproven, except in very specific situations which are often promoted as if to represent the whole picture.

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The great question of most of my life is whether there is something wrong with the world outside me, or whether there is something wrong with me. In actuality it’s more complex than that, but I can get pretty far just with the simple question. For my entire life I’ve felt as if my true personality were unwelcome in this life. While it’s quite possible to blame an unloving family for much of that, the issue has persisted far enough into adulthood that the question must be put in a broader context.

Here is a chicken and egg problem: I don’t work. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to work because I don’t admire the people who do work. The idea of work is acclaimed in our culture, and the idea of not working is derided. Yet I don’t admire those who hold those views. Is admiration a necessary precursor to imitation? Do you have to admire someone before you can be expected to imitate them? If I don’t admire people, whose fault is that? Is it something lacking in me which fails to engage in what appears to be the expected relationship? I can see this as a possiblity, and I must take blame for it. On the other hand, I’m not hiding anything from anybody. I’m doing my best to be open about what’s going on with me.

The skeptic who favors conformity would likely conclude that I am indeed hiding something, that I do secretly admire people, and that it’s some other personal problem which prevents me from imitating them. And the fact that I’m writing this would suggest that the truth is hidden by me, from me, as well.

The proponent of the other side would say that I am actually perceiving something wrong with the world. The lack of enthusiasm for imitation is objectively justified because the world really is a big disappointment.

For a while I was extremely trepid about trusting my own feelings. No one else trusted them, so there was no prototype for knowing how to trust them myself. I got to the point where I had no faith in myself, but that lack of faith was running neck-in-neck with the lack of faith I had in everyone else around me. To make a long story short, I decided that I had to live AS IF my own feelings were the correct ones. I had read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which, in effect, made room for my own feelings to occupy a dominant position in the inner court of my psyche. Perhaps all people allow their feelings to make their lesser decisions, such as which candy to buy, but now my feelings would rule over my greater decisions as well as the lesser ones.

I still don’t know to this day whether I took the right path. I continue to live in the extreme paradox of someone who is not afraid to examine the darkest corners of the universe and yet has few connections and no related work.

That got me wondering if people like me EVER make money. But I think they must, because it’s possible for someone like me to write a popular book, for example. Just because I have little faith in ordinary people doesn’t mean they won’t like what I say. I just have to be sensitive to disguise my disdain of any audience whose money I currently need!

End on a joke. Makes sense.

Truth, Desirability, Self-Knowledge Types and Self-Denial Types

Today’s topic is about truth and desirability.

The foundation of reality is Truth. Its opposite is Falsehood. You might think that Truth and Falsehood were the primary items of interest to a person, yet generally speaking, that is wrong. This is because there are desirable truths and undesirable truths. Desirability is determined by a part of the psyche which regulates consciousness and unconsciousness. Most of human life takes place not on the scale of truth versus falsehood, but on the continuum of consciousness versus unconsciousness. The desirability of any given thought is more important to most people than how true it is. The more desirable the idea, the stronger the urge toward consciousness. The more undesirable, the stronger the drive for the person to remain unconscious of the thought.

Now these pushes towards consciousness and unconsciousness are automatic and derive from the animal instincts. So the field of human reality is planted almost entirely upon the instincts built up over the course of evolution. What we are aware of is regulated instinctively by the drives towards consciousness and unconsciousness. And most of the energy which those drives harness comes from the desirability of an idea, while a smaller energy comes from whether the idea is actually true or not.

Self-knowledge is the area of life in which desirability plays the most significant role. Thinking about oneself usually represents a substantial portion of total thought, and the ratio of what people know about themselves based on an idea’s desirability as opposed its intellectual difficulty is greater here than for any other area of thought. (Note: Self-knowledge is not confined to an individual human, but could refer to family, community, or other groupings. But for now, I’ll just talk about individuals.)

There are many people for whom, on the whole, when it comes to self-knowledge, the drive towards unconsciousness dominates over the drive towards consciousness. They live with a powerful unconscious urge not to investigate themselves, for fear of discovering undesirable truths, but also perhaps because when things are going well for a person they generally have no inclination to rock the apple cart. They live in an ambiguous relationship to the fact that they have more to learn. These people, especially the ones who fear undesirable truths about themselves, are the natural adversaries of those who stand to benefit from self-knowledge. Every person, it might be said, falls into one of these two categories, which consitute fundamental philosophies of life. The person who may benefit from self-knowledge feels a spark of curiosity. A good example of this would be the main character from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, hoping one day to find out what’s up on land. Of course she has enemies, and different types of enemies at that. But what she lacks, which most people have, is the kind of self-doubt and general pessimism about what they might find if they go on an adventure.

In the story, the metaphor is her finding out what’s on land, but the psychology is similar to the person who seeks self-knowledge. The self-doubt ordinarily found in people recedes and a different drive takes over. Often, during this period, an inordinate degree of innocence is exposed in the person which is very disconcerting to most of the person’s peers. The first thing disconcerting is that they discover that their friend is actually much more innocent than they, that is, much closer to her natural reservoir of instincts. She hasn’t been tragically compromised by the realities of life — the best song describing this type of tragedy is I Dreamed A Dream, from Les Miserables.

Once the surprise of their friend’s innocent state is over, the next enemy is jealousy. After that, the fundamentally different natures of the life philosophies required by the two modes come to the fore. The life philosophy of the one who avoids self-knowledge is a strange personal adaptation, a way of filtering out the facts which present themselves. For this person, the bulk of the energy is in the filtration process, and a lesser part is in the truth of the facts themselves. The reverse is true in the self-knowledge person. The facts themselves are the most interesting thing, and how they are to be rearranged in order to fit the convenience of the person witnessing them is a secondary concern. What eventually happens is that the two people experience a collision of their fundamental approaches to reality.

The harshest examples of the behavior of a self-denial person (that is, the person resisting futher self-knowledge), against self-knowledge people seems to me to be in the cases of Josef Stalin and similar brutes. The one urge which the Communists didn’t take into account was that many people don’t WANT to know about themselves. It seems Stalin manipulated into self-destruction those revolutionaries who naively believed in the liberal thought process, which posits that everyone is good if left to his own devices. How much Stalin knew about himself is uncertain, but it seems clear that he was intent on removing people’s opportunities to learn more about who they were. It would appear he took advantage of the optimism of the people whose life philosophy was that self-knowledge was a good thing.

The people who believed in self-knowledge failed to realize that it is not a universal formula. They projected their ideas about knowing the whole truth about themselves onto the other type. Most people are self-denial types, most of the time. They rely on illusions for their happiness. The degree to which they are aware that they do this varies, of course. Insofar as they are unaware of it, this condition will be projected onto those around them. For example, Sebastian the Crab warns the Little Mermaid about how much better life is “Under the Sea”. He’s a gentle version of the person who projects his own limited view of the world onto others. For many of these people, it can be extraordinarily difficult to imagine life without the blinders. For example, my father, rather than let me live my own life, made great efforts to have me see a psychiatrist, whereupon I was put in a mental hospital. It was as close as my father could get to understanding what was going on with me. The primary ethic of the mental hospital is that of Sebastian the Crab, but the degree to which they project this worldview onto others results in the typical portrayal of the evil mental hospital staff, like Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That is an extreme case, but it shows you the manner in which people of the self-denial mode of life will blindly project onto others their own idea of what a good person is.

So you have both types equally mistaken when they project their own natures onto the other type. It certainly hits home for me, who was never treated well by my family. I believe its because they can hardly imagine a person who actually stands to benefit from deep self-knowledge. They therefore have no way to understand me, because I don’t exist as a type for them. Figuring them out has, for me, been a giant work of psychological investigation since any direct probing came face-to-face with the drive toward unconsciousness of undesirable truths.

I’m not claiming that I never experience self-denial mode. I do. But I think that there is a kind of overarching interest in truth for me whereas for most people I’ve met there is some form of self-doubt which supercedes the other impulse.

It occurs to me that hero myths directly address the needs of a person who makes self-knowledge his aim. The difficulties the hero encounters are both internal and external, but one of the main external challenges is the abundance of self-denial types, whose life philosophy is tremendously at odds with the other type.

That’s all for today. See you Friday!