A Little Passage on the Nature of the Mother

The mother forgives a person his trespasses, that is, it allows him to ignore his natural weaknesses so that he can promote his strengths. This can be a problem if the person abuses this opportunity and allows others to take up the slack of what are properly his own weaknesses. But sometimes it is the best thing that can happen, since the development of a person’s strength may break new ground and on this new ground afford him new opportunities not available on the original ground. For example, if a person is able to escape his home situation and go to a college (alma mater, “nourishing mother”) which grants him tools for social and financial independence, he may later revisit more effectively unhealed wounds deriving from his weaknesses. That did not happen with me. I have ever been forced to solve the problems issuing from my weaknesses right at the place they issued, because I had no mother who could play the forgiving role which would allow me to escape them until I was strong enough to deal with them in a not-all-consuming and/or non-self-destructive way.

Some solace can be found in works like the biblical Book of Job and the great Carl Jung’s Answer to Job, which go to great lengths to rationalize the meaning of human suffering. When God admits in chapter 2 that Satan persuaded him to let him attack Job “for no reason at all”, it gets to the core of what it’s like to have either no mother, or a horrible one.

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Question About Unconditional Love and Self-Acceptance

My friend was wondering about the following question in an email, and she liked my answer so much that I decided to post it here too:

Q: I’ve been thinking a lot about unconditional love and acceptance of self. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Well I guess acceptance of self depends on self-awareness first. You can’t accept what you’re not aware of. Self-awareness is stifled both by a lack of feedback and a lack of introspection. A baby learns what a person is by watching other people. Eventually it realizes that it is one of those things it sees walking around and talking. Therefore people are not as aware of themselves as they are of the people around them. What I always strive for is self-awareness, but that is extremely hard. I’ve invested years of my life just trying to gain an adequate amount of self-awareness.

Another thing to think about are the psyche’s self-promoting protective barriers. All beliefs in (a loving) God are such protections. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t live in reality, but must erect defenses which allow them to love themselves. Obviously these barriers can be damaging, because they blind the person from reality, allowing them to hurt other people in the process. But from this point of view, very few people can actually love themselves – most have to lie to themselves instead. So is it ethical to lie to oneself and thereby gain the self-confidence which comes from believing false things? Or is it better to have the life force sucked out of you by confronting the truth? It’s a choice each individual has to make (I basically chose the latter).

The more others accept you, the less self-accepting you have to do. Therefore self-acceptance is most necessary when no one else accepts you. But how to do it without holding any delusions?

One of the best techniques I’ve found is to acquire some secret knowledge. Secret knowledge is so valuable that most people harbor secrets that aren’t even true. The self-esteem value of having a secret is far more important than whether it is true or not. Hence all the talk about the Illuminati and other conspiracy theories. But these are delusions. Other secret knowledge is actually true, and this kind can give you a legitimate boost to your self esteem. If you gain secret knowledge, it can help a lot. That’s how I get a lot of my self-esteem.

But beyond that, what can you do?

Well, it’s easy to say “Find where you belong!”, but anyone’s who’s done that probably has enough self-love. For a lot of people, they don’t belong anywhere. And then what? We could take the opposite approach and make a list of all the things which prevent you from killing yourself. In other words, stare death straight in the face. People don’t want to do this because maybe their reasons for living will turn out to be delusions. But if you’re really want to find self-love, you could make a commitment to killing yourself if you can’t find things which really and truly keep you from doing so. In other words, forget what anyone else says about why you should live, and confront the matter on your own. You will find self-love or die trying! Honestly, that’s probably the best way to approach the topic, because now it’s just between you and you. You want self-love? That’s how you find it.

Okay, let’s say you’ve chosen to live. Now you have your baseline. Now we want more things. Maybe we can’t get them, but as long as we’re alive, we might as well try. What does love get you here? It seems to me that more love equals more confidence, hence greater risk-taking and better chances of reward. But there is so much competition for the rewards of life. Why would anyone love you who was competing with you? Can we expect people to love us when we are competing with them? No. Therefore you can only expect love from people outside the areas you are competing with them for. Maybe you can get it, but maybe not. Obviously self-love is good when there’s no other source. But when you are competing, people will have less compassion for you, because they will not see you as needy or desperate, so why should they love you? Only unusually strong people will be able to love someone who doesn’t help them directly.

Unconditional love is very rare indeed. Most people need to spend all their time on their own needs. To love something unconditionally means to get outside oneself. It’s impractical. Life is more of a barter system, where people use each other rather than love each other. In the case of genetic kin, there is a kind of genetic love which is sometimes unconditional, but only if it succeeds in pushing the relation’s ego out of the way.

I think the desire for unconditional love is to alleviate guilt. The unloved is wondering what they did or could have done to cause the undesired outcome. How can someone be convinced that there was nothing they could have done? If they’ve received the shadow-projection of a close relation, then that relation received a boost of confidence, at the cost of the target’s being overwhelmed with doubt. Sometimes that’s the most important thing for someone to realize, the key to alleviating unbearable guilt. On the other hand, maybe that someone is guilty. Did their mother love them so much that they expect to be loved even while oppressing their rivals?

Let’s not look for unconditional love. What I seek is unconditional fairness, that I will not be blamed – nor loved – for that which I did not do. And I seek wisdom, so that I can know whether what I do ought to be blamed or loved. And patience, of course, for when what is blamed ought to be loved instead, and vice versa.

Recent Thoughts About the Cross, Powerlessness, and Obscurity

I haven’t put much on my blog recently. The main metaphor for how I feel is “pinned to a cross on a hot day”. One of the main draws of Christianity is the imagination of what it’s like to be pinned to a cross. On the one hand, you’re being made an example of by the ruling power. On the other hand there was so much life left to live, so much potential and possibility for this body, which is cut dramatically short by the public’s need to make examples of people. Part public wrath, part ruling power enforcing domestic order – who knows how much of Jesus’s punishment was due to which… But there is this silencing of any future wisdom which might have come out of the crucified man. Cutting off of life.

But I have my life, so where’s the comparison? My empire is internal. The power which stifles me is my own conscience. I’m supposed to exercise free speech – I have nothing else to exercise. I have no credentials, no family responsibility, no career. I should be making public statements. But I am stuck on a cross. I don’t know how to make public statements. Every once in a while I post to my blog. Even confessing that I’m stuck is a public statement. Yet I struggle even with how to confess. Even making a public statement such as this tears at me. I’m making it, so I convince myself it’s good. I need to say something, because I don’t want all my thoughts and feelings to go to waste in obscurity.

I know that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings which someone would appreciate. I want them to coalesce. There are no rules to life. Maybe I’ll try to write my book again, or another book. All people suggest action. My instincts do not suggest action. I imagine a great crowd of critics, all of whom suggest doing something, instead of nothing. Doing nothing is the sin. Jesus did nothing on his cross. That’s the image, a person who can’t do anything. Jesus did, however, have the advantage of being observed. I am doing nothing in complete obscurity.

Why do I feel like the power of an Empire restricts me from doing things? That, and the disdain of unseen critics. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it? The horizontal and the vertical beams. Does anybody want anything? Whatever I want, I am cut off from it by learned helplessness. People tell me to do what I want. I don’t want anything. I want other people to want things. I can get what I want if I can give them what they want. But nobody wants anything.

I do want things. I want to be able to assemble a book, for example. Right now, I’m just crucified, so I post to my blog as if that’s some kind of substitute for accomplishing what I really want. Good enough. I reread what I wrote and feel like I’ve said something. This whole thing came out of a need to say something. To serve the dual function of saying something and of helping myself by confessing my helplessness.

I’m not that helpless. I’m just a young man wondering if by the time I accomplish anything I’ll be too old to reap the rewards for it.

My plan rests on, among other things, overcoming my fear of obscurity. To even admit that I have such a fear indicates a partial overcoming of it. Not being afraid of being obscure means that I can act regardless of whether anyone cares what I do. Sadly, I think this is a needed accomplishment, expressing disdain for anybody who thinks their opinion of me matters to me. Not fearing obscurity means not caring what people think, which may itself lead to obscurity, but it can also lead to admiration, since people admire independence. What’s hard is that the very loving affection one so desperately craves is precisely what one has to stop caring about. And I must understand the degree to which I crave others’ affection before I can let go of it. I can’t proceed silently, as if I am immune to their opinions. But the craving lessens as soon as its full power is recognized. I am finally becoming aware of all the ways flattery and affection can reward a person, which paradoxically allows me to stop caring about them so much.

Video: God: Lazy or OCD???

Here is the link: http://youtu.be/tEMl9jO_CP0

I’m definitely still experimenting with styles. In this case I have decided to post the exact transcript here. It would be nice to find a way to have what’s said on the video and the text on my blog complement each other instead of being the exact same thing, but I’m starting with a verbatim copy.

I wanted to make a video on something I just thought of, which is why God is lazy. Proof of why God is lazy. I guess it’s somewhat controversial to say that, but here’s the thing. If God did exist and he had the power to create the universe, and he had a great conscience, a very good Will, and the power to apply that Will, why would he make a bunch of rules which were always obeyed in the universe, unless he was too lazy to be bothered with thinking of new rules?

I’m talking about the laws of physics here.

God is lazy because It, or He, uses the same rules all the time for physical reality, and can’t be bothered to use new ones. For example, instead of making something interesting happen to a given asteroid, it is allowed to float for hundreds of millions of years in the same stupid orbit.

But what do I mean when I say ‘lazy’? Is lazy always such a bad thing? How do I distinguish laziness from apathy, in which God just doesn’t care? Maybe laziness is where you don’t work hard even if you do care, whereas apathy is where you don’t work hard, but only on the things that you don’t care about.

In that case, I can’t say that God is completely lazy, because He’s not lazy in all of the areas concerned. After all, when it comes to actually executing the rules, He’s quite the opposite of lazy. Unlike a human being who’s trying to assemble an interesting video, the god who executes the laws of nature never fails to execute them with the utmost perfection. This God does the exact same things to all particles, at all times, so completely thoroughly that He is more the type you would accuse of obsessive compulsive disorder rather than laziness.

And yet he also seems lazy – why put so much effort into obeying such a small set of physical laws instead of coming up with new ones to suit the needs of the situation? It appears that either He doesn’t have the creative capacity to imagine news laws, or that He simply lacks the willpower to do so. Either way, it would appear that God is extremely OCD when applying the laws, and extremely lazy when it comes to creating new ones.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not the kind of person who will sit around and allow God to know the answer while I remain in the dark. When I ask a question, I never end it with, “Well, that’s something that only God can know. Why would I ask it if I was willing to accept that something I can hardly see would know the answer. Anyway, back to the topic.

So why does God seem so unconcerned with the rules themselves, and yet, so obsessive with the application of the rules?

It’s almost seems as if God has enslaved himself to his own rules! It is as if the God who executes the laws of nature committed some mortal sin ealry on in His divine career, and was expelled from the garden of Eden… or whatever the “God” version of the garden of Eden is, and is now forced to apply these rules for all eternity, in exactly the same way. I mean, any human who was forced to obey such a small set of rules over such a long period of time and over such a vast area would certainly feel he had been enslaved by the cruelest of masters.

The sheer amount of disdain exhibited by the creator [the lazy creator] of the rules for whatever God was subsequently forced to enact them [for all eternity], to my mind lends plausibility to someone who is inclined to believe in polytheism. The evident nonchalance with which the rules were created compared to the astounding diligence with which they were subsequently executed suggests two different Gods, the lazy one and the OCD one. The contrast between these two gods is so stark that the only reason I am initially inclined to consider them as one God is because of the history of monotheism and the common cultural background of the modern times. However, if I do choose to consider both of these gods as the same god, and I amalgamate the total laziness compared to the total OCD-ness, then I guess I end up a little bit in the middle. In other words, it would appear God is, in totality, neither completely lazy nor completely OCD.

However, I can’t avoid the feeling that, in merging these two gods, I am simply papering over what is genuinely such a great difference that polytheism – the idea of two Gods – is just as easily plausible as monotheism.

A Passage from Hume’s A Treatise on Human Nature

I haven’t spent a huge amount of time reading the famous Scottish philosopher David Hume, but I might start. I was briefly poring over his A Treatise on Human Nature in the Barnes & Noble in Philadelphia (thank Goodness for the survival of this type of bookstore!) and I found this passage near the end of “Book One”. I find it very moving and can strongly relate. This isn’t mere “philosophy” in the modern academic sense – it’s far too human for that:

But before I launch out into those immense depths of philosophy, which lie before me, I find myself inclined to stop a moment in my present station, and to ponder that voyage, which I have undertaken, and which undoubtedly requires the utmost art and industry to be brought to a happy conclusion. Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances. My memory of past errors and perplexities, makes me diffident for the future. The wretched condition, weakness, and disorder of the faculties, I must employ in my enquiries, encrease my apprehensions. And the impossibility of amending or correcting these faculties, reduces me almost to despair, and makes me resolve to perish on the barren rock, on which I am at present, rather than venture myself upon that boundless ocean, which runs out into immensity. This sudden view of my danger strikes me with melancholy; and as it is usual for that passion, above all others, to indulge itself; I cannot forbear feeding my despair, with all those desponding reflections, which the present subject furnishes me with in such abundance.

I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am placed in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expelled all human commerce, and left utterly abandoned and disconsolate. Fain would I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have exposed myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declared my disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surprized, if they should express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; though such is my weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in my reasoning.

How I Medicate Myself

I am one of the founders of a local “radical mental health” group. Its facebook page is:

https://www.facebook.com/PhiladelphiaRadicalMentalHealthCollective

Each meeting we do presentations and for my own presentation recently I wrote these words. (If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted it’s because I’m putting my writing energy into my book.):

So my history. I have such a strong individuality that I wasn’t able to see eye to eye with any psychiatrists that I met. I took a bunch of random drugs that they had for me, but eventually it became evident that they weren’t able to understand my basic human nature – my soul. The development of my soul was the most important thing to me, and I decided that the medical establishment could not help me in this area. By focusing on the brain, they missed the importance of the soul.

So I left them, cutting them off wholesale from participation in my road of trials.

But that didn’t mean that there was nothing which could be improved in my physical condition, just that the doctors were not going to be the ones to do it. For a few years I just lived with my body “au natural”. I am an intellectual by nature, not inclined to pay much attention to the “mind-body” connection, as it were. But living purely based on feeding myself whatever appealed to me and was affordable led me to a situation where I was somewhat desperate. It turns out my body is more fragile than I wanted to admit. I felt that the continued pursuit of my soul’s journey was in danger, if I could not find some way to enhance my mental and physical strength and stamina. There were too many problems, and they were invading me too quickly. So I went to a health food store and bought a big book of the descriptions of ailments and their recommended natural food cures.

I was able to improve my mental and physical condition quite dramatically over time through trial and error of different foods and supplements. The first big – no, huge victory was the discovery of the power of the so-called omega-3 fatty acids. In plant form the best source is cold flaxseed oil. These omega-3’s are a little fragile and preserve best when kept cold. But the most efficient way to get omega-3 acids is fish oil. I sometimes wonder how this oil is taken from the fish in order to deliver it in little pills or what have you. But these oils ended up invigorating my mind – these acids are used by the tissue in the brain, among other things. My understanding is that many studies show a variety of benefits, not just mental, from taking fish oil. These oils work best in cold temperatures, and it is because they are so liquid that they don’t freeze – and I imagine that this looseness is how they work in the brain too, by “loosening it up” and greasing it somehow. Anyway, Omega-3 oils have been studied scientifically, but since there is no way to patent them, I’m sure they are not as well promoted as the chemicals with which the giant pharmaceutical companies stand to make billions of dollars. But they improved my mental condition far more quickly and lastingly than any drug I was ever given by a doctor. I had always had a low energy level, and it took a lot of effort for me to move my body. But these oils help bridge the gap between my natural energy level and that of a “normal” person. I felt the level of energy a normal person must feel, possibly for the first time, when I took fish oil.

There is another nutrient which the brain uses, or so I hear, called phosphatides. They are available – maybe by prescription, I’m not sure – as pills, and they are moderately expensive. It turns out my mother was taking these pills for a while, and they boosted her mental energy level. Now many traits are passed on genetically, and it doesn’t surprise me that when I was able to consume more phosphatides, my energy level went up as well. Yet I was able to find this nutrient in a cheaper form. There is something in certain plants called lecithin, and it can be processed out of the plants by some means, although I don’t know exactly how. Anyway, the most commonly available type of lecithin comes from soybeans and is called soy lecithin. It can be bought in liquid form, but for me the best way is in a large bottle full of these little yellow granules. This lecithin contains a lot of phosphatides. It is often found in chocolate bars because it enhances the flavor and texture and tastes a little bit like butter. There is a kind of chemical substance called an emulsifier whose purpose is to dissolve oil-based chemicals in water-based chemicals, and lecithin is one of these. When I sprinkle a little lecithin on some peanut butter, for example, it both enhances the flavor of the peanut butter and makes it digest more easily. So it’s fun to experiment and see what works.

One difficulty so-called bipolar people commonly have is being excessively agitated, affecting their ability to concentrate and to sleep. I never thought of myself as bipolar insofar as it is thought of as a bunch of strange moods which just take over a person completely randomly. But I do have a sensitive nervous system, and over time I was able to identify many subtle details about how I am affected by my environment. Perhaps the most fascinating is that I have a form of photosensitive epilepsy which was never diagnosed. Some kinds of seizures are difficult to spot from outside. There is a kind of seizure called an absence seizure in which a person’s consciousness is partially disrupted, but it can only be detected from outside by careful observation. I get these when I encounter many various forms of flashing lights. It’s also important to note that there are many speculations about the links between epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and several of the drugs used to treat epilepsy are also used for bipolar disorder.

Anyway, I’ve found some cheap, over-the-counter nutrients which help me focus and get to sleep very well. For a long time, I’ve been taking a combination Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc. I thought it would be good to take three nutrients instead of one, but recently I’ve bought just Magnesium by itself. Now these are simple chemical elements, which might remind people of Lithium, another simple chemical elements. But Lithium is toxic and will destroy your kidneys if you’re not careful. Magnesium is another simple chemical element, but it is cheaper, more abundant, and less toxic, and I’ve found it works like a charm to help me sleep. When has your psychiatrist ever recommended this cheap, non-toxic alternative to the very harmful other chemicals they constantly peddle? I find the whole thing pretty frustrating. If it can’t be used to show you how special they are as doctors, then they will rarely recommend it, which to me demonstrates nothing more than the sorry state of the modern mental health profession. Anyway, so far I’ve found Magnesium works great for calming me down.

Another thing which helps calm down is this amino acid called taurine. It turns out that this nutrient is used, along with caffeine, in energy drinks, of all things. I don’t know why. It is a common amino acid, and the body will produce it naturally from other acids if it can’t find enough of it. Yet it does seem to work for reducing my sensitivity to light and other things which tend to cause little seizures in me. It is just one of many types of supplements which can be bought over-the-counter which can, with a little trial and error, probably do just as good a job, if not better, than any of the fancy budget-busting prescription pills your psychiatrists is more-than-eager to push down your throat.

I also take a multi-vitamin, and an extra B-vitamin supplement, which both seem to help with my energy level.

Other things I learned about my physical body assist me in keeping myself energetic and healthy. For example, after much trial and speculation, I believe I have a mild case of fructose intolerance, which is a somewhat rare inability to process the simple sugar fructose. Also, I’m hypoglycemic, and I need a certain minimum amount of fiber in my food in order to be able to digest it easily. Thus I must add a fiber supplement in order to easily digest white rice, or french fries, or donuts, for example, although I generally just avoid these things for convenience’s sake.

I have two points. One is that psychiatrists will not generally help you find what is easy and affordable for you to take, because their professional pride – all those years of expensive training and an elitist medical culture – makes them balk at the notion that someone might not actually need those treatments which only they can legally provide. That most people can do just as well without any of their prescriptions precipitates in their psyches an existential crisis which most of them have not the courage to confront, and they instead take it out on their patients by forming a sort of devil’s pact with the pharmaceutical companies, which are only too ready to comply by fabricating what the doctor’s must always tout as the latest and most modern wonder drugs.

My second point is that the physiology, not to mention the psychology, of each person is different. Thus what works for me might not work for you. But there are a zillion things to try. All you need is a scientific mind, a willingness to experiment, and the courage to believe that you don’t need any sort of degree in the mental health in order to know what works for you and what to leave on the shelf. In fact, I left establishment mental health on the shelf many years ago, so to speak, and I feel pretty good about it.

Essay on the Anima and Animus

This article is in response to a specific request, made by the sponsor of the previous article. You too can sponsor articles on this blog! Just name an amount and a topic! Everybody wins!

One of the old interpretations of the story of Adam and Eve was that Adam was hermaphroditic before his ribbed got pulled out to make Eve. The Original Man was either genderless, or was both genders at once.

In many creation stories, one can easily see a parallel to the development of human consciousness. In the womb and with newborn infants, the sex differences are barely present in the personality.

Gender is one of nature’s most important distinctions. Most species reproduce sexually, and therefore require division of the species into males and females. Carl Jung’s psychology is very focused on what might be called the “Archetype of Wholeness”. This archetype does not distinguish between Male and Female, but like the Original Man contains both. By declaring that individuals have access to the Archetype of Wholeness, it is implicit that this archetype supersedes Masculinity and Femininity both.

I heard a joke which ran: A man finds a bottle on the beach and rubs it and a Genie pops out. The Genie says he can grant the man one wish in return for setting him free. The man says he has always wanted to be able to drive to Hawaii from California and asks for a road between the two to be built. The Genie complains about the technical difficulties of such a project, and asks the man if he could wish for something else. The man says okay, that he has never really understood women, and that if he could just understand women his wish would be satisfied. The Genie says, “Do you want that highway with two lanes, or four?”

The implication of this joke is that the nature of femininity is utterly inaccessible to a man. This works pretty well so long as the gender roles in a society are rather clearly defined. But in the modern world that couldn’t be further from the case. Our society is running along the motto started by Thomas Jefferson, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal.”

If our society is moving towards the equality of all people, men and women alike, the joke above about the Genie will start to seem out of place.

In trying to understand gender roles, there are two sources of information, Nature and Society. Both Nature and Society play critical roles in creating what we think of as a “Man” or “Woman”. The modern world has discovered a distaste for any sort of legal separation between what men and women are allowed to do. Thus, our Society is rebelling against its own traditional ideas of men and women. Nature does not give in to fads so easily, and the chemical hormones which nature pours into the genders continue to affect their behavior in well-known ways. However, modern science’s newfound mastery of those chemicals allows people who don’t identify with the genders nature gave them to switch according to their individual feelings of what gender they “really” are. The process isn’t perfect, though, especially when it comes to anatomical changes. But the psychological results of hormone treatments are pretty effective.

Still, it is very common for someone invest a huge part of their identity into their gender. They do this both at the bidding of Nature – by means of her powerful hormones and the way she constructs the physical body – and of Society, which despite the modern tendency to neutralize the sex differences, still has many ideas about what is right and wrong for Men and Women.

Since the pull of gender identity is so strong, a conflict arises when the Archetype of Wholeness comes into play. For some people, the development of only a few parts of their personality becomes a source of great depression. Society tends to encourage a person to develop his areas of strength but to ignore his areas of weakness. One’s areas of strength are more quickly noticed and more quickly rewarded. In order to survive, a person will normally abandon the development of her areas of weakness. These take longer to develop and tend to go unnoticed or, being noticed, are bullied into submission by people who are jealous of competition in their areas of strength.

The more parts of a person which are bullied into submission, the more work it will take later on when the person’s attention turns toward the Archetype of Wholeness instead of toward the specific field(s) they have mastered in their early years.

The Jungian concepts of the Anima and the Animus – in Latin, the “Soul” and the “Spirit” respectively – are descriptions of natural tendencies Carl Jung noticed in people’s dreams, fantasies, and visions. For men, he noticed that the Archetype of Wholeness was often associated with the figure of a woman or women – which he called the Anima, and vice versa in the case of the Animus. In a man’s dream, a woman may show the way to a new destination, or represent a missing piece of a larger puzzle. This indicates that the man’s ego is very attached to his idea of “Manhood”, and that the Archetype of Wholeness has run into a conflict with that idea.

It’s important to remember that gender roles are reinforced not just by an individual’s idea of himself, but by those around him as well. Thus, the role of “Man” may be thrust upon someone by his wife, his children, his work partners, etc. Thus, it’s not easy to instantly divest oneself of one’s gender identity even if one has some understanding of the phenomenon.

In order to access the less developed parts of the man or woman in question, the Archetype of Wholeness will assume the form of the opposite gender, in his or her dreams, for example. When it does, Jung called it the Anima or Animus. In order to grow and adapt, the person must increase his or her conscious awareness of the nature of the identities he or she has unconsciously assumed. The relationship he or she has to both sexes is usually a very powerful influence on his or her expectations, but in order to grow, those expectations need to change.

The power of the Anima and Animus speaks to the power of the gender identities given to us by Nature and Society both. Sometimes gender becomes the primary point of difficulty, at which point the figures in one’s dreams will have pronounced gender roles. In the end, the Archetype of Wholeness is really more powerful than the “Archetype of the Genders”, and the symbol of Wholeness can appear in many more forms besides simply Men and Women – Crystals, Snakes, Rocks, Cities, Circles, Rainbows, Butterflies. But when the Archetypes of Gender appear, they must be encountered with full seriousness. All the archetypes are like Gods and one must treat them as such, or face the consequences.

$10 Blog

If somebody offered you ten dollars to write a blog entry on a topic of your choice, would you do it?

The short answer in my case is yes. I have not been a writer for all that long, but I understand that the internet age has come as a hit to professional writers. A professional writer of 30 years ago may have balked at the paltry fee of ten dollars for a piece of his work, but I am neither a professional writer, nor is it 30 years ago. At this point it would be a boost to my ego to make any money from writing. Indeed, it would be such a boost to my ego that I would undergo much self-scrutiny. Will I disappoint the client? Am I worth it?

When I consider the fact that I receive Social Security Disability, Food Stamps, and Medicare, that if it weren’t for these programs I would not have my own place to live and would be begging for food, it pleases me to consider that the government is not giving me handouts. Rather, it’s actually my employer. I can buy into this notion. When I write a blog entry, make a video, or write my book, I’m actually working for the government.

In the so-called developed world, most countries will have some means of keeping people such as me off of the streets. In the so-called developing countries, the old rules of anything-goes, survival-of-the-fittest reign. The wealthy nations feel the need to flaunt their wealth through programs designed to keep their citizens from starving and having no healthcare, and the like. Before one decides too quickly in favor of the developed world, one must bear in mind the evidence that wealthy countries are able to acquire and sustain their wealth only by restricting the development of the poor countries, that they might keep the cost of raw materials low, for example.

Nonetheless, the competition for moral character among the developed nations leads them to create programs which, as I said, keep people like me from having to beg for food, shelter, etc. I think that’s the best way to understand why the nations behave like they do. A given country doesn’t want to be the only one amongst its peers letting its people starve. Therefore, it uses its treasury to pay for programs preventing this. Or, to prove its greater wealth, gives them even more benefits.

I don’t mean to imply that desire to look good in comparison to neighboring countries (or states) is the only motivation for setting up social welfare programs – but considering that the program is not designed to benefit anyone outside the country, that as far as any given national or state welfare program is concerned, the people just outside the border can go rot in hell, it does seem clear that the benefits are designed to make the country look good rather than to help humanity in the general sense.

That, however, is only the beginning of a discussion which I will revisit eventually. I need to work my way back to the ten dollars which I received in advance for this blog post. 

The way I can justify receiving food stamps, disability money, etc. is by thinking that I indeed work for the government. The events leading to their “hiring” me are another story to which I must return eventually. But my position satisfies me. I have found no individual who has both the means and the desire to employ me. Working for a large profit-making corporation is no better in my view than working for the government, unless I wish to make large amounts of money. Yet to make such money by working for a large corporation, I would need to be able to satisfy my moral conscience about who they were, whom they served, what part they played in the greater matrix of the world, and why. Needless to say, most companies are far too busy making money to retain a clear understanding of these questions, and as far as I understand it, they would expect me to do the same. So I’d rather working for the government at a mere survival wage, for now at least. 

The particular position I have landed with the government allows me an enormous amount of freedom. I can act in whatever way I believe most benefits the government, and no one is standing over my shoulder. In many ways, as an independent philosopher, this is a perfect position to have obtained. Since the government is paid for by millions of taxpayers from every state, I do not need to make pointless enemies by acting in favor of any one group. Nor do I need to ally myself with the government’s positions either. The program under which I have been hired seems to allow even for total disagreement with government policy. Yet my morality and common sense prevent me from falling into complete ignorance of what is paying for my survival. If the government goes down, I go down with it. Not to mention simple gratitude that there is such a program which is helping me out. 

But don’t let the above expressed gratitude make you think I will sacrifice my high philosophical standards simply to take sides with my government at the expense of those parties it chooses for its enemies. There is virtue in hiring someone for their independence of mind in contrast to their loyalty. Well-run institutions need more than just a bunch of “Yes men”. Still, such independent minds must remain very discreet, and never forget that their independence can pose just as much of a threat to their employers as a help. No bureaucracy is morally pure, and the independent mind who finds himself employed by a bureaucracy must take pains to preserve a means of escape should the prevailing winds turn against him.

Anyway, just because I work for the government doesn’t mean I make a whole lot of money. A friend drove to pick me up in my new neighborhood and was locking up the car when I saw ten dollars peeking out from under the seat. I pointed it out and he handed it to me, saying I could hold onto it. I told him that I’d hide it for him. I forget what happened next, but he suggested that I write a blog post, and at my current government salary, it was the kind of offer I couldn’t refuse.

Update, with More On My Book Effort

So I’ve been living at my new place for one week. It’s an acceptable situation. I’m not sure I can afford to pay for an internet connection at home, so I’m saving this blog post to a flash drive and bringing it to the public library, which is only two blocks away from my house. I will sign in and post it there.

I was thinking about my situation. Do I think it’s good or bad? Am I happy with it? The thing which makes me feel okay is that I can’t see what job exists in the world which I would rather have than my current situation. Of course I can’t know whether I’d really like a job until I’ve worked it for a while, so I’m not saying that if I magically had Job X that I wouldn’t like it. What I am saying is that I don’t have the impulse to seek Job X from where I am now. The only thing I have real motivation for, to which I am able to devote sustained effort, is the book I decided to write about 5 months ago. And it’s not like I’m terribly excited about the book either, but the difference is that whereas I may put in a day or two looking for possible employment before becoming once again uninterested, I tend to put work into the book every day.

So the book is the current justification for my existence. As to how good it is, my opinion tends to vary. I have several motivations for writing it, which I am trying to balance out. I want it to be a good read, for example, in contrast to, say, an academic tome which merely contains useful information. Most importantly is that it represents an expression of my current self, just as any given painting represents the current expression of its artist. I’m learning to paint words.

I mean for the book to be read by people of different times and places. This is because I don’t think of myself as quick enough with current events to be able to ride their wave and get rewarded for it. I want to speak to humanity, rather than some subculture or section of it. This aspiration is not necessarily a formula for financial success, because most financially successful books have target audiences. If it turns out that without knowing it, I do have a type of audience which appreciates the book I will be glad for that. All I’m saying is that I have not consciously chosen to direct the book at one specific demographic.

Another peculiarity of the book that I can’t escape is that it’s my first one. On the plus side, it will therefore be more raw and possibly more compelling in terms of sheer energy. But it will be deficient in terms of the craft of book-writing. I think this is true of all first books, though, but I thought I should mention it anyway.

I also want to say if I haven’t said it before that the original goal of making my video game proved too lofty to attack directly. My book is proving far more manageable. I have finished the first phase in which the task was to write, write, write. Now I am in a hybrid phase where I continue to write but I am reading what I have written, trying to find the “book in the book”, so to say. Editing is a necessary task which looms like a monster for me. I have deferred that task until I get a better sense of the whole purpose of the book.

The experience of writing my book is giving me a valuable understanding of how the way one perceives oneself abstractly meets up with concrete reality. My obligation to finish the book means I can no longer imagine myself to be something or other – I must find out what I really am. It will be present in the end product. If I cannot produce an end product, then that will be an indicator of the kind of person I am too.

So I need to put a certain amount of passion into each chapter in order to increase the quality of the end product, but not so much passion that I become frustrated with what I have written and never finish. That’s the experience writing this book is giving me.

Changing Life

Well my life is changing. For many years a retired professor let me stay at his house. I lived in Swarthmore, a very nice, although quiet neighborhood. For the month of March I’ve been living in the second bedroom at his new retirement home, to help him get adjusted, but I’m not meant to stay here permanently, nice as it is to eat so many meals with old people. So I’ve found a room in a much poorer lower-middle class neighborhood, Collingdale, PA. This is the kind of place I would have had to live in for the last ten years, based just on my income from Social Security Disability. Come April I will have no more cushy safety net which I got, arguably, simply from being raised in an upper-middle class town.

There is a little bit of the crucible feeling in this. I suspect the change will be good for me, because I won’t have to imagine what it’s like to be poor. My spiritual focus will align with my material focus. There will be no vague feeling that I watch the struggles of the world through a veil without having to deal with them. I will probably be as close to the idea behind the passage “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” as I will ever be.

The best possible outcome is that my new situation sharpens my sensibilities and gives my writing an even more honest flavor than they already have. I just found out that there is no internet connection in my new room. Therefore I must find a way to check email, post on my blog, and other things, if I am not willing to pay for in-house internet myself. I hope the public library can allow me the access I need. I hope I can write my posts on my home computer and save them to a flash drive, and publish them when I get to the library. If that fails, I’ll need to buy a laptop computer and use free Wifi wherever I can find it. If that fails, I will have significant difficulties achieving regular access to the internet. Paying for a home access might be outside my current budget, which affords a perfect example of the sharpness of my situation.

I may find aspects of my new life difficult and/or depressing. This can be offset by the idea that I consider myself a hunter of the genuine, for whom insight into reality is worth a little depression. The public stands to gain by the corresponding sharpness of my perception and thus my expressions of that perception, as mentioned above, whether it be in writing, video games, music, youtube videos, or something else.

I have finished Phase One of my book-writing process, which consisted of raw writing. Phase Two has begun, which consists of reading the results of Phase One. My goal is to find the “book” in the mass of material I have produced. I need to get outside the total content of what I wrote. I have not achieved this perspective yet. I consider that the work of Phase Two, which is designed to last half the total duration of Phase One. I am trying to edit pieces of the work as I read them, but I am currently overwhelmed by the size of the task before me. I still write a page per day so as to maintain the skills I have acquired by writing for so many days in a row.

I can imagine my book being very good, but there is still a ton of work to do. I learned how to write two pages per day, but the art of editing remains very elusive to me. I think it’s good that I partitioned the challenges into phases, but it’s still hard for me to imagine how I can edit the contents of Phase One efficiently and wisely: I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of text I must now pore over. I need to arrive at a central concept around which the rest of the book revolves. I believe that I will accomplish my goal, but there’s plenty of fog in the landscape, for which I can only assume the dispersant is persistence. I believe I can maintain persistence simply because I did it for the first 127 days of this effort. No point in giving up now. I’m not so attached to the book that I can’t let it go.

A Letter of Recommendation For Myself

I found this looking through my notes, and in a fit of narcissism decided the public might like it.

Zach Tollen        Jan. 8th, 2014

Letter of Recommendation for Myself to the Delco Certified Peer Specialist Training

Since I couldn’t find the right person to recommend me, I will write a letter for myself. At the same time, I’m not going to make a joke about it. What I really would like to do is tell you what’s going on with me and leave it up to you to decide whether I’m right for you.

For most of my adult life, I have had little interest in following established pathways. I lost interest in established pathways at the age of fifteen. I felt that my questions about the real meaning of life were not being addressed by any of the adults I knew. There’s a story about when Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Henry David Thoreau when he was in a prison cell for refusing to obey an unjust law. When Emerson said, “What are you doing in there?”, Thoreau replied “What are you doing out there?”

I’ve never wanted to be a part of this society because I felt there were no moral philosophers who lived up to a high enough standard who could provide me a way to live without violating my own morality. Eventually, I started to imagine becoming a public persona who could capture the attentions of enough people to make enough income to survive, but this hasn’t happened yet. As I said in the answers to the other questions on my application, I’m working on a few fronts to try to become such a persona. But as long as my total revenue from that endeavor has not risen to the level where I can pay my own way, I have to find temporary ways to survive.

When asking various people what the jobs were for someone like me with no academic credentials and no other job experience for more than ten years, they mostly seem to suggest Certified Peer Specialist. So long as my public personality has not yet taken off, I need to act as if it won’t take off, if only to prove my sanity.

I also want to add that I don’t think recovery happens in a vacuum. If a person has uncommon experiences and knowledge, it will probably be necessary to share those experiences with others in order for them to completely recover. So if someone is supposed to apply for a training like this, and the prerequisite is to present themselves as if they are already completely recovered, then it ignores the fact that helping other people recover can be critical to one’s own recovery. If I’m actually going to become a peer specialist, therefore, it will be part of my recovery too. The mental health system in general suffers from this mistaken logic, that only a completely “healthly” person should have anything to do with the “sick” people. It’s one of the many broken pieces of the modern mental health paradigm.

While I’m sure I’ve left out many details which might help you figure me out, I hope that you are able to make your decision based on the above broad statements. It’s really a matter of your needing to decide whether the CPS program is right for a person like me or if I should pursue other avenues of growth and development. If you want a picture of me, my facebook account has one: http://www.facebook.com/zach.zachary1

Sincerely,  Zach Tollen

(I was not accepted to the training program.)

Lecture by Edward F. Edinger

I don’t want to bump my own lecture down on my blog, so I’m mentioning it again here. See the previous blog post for the links.

For many years, one of my big heroes has been Jungian analyst Edward F. Edinger (died 1998), but information about him on the internet has been very hard to find. I have recently discovered that the San Diego Friends Of Jung has posted two audio recordings of his lectures on youtube. In this age of screens and sounds, only being able to read Edinger’s books made me wish for something more, which I now have. Here’s the link to the first one:

Edward Edinger – Individuation: A Myth for Modern Man

I’m hoping the lecture speaks for itself. The most important point to bear in mind if you don’t understand what he’s saying is that in my opinion, he is one of the people who goes deep without making excuses or seeing the world from rosy-colored glasses. If you’re a deep person like I think I am, most “deep” people have facades of some sort. It’s rare for me to find anyone who can confront the harsh realities we really face while still connecting it with the long course of history. Without people like Edward Edinger, Joseph Campbell, and others, I would not be able to sustain my own investigations, because there would be no living precedent for that path for me.

He’s also a really good case study of an extreme introvert, too. His genius is applied to his material in a way I think only an extreme introvert is capable of.

Just In Time

Yikes! My unbroken string of entries-per-month is hanging by a mere… thread! Without this here entry there would be nothing said for the entire month of January 2014. I may not care about the audience of this blog to write more frequently, but I *do* care about my string of months in which I have posted at least one-a-month for more than a year now.

Just kidding, I do care about my audience. The writing of my book is such a fragile enterprise, and it has been hard enough just coming up with the minimum number of words for my book, that I have left this blog to rot. The plus side is that gestation often takes a long time, and one might see the few recent entries here as a period of development out of which some new and glorious results will eventually arise.

I don’t blame me for being scared of the internet, though. At least on *that* point the infrequency of the entries here is justified. Despite many of the web-based traditions being more than ten years old, something about this new technology continues to terrify me. I’ve always wanted my blog to walk the line between embracing and being appropriately scared, of the web. On that account the low number of entries here is fine.

I’m doing fine on a lot of other accounts too. I still don’t have a job, or an obvious future, but I take comfort in the fact that people I know wouldn’t let such a darling personality such as myself fall too low into bowels of poverty. (Perhaps.) If you’re going to let me sink into poverty, the best time to do it is summer, of course, becuase it gives me plenty of chances to find stuff and sleeping outside in the summer is actually quite pleasant sometimes. But I digress. My main point is that I think my natural charm should be enough to keep me from having no friends and no options, a fate which can easily be observed simply by venturing into Philadelphia and walking around the train station area for a while.

I could perhaps feel more ashamed of not wanting to work if the overall mechanics of the modern American economy were at all transparent to me, but we seem to be floating on air. We consume, but we don’t produce, and I can’t really feel that bad about not participating in a local economy which from my standpoint doesn’t really produce anything anyway. Until I can make it as a creative person and an artist, I think I am extremely unlikely to find enjoyment in any kind of “normal” job. But I’m in favor of surviving, which means I’ll notch myself down the ladder of employment to the level I’m forced to if it comes to that.

The ticket out of this miserable dilemma is finding an audience for the fun, “celebrity” side of my personality, whether it’s my upcoming book or youtube videos or anything else which somehow makes life interesing and fun (again? was it ever fun the first time???). There are probably many ways in which I could be used for my mind and wisdom, but I haven’t fallen into circles where I stand to make a living doing that. I’ve never felt like my ideas would be welcomed in the halls of institutions, which unfortunately have a large portion of the money for ideas to go around. I’ve often felt like I’ve had to sacrifice money-making in order to preserve the integrity of my ideas and my psyche. Still, while I have so little income, I wonder how I might get my foot-in-the-door in some operation which can find my ideas and abilities helpful and useful.

I’m getting better at writing though. I have a two-page minimum per day for writing my book. The book still feels more like a chaotic effort to produce something than a coherent whole, but the practice is still valuable. I need to practice something, and writing seems as good a thing as any.

Until next month…