7.2 A New Planetary Metaphor for My Psychic State

I have a new metaphor for my psychic state.

Most egos in society center around some industry or job. These are the known roles which support society. These are the “good citizens.” The members of these roles often form into groups and defensively oppose other groups. Say the Writers’ Guild wants to oppose the Hollywood studios for whatever reason, for example. In each group you have the more talented people and the less talented people. Since the more talented people are rather versatile, they need hide behind no defensive scheme such as a guild because they can earn their money and reputation by talent alone. But most people in a societal group will want greater assurances of security, and so they tend to erect defensive walls around what it is they do, trying to make it seem like something special. The reputation of the profession becomes valuable in its own right and members want to experience the profits of its reputation.

When too many professions depart from the mainland, as it were, of pure markets, in which you sell a service at market price with no job security, society can feel corrupt. A powerful body can influence politicians through the democratic process of withholding their votes. With enough influence, the guilds (I might as well call them this) make politicians learn not to mess with them. And their influence is not all about money, by the way – probably more important is people’s sense of belonging to the group – for example, a “gun owner” member of the NRA may be very passionate and his NRA status is far more important to him than how much money is spent trying to win his vote. Because the majority of people don’t have the talent to sustain them in a world based purely on reputation, and because of the critical fact that the average person is not happy unless they’re above average, membership in groups threatens to become the dominant factor in how people vote. When this happens, politicians can hardly resist the pressure from the organized groups to pass laws which favor their group at the expense of other groups. Politicians therefore seem to have an inherently schizophrenic job, having to split their loyalties between doing what’s best for the country and passing laws which favor the groups which got them elected. Even the idea of “doing what’s best for the country” doesn’t make sense after a certain point (in the end it’s just a line on a map), but that’s a different discussion.

So we’re faced with a world in which the many roles which sustain society, in their sense of righteousness, form little islands apart from the mainland. The further they get from the mainland, the more corrupt they may become. What allows them to get so far from the mainland is if they’ve acquired a monopoly status on their field.

What happens is that the original job they were performing becomes conflated with the particular practices which have developed as a way of life on the distant island the profession as a whole calls home.

Now to return to my original topic, about my new interpretation of my psychic state. I felt the sense of the corruption I refer to rather early in my life. I associated it with several things. First, my father was a lawyer and the “breadwinner,” for better or worse, and I certainly sensed a strange island-like effect associated with the law. The law is a fascinating topic, and there is still room in it for brilliant minds as you can tell from interviews with the justices of the Supreme Court. Hopefully that will never change, because then the laws will change based on which family you happen to be a member of. But nonetheless, my father’s law practice operated in peculiar ways which in the end were to be traced to the insular (“island-like”) practices of being a lawyer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The “way it gets done” in Pennsylvania is particular and it does depend a bit upon your connections as opposed to purely your talent as a legal thinker and doer. At any rate, I did not like experiencing two “versions” of my dad, the robotic legal version and the happy-go-lucky outside-of-the-office version. The robotic version always seemed like it had something to hide, and I did not want to become like this.

The second institution I had problems with was, of course, school. “I’ve tried never to let my schooling interfere with my education.” I should have kept Mark Twain’s comment close to heart. The quality of basic education is a factor of enormous concern and debate nowadays. In tenth grade, I committed the “original sin” of feeling like school was not helping me and demanding that I understand it before proceeding any further, which in effect meant that I stopped doing school work. I thus became an enemy of all those members of the educational profession who happily fortify their defensive island far from the mainland. School must obviously be broken up into categories, that between the public 1st through 12th grades, and “The Academy,” “higher learning,” a.k.a. colleges being the most prominent. Nonetheless, one’s efforts in high school correlate with how a college perceives its applicants – these islands are connected, in other words, by at least that small bridge of how well you do in high school affecting which colleges you may attend.

Losing faith in The Academy was a big loss for me. It remains true that despite a widespread “corruption” of sorts in the academy, huge numbers of very intelligent people still enter and remain involved with it. Not to mention the valuable pieces of paper they issue, sometimes holding monopolies on certain professions (lawyers, doctors) entirely.

So what’s my new metaphor for my psychic state? Most people focus on one role because they don’t want to make enemies by being members of opposing groups. Their ego, therefore, finds an island and sticks to it. I’d like to use the metaphor “planet” instead of island now. Each planet is the home of a type of ego, and each ego has a place in society and thus the planet can sustain its members economically. Now my ego was shattered many years ago. What I found was that there is truth everywhere. Each development on any planet has a ripple effect throughout the whole universe, but the effect is generally ignored on the home planet because it interferes with its simplistic mission of selfish gain.

To be sensitive to the various ripple effects is a different process from living on one planet and ignoring all others. I live in the space between planets. I have no clear route to social success because many of the planets have a monopoly on their type of professions. But I do understand how the habits of the different groups affect one another, so I may be able to act in a way which benefits the whole without making great allies in any of the parts, since they are selfish and narrowminded. When acting, I make progress on many fronts – I understand both atheism and religion, for example. However, progress is slow because I must consider all of the parties involved before acting. All actions must be filtered not by a single type of consideration, but by the many considerations (planetary bodies) which make up the whole. Hence the slowness and peculiarity of my actions.

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7.1 The Journey of a Million Miles

“The journey of a million miles… falls short of its goal by nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand miles. That’s not to pass judgment on the one thousand miles that did get covered, though. I honestly don’t know what to say about those.”

— Fine, whatever, I’m quoting Myself.

I have my basic self, physically and mentally about what you’d expect for a 35-year-old. I have my knowledge, the experiences I use to create the lens with which I view the world. This knowledge has been what I’ve wanted most. My weaknesses are how unknown and unspecialized I am. Having focused on knowledge, I didn’t gain traction where people would recognize value in terms of career and employment, nothing to put on my resume, as it were.

Which leaves the network of personal connections I’ve built up over my life. Since many of those connections read or at some point may read this blog, it’s hard to know whether to talk about the network objectively (“it”) or subjectively (“we”). In my pursuit of truth, I often ask the question, if I peel back all of the layers, what am I really? What is the situation really? If the answer happens to be, “Well, it’s not so good,” then many people will not really want to know. Therefore, the truth versus whatever it is people want to know and want to talk about – they are at odds.

In the best case scenario, the truth is something people want to know about, which solves the problem of having to keep at least two different stories in one’s head, one being the truth and the other(s) being the preferred narrative(s) of the audience who happens to be present. Nonetheless, I would venture to say that it’s impossible to live life without needing to know the preferred version of reality of the people one needs to rely upon for material and emotional support. Modern industry has created an economy where it is at least possible not to have to deal with too many other people, although the people who thrive are the ones who can get along with other people when they want to. It’s more possible today than it ever was to avoid knowing what other people want. But it’s still helpful.

Thus the people who thrive are the ones who can keep more than one narrative about reality running in their heads at the same time. I should say that I’m not alone in lamenting this state of affairs. Many people suffer severe depression, and I would not be surprised to discover it’s because they can’t figure out which of the narratives they must keep in their head are true, versus which are nice delusions used by other people unconsciously, specifically that they might ignore the truth. The rest of the untruths are propogated by deliberate deception, either with the notion that they are either “white lies” or calculated treachery, which could be either to achieve important goals or simply because evil is fun. But let me confine the discussion to untruths about which even their propagator is deceived.

One argument in favor of traditional religion is that they may be delusions, but they are better delusions than whatever else is out there. They have stood the test of time and history and it is possible to see the various behaviors which result from believing them by looking over hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of evidence. You know what you’re getting with these, in other words. Anything newfangled, therefore, is worse than anything with a track record, spotty as such track records often are. The most powerful upstarts of the twentieth century – State-Managed Communism (Soviet Union) and National Socialism (Nazis)- demonstrate clearly the risk of trying out new things. All told, the old is not to be thrown away despite its falling far short of the high standards we (people, I mean) are capable of setting for it.

In fact, religion could be re-examined per se as the “History of Illusion.” This would give us a great insight into the basic ways in which people delude themselves. Since people might be studied objectively, as objective facts, (despite the study-ers inability to escape the fact that they too are human – unless you’ve been talking with aliens recently, but that’s an entirely different discussion,) the history of religion ought to be one of your prime sources, and indeed the prime source for understanding how people delude themselves, what purpose it serves, and what we might do about it in our own lives.

I mention all of this because there is a great divide between religious believers and secular people which is symbolic of the great schism in the collective psyche of our times, which in my case is to be described as being between meaning and fact. Religion gives meaning. Secular science gives fact. It would be nice to say there is no conflict between them, but I have not found that to be the case. The tragedy of my life is that I know no one who crosses these boundaries, because that would be where the productive work of my life could come from. Now I complain about my own case, which arguably brings me full circle…

This blog is the result of my occupying a space between meaning and fact. Since I have no one else in this space with me I send it out in to the ether, into cyberspace. I’m not trying to diminish the value of a blog, per se. For someone in my condition, it might be just the ticket to a better life. However, I can do nothing else, except study and read and continue to congeal my reality in spite of all the odds which say a lone person can do nothing.

At the same time, dumping my problems onto other people is also unlikely to resolve them. As Jung said, “a million zeros all added together never adds up to one.” (in The Undiscovered Self, I think) He means that nothing can be conceived by a group which was not first conceived by an individual. Thus I assume that its meaningful for me to forge my own self, to be both the blacksmith and the weapon. And if you think that is cause for going insane, try being called insane (which I have been) and still proceeding anyway out of the conviction that you’re right. I’d venture you’d have to be “beyond death” to survive in that condition, that your cause must be more valuable to you than your life.

Well, if nothing else, my writing skills are improving dramatically, and I will need that skill to make a game.

One question about the game is whether I can be the blacksmith for it without any help. It’s unlikely. I simply must climb the mountain one ledge at a time. Not to mention, because I have nothing else to do, it increases my motivation to do boring stuff. The journey of a million miles falls short of its goal by nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand miles. That’s not to pass judgment on the one thousand miles that did get covered, though. I honestly don’t know what to say about those.

6.6 More Speculation About My Video Game

I’m hoping my life will be more than just a cautionary tale. “Don’t try to be a hero, kids! Look what happened to Zach. He tried to save the world, and nothing happened as a result.”

Nothing at all! You can even read about it on his blog.

I decided to ally myself with nothing in society, not the business world, not the academic world, not the religious world. I don’t even have a car. I’m therefore set back both physically and socially. Since I didn’t have a real plan for how to proceed under these conditions, I always decided to pursue truth first and to hope that other answers would fall into place. Unfortunately none have, and thus the life situation I face today.

The idea of pursuing the truth assumes that it is not readily accessible. My worldview confirms this, since much of it is assembled from esoteric pieces of information accumulated by dedicated research over the years, and other parts of it I have had to make up entirely to fill the gaps in the picture. By “make up entirely” I simply mean that I have come up with hypotheses which fit the data. The lack of an available hypothesis for any given problem, apart from my simply not having discovered said hypothesis – is attributable in the world either to a lack of ability or to the lack of interest. I consider myself to have strong abilities in certain areas, and therefore my solutions may simply be the result of unusual ability. What has been harder for me to understand is why so few people I know are interested in the problems I care about.

I do have precedent in this matter, however, which alleviates at least some of the tension. My heroes Carl Jung and Robert A. Johnson both experienced the same loneliness and odd feeling associated with solving problems few people even seemed to care about. Knowing about them has helped me enormously.

But my truth, it seems to me, is mainly of interest to myself. And I must try to find a job or some mechanism by which I can enter the future without worrying about money, which is a friend when one has no others.

It remains for me hard to ignore the fact that I have refused to interact with the insitutions which one might think would be of great value to me – the academy, the business, and the religious/spiritual center. I have a few ideas how to go about beginning my interactions with such, but it seems my motivation must go through a cycle of dissolution and coagulation many times before I can settle on the answers to what might otherwise seem like relatively simple questions. The pressure of time and money could, on the other hand, make me do something, anything, and thus increase my motivation accordingly, but I would hope this doesn’t happen too quickly, since the sheer fear of time and money, well, it may be a pipe dream, but I’m still hoping my life means more than that.

Nonetheless, time and money are problems which assail us all. To the extent I’m hoping to escape them out of the conceit that I’m special or that my great spiritual journey ought to be worth something with regard to time and money, I can see no difference between myself and the next guy, who believes he ought to be free of his worries about money because of the strenuous nature of his situation.

That the meaning of life should be reduced to money, and hopefully, not coming across as too isolated and scary to be able to deal with people effectively – I doubt anyone can blame me for feeling a little bad about this, despite that in many ways its inevitable for a large section of the population, aging men with no children and no reliable family connections in particular.

I might speak about my video game too, since it often comes up when I wonder what I should do. I retain an interest in the subject. I have no connections in the field, nor do I know how my current talents might be of use to someone in a position to employ me. As to the original vision of the game – it started simple, and involved basic skills such as writing and music composition, and of course programming, all of which I’ve tried to improve upon. I’ve probably improved my writing abilities the most, my programming abilities next, and my musical abilities the least. The other side of the game idea was the prospect of artificial person simulation, most commonly called A.I. or “social A.I.” This idea remains intriguing to me and worth continuing to talk about.

My long term goal with social A.I. is to deeply understand the links between the archetypal psyche as laid out by Carl Jung and the means by which it might be simulated in a computer program. Because the simulated worlds are themselves varied, what constitutes reasonable behavior on the part of an artifical person in that world changes too. But it could nonetheless be argued that all of the genres of fiction constitute isolation chambers in which the dynamics of specific archetypes of the unconscious are played out. Of course, if specific genres of fiction are good enough for their large fan bases, it means that even within these so-called isolation chambers the dynamics are sufficiently complicated to compel living people.

If the dynamics are complex enough for people, then it’s obviously a difficult if not impossible task to get computers to mimic the experiences. My intuition about how one might do it involves vast networks of details being reduced to a very small number of categories. The hope is not entirely far-fetched when you consider that the Catholic Church managed to reduce the nuances of the process of God’s work of salvation to the steps necessary to complete the Mass. Without regard for all the Protestant objections to the way the Catholics do things, Roman Catholicism is a very ingenious system with many interlinking categories with clear relations to one another. The Mass is an expression of a very important part of the human collective unconscious – whether or not your rational analysis has any use for it, it still has the power to profoundly affect those who participate in it. It was not created by rational consideration but with respect for things which have power over us nonetheless despite later attempts to explain them rationally.

To some extent it’s precisely the fact that the Church has an ideal place for everything which makes it seem charmingly obsolete in today’s matter-of-factly overcomplicated world. But from the point of view of video games, “a place for everything and everything in its place” makes things much easier to program. And the Church does survive, even though in a diminished form from the grandeur of its heights in the Middle Ages, so it does still matter to a large number of not entirely stupid people. What is this foundation which it provides people? Can it be quantified, used in a game which simulates the effect people’s going to Mass has on them?

I don’t know if the questions I’m asking are destined to get me anywhere with regard to how to design a game. But I still need to ask them, because I’m driven by the same force which wanted me to make a game in the first place. By asking these questions I expect to see into areas of consciousness (unconsciousness, truth) which will edify me even if they cannot be turned into a game, which outcome I consider highly likely. Since the beginning efforts to turn silicon into flesh have faltered. I’m not even sure what the motivation is here, but like the Mass for its followers, it motivates me regardless.

I must continue in the line of questioning which compares the world as seen by the Roman Catholic Church to what might be possible to simulate in a game. The dream of creating a robot is very old. I think it must be related to an intuition people have about themselves that they’re not so complicated after all. It would be nice to be able to show that more of us is robotic and programmable than we commonly think. I wonder if it’s because I find so many people intoxicated with what I think is a delusion about how free and unpredictable they are. Instead it is just their projection of their shadow. They are only fascinated by the endless variation of their free will because they are too stupid to recognize the patterns in it.

On the other hand, I don’t want to bring a monster to life simply because I want to rain on their “stupid” parade. So long as I’m not harmed by their delusion, why would I want to take revenge on it? Is there another, more profound reason to create a robot? Companionship jumps to mind – instead of a dog, a real live robot. I also can’t help but notice a power complex going on here. The possibility of having power over an intelligent creature is very tempting? Traditionally it’s not the power to control but to create which obsesses the creators of the robots in the stories. I’ve got to read Ovid’s Metamorphosis. I think I’m missing out on something important here.

6.5 For God so loved the world…

I’m just talking about some things which are important to me here. It’s not structured as a particularly effective essay because the emotional content is too raw, and it’s doesn’t matter, because…

My blog is the Wild West right now. Something created me, I don’t know why, and as an emotional being not knowing why takes its toll. But the world is so large and complex that it rarely needs my personal emotional condition. Mostly it’s a machine which will probably continue to run after I die. Now this blog here is big sky country. There’s not many people around, so it’s hardly different from the world itself in terms of no emotional investment.

But back to the question, why was I created? To ask why is to insinuate purpose, which means conscious thought on the part of the creator, who unfortunately reveals no sign whatsoever of being conscious. Therefore, I was created, and there’s nothing more to it. I type these words, and the typing is followed by the decision as to whether to post them. All the sadness comes from the presence of desire, if any. In Buddhism, desire is associated with illusion, and as such it is devalued. In Christianity, the passions are taken to be inevitable, but there is comfort in the idea that some God out there not only has a plan, but it involves people, and therefore people matter to God. The hard thing for me about Christianity is that I just don’t feel saved. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Unfortunately it doesn’t ring true for me. First of all, if eternal life is anything like this life, then no thank you! Of course, it’s confusing what is meant by God’s having a son, let alone only one, to begin with. I don’t personally have kids, so I don’t know what it feels like to have a son. Therefore, the basic connection to the meaning of God’s sacrifice is lost on me. I have the evidence of other people, and their sons are generally speaking valuable to them. We have to imagine God somehow as a family man, a single father raising a child. God loves people more than he loves his son, however. There is, of course, a hitch to the thought, that you must believe in order to be granted eternal life. God doesn’t love those who do not believe.

For my part, I’m affected strongly by the sentiment, by the possibility of God’s loving me. The psychological effect of believing is something I cannot doubt. I personally would feel great, loved, capable of enduring great hardship, because the feeling of belonging, of being loved, of having a great though invisible ally in God, would counteract all the hatred I receive from my “fellow” humans beings. Indeed, because the source of this hatred is by no means easily detected, it makes perfect sense to withhold judgment until all the facts are in, and to be able to wait until the final day, when all the facts are in. But it is going to require an emotional immune system, which is the main reason for the power of the scripture, that it provides this immune system.

Now what is “believing” all about? I don’t believe in Jesus, per se, so to take the scripture completely at its word, God doesn’t love me, since he only makes an offer to those who believe and apparently has no interest in other people. But let’s ignore this interpretation for a second and try to take the passage as seriously as I can. Perhaps “believing” is more related to what I referred to, that it’s about not judging events until all the facts are in, which may take enormous faith because of how long a person must wait before all the facts come in. (The faith in this case is that what doesn’t make sense on the surface does in fact make sense. Faith that appearances are not the whole story.)

In exchange for this believing the reward is eternal life. Now as I said, taken at face value, it’s not a very attractive offer. I suspect I’ll get further from a metaphorical viewpoint. One thing Christianity traditionally offers is the possibility of being part of God’s plan, of living a life more meaningful than if confined to one’s personal goals and desires. Strangely enough, for those people whose personal goals and desires are being met, the idea of another, different life would seem not to be very attractive. In my experience, so long as a “lower” level of desire and instinct is gratified, no higher level, i.e. that of a spiritual existence, is necessary. That complicates things, because it suggests that all spirituality is for the “losers,” the ones who got defeated in terms of having their basic desires met. Is the offer of “eternal life” meant to overglorify the rewards of a spiritual life, to gratify the ego of people who need to still feel good about themselves, having abandoned their original attempts at living a happy life, possibly because they just failed outright? It’s a tough question.

Arguably the church took a massive revenge on all the people who found it naturally easy to meet most of their original core desires, by becoming a powerful political and financial force. If it couldn’t have it’s own core life, it made sure to accumulate a monopoly on the spiritual life. This is something Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out, although he didn’t use exactly the same words.

The idea that spirituality and religion are for “weak” people cannot be ignored. The person who honestly wants to know about the value of spirituality should not have to wade through a mass of opinions accumulated by people who, having abandoned their original carnal mode of life, need to compensate their loss by exaggerating the value of their new life. The seeker of truth at least deserves to be warned about this type of person. I don’t advise getting rid of this type of person, just that it’s dishonest to make a show of costumes and cathedrals, powerful relics and mysterious rituals when your true motive is merely to compensate all that you’ve given up from your other life. It’s just a different form of material and carnal greed.

Anyway, the promise of “eternal life” would seem to appeal to such “losers,” which means that to unearth its true value, I must dig deeper. One thing I should mention is how different a person will act in this life if he believes he will receive eternal life when its over. Heroic behavior becomes quite possible then. It’s just like the traditional notion of serving something higher than yourself. In my case, I feel that just living life takes enormous effort. This low level pain makes me want it to have the most impact it possibly can. Thinking that I matter in a higher way makes the difficulty of being alive much easier to bear. It’s quite possible that some people such as myself simply need to feel as if what they do matters in a way larger than the consequences to their mere physical body.

To want to contribute to something larger than yourself actually makes biological sense. The thing which perpetuates life is not me but the genes I carry. These genes only require the physical body for temporary transport. My own soul, the particular combination of traits I carry – biologically it’s really just a vessel for the various independent traits, the Noah’s Ark they happen to be aboard for now. The Ark is disposable, from a biological point of view.

Continuing with the biological discussion, even the Christian mythos makes use of it in demonstrating the degree of God’s love by indicating that he had to sacrifice his son. Now children are the mid-point between selfishness and serving something larger than oneself. To serve and nurture your own children is quite selfish, but parenthood still feels like a giant sacrifice of oneself to one’s child. This is the basic mechanism of biology, that the physical body of the parents becomes second in importance to the health of the child. Morality in our culture does not seem to distinguish between the selfishness of being a parent – that you would serve your own genetic material – and the selfless behavior which being a parent involves.

From my perspective, biology is not the end-all be-all of reality. But when it points out obvious failings in the way we derive our morals as a society, I think they should be noted. The cowardice of our society is in failing to confront the degree to which being a parent is a selfish thing to do. There is no help whatsoever from traditional Christianity, because it even uses “God’s only son” to illustrate its other points about right and wrong, good and evil, and the meaning of life. A system such as this, which uses a biological metaphor at its core, ends where biology ends – at that ambiguous relationship between selfishness and selflessness fostered by having children.

But still, what is this “eternal life” all about? I’m not sure. If I were able to believe that there were something more than my own psychology involved… but that’s just it. What could be better for my psychology than to believe in such a glorious thought – that eternal life is possible? As I said, in my case I’m not sure I want it. What would I rather have? I would rather have the absolute confidence that my life as I live it “matters,” a confidence I certainly cannot claim at this time.

But in what way do I want it to matter? What exactly does it mean to matter? What does it mean for life to “mean?” Despite not knowing exactly, I would nonetheless replace “eternal life” with “a meaningful life.”

Furthermore, a life of meaning might be of great use to me and a terrible tragedy to someone else. Now there’s a real philosophical question for you. What if a meaningful life to you meant the rape, murder, and pillage of the world around you? Not even the Christians are immune to this type of horrendous bloodlust – these are not two separate questions, one for seculars and one for supposedly more noble Christians – it’s the same question all around.

Being granted “eternal life,” or in my case, “a meaningful life,” may mean crushing any opposition to that life. In other words, what if even the highest and most spiritual goals of mankind are merely disguises for the conquest of our neighbor’s “less meaningful” and “less eternal” lives? Does that mean we’re “screwed?” Well, if we thought we could get away with a life where we never had to harm a fly, then yes, it probably does mean were screwed. We might have to put “World Peace” onto the heap of unhelpful ideas along with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. If never having to put away childish things was your idea of a good life, then yes, thinking this way means that you’re screwed.

For those who refuse to put both the possibility of harming your neighbor and the hope for life to be meaningful onto the same table – why? Do you think that a life where no one ever beats anyone else and no one evers gets harmed is possible? Or do you think that one’s meaning of life can’t possibly have anything to do with how one fares in life’s various ladders of competition? Do you think that a person should be able to feel their life to be meaningful completely apart from anything related to winning and losing against other people? Do you think a person should therefore be able to renounce everything without feeling like meaning has been sacrificed as well? After all, at some point, almost everything people have is subject to some form of competition.

How well do you think that the people, who claim to suffer no lack of meaning to their lives, hide the truth that it is their successes and the consequent failure of others “less fortunate than they” which makes them happy? Certainly it’s taboo in our culture to admit as much, but the question is, to what extent is it true anyway? Equally important – what would our society lose if we relaxed the taboo and let out the devils of, well, of actual truth?

Most people’s meaning comes from either the truth or the delusion that they are better than somebody else in some way. What do we gain by trying to hide this truth? Steve Jobs? The Wonder Child who can do no wrong? Eternal childhood? Eternal adolescence? How much of our great civilization rests upon the fulcrum of this taboo?

6.4 Town Hall Meeting

It’s another slow day. A lot of thoughts simply can’t be rushed. My psyche is like a giant assembly hall with all the voices competing. If I have people in the outer world to discuss things with, the meeting can go much faster. But I currently have no one, and thus all the little voices in my head talk to each other at their own pace.

So I meet my obligation to blog by writing this late at night, having given my psyche the whole day to settle on something worth saying. Certainly there is a feeling of frustration waiting for the slow voices in my head to finish speaking, but in a large part that frustration is unwarranted. I’m practically carrying the entire world on my shoulders, and in such a case it is wrong to ignore any of the voices present. When the stakes are extremely high, all the voices which wish to speak must be allowed.

This town hall meeting continues. I simply have nothing to say to the world right now. Tomorrow may be different, but don’t count on it. I can only meet my basic obligations at this point.

6.3 Describing a Lamp For Fun and Profit

I’m definitely not having a good day. All the coherent thoughts flee my grasp.

My commitment is to write at least two paragraphs, though.

I will therefore talk about the red desklamp which is anchored to the ledge in front of me.

The lamp is not on. It appears to have been made in the 1960s or 70s. It is one of those with the clamp and the arm so you can position the lamp wherever you want to. The arm attaches to a cup-shaped red metal thing with slits going up and down the cup for ventilation. The cup is angled upside-down at about 30 degrees and in the center of the bottom, facing upwards, the twisty switch points out. The switch is about an inch long, 1/4 inch in diameter, black plastic, with ridges for grasping. You turn it and the light goes on.

The red cup is attached at the other end to a red dome expanding outward to a maximum diameter of about 8 inches. The cup exposes the socket. The bulb is screwed in and protrudes out into and is sheltered by the dome. The inside of the dome is white. The aluminum arm has two sections, approximately 16 inches long each, with two springs on each one to hold it in place. There are black plastic triangular shaped loosening and tightening knobs at either end of the arm. The clamp at the other end of the arm is two black plastic components connected by a perpendicularly bent metal screw. The adjuster on the metal screw allows for the clamp to grab and anchor to ledges of various widths. Along the whole length of the lamp is clearly visible the black power cord, which carries the two wires the lamp needs to make a complete circuit. The cord descends out of sight behind the desk.

Hanging from the twisty switch is a gift bag I bought because it has a color drawing of a cute cat on it. The cat has the shell of a lady bug. The bag is about nine inches tall by 7 inches wide.

Overall, it is not a very good lamp. The springs are too weak to hold it where I want it. But I appreciate its machine-like quality, how it symbolizes humans’ effort to control nature, I guess. It’s anchored to the ledge, and by allowing me to describe it I am anchoring myself to the core notion that I am still in touch with my faculties.

6.2 Faust, Part Two

Scene One, [Prologue] A Beautiful Landscape

[FAUST, lying among grass and flowers, exhausted and restless, trying to sleep. Dusk.
SPIRITS, graceful little shapes, hovering and circling round.]

ARIEL [his song accompanied by Aeolian harps]:

When the blossoms hovering
Rain on meadows green and new,
All earth’s children feel the spring,
Bright with universal dew.
Come then, little elfin spirits,
All alike to help and bless;
Ours to heed no sins or merits
But to pity man’s distress.

You, round this mortal’s head circling in air,
Heal now his heart, in noble elfin fashion:
Soothe its fierce conflict and the bitter passion
Of self-reproach’s burning darts, make clean
His soul of all the horrors it has seen.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (translated by David Luke)

What caught my mind’s attention was “self-reproach’s burning darts”.

As you know, I’ve been pondering about how to create a computer program which simulates an artificial person. In doing so, much attention falls onto how the various instincts might be simulated. To a certain extent the instincts simply run in parallel with how you might simulate an animal – horse, dog, what have you. These instincts are the first force in a person which needs to be simulated. However, part of a person’s growth is to learn to repress the various instincts in subservience to social norms and authority. This second force asserts the need to focus on others, on the group, on the complexity of the life’s social game. It’s immoral to receive without considering that others may want to receive too.

In this scene from Faust, however, the need to repress the core instincts in service to society is being replaced by a third force. A hymn is invoked to cure Faust of his repressions, of “self reproach’s burning darts.”

What is going on here?

To become socialized, Faust must have repressed his instincts so completely that he’s become tormented. Thus a new need has arisen which cannot be solved using the socially appropriate method of repressing the instincts. The instinct to repress must itself be repressed, and to do this the spirit Ariel calls upon little subtle spirits to “make clean his soul of all the horrors it has seen.”

In normal society, the “right thing” is something people approve of. But for Faust it has put him practically into a coma, creating nothing but “horrors.”

To learn the rules of socialization, an individual consciousness will likely make many errors and mistakes about what and how much to repress in its natural self. Moralizing is often the result (if not always the result!) of a lack of natural ability in the area about which one moralizes. In my case, I felt I learned the “rules” of society the hard way, for many of which I had no natural need whatsoever. They were probably imposed upon me by people who projected their own shadows and thus the need for stringent rules, while for me a perfectly natural kindness, sensitivity, and grace would have sufficed.

If your natural intelligence exceeds the average in any given area, the “rules” can just as well turn into “horrors” when enforced upon you by conformists who don’t take the time to notice that you were already doing it perfectly well to begin with. Generally, your image of yourself will be formed by your relationship to the average or norm. But there can be a lot of misplaced moralization, where you spend a lot of time being on guard for sins you are not in fact likely to commit, simply because you are surrounded by folks who have an incredibly difficult time with something which comes perfectly naturally to you. You don’t realize how much better you are at that thing, in other words.

Eventually, Faust has suffered enough from “self reproach’s burning darts.” He must reactivate areas he has shut down long ago. The repression always originates in the chaos of childhood. When it comes time to reintegrate past repressions, I find myself as an adult in emptiness and isolation, vaguely resentful at childhood events and assumptions which seemed to have happened at a much busier period in my life. The same people whose opinions weighed so heavily when I originally formed my conception of myself are completely gone now. It seems that “self-reproach’s burning darts” can cancel an instinct which has never formed an original healthy expression to begin with. Perhaps necessarily so, or they wouldn’t be burning.

It’s really when the crowd goes away that one starts to wonder whether one can’t reintegrate long forgotten hopes and desires. There may be a connection between the moment when the crowd decides that you are obeying the rules and when it leaves finally. I certainly haven’t overcome my original relationship to that crowd. Middle school seems like the time when it first appeared. A bunch of peers and elders approving and disapproving of your actions. The illusion of a “right way” to behave, and the astonishing amount of personal liberty and preferences I was willing, or was perhaps forced, to sacrifice in order to conform to it.

I lost all track of my original self. The only thing that mattered was how well I was conforming to the right way. Besides how well I was conforming, however, two problems naturally arose: What if there were more than one (mutually conflicting) right way? and What if the approval gained for following the right way weren’t worth its sacrifices?

The genius of the scene in Faust is that Goethe realizes that Faust’s problem is not one which can be solved with a hammer, with crowds, parades, and trumpets. Heavy-handedness is out of the question. Why? Because Faust is a different category of person. I hesistate to say “higher,” because it raises the unnecessary question of his inherent worth. But he is more intelligent than average, and there’s no aspect of his problem he is not capable of handling himself, given patience and room. He needs no moral sargeant whipping him into shape. No formula can work, except the delicate play of the many little nature spirits.

Any one-size-fits-all solution could be considered masculine. Men, it seems, have too many tasks in life. They therefore seek above all reusable tools, psychological or physical. Little nature spirits symbolize the opposite of the one-size-fits-all tool. Even the subtle move of one nature spirit will be noticed and reacted to by all the other nature spirits. Nature spirits “make clean his soul” by making little advances and immediately observing the results. There is no assumption that the action which worked once will work twice. There is even a very careful awareness of the phenomenon of one-size-fits-all temptations, that anything which happens to work twice must be that much more carefully guarded so as to avoid the masculine pride which begins to swarm around such a device.

All of Faust Part Two seems to be written by these “little nature spirits.” In the end, it’s the complexity of the world itself which demands such an approach. I had mentioned the Dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin made official by the Catholic Church in 1950. Although they are probably largely unconscious of it themselves, the Church seems to be admitting the necessity of the feminine way of approaching the world’s problems. It’s really about what I said above about the special guard you place on anything which happens to work twice, because of how quickly the masculine mind will want to exhalt the effective tool, which confirms Thoreau’s adage about the great mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation.

6.1 Short One With a Great Bear

I’d like to get to the point where nature knows when I’m supposed to blog or not to blog. One-a-day would then be a guideline, not a rule. There’s a certain tyranny to an enforced schedule. The tyranny was imposed by me out of the notion that I ought to be blogging more regularly. I owe it to the world to say something and to myself to be something.

There’s a huge question running through many people’s lives. For how much of what happens to them are they responsible? Part of me feels quite bad that I have to make my own rules about what to do and how to proceed. I even use the terminology that I’ve been “allowed” by God or whatever is inside me – the inner motivating force – to blog regularly. I’ve finally been allowed, like it’s a great gift to be saying things every day to a largely unknown audience, while the primary enforcer of the routine is myself. In the age of print, there were writers, editors, publishers. I’m the entire Trinity in one person. There are only two persons to the Godhead now, me and the Void.

I dreamt of being in the presence of a man called the Big Bear. I actually forget the rest of the dream, but Augustus Caesar was said to have had birthmarks which resembled the constellation Ursa Major. Ursa Major is a huge constellation of which the Big Dipper is only a part. Since it is so close to the axis of earth’s rotation, it never leaves the sky if you live in the Northern hemisphere. Thus the world revolves around the Great Bear, and the symbolism with Augustus is obvious. No easy feat to have a MONTH named after you. Not to mention the necessary role of the Caesars in the Christian story of redemption. Rome is simply indispensable to the explanation Christians give as to how Jesus saved the world. (Christianity outlasted the Romans by internalizing something vital which the Romans had, recognizing its inner power whereas it was all outside in Roman times.)

Anyway, I felt in the presence of the big bear in my dreams, although I’m not sure how it affected me. I think it was simply helping me realize that people must stand where they are even if the entire world revolves around them. It may be dizzying. One little mistake could mean the death of tens of thousands of people, but the person must still live life as if it’s normal, they’re normal, things are normal. Yes, they are the epicenter of civilization. No, they should not act any differently as a result. They are neither above nor below anyone else. Their job is to try to do their best. That’s all there is to it.

5.6 The Energy to Write, A Dark Dream, and My Favorite Movies

To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire–
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
–Edgar Lee Masters

Seemed like a good poem. Just found it today. Here.

Gosh, my trip must have infused me with a lot of writing energy, because I haven’t yet felt that void which makes it hard. If I declare, “Ye, Gods, I need to write!,” they sometimes let me write and other times not. A person doesn’t need too much drama to make their life seem interesting, but I waver on that line nonetheless. But now I’m swimming in something. I’m so used to being the tadpole whose puddle dries up; it would be nice to be the pesky weed which risks overrunning the place instead.

I say pesky weed because I probably underestimate the worth of my “weeds.” If I were to have a little more self-confidence, I’d say that I loom like an expanding rainforest. While I can live up to my self-assigned responsibilities, in this case, of blogging once a day, I can’t make it fun either for me or for you. That’s up to nature.

Also – suppose how fun I am depends upon what I say – knock on wood – that I could jinx it by saying the wrong thing. Well, if I say the wrong thing completely ignorant of having done so, then I’ve jinxed myself involuntarily. Okay, well, it’s not my fault then, and it might as well be a drying puddle that was already too small. The jinx was just part and parcel of the smallness. If I knew there was a danger, then I’m already cutting myself back by being cautious about not speaking this or that. The caution itself takes a toll, and might fulfill its own prophecy. If I knew exactly what not to say… and I said it anyway, then I’m risking my fun for my curiosity – the adventure would simply play itself out. What are these jinxes I’m talking about? Things which scare people, for example. Boo! Now I must deal with the people who are scared.

But sometimes unexpected kindnesses set things right again. I’m not saying I’m the Amazon. The Texas of rainforests. I don’t know. I might just be the Congo! I think I’m more than a puddle, though. I started this by saying I’m swimming in something.

I want to be the kind of person who isn’t worried about jinxing himself. I’m pretty close. Yesterday’s long article was because I was temporarily freed from the worry, I suspect. Today’s shorter article is probably because I’m not. So… have I talked myself into a pool of dry mud?

I had some big thought which was looming. I can tell you a dream I had this morning:

A dystopic future. Androids were recycled in a strange conveyor contraption. There was sewage. I found myself an android trying to escape repeatedly, as in a video game or the movie Groundhog Day. Trying to escape the laser eyes I always got caught. Vaporized or what have you. The goons got me. I pondered whether there wasn’t a way to sink into the sewage and escape. Did they have video cameras under there? I didn’t even know, for example, whether as an android I was capable of drowning. Didn’t they keep a number on me, or a GPS locator? All those sci-fi movies have the most absurd security vortices. Anyway, having tried all of the above ground routes to freedom I woke up pondering whether there wasn’t a way to escape the evil eyes by finding a path through the sewage. (The sewage reminded me of the stuff in the Death Star’s garbage compactor in the original Star Wars movie)

With today’s technology, I find it hard to imagine actually escaping a law enforcement which was searching for you. Facial recognition, DNA. So it’s that much more absurd to imagine a future almost entirely computerized not being able to track its own rogue androids. But I was on my way up the conveyor belt about to be ground into droidburgers umpteen times before I concluded that above ground escape was impossible. Still, I think it’s the dumbest thing about most sci-fi is that escape is possible at all for the good guys when the bad guys have these huge armadas and everything looking for them.

In Star Wars, it’s sort of okay, because the unseen Force guides and controls the fates of all things big and small. So if the Force is with you, I guess it is actually possible to escape the detention bay of an enemy fortress the size of the Moon by diving into a garbage compactor and having your secret robot unlock all the necessary doors for you. It’s a galaxy far, far away, and I see no reason to hold them to the same standards. But future android fiction: I Robot, Spielberg’s A.I., The Running Man, etc. – they have these GAPING holes in their security systems. Technology advances radically in everything but security features I guess.

Anyway, my unconscious (i.e. the source of my dreams) forced me into this type of world, solving the usual problems with security holes merely by leaving me uncertain as to whether they might be found in the sewage part of the conveyor recycling machine of doom.

The best way to deal with the need for heroes to escape via security lapses in stories seems to me to be to have an already corrupt empire, where for a small bribe and a good cause low-ranking security officers will look the other way. Corruption in empires, lack of enthusiasm for their cause in the hearts and minds of the people – these things are likely to last a long time. Pure fear can keep even a starving populace in check, of course – we have a real life example of this in North Korea, where escape is well nigh impossible, although it happened to one boy who nonetheless had to suffer unspeakable trials, and who is the only person known to have escaped (and subsequently fled the country) from the giant prison camps there.

The most direct source for my android dream was the movie Cloud Atlas which I saw recently. The movie tells six stories in six different eras both past and future. Someone I met told me that the android story in the movie was not precisely as the book had it. The version I was told was that the life of the android Sonmi-451 was prescripted, even her heroic escape and rebellion against her captors, just to keep the people happy about her heroic story even though it never happened. I think that might be the world in my dream.

Why am I having so much trouble escaping the recycling belt? In the dream it’s the last phase in an android’s life before droid burgers. Certainly I was done a good service by waking up before finding out just how good the security system in the sewers was… even my unconscious couldn’t come up with a plausible plotline. Unless you count the (true to life, in this case) most dodgy plotline ever used anywhere: It was all just a dream!

Too bad for me I’m a Jungian and I take my dreams seriously. But on the bright side, like in a video game or the movie Groundhog Day, I seemed to be granted infinite lives.

My favorite movie for a while was Screamers , a science fiction story set on a different planet. Casting and acting were great. Script was extremely smart based on “Second Variety” by Philip K. Dick. I think the commercial and critical failure of this movie was simply based on the fact that it crossed genres. It was sci-fi horror with deeply intelligent and philosophical characters, sci-fi horror for philosophers. It was my favorite movie for a number of years.

For reference purposes, here’s a bunch of movies which at any given time could be in my top ten:

Star Wars (the ones with Luke)
The Matrix (first)
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Seven Samurai
Screamers
Terminator 2 ( 1 was good too )
The Big Lebowski
Team America World Police (fuck yeah!)
Les Miserables (the musical not the film. whatever.)
Wayne’s World + Austin Powers (a package deal, if you will. I like the message)

Other good ones:

Dr. Strangelove
Twilight Samurai
Winter’s Bone
The Lives of Others
Melancholia (it’s pretty kick ass I saw it a few months ago)
12 Monkeys

I’m obviously leaving out a ton, but that’s some food for thought anyway.

5.5 Trying to Wax Poetic While Saying What I Mean

Okay okay okay. What do I write today? The South Park guys once again impress me. I ramble on. So much interiority… perhaps my fatal flaw, and yet I’m so wedded to it. I just have to believe what Emerson says,

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought.”

Yes, indeed it may be fatal. But I wouldn’t be the first to die by adhering to what I believed. It’s just that the part of me which believes in believing outranks the part of me that suffers for it. I truly do not know the route to the top of the mountains before me. I am lucky enough to have a place to stay for the time being, and the freedom to do as I like. Yet I’ve never partaken of what most people might call the finer things in life. Full employment, for example, in Silicon Valley doing stuff people think is going to change the world for the better. Politics – no, of course, these are not the finer things, but – they are thought of as such by many powerful people. Manual labor – this does sting a little, although I’ve seen many brutes in these fields and surprisingly few carry that simple innocence you might have expected two hundred years ago – surrounded by machines, their innocence dissolves – they are as caught up as any of us. Organic farming – employing deliberately primitive means to repel the psychic forces which assail us – I tend to like these people, although I would prefer an elegant harmony between the most advanced technologies and the primal instincts we all must serve as our human inheritance – these farmers all too often make a show of rejecting technology, but technology is as impossible to escape as it is to put fur back onto our naked skins.

I’m trying to walk the line between being poetic and simply saying what I mean. Teaching – yes, I would be very good at this, but to succeed I must either “go rogue” with a bunch of courageous students, or confront the two-horned demon of credentials on the one hand and acaademic institutions on the other – I may confront it yet. Video Games – they’re where my heart is, although for God’s sake I don’t know why – I love them but I see them as illusions, masks, facades – they fool the player into thinking he has control… still, the unconscious is a powerful force and it demands I investigate this topic.

I’m arguing with my own unconscious when it comes to video games. That’s good, because I can see the responsibility fall squarely onto my own shoulders here. My confusion, it insists that there remains something I do not know – hopefully what I do not know consists of more than merely how to make a video game, because then upon completion I fear I would know everything! It’s probably better to take the game as a sign leading to a totally unknown section of the life forest, indicating that my ego alone is what stops me from realizing how little I know, keeping but one thing because that’s all it can handle for now. The most painful condition is something I probably have no right to complain about, that I don’t have good conversations with others who make good games, not having made a game worthy of having a conversation about myself.

I face a mystery moment. Such a mystery moment is paralleled in the video game adventures when your hero faces a fork in the road. Games have that “anti-narrative” aspect of “accompanying” you, for which modern game designers have given up quite a lot, in terms of both pacing the story and confining their execution of a given tale to but a single plot. Afterall, at each moment, something must be at stake, and at least two plotlines must be possible. Games lead the hero himself to his doom countless times, whilst (whilst… my new favorite word?) traditional narratives must rest content with sending some buffoon in to caution the hero, who has but one life. But what bothers me is, why do I care about these things so much?

The answer may lie in the fact that I perceive human beings themselves as simple robots. Not you, mind you – never you! – but I’m like good old Mephistopheles in Faust, who speaks thusly to none other than God, The Lord Himself (ambitious playwright, huh?):

“The solar system I must leave unsung,
And to mankind’s woes lend my humbler tongue.
The little earth-god still persists in his old ways,
Ridiculous as ever, as in his first days.
He’d have improved if you’d not given
Him a mere glimmer of the light in heaven;
He calls it Reason, and it only has increased
His power to be beastlier than a beast.
He is–if I may say so, sir–
A little like the long-legged grasshopper,
Which hops and flies, and sings its silly songs
And flies, and drops straight back to grass where it belongs.
Indeed… if only he would stick to grass!
He pokes his nose in all the filth he finds, alas.”

The Lord:

“And that is all you have to say?
Must you complain each time you come my way?
Is nothing right on your terrestrial scene?”

Mephistopheles:

“No, sir! The earth’s as bad as it has always been.
I really feel quite sorry for mankind;
Tormenting them myself’s no fun, I find.”

The Lord and Mephisto proceed to wager that the learned Dr. Faustus will not give his soul to the temptations of the devil. The scene ends with everyone departing and Mephistopheles’ saying:

“I like to see him [God] sometimes, and take care
Not to fall out with him. It’s civil
Of the old fellow, such a grand seigneur,
To have these man-to-man talks with the Devil!”

Good translation, by the way. I just got it today… yay!

So maybe it’s my destiny to program a computer to act like a person. Maybe I can show people how to see themselves as little grasshoppers. Maybe that will make them feel better somehow.

The thing which is attractive about computers is that if you can quantify it, you can program it. A computer can show you the logical consequences of any law you program and its interrelations with other laws. A human being is like a hive of insects each of which is a different natural instinct and which all work together to support the whole… sometimes, at least. I’m not exactly sure in my case. But that’s not the point! The point is, that each insect must be broken down into a law by which it operates, as each organ in the body has a law by which it operates – and a currency must be established between the organs that they may communicate, barter, harmonize, and make the whole prosper.

The psyche is only another layer on top of the body. It has its equivalents of the bodily organs, but they are very hard to pin down, because the apparatus which perceives them – our own minds and senses – is necessarily part of that which it perceives. Therefore there is enormous variety to even the smallest traits of the psyche. Each part of the psyche may be properly perceived, or misperceived, by any other part. Each part has its own opinion of the other parts. No part is “correct,” “the right one,” any more than the spleen is more correct than the liver. Traditionally, and very interestingly, the one removable bodily organ were the man’s testicles. We don’t have much familiarity today with the lives of eunuchs, but it would nonetheless be fascinating to find out how the removal of the testicles affected the whole mood and temperament of the man. Drastically, to be sure. Likewise, any part of the psyche entirely removed would have drastic effects.

From Carl Jung’s point of view, we are both rational thinkers and base animals. The psyche therefore is not either the rational apparatus with which we analyze all things (including ourselves) or the base set of instincts inherited from time immemorial, applied to our environment, which succeeded, at least in the past, and almost entirely unconsciously, in propogating our genes down through the ages, leading finally to us… it is both the organ by which we analyze and the instincts we’ve inherited down through the ages, applied to the environment – and thus it constitutes not only our highest conscious analysis but also the deepest personal drama any of us lives struggling to survive in this place.

To find a law by which any given instinct functions, one must find a scenario in which it ruthlessly asserts itself above and beyond all the other instincts. Conversely one must find a scenario in which it works harmoniously with the other instincts as a whole. There is no instinct which is not at one point absolute tyrant and at another humbly dissolved into a greater tapestry.

The traditional pantheon of Pagan gods are normally understood by me (and I think by Jung) to be each a metaphor for a different instinct located within the psyche. This is by far the best explanation for their persistence and influence, and their similarities to gods of other regions. Certainly it’s possible to go too far with this thinking and discredit the genuine variations in the gods as you go between regions, but it’s just as easy to underestimate the differences in the effects of geography, climate, and wildlife on exactly the same human psyche.

There are a few big cultural divides amongst people. The most famous is the East versus the West. The West either suffers from, or revels in, an extremely self-confident, masculine God who suffers his followers to “worship no other gods before me.” The dieties of East seem to come more from nature and never let go their feminine component and so they seem naively to a westerner like me to be more “whole.” No civilization, be it feminine or masculine, whole or in pieces, suffered the industrial revolution without significant growing pains, thus giving rise the peculiar sentiments of Marxism I fear we capitalists have never quite put our finger on. Industrialization is like a second fall from grace, and these new electronic media may even constitute a third. At any rate, there’s at least two thick layers between us and “God” right now.

I mention these cultural divides and influences because in theory the simulated man must be adapted to them. The Eastern man must act “Eastern”, and so forth. Many of the divides have not yet completed themselves on the world stage, and thus the simulated modern man must be divided inwardly too. I suppose it goes without saying that all this assessment requires an enormous amount of aesthetic judgment, which to the unsophisticated mind would seem arbitrary. Inevitably the narrowminded will complain about this detail or that detail, almost always unconsciously biasing their comments toward the version of a simulated man which highlights their particular strengths and downplays their particular weaknesses.

In the end, that’s probably why I prefer video games, or art in general, to politics or other things dealing with people. With art, you just put it down. You say, “This is the truth,” and you leave it to people to decide who you are and what you’re worth. They may hate you or hate your art, but they can’t run from the truth, and they can’t say you imposed it on them, since the artist is the exact opposite of the dictator. It’s the existence of the thing itself which kills them, not the person who made it, and not the brutal hand of someone who has the power to control their lives.

I’ve seen too many people’s raw emotions, and failed to get out of the way too many times as they rushed towards the objects of their desire.

5.4 Some Writings From Last Week

Alright, I know it’s shabby, but I missed a day, and I’m trying to eek in another post at the last minute to make up for it.

Also, I doubt this post will be too serious, except insofar as seriousness is simply an inextricable part of my nature. In other words, this is going to be a very serious post.

Okay, yes, I’m always serious, or perhaps I simply always feel serious. Now why would that be? Because I’m noticing all sorts of things which would make Cassandra prophesy the end of the world while those around me just drink and smoke? Well, it’s no good trying to convince deaf ears.

But really I had thought I would blog lightly and just get this done. Literally, this is just a stub post to make up for the day I was sick. I’m trying to make it as light-hearted as possible. I’m cool with the days I was away in CA, and here’s why. I wrote in my private journal most of those days, and when I got back I realized that the reason I didn’t want to copy the contents wasn’t that I’m too lazy but that I was too intimate and personal. No wait, rereading produces some things I will write here:

“I’m still thinking about A.I. – what are the core modules which make up a person? I had: the need to be part of a group, and the common resistance to being put into a categories. Why this resistance? What is threatened? In most cases, the resistance to being categorized is not that powerful, yet it provides the basis for mechanical creatures’ desire to become human. Or does it?

[I’ll have you know I’m copying this stuff because it’s interesting, not because I can fit it into a larger essay structure or anything. I continue…]

“The desire to belong, to be part of a group, to be part of the group. The problem an A.I. has with being an A.I. What is the difference between Artificial and Real? Real is connected to the mother – warm, compelled by passions. Passions – is that the difference, that fake Intelligences don’t have irrational desires? Irrational desires: how do we know there’s not some underlying reason for them? A computer must simulate the unconscious of man in addition to the conscious of man. The key is to have some insight into the nature of the unconscious – how it is like and how unlike the conscious.

“…[gets a little boring here]… Reality, desire, reality, desire, they interplay, they dance…

“How would I simulate myself? That’s the question I must return to, because if I don’t have the complexity to make an interesting game, what could? And if I don’t know enough about myself to create a good simulation, what DO I know enough about?

“So what do I know about myself? By examining what I DO know about myself it might put into greater relief what I don’t know. I write on paper here – I am in that category of people perhaps described as ‘Old Scholar.’ So, to simulate an Old Scholar, where to begin?”

I then switched topics abruptly:

“I thought this morning: if it only takes half the population to provide for the needs of all the population, what does the other half do? How does the other half justify not working? Are they therefore aristocrats, or what? Even aristocracy is a kind of work. Aristocrats must earn their reputation as worthy of power. Does the half which doesn’t work have any power? Capitalism survives by their finding more needs to fill and filling them, which requires the citizens of the world to be very creative. They must find ways to create and satisfy desires people didn’t know they had because there are more people than are needed to satisfy people’s needs. Who should work and who should not work? Is not working the same as playing?”

And a humorous finale for the reader who stuck with me this far:

“What should I see in San Francisco? What would a simulation of me do in San Francisco?”

 

5.3 Why I Write And What Emerson Has To Say About It

Had a stomach flu yesterday. Good thing it hit me after, instead of during, my trip.

It’s a self-imposed program, blogging every day. I do it because I’m old enough that if I don’t do something socially recognizable, I can’t really justify my existence — to myself. As far as justifying my existence to other people, that’s much trickier, since there are so many different standards. One reason for being pro-choice in the abortion debate is if you can’t say with certainty you wouldn’t rather have been aborted… in fact it’s probably the most honest possible way to be pro-choice, and I definitely fit into this category. However… I’m not so confident that I have no reason for being here that A) I deliberately take my own life, or B) that I lapse in my concern for my life to such a degree that I casually risk my death without thinking about it.

There are definitely days when I don’t feel like writing anything. Therefore let us posit two points in a psychological space, the point which represents the natural position of a normal writer apart from the discipline of writing every day, and the point which represents the strains and sacrifices which must be made to conform to the writing-every-day lifestyle.

If the two points are sufficiently distant from each other, the person will have a difficult time being a daily writer. Natural talent must be considered, and presumably can shorten the distance considerably. However, even the best writers (I just saw an interview with J.K. Rowling which confirmed this in her case) must impose a daily writing regimen upon themselves. So there is still a distance between their “natural” self and their writing self.

In order for anyone to stray from their natural self there must be incentive. I should not neglect to mention those few writers who indeed seem to do it naturally. I heard Issac Asimov was in this category, that writing for him was as natural as eating or sleeping was. That’s great, because he also sold enough books to allow him to keep doing it. Which goes back to the incentive principle. I’ve heard among many creative people talking about creativity that the artist does it because they “must.” This would seem to be the opposite of imposing the daily regimen.

I think a lot of artists do their art because they “must.” These stories are told in the context of the person who already has countless other obligations but nonetheless fits time for his art into his schedule. Unfortunately I don’t really know what this is like. Arguably I have decided to write every day because I “must,” not because I have some overwhelming compulsion to write, but because I must do something, or I will feel like I’m just not worth the skin I’m trapped inside of — and posting to my blog every day is something I can do. It’s the exact opposite of being a writer “to be a writer,” although it may eventually have the side effect of yielding the benefits of being a writer. And it’s by no means being a writer because “I must write.” I guess I’ve stumbled upon a third reason to be a writer.

The feeling I have is that I’m at the very end of the universe, that I traveled here all by myself, and that I probably missed something important on my way out here, but I don’t know exactly what it was. I probably should have done something to make me more famous than I am. Conversely society should have done something to catch me before I reached the outermost places of the known. But neither happened, and here I am.

A blog is indeed the laziest way to put a message into the world. The power of the internet makes it a powerful way nonetheless. People have different strengths. I’m one of those people like Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Friedrich Nietzsche — who needs as much help as he can get getting his message out there. I was reminded of Emerson’s essay the Transcendentalist, and because it’s so perfect I’ll give it a big quote here, but you might as well read the whole thing yourself:

“It is a sign of our times, conspicuous to the coarsest observer, that many intelligent and religious persons withdraw themselves from the common labors and competitions of the market and the caucus, and betake themselves to a certain solitary and critical way of living, from which no solid fruit has yet appeared to justify their separation. They hold themselves aloof: they feel the disproportion between their faculties and the work offered them, and they prefer to ramble in the country and perish of ennui, to the degradation of such charities and such ambitions as the city can propose to them. They are striking work, and crying out for somewhat worthy to do! What they do, is done only because they are overpowered by the humanities that speak on all sides; and they consent to such labor as is open to them, though to their lofty dream the writing of Iliads or Hamlets, or the building of cities or empires seems drudgery.

“Now every one must do after his kind, be he asp or angel, and these must. The question, which a wise man and a student of modern history will ask, is, what that kind is? And truly, as in ecclesiastical history we take so much pains to know what the Gnostics, what the Essenes, what the Manichees, and what the Reformers believed, it would not misbecome us to inquire nearer home, what these companions and contemporaries of ours think and do, at least so far as these thoughts and actions appear to be not accidental and personal, but common to many, and the inevitable flower of the Tree of Time. Our American literature and spiritual history are, we confess, in the optative mood; but whoso knows these seething brains, these admirable radicals, these unsocial worshippers, these talkers who talk the sun and moon away, will believe that this heresy cannot pass away without leaving its mark.

“They are lonely; the spirit of their writing and conversation is lonely; they repel influences; they shun general society; they incline to shut themselves in their chamber in the house, to live in the country rather than in the town, and to find their tasks and amusements in solitude. Society, to be sure, does not like this very well; it saith, Whoso goes to walk alone, accuses the whole world; he declareth all to be unfit to be his companions; it is very uncivil, nay, insulting; Society will retaliate. Meantime, this retirement does not proceed from any whim on the part of these separators; but if any one will take pains to talk with them, he will find that this part is chosen both from temperament and from principle; with some unwillingness, too, and as a choice of the less of two evils; for these persons are not by nature melancholy, sour, and unsocial, — they are not stockish or brute, — but joyous; susceptible, affectionate; they have even more than others a great wish to be loved.”

So there’s a lot of me in that. I’ve also been interested in the connection between the Transcendentalist and the personality of the Extreme Introvert. I haven’t yet done a full analysis of Emerson’s essay and my extension of Jung’s type theory, but I suspect a very high correlation. What Jung calls the “discovery” of the psyche obviously had its precursors, although Jung never mentions Emerson himself for some reason, possibly because Emerson wrote in English.

5.2 Hope, or Pray?

My cycle seems to be that I write a good article and then a lull for a few days, but so as not to evaporate from the face of the earth I must post something.

While I have many good thoughts, they are like a red wine not yet aerated. The art is to find other things to talk about whilst they breathe, and I can only hope or pray I succeed.

So what’s the difference between hoping and praying? Hoping is less powerful, but praying pisses off the seculars. So do you want power, or approval? Am I a coward for not just praying like I’m an ordinary sinner, for wanting to make seculars feel welcome here?

I like to think of Christianity as a treasure trove of secrets which nonetheless demanded a number of sacrifices in order to reach it. One of the sacrifices is an extremely strong strain of elitism among its members. For example, in Buddhism, and I may be simplifying here, there are Hinayana and Mahayana, the little raft and the big raft. Two schools, both of which lead across the river. Christians also have two paths, which go by the names Salvation and Damnation. Christianity abandoned the liberal notion that everyone can just get along — but it would be worthless if it didn’t get something in exchange. What it got was a deep interiority, a private searching of the self which led eventually to the idea of universal human rights. What we lost was a kind of practical compassion which only now we have an opportunity to pick up again.

Thus Carl Jung in his Vision Seminars (quoted from Edward F. Edinger’s Mysterium Lectures — the brackets are his.):

“In most cases… [love] isn’t concerned with kindness, it is just a hellish possession [He’s talking about “falling in love,” you see], but love should have to do with kindness–I am pleading for love.

“In the East, where they know more about that kind of love than we do, they have a beautiful symbol for it in Kwannon, the Goddess of Kindness. She gives nourishment to all living beings, even to the evil spirits in hell, and to do so she must go down to hell; but it would frighten the devils if she were to appear there in her heavenly form and, as the Goddess of Kindness, she cannot permit that to happen; so, having such an extraordinary regard for the feelings of the devils, she transforms herself into an evil spirit and takes the food down in that guise. There is a beautiful traditional painting where she is represented in hell as a devil among the devils, giving them food; but there is a fine thread going up from her head to a heavenly being above, who is herself in all her splendid fury. That is the psychological attitude which real love suggests.”

Traditional Christianity is so paranoid about the process of salvation that it has no time for the kind of compassion and insight it would require to dress up like a devil in order to help the devils. However, the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary, made official in 1950 by the Catholic Church, may signify that the self-righteousness common to most Christian sects up until this point has outlived its usefulness. It’s a feminine kind of compassion which abandons strict adherence to rules in order to do what needs to be done.

Traditional Christian elitism concentrates on the Gospel of John chapter 14:6, in which Jesus declares “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Probably the hardest thing for a modern liberal to understand is how important this type of thinking, indeed this very passage, has been in the development of our beliefs and our civilization. I’ll have to talk more about it later.

So anyway, if I pray that I will be able to write something good… I may disappoint the atheists in the crowd, but I will be adhering to that tradition which admits that the ego is powerless to accomplish its will if “God”, or perhaps, “the Unconscious”, doesn’t allow it. I do not in fact have so much faith in my conscious will that I can rely simply on “hope” to get the job done. But the Goddess Kwannon is willing to dress up like the devils in order to bring them food, and this IS a blog for all and none… hmmm… and I think I’ve written something good, so either my hope or my prayer seems to have worked or to have been answered.

5.1 I’m Back!

“It seemed impossible that so good a knight should have lacked a wise man who would assume the responsibility of recording his never-before-seen deeds, something that never happened to other knights errant, ‘the ones, that people say, go searching for adventures’, because each of them had one or two wise men whose purpose was not only to record their deeds, but to depict their slightest thoughts and fancies, no matter how secret they might be; and so good a knight [as Don Quixote] could not be so unfortunate as to lack what [the knight] Platir and others like him had in abundance.” 

Don Quixote, First Part Chapter IX

My week was so exciting I sometimes wish I had some wise man following me about recording my every deed. I’m not important enough to have anyone else follow me around, but it would be cool not to have to convince the reader of this blog that cool stuff happened just by taking my word for it. However, I have told a number of new people about this blog, and each was present for one or another memorable moments, so they can at least remember fondly their own moment, although not all together, since my adventures are so disjoint. But it doesn’t matter… I return with increased confidence in myself.

I’m pretty much convinced at this point that I’m the only person like me in the whole world. I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns for holding onto doubt as to whether I’m unique or not. At first it’s a sign of prudence not to assume that one is unique just because one has never met anyone like oneself. But after a while, the hit to the ego to discover one’s doppleganger is nothing compared to the constant supression of one’s natural expression out of peripheral fear.

Typically human beings possess a “mother complex” which allows them to feel unique even though they’re not. My grandfather used to use the expression, “he [or she] has the kind of face only a mother could love,” which illustrates the role of the mother in making a person feel special. Many people, of course, have no such mother, but at least traditionally there is someone who makes you feel loved despite your not having accomplished anything. This extends to the religions which declare “God loves you,” with Christianity being famous for its extension of this “love” even to the worst sinners (so long as they accept Him as their lord and savior – there’s always a catch, isn’t there?). So this mother and those religions serve the function of acting as if people are important when they’re not – or not yet, anyway. This type of thinking is traditionally tolerated by the more rigorous intellectuals, because of the enormous and obvious mental health benefits which accrue to people who think they’re loved. I myself have always struggled with this issue, because I felt crucified by my obvious need to delude myself into thinking I mattered on the one hand, and the clear lack of evidence that I actually do on the other.

But I guess I’ve come away from the past week with a stronger delusion, if you will, about my own significance. I simply feel like I’m the only person who acts the way I do. To think like this ordinarily comes with the risk of psychological inflation. One feels like an incarnation of god. The inflation might be a mask for in reality an intense loneliness, that one’s own biorhythms are so different from everyone else’s that there is little hope for establishing true connections. However, the other side is that one may really be unique, in which case one may need as much energy channeled into one’s unique stamp on the world as possible. In order to get this energy, one must leave behind the doubt and move into a place where it is just assumed as a matter of course that one is unique, the same way a baby assumes it’s special because its mother happens to show up every time it cries. It’s an inflation, but it’s feeding the only incarnation in the world of the specific person’s personality, and thus it’s not “wrong” in the same way the baby with the silver spoon in its mouth is wrong.

I’m also really happy about all the people I met and that fact that I can refer them to my blog now instead of really being a “complete unknown like a rolling stone.”

I basically spent fifteen years without even a blog to tell people about. I had a vision and I followed it. “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small…” I still am trying to understand the vision of the video game, which I will continue to talk about precisely because I don’t understand it. I have my Human Intelligence series, which is a little more practical and a little less speculative, so you might want to keep tuning in for that reason if you’re sick of robots and automatons.

And by the way, the WordPress software I use has an occasional bug which makes a completely random Youtube video appear at the end of an ordinary blog post. I’M NOT POSTING THOSE VIDEOS ON PURPOSE. If you know anything about stupid random videos popping up on completely ordinary blog entries using WordPress software, don’t hesitate to tell me what’s going on (thank you!).

4.2 Human Intelligence – The Eight Functions

This is my last entry for a week or so. I’ll be writing on a paper pad for the next week and I’ll type it up when I get back. I won’t fudge the data either – if I fail to live up to my responsibilities of writing at least two paragraphs per day and twice that much on Sundays, you may punish me accordingly.

I hope this entry leaves you wanting more!

In the last article on Human Intelligence, I discussed extraversion and introversion. In this article I will lay out the nature of the remaining eight intelligence factors. For reference, I consider my analysis to be based upon Jung’s psychological types, but with specific additions I make to the theory which I’ve not seen anywhere else.

The book which got me started on this whole venture was Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual by Lenore Thomson. Written in 1998, it lays out the eight basic Jungian personality types. It’s actually a great book… but I’ve developed the system further from where it leaves off. I treat each of the eight types as independent intelligences, and I get enormous traction and significant improvements in the distinctions I make over the types as laid out by Thomson. With Thomson, the emphasis is on personal development, as the human ego attaches to one function at the expense of its polar opposite. While I acknowledge the significance of the human ego and the power it has over people’s choices and perspectives, my intelligence system does not depend on type per se, with the exception of the Introvert-Extravert dynamic talked about previously – which dynamic arguably isn’t intelligence at all but indeed personality type. Introvert-Extravert is, however, the most important type characteristic insofar as it rules to some extent over how the other eight latent intelligences work.

Without further ado, the eight go by the names:

Introverted Thinking
Extraverted Thinking
Introverted Feeling
Extraverted Feeling
Introverted Intuition
Extraverted Intuition
Introverted Sensation
Extraverted Sensation

So that’s the big secret. Everyone has a latent ability for each one of these intelligences. In my system, the abilities are genetically inherited, fixed at birth, unchangeable throughout one’s life, and completely independent of each other. Barring the invention of some strange medications or other advances in brain science, you’re stuck with what you have. From this perspective it is obvious why many people just don’t want to know who they are, for fear of what they’ll discover.

While this system is in some ways terrifying, to me it has been liberating. I use it not only to understand other people, but myself too.

The traditional system of I.Q. measurement ranks a score of 100 as “average”, with higher scores being smarter and lower scores being dumber. My system uses the same principle, but I’ve never been able to refine my understanding of any given aspect of any given person’s intelligence beyond the need for a simple 1 to 10 scale, with a 1 being the dumbest and 10 being the smartest. To be balanced, however, I generally use just a 1 to 9 scale, which allows the number 5 to represent perfect averageness, and reserve the number 10 to designate the ego’s preferred function which from an intelligence standpoint is hard to distinguish from a 9. Also, intelligence in the functions is by no means evenly distributed among people from 1 to 9, but follows rather a bell curve. Therefore, to have either a 1 or a 9 in a given function is rare, a 2 or an 8 more common, a 3 or a 7, even more common, and so on. I’m not prepared at this time to rank how intelligences fall on this scale in terms of percentages, and it may indeed vary by function in a given population. Professional chefs, for example, almost always have greater-than-average Extraverted Sensation intelligence. (It might as well be part of the job description, but, oh wait, we’re not a Jungian society… not yet anyway.)

Now the eight types can traditionally be grouped according to what they have in common. As anyone reading the listing can see, the first grouping is obvious. There are the introverted versus extraverted intelligences:

Introverted Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition
versus
Extraverted Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition

What can’t be known from the listing are that the Thinking and Feeling functions are often joined together to form the “rational functions”, while Sensation and Intuition form the “irrational” ones. Thus:

Introverted Thinking, Introverted Feeling, Extraverted Thinking, Extraverted Feeling
versus
Introverted Sensation, Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Sensation, Extraverted Intuition

A third set of groupings finds opposition between the two rational functions, and between the two irrational ones. Thus:

Introverted Sensation, Extraverted Sensation
versus
Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Intuition

and:

Introverted Feeling, Extraverted Feeling
versus
Introverted Thinking, Extraverted Thinking

All of these sets of oppositions predominate at one time or another. I’m not sure exactly which set of oppositions predominates most often. However, the final set of oppositions suggests that the combination of the introvert-extravert division, and the division within the subgroupings of the rational and irrational functions, is the most troublesome. The following pairs encounter each other as mortal enemies in normal human (cognitive) affairs:

Introverted Intuition versus Extraverted Sensation

Introverted Sensation versus Extraverted Intuition

Introverted Feeling versus Extraverted Thinking

Introverted Thinking versus Extraverted Feeling

In traditional Jungian psychology the significance of the oppositions between these pairs is so great that a person of one type (whose ego has centered around one of the above functions) is considered to possess the type’s mortal opposite as her “inferior function”. It is at this point where I part ways with traditional Jungian thought, because the term “inferior function” becomes completely ambiguous when you consider that according to my system the intelligences operate independently of each other. The so-called inferior function can, and often actually operate extremely well in its own right. Therefore it becomes a useless term, because, while the *ego* may reject it for the important purpose of developing its primary function, the person’s latent ability in that area may be quite strong. There are different operating factors here: the Ego, which has its own plans, and uses the natural talents of the person in question as it sees fit; and the latent intelligences possessed by the functions in their own right.

I have my own terms for describing the intelligences. I refer to a below average function (from 1 to 4 on the 9 points scale) as a weak function, an average one (5) as, well, average, and an above average (6 to 8) as strong. A function which performs at an extremely high level has fascinating characteristics and is actually a joy to study, because it’s the kind of performance which is more-or-less flawless – a perfectly working aspect of human intelligence, the kind of which we all can admire, or perhaps envy. For this reason I use the special term “accelerated function” to describe it.

As per my dedication to the idea of Kenosis, the emptying, I without hesitation reveal my own scores, self-evaluated through years (now) of self-study. I have been using this system for perhaps ten years, and my self-observed scores have been known to me more-or-less from the beginning. Apart from a slight change due to a change I made in my diet (marked below), including an increase in fiber and in omega-3 fatty acids, these scores have not changed since then.

Introverted Intuition: 10 (see note above about the ego’s preferred function)
Introverted Sensation: 9
Extraverted Thinking: 8
Extraverted Feeling: 5
Introverted Thinking: 1 (before my change in diet, arguably 2 afterwards)
Introverted Feeling: 7
Extraverted Sensation: 3
Extraverted Intuition: 9

I don’t know whether it is an indication of insanity or of high ethical standards, but that makes me the first person to have his intelligence profile, according to this system, made public.

See you next week!