Unlicensed Psychology Episode 4 is up!

The topic: Extreme Introversion

Part One

Part Two

The psychology of the unconscious focuses on things we do and think without knowing that we’re doing and thinking them. Instead of making pat statements about the outer world, it cautions us to be mindful of the unconscious attitude we bring to the table. One of the oldest divides in these attitudes has gone by different names throughout the centuries. Without a theory of psychological types, each type feels compelled to insist on its unconscious philosophical standpoint, trying to impose it on everybody. In the twentieth century, Carl Jung promoted the terms “introvert” and “extravert” to describe a natural biological bias which leads people to favor one or the other side of the old divide. So he’s connecting the ideas of modern biology – that we come from the animal kingdom with ready-made packs of instincts – to  old philosophical arguments over the nature of the universe. Certain biological traits will favor one or the other philosophical schools regarding the nature of the universe.

It’s humbling to think how much of what we do could be instinctively driven, instead of the result of rational and reasonable conclusions from the conscious mind. The old argument between Materialists and Idealists is re-introduced as rooted in the biological bias of the individual. Obviously, it takes more awareness to be able to value more than one approach equally, so the real task is to seek greater consciousness – which will allow more than one theory to exist simultaneously. However, greater consciousness is still going to be an unpopular goal, because it’s more satisfying to be right than to be aware. Therefore it’s the individual’s task to remain vigilant about his or her own awareness, since there’s no way to guarantee that a group will do it for you.

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Core Substance, Part 2?

What is the core substance of the universe? I read my previous blog posts. It’s possible to argue that “Nature” is the core substance. This would be useful for me, because Nature can be defined as something which happens without effort. Effort is something people do to impose their will on what we might imagine to be the “Passive Substance” of the universe – which we might call “Nature”… but even Effort must come originally from Nature, which would make Nature the passive source of the Active Substance. Yet our understanding of free will and choice, and the ability to change the world around us through our choices, is a concept we struggle to separate from Nature.

One reason we might imagine we have free will is to gain credit amongst our human peers for our actions. Any good deed which was done without effort seems less deserving than the one which was the result of deliberate choice and effort. So it may look good in the eyes of other people if what we do is the result of free will instead of Nature. But that doesn’t explain why it would look good.

It looks good because effort itself seems to be a painful exertion of something on our part which isn’t “Natural”. In the Western culture, we have taken particular pride in our ability to choose the future of the outer world and to make it happen through effort. The world as it is is immoral and lazy – not that we think this consciously, but it has been a driving force behind many of our actions.

It seems the best possible circumstance if the painful effort required to accomplish things could somehow come naturally. Instead of “Hard Work versus Nature”, it would be preferable for what looks like Hard Work from the outside to just naturally happen on the inside.

My Hard Work disability, so to say – the characteristic which always seems to make it difficult for me to do Hard Work – is subjectively rooted for me in a feeling of too many choices. If somehow I knew of the One Right Thing to do, and I had no inner doubts, then it would be easy to do that and it would look from the outside like I was working hard when from the inside it felt totally natural. When I face more than one possibility, I find it extremely hard to choose. Each choice seems to lead to two more choices, and they all seem increasingly arbitrary – I have less and less confidence that I’m doing the Will of God and not just arbitrarily doing things for the sake of doing them.

I have seen other people take what seems like a much more practical approach. Not knowing which is the best route, and undaunted by the lack of knowledge, they just pick one, and then pick another one if that doesn’t work out. I can do this on a small scale, but I’ve never been able to do it on a large project. Thus I’ve never finished a large project. I’m not entirely ashamed of this, since I generally feel like I live honorably and according to my true nature.

If I can’t single out One True Thing to do, some part of me feels like it’s being tricked, forced into playing someone else’s game. It may be a neurotic tendency, not rooted in anything other than my own psyche, but who knows. In a way, therefore, the Hard Work mentioned above is really only hard when there is doubt about its necessity. When there is no doubt about its necessity it feels instead like Nature – and while it may be hard, there is nonetheless something about doing it which feels so natural that it is actually a pleasure. Pleasurable Hard Work ™.

I must say, though, that I personally have not yet found too much Pleasurable Hard Work ™. Everything I look at rather quickly becomes transparent and when I look underneath it to see what holds it up I don’t see solid rock but a house of toothpicks. When I think of working on a project which itself is supported by a house of toothpicks, I lose interest.

The answer to this dilemma is for me to find a rock and build something on it. But it has taken me years to even find a rock, let alone to build something on it. And I had to leave so many other things behind that I was bound to alienate the majority of people who wonder what I’m doing. So it’s nerve-wracking to have such a different idea about what is good and meaningful in this world.

The Core Substance of the Universe Part One?

When you uncover all the stuff on the surface of the universe, and you look at the core substance underneath it all, what do you see? I can understand the people who see essential goodness underneath it all. I can also appreciate people who see essential badness underneath it all. It’s pointless to use rational arguments to debate what the underlying nature of the core substance of the universe is. It’s a subjective question. The goal of asking the question is not to fall into a debate. Not for me anyway. But it can be very interesting to observe the people who see one or the other, goodness or badness. It’s interesting to look for common character traits in those who see essential badness, for example. Most of the time, I myself fall into this category.

Rationally, using logical argument, one can speculate a third type of substance, which Nietzsche would call “beyond good and evil”. But that is using reason, which is not the point. Using reason can help you conclude things, but they are usually the things you wanted to conclude anyway. The question of the underlying substance of the universe is largely irrational to begin with. Reason itself might try to find the underlying substance in quantum physics, or string theory, but I consider that a way to dodge the question rather than answer it. Generally speaking, people believe the universe to be composed of something essentially good or essentially bad. It’s not something you have to think about often in order to have a belief about.

Someone who proudly claims to be an atheist will typically “prove” how intelligent he or she is by saying that the universe has no inherent goodness or evil. They will typically then say that it consists entirely of matter, particles, and energy. This conveniently projects the issue into some thought process where they think they now have more control. If everything could be construed as some abstract thought process, then it would be subject merely to the reasoning mind. But when people do this, they always seem from my standpoint to want to control the difficulty posed by the question – is the universe essentially good or evil? If you can start talking about particles, then you don’t have to answer the question. Indeed, the stronger the person’s desire to talk about particles, the more threatening the question appears to be to them. Such a need to control the flow of the conversation, to reduce it to some abstract subject which is quite manageable, hints at a great underlying fear.

I can see why someone would not want to discuss the subject for social reasons. They may not want to appear impolite. Many church-going crowds, for example, preach so insistently that God is good – and hence that the universe is fundamentally good – that a person who grew up around such crowds might be quite scared to raise the issue with anyone. They might not realize that the opposing view is actually acceptable in many other places. Or a person may simply not want to engage in serious discussion at all, because they are not temperamentally inclined, or they don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun by raising the issue right here and now. But assuming that it is acceptable to believe either one, that the core substance of reality is good, or it’s not, two questions arise: 1) What are the common personality and behavioral characteristics of the people in each group? And 2) What is the inner psychology – the thought processes, feelings, and beliefs – of the people in each group?

Let’s also address the issue of consciousness, awareness, and consideration of the topic. It is said that “ignorance is bliss”. Perhaps it is, but perhaps not. If someone is constantly asking what the meaning of life is, it may be because they are unhappy, that they generally feel that the ultimate substance of the universe is evil or bad. Therefore, the fact that they are even in the search for answers means that they are suffering. It would make sense, therefore, to conclude that the bulk of people who seek the answer to the nature of the universe are unhappy. If there is any bliss to be gotten from the search itself, then certainly we can expect happy people to seek the answer. But if the search is actually hard, only people who are already unhappy will bother with it. Nonetheless, it is another question: 1) How are the people who consider the universe good versus bad distributed over the scale of how much time they spend thinking about the question? The answer could yield an indication of just how painful the process of asking the question is. Anyway, Carl Jung likes to put pairs of opposites on crosses, and I will do the same. (Sorry about the appearance! Couldn’t get it to line up right.)


   Don't Think Too Much About It
            ^
Is Good <---+---> Is Bad   (The Universe)
           v
        Think a Lot About It

To understand this cross is to understand how hard it is to think, generally speaking. If not thinking is generally more pleasurable, you can expect the most dots (one dot per person) to appear in the upper left and lower right quadrants. If more dots appeared in the upper right and lower left quadrants, then ignorance is not in fact bliss! (More accurately, thinking, regardless of its actual relation to truth, since thinking can lead to falsehood as well as truth.) But if the unhappiness precedes the process of thinking, and the process of thinking leads to greater awareness, then it wasn’t ignorance per se which was bliss. Rather, continued unhappiness indicates the failure of thinking to succeed where ignorance has failed. Thinking was merely a backup plan for an already unhappy person. But it’s really easy to confuse the two. In other words, just because thinking often fails doesn’t mean ignorance was bliss.

Note: The following section on Time is probably better suited for another blog post.

It’s quite possible that for any given person, the Universe is Good sometimes, and Bad other times. In this case the core substance of the Universe is time dependent, depending on one’s mood, more or less. This is putting the idea of Time above that of the core substance of the Universe – the Universe does not include time. Rather, time is its own substance, and the Universe is subject to it. If we are to elevate time to such an important status, we must immediately acknowledge, so as not to lose sight of the greater thought, that our time is limited, that we all die. Therefore, it can be quite common to see time as the enemy. But to think through this clearly, we must assume it is a neutral substance, to which the Universe itself is subject. But that neutral substance is nonetheless somehow evil. If how we feel about the Universe depends on what time it is, then there is a lack of control, which feels bad. For the goodness of the Universe to be time dependent seems bad somehow. We can’t stop the flow of time. We are slaves to time. Maybe there is a way to understand it the other way, but I’m missing it at the moment. Perhaps the Universe is good more often than it is bad, which would be a net positive. I just feel that it’s bad for the true nature of the Universe to be merely a slave to what time it is. I think of Time as less important than the core substance of the Universe, but I can’t articulate why at the moment.

Symbolic Blog Post Number 2,323

I once again feel obligated to post here. Half of my obligation comes from sheer logical deduction that I ought to post, and because it is so forced I can’t guarantee that that half will really be fun to read. The reason I push myself to post anyway is because it serves as a symbol to me that I still have a pulse and possess consciousness. So posting serves a symbolic function for me, which is why I will force myself to publish whatever I write… because I wrote it, and that means that I am still alive, if not exactly kicking.

The other half is probably legitimate energy for the specific purpose of writing, which suggests to me that that half will actually be quite good and interesting.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he said my blog posts and videos lacked the sense that I was conveying the natural everyday flow of my life, and that they were consequently hard to relate to. I agree, but I don’t know if I’m capable of changing that. To some degree it’s refreshing to think that when I blog and make videos, it’s essentially an alternative to suicide. When looked at from that perspective, it doesn’t really matter if they aren’t all that popular or well-written or performed. Their existence is proof of my existence, which appears to be all I am capable of at this time.

There’s a saying in a book called the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz from the 1600s which says, “Mysteries profaned and made public fade and lose their grace. Therefore cast not pearls before swine nor make a bed of roses for an ass.” I certainly feel that this idea – that secrets made public fade and lose their grace – affects my willingness to publish more frequently about my life. I’m not trying to say that I have some big secrets I’m keeping from the world. But I often feel subjectively like my existence is too fragile to just be putting out there all the time. I’m extremely introverted by nature. Perhaps I simply don’t feel like I could withstand people’s criticisms of me by writing about myself more than I do.

I’m not making a huge amount of progress in my life. Since my last post I haven’t gotten a job, which would seem to be where I had been aiming. On the social ladder that puts me below someone who works at McDonald’s, I suppose. Arguably I’ve been there the whole time. It would be nice, however, to solve the problem which jobs solve, which is that I have no money. In other words, I guess I don’t need to be high on the social ladder so long as I survive somehow. Yet at the same time, it almost completely rules out having a mate or a partner, which I’ve finally been realizing is a big part of the price I pay for not working. While I’m not completely alien to having relationships and sex, I don’t believe I’ve ever been on a “date”. I only think about this when other people talk about their experiences in the dating scene for one reason or another. All of my relationships I sort of stumbled into. But to be blunt I’m just not dating material.

I seem to have side-tracked onto the topic of romantic love. In our soceity, the social bonds which used to hold village and tribe together have virtually vanished. The “cure” for this problem is traditionally found in the idea of romantic love. The idea has become so powerful that increasingly it’s not even considered important that the two people be a man and a woman, just that it’s two people. These two people solve each other’s problems, more-or-less, and as a unit they take on the world, so to say. Romantic love is great, in theory, but for cases like mine, the years pass without any sense that it’s any closer than it ever was. This forces any person who intends to go on living to make a team with his or her own self. The totality of the romantic love relationship must happen within the individual instead of with another person. Because individuals have such shortcomings, as I do, marrying oneself can feel somewhat like being crucified. But that is the course I have taken and am probably destined for.

I guess there are many single people who do not consider their life to be akin to crucifixion. I do believe, however, that the power of romantic love as an icon and a symbol in our culture rivals, if not surpasses, that of the Christian cross. Each person who fails in their efforts to make a life based on romantic love must find ways to combat the loneliness. Some might have loving parents, others a loving church or secular community. Others success in business or other careers. A woman can just go out and get a sperm donor, for crying out loud. But the mythos, the power, the legend of romantic love is so strong that most people must confront it one way or another. For me, it’s perhaps even harder since I have no other defenses mentioned above – no church, no job, no career, no success. I personally have found my only choice is to marry myself, which has a psychological meaning if not a legal one. To marry myself means to acknowledge that I have a powerful unconscious side, which can have its own opinions and intentions for me, and to which I must learn to yield in the way a man often learns to yield to his wife’s or other partner’s irrational wishes.

I often wish my “inner wife” – my soul, my “anima”, as Jung says – would give me more direction and advice. I wait long periods, it seems, before she becomes willing to once again give me some indication of what she wants. If I found an outer person who could serve the function of romantic love and create a situation where I could listen to her instead, I wouldn’t mind, but I am always alone, and as such must rely on the advice of the inner woman, when I can get it.

I’ve spoken before about the dream in which I lived on the fourth floor of a seven-layer city and a woman comes to my door saying she has my baby. This is a perfect example of my inner wife giving me guidance. I need to take care of this baby. That was almost ten years ago. She’s never come to me again in such a strong form. In one dream, I had to hide two dead bodies from the cops, one of a woman and one of a small child. They were part of my experiments, as if I were Dr. Frankenstein or something. Anyway, I knew the cops would never understand, so I needed to dig up the bodies from one place and move them somewhere else. If the woman in this dream were my “wife”, you can imagine what she and the baby had been through. So I struggle to keep alive my connection to the inner wife. Ideally my experiments would bring her back to life in a renewed and higher form. I felt no guilt whatsoever in the dream at having to deal with these dead and preserved people. It was a practical matter of keeping my procedures away from the cops whom I knew would never understand. Anyway, that’s how my anima, my inner wife, talks to me. I hope she’ll talk to me soon again. It’s so good having clear idea what I am here for and how I need to proceed, and there’s nothing like a powerful dream when one is stuck.

If I don’t get unstuck, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on, relying on whatever little motivation comes to me haphazardly. As I said before, half of the motivation for this blog entry was the feeling that I really had something to say; the other half was to produce a symbol of my continued existence.