Maintaining the Paradox: The Three Levels of Consciousness

In this article I outline my understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness.

The three levels are: totally unconscious, partially conscious/unconscious, and totally conscious. All phenomena fall into one of these three categories for each person.

Totally unconscious phenomena are things which people don’t know that they don’t know. Partly unconscious are things people know, if only vaguely, that they don’t know, and conscious are things people actually do know.

The difference between a partially unconscious phenomenon and a totally unconscious phenomenon is that there is no humility with regards to totally unconscious phenomena. Obviously, when a person doesn’t know that they don’t know something, there is no way they could be humble about it.

There are significant benefits to being ignorant of something. The basic formula can be illustrated by someone who has spinach stuck in her mouth at dinner. So long as she remains ignorant of the spinach, she can talk without any sort of self-consciousness. Her dinner guests may be well aware of the spinach, but perhaps she is clearly enjoying telling a long story, so they won’t tell her, being aware of the price she will have to pay for bringing the spinach to consciousness. This is a good example, because this type of ignorance is so common that it is easily forgiven, because its commonly realized that it could happen to anyone.

Here are two more illustrations of how ignorance is bliss, so to say: In the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, what the Emperor doesn’t know doesn’t hurt him. The people in the crowd say nothing, either because they want to remain ignorant of the scandal as well, or because of diplomatic tact, but they are sensitive (either consciously or unconsciously) to the price of knowledge. Remaining ignorant was acceptable to everyone but the little boy, because he knew nothing of the price of consciousness. The second example is the story of the Garden of Eden. The basic story is that before Adam and Eve knew anything about Good and Evil, their ignorance allowed them to live in peace and with no fig leaves over their genitals, but when they ate the fruit, their knowledge was accompanied by an extraordinary change in circumstances – they had to hide themselves from each other, and all previously plentiful resources became scarce.

Therefore its no trivial matter to consider moving from total unconsciousness of something into partial consciousness of it. Our modern times rarely heed this fact, so it must be emphasized. One must weigh the costs and benefits of making someone conscious of something. But of course, in order to weigh the costs and benefits, on must deeply understand the effects which making something conscious has on people, both in general and in specific. The most common case, and the one which leads to the most strife, is when a parent’s partial consciousness of something makes them overvalue how important it is, and thus consciousness of it is forced upon their children before the children have any ability to handle it. This raises the issue of partial consciousness.

The initial discovery of a thing can suck the discoverer into it. The thing presents an aspect which was not previously accomodated by the discoverer’s view of the world. The price which is paid is that many of the person’s rock-hard beliefs are realized to be not beliefs, but assumptions, and as such they are now vulnerable to doubt. This is the price of consciousness, to turn beliefs into doubts. These doubts have their good side and their bad side. The good side is that someone who doubts has a better chance of witnessing truth than someone who just believes. The downside is that, as in the case of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, doubt absorbs life force and confidence, which are sometimes the only thing standing between success and failure.

There is a parallel between the price one pays for higher consciousness, and the process of capitalist investment. The whole idea with investment is that you give up some capital now in order to get profit later. As with consciousness, and assuming pure capitalism (with no fraud or corruption), there is risk. Nonetheless, the processes of capitalism correspond with the psychology of consciousness increase – sacrifice now, gain later.

The state of partial consciousness is extremely frustrating, because you now know that you don’t know. Only with total consciousness do you actually underand the whole picture. The closer you get to total consciousness, the more you know, not just about the original item, but also about the effects which bringing that item to consciousness has had on you. Total consciousness understands the practical effects of both the original item and the particular effects which that item has on people when it is brought to consciousness.

Why is it so important to size up the effects an item when brought to consciousness? Because it’s part of understanding something to understand how it affects other people when it is brought to consciousness. Total knowledge of a thing *requires* understanding how it affects other people. The effects of being aware of it are a very important characteristic of it:

Say an asteroid were headed straight for Earth and was going to cause the worst apocalypse imaginable. The two pieces of knowledge involved are: the actual effects of the asteroid’s hitting the Earth; and the effects which knowing the asteroid is coming to Earth will have on people.

Getting to total knowledge is hard, because first one must familiarize oneself with the phenomenon per se, and only after some time does it start becoming possible to imagine what it’s like for someone else who is discovering it.

All phenomena fall for each person into one of the three categories, total unconsciousness, partial consciousness, and total consciousness. Different items will be in different categories for different people. It is very common for a person to be approaching total knowledge in one area while still being completely ignorant of something else. Humility is only possible when you know that you don’t know.

When you totally know something, you not only understand the thing but also how it affects people. Therefore you can judge from moment to moment the value of mentioning it to someone. What I’ve found is that there are many cases where people arrogantly think they understand something without even knowing that they don’t know. In these cases, it is rarely useful to tell them outright that they don’t know, because it’s hardly possible for them to believe that there’s anything they don’t know. Yet there is unconscious jealousy. They feel the world has betrayed them by not letting them in on some secret.

So let’s say one person knows something that the other person doesn’t even know that they don’t know. The price of knowledge for that ignorant person could be quite high, since the first thing they would have to discover would be their ignorance, which tends to come as a shock, because there’s hardly anything more embarrassing than when you finally realize you don’t know anything and that you’ve been a real asshole the whole time. So the person who knows is trying to deal with the person who doesn’t know that they don’t know, and the person who doesn’t know can’t fathom what they’re experiencing because their condition doesn’t register as anything familiar. The person who knows can’t assault the ego of the ignorant person, because no one can withstand being told that they don’t even know how ignorant they are.

What has to happen is that the person who knows must become comfortable with paradox. The ignorant person seems to them a chaotic volcano of totally unrelated behaviors, all of which represent the ignorant person’s attempt to cast his experiences into known molds. If the person who knows allows any one of those casts to settle into place, he will have to deal continually with the ignorant person’s arrogance, thinking he knows when he doesn’t. Nor can he talk directly because the ignorant person’s ego can hardly withstand to discover how clueless he is. Therefore the right thing for the knowledgable person to do is to maintain the paradox, dodging the lava while never directly confronting the issue.

Typically an ignorant person will be able to come to consciousness, but only on his own time. Any premature forcing of the issue will result in violent ego confrontations which often don’t do any good. The job of the knowledgable person is, as I said, to maintain the paradox. When I observe the life of Bob Dylan, I see an extraordinarily good example of this. He seems to fit perfectly into the mold of the person who knows a lot while at the same time realizing how impossible it would be to tell people directly what he knows.

My Mother’s Attitude and My Own

A lot of my attitudes about life came from the way my mother treated me. Much of the pessimism sometimes evident on this blog is really just a transfer of my mother’s emotional energy to my life. Whatever her value as a person, my particular mother had no real motherly ability. The way that transfers to me is that I perceive myself as far worse a person than I really am. But it’s a horrible trap, because in order to see oneself properly one must be able to see people in general properly, and in my case in has certainly taken all of my thirty-five years in order to become acceptably good at this. I say acceptably good because I don’t want to intimate that I don’t still have a lot to learn.

For example, I have been able to see myself as better than my pessimistic attitude conveys only rather recently. Yet the attitude I have grown up with is only suitable for someone far worse, objectively speaking. But therein lies the rub. In our world, the idea of sizing someone up objectively is taboo. Usually because of hidden weakenesses, the average person will adopt the attitude that no system can properly determine the value of a person. From my perspective, I always justified this rationale by saying that the power gained from such evaluations would make the people who use it too dangerous. And coming from previous eras in which groups of people were judged based precisely on what we see as biased systems, what we do now is hold in secret our opinion of others while on the surface proclaiming universal equality for all. It’s a very hard problem, because the systems of the past were flawed, yet a world without judgment, well, you’re living in it.

Because of this, my worth as a person remained hidden from me. No one could convince me that I were really better than my mother’s instilled assessment, which was very low, largely because she was projecting herself onto me. If you read through this blog and feel time and again the same sense of low self-worth and pessimism, you should know that this is the world I grew up in, but not the world I would have if I didn’t grow up in it.

Yet the only reason I am saying any of this is because I’m speaking from a different place. The place I speak from is so new for me, though, that I don’t know much about it. Instead of one self-image, I have two, a more grown-up healthy one, and the one from my wounded childhood. In the childhood one, negativity just pervades the writing, and even if I know it’s there, I can’t change it, because I simply had no healthy alternate perspective.

One clear reason that my journey took me so long is that I had NO approval for my quest. The first thing which happened when I rebelled against my childhood worldview was that I was promptly called insane, and forced into the psychiatric worldview, for a few years. I dropped out of college because it wasn’t for me, and I still have little good to say about the academy. But it weighs heavily when you can find nothing else to help you live a good life, having left behind your bad beginnings. The world of psychiatry is its own labyrinth which is largely unrelated the world. I should clarify what I mean by psychiatry. I mean “medical materialist psychiatry.” Carl Jung’s psychiatry is nothing of the sort, and I found no refuge in the religious world nor the world of business, nor politics, only Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Robert A. Johnson, Edward F. Edinger, and some others, none of whom I met personally (and most of them were already dead when I discovered them, living on only in the spiritual plane of existence).

The main help I’ve had has come in the form of material support from a retired professor who let’s me live in his house, but also the curious byproduct of being called insane which yielded me a monthly stipend from the United States Social Security Administration. In terms of emotional support, I’ve had the friends I happened to meet, none of whom were really qualified to help me in a more advanced spiritual or professional way, but whose company has nonetheless been critical given my desperate situation. With regard to more advanced spiritual and (possibly) professional development, I’ve been growing in my own soil, initiated into no tradition nor any professional guild other than those to which I appoint myself.

I say I’m a Jungian, but I will never associate myself with such local traditions as this one:

Note the requirement for a graduate degree. Much as I might gain from association with people who at least have read a few of the same books as I’ve read, I will remain true to my roots, which are that corruption cannot be healed from within. Specifically: a degree in “Jungianism” no more makes someone a Jungian than a degree in Theology makes them a “Christian”. Jung himself (although I still don’t know from where this quote originates):

“Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throughout the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.”

That is what a Jungian looks like, in case you were wondering. Anyone else is just kidding him- or herself.

As for my comments about having two perspectives, the wounded child and the healthy adult, my goal is to transition. I was looking at my previous posts, and comparing them to some recent experiences I’ve had with my mother in which her unhealthy worldview is projected out into the world and I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. But that’s my mother’s worldview. I hardly even know what my own worldview looks like.

Therefore, I’m sorry for being so pessimistic at times. My new perspective will be more objective. And not in a “Mr. Spock” stifled kind of way. The healthy perspective of a mature adult simply is more objective than the one which sounds like a sick puppy. And precisely because of this, there is no way to gain this kind of perspective systematically. It just is. It’s something which can be gained only through experience, including enough good experiences to sustain the necessary faith and loyalty to the process. (Good experiences must offset the loneliness and disillusionment which threaten to end the quest before its completion.) When I say objective, I’m saying that I have an idea of what I’m worth with respect to what other people are worth. Yes, it’s taboo in our culture to say that anyone could possibly be worth more than anyone else. So what? I’m doing it anyway.

More on My Life and Video Games

My life is extraordinarily simple. I have no appointments to attend, no responses to this blog to write, no emails to respond to, no one to call on the telephone, no job, and no friends to hang out with.

Okay, I just had to get that out of my system.

While the only lead I have in terms of something to do comes from the world of video games and computer programming, I may be forced into trying to make money in a more visceral manner. If I run out of a place to stay, I’ll need to scrape together enough money to live in my own place. Ideas I have for straightforward jobs are:

I think I’d be a good entertainer, a comedian if I could keep my depression compartmentalized. That’s pretty much it. I’d be a good psychotherapeutic person, but I don’t have and don’t want a degree which gets me into any clubs with regard to this profession.

Those are my ideas as to how to make money without having a college degree or a finished product as in a video game. I don’t pursue them actively because I’m not yet forced by my financial situation into doing so.

The finished product. The elusive game, which I know only by the vision which gave it to me. I can only conclude that this game is more than just a game. I am perhaps a better person for pursuing this dream than if I settled for lesser dreams. Instead of dissolving myself into a hazy “New Age” mysticism, I seek to anchor myself in a concrete craft, but I could hardly have picked a more difficult one than video game development. I agonize over how hard game development is.

Half of my agony comes from encountering the craft of game making as an unknown terrain, which I press into alone, because I can find no one who believes in my vision the way I do. The other half comes from recognizing that the craft of game making is painstaking hard work. I have no excuse for the second half – anyone who wants to make a game must confront the hard work part of it, and thus far I can see no reason why I should be exempt from this sort of trial by fire. I might like to escape the hard work but I can’t see morally why I should be allowed to, so I acknowledge it’s just a pill I must swallow.

But the first half remains something I wish I didn’t have to bear. Doing something alone, without recognition or approval, is heroic. It’s part of what makes something heroic that it requires internal moral force sufficient to override the external pressure and isolation which accompany the choice. And if I’m committed to doing something heroic, then I can only expect to find myself pushing through mountains of apathy and lack of interest. Insofar as much of the weight I push through comes from my own prejudice and incorrect attitudes, it’s an internal struggle and not heroic in the broad sense, because I’m only correcting myself, but insofar as the weight comes from the attitudes of others, then yes, it’s a battle of wills.

I find myself in situations where I must go it alone quite often. In my agony I seek someone or something to blame. I’m honest enough, and aware enough, never to convict others entirely for my condition, since I can just as well see that a large part of my condition emanates from me. I would like it if everyone could just see what part of their problems emanate from themselves and what part are actually in the world outside of them. That would make the world a much better place. But that would drain people of all the energy which comes from assuming oneself to be perfect while it is all one’s neighbor who is at fault. It seems the energy which comes from the delusion is more important to the human race than the energy which might come from the truth. I wrestle with it myself. The fact that I’m even saying this means that I seek the truth. What gain is there in making a claim like this if not to be seen and known as someone who speaks the truth?

I get no accolades for talking like this. But I am on a quest for truth, and I want the people who know me to see it as I see it. A better strategy may suit me one day, but until I know all the truth it’s all I can do just to post a few thoughts here. When I get to the end of my quest, I may gain the ability to present my ideas stylistically instead of matter-of-factly.

I think my video game is a quest to present my ideas stylistically instead of in pure raw energy form like I do here. But when you’re in the midst of a quest you must sometimes emanate pure raw energy, because despite what people who have never gone on an adventure before like to delude themselves into thinking, it’s quite possible to reach moments for which there is no protocol, for which there is no right thing to do, and for which nothing the quester does will gain the approval of the smug ones who are not on the adventure themselves. For which there is no right answer. At this point the raw expression creates the reality, and defines the protocol, until something more elegant comes along to tame it.

Thus I must first be raw. That is the purpose of blog entries like this. To push into reality something which never before existed, or did exist, but with too faint an energy to have been detected by the creator of the new protocol. For example, so long as I remain unknown and with no effect on this culture, these energies will have to be reinvented by whoever finds himself uncomfortably in the same places. My blog currently has itself a very faint energy, at least for now. But the pushing into reality of the energy is not the same as its stylistic presentation, for which is reserved the art and craft of game making, or art in general if you’re not into video games.

Why am into video games? I’ve had many discussions on this blog about the subject, so many I’ll have a lot of links to post if I even do the research. But a less philosophical answer is that most men of my generation are into them. I’m into them because it’s what people of my generation are into – particularly the introverts.

Morality and Technology

I’ve been thinking about how fast the world has moved since the dawn of the internet age. John David Ebert, in the introduction to his book,The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake, says:

“This book chronicles the new living conditions which this shift is burning into the world all around us. Technology is in the process, arguably begun by the Japanese after World War II, of what Arnold Toynbee called an ‘etherealization,’ in which it is becoming ever more refined, subtle and luminous. It sends human thoughts racing around the world at the speed of light, leaving [other] technologies, which are primarily designed for moving physical bodies about through space, lumbering to catch up.

“It is a world, in short, that each day comes to resemble more and more a dream.

“Thus we are witnessing the transubstantiation of Western waking consciousness into a virtual dream world, the digital literalization of the Hindu cosmic vision of the world-as-dream, which we now possess the proper technology to create as a daily living ‘reality’.”

– pp.20-21

I think the reason we were willing to move so fast into this new age is because of the glaring benefits of access to knowledge. So much of what was previously “burning curiosity” has now been satisfied. But on the other side of the moral equation, we now have no excuses anymore for not acting in accordance with our knowledge. Information to which once only kings were privy is now accessible to kings and peasants alike. The idea was that kings are capable of moral reasoning beyond that of peasants. The peasants used to hide behind their ignorance to justify their ignorant actions. Perhaps it is their loss the most of all that they no longer have anything to hide behind.

We now live in a world where there is no excuse not to act with the moral reasoning of a king. But I believe the situation is so topsy-turvy that we will invent reasons, which will gain popularity because they satisfy the need to hide, of the “peasant side” of people’s nature. The falsehoods will be attractive precisely because they offer people who do not want to wear the crown of royal authority the chance not to, yet their falseness will be so glaring that people of greater conscience will hardly be able to bear seeing them juxtaposed with the truth. The only way out of this, for the people with greater conscience, is to realize how great the need is for peasants to have falsehoods to latch onto when truth is not on their side.

But this way out requires initiation. The society is in peril when those of greater conscience are mixed in indiscriminately with those who follow the more devilish angels. And indeed our society is in peril for just this reason, that there is no formal way in which those with a higher moral nature can be fished out of the pool and put to use on land, where their talents are sorely needed. We have fallen into a post-modernist fog, wherein every story is just another perspective, and no perspective is allowed to be better than the others.

From a technological point of view, things are not so bad, however. The most brilliant geniuses find their way to Silicon Valley and do their innovations, so long as they make no claims having to do with morality. Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” is the closest they get, but they don’t define evil, and it’s not assumed that knowing what’s evil and what isn’t might be a job equally as hard as developing a good search engine.

We have no way of understanding that some people are morally talented, that their discrimination in moral things is firstly the result of natural talent and second of an initiatory process, about which process our society has hardly any notion, because we downplay the importance of morality generally. Thus it strikes the person of this culture as absurd that one might need to go through an initiation in order to know the difference between right and wrong.

Our cultural genius is being put into technology. But it will have been a waste of time, if we can’t use it for good purposes. To use it for good purposes we need to know more about morality, which is something we actually know very little about. We are unconscious of the nature of morality. But at least that means there is an important frontier to explore, using the old-fashioned technique of adventure. There’s not “nothing to do,” in other words. Still battles to be fought, dragons to be slain, or, if it so happens, dragons to be saved and maidens to be slain.

Seven Planetary Metals

My cycle of daily posts has run its course. It was a good exercise, but I must return to a mode where I blog only when the inspiration strikes me.

My previous entry was a very good description of my situation. Therefore I would like to continue it by a refining thought. For some reason I think I have seven egos instead of just one. Seven planets, as it were. Traditional astronomoy was confined to the notion that there are only seven moving bodies in the sky, the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. The occasional hiccup in the system, such a shooting stars and comets, didn’t worry people too much, and so it was possible to base all of people’s thoughts around a system regarding those seven moving bodies. The bodies were each correlated with one of the seven metals – gold, silver, quicksilver, copper, iron, tin, lead.

I had talked about moving in space between planets. It seems to me that I can say I move between seven planets. It’s a number which congealed in my head and there is good historical basis for it, and it creates a more concrete image out of the original indefinite number of planets. To be a good citizen, in my world, is to ignore none of these “planets”. I will remind you of the dream in which I was the maintenance man for a seven-layer city/park. It’s a moral duty which is both hard to describe in purely logical terms and yet compelling and real nonetheless. It has been my fate to experience life on these terms.

What is the meaning of these planets? I only really have one scheme which explains them. You’ll recall in my last article on Human Intelligence I laid out the eightfold nature of all forms of consciousness, including both an Introverted and an Extraverted form of each of the four basic functions, Sensation, Intuition, Feeling/Valuing, and Thinking.

Now the human ego seems to attach to a single function and build a personality around it. Why the normal human ego cannot simply use any function at will without forming a moral alliance with one function against others is a very interesting question, but for the sake of my current argument you just have to accept that it’s true. Therefore the one function gets segregated from the other seven.

It seems obvious that these seven could be the basis for the appearance of the number seven in human dreams, fantasies, and prophetic visions. In my case, you’ll recall that I had an ego-shattering experience (fifteen years ago) at the age of twenty. In practical psychological terms, this would symbolize the detachment of my original alliance to my primary function (Introverted Intuition) and my ejection into “outer space” where I take up residence among the other seven planets. It is simply terribly convenient that there are seven moving bodies visible to the naked eye in the sky. This facilitated the psychological projection of the seven “alien” human functions onto the sky, where they were developed as important symbols throughout the process of history.