soul shattering

This was not an ideological residue of the past I had to cope with, but a complete ideological entrapment. You need to estimate something pretty vast. Imagine that your very close relatives had gone to war and died for a religion based in your country. Everybody in your family really believed in that religion—and now you are displaced. Well in a very fundamental sense that religion IS your identity, rather than a residue to be cast off. I think you need to enhance your sense of magnitude.

I think what you still don’t get is the petrifying force of conscience and duty and the power this had over me. When you are used to living under an ideology that sometimes pronounces death on those who disagree with it, you may be inclined to put issues of conscience and judicious righteousness BEFORE well-being and the basic functions of eating and sleeping.

soul loss

I think one of the most terrifying things is to have other people demand things of you, or even get punitive, when you are in a mode of incompleteness.

When I first migrated to Australia, I was in a mode of real incompleteness and psychological shock.  As we know, that continued for some time.

But I also had a lot of hidden pressures.  My first pressure was simply to adapt to my new external circumstances.  But, as well as this, I had parents who began to lean on me as the eldest – not just a bit, but quite heavily.   I had to be the bridge for their adjustments.  But at the same time they insisted we are proud people who will not adjust our values or behavior or language to conform to the new norms.

Add onto this my father’s raw mental state and barely contained vengefulness, as he became angry at having to readjust midlife.  He had fully believed the ideology of the Rhodesian rulers about maintaining a standard for Western civilization based on Christianity – one that would have been superlatively good, in a society that was assured survival BECAUSE of its reliance on God despite monumental political and psychological pressures.   So when that was shown, by circumstances, to be false, he was profoundly rocked to the core of his being as well as subconsciously – but never openly – outraged at the betrayal, which had taken on metaphysical proportions by now.

So I had to cope with his extreme levels of aggression at me, and displacement of the blame for Rhodesia’s demise, onto me.   Nothing I did was ever perfect or good enough.   And because I had to constantly use a lot of energy to defend myself from his ventures into my personal space (both literally and figuratively),  I had difficulty recovering my own equilibrium and felt rather raw myself.

Along with this, others also never really let me adjust.   They kept telling me things I could not make sense of, implying that my life has been easy or “privileged” and that now I would have to pay.

But my life in the past and even in the present was rather precarious.   In the present it was more so, since I had become emotionally blocked from experiencing my own sensations, since people kept implying that I ought to feel guilty about who I was.

So I became this de-sensationalized person.  And then people put on more pressure:  “You need to adjust.  You need to adjust!” – but I had lost my sensations.

This is, I think, “soul loss”:  one loses one’s capacities to function and one’s emotions make one frightened.  One feels that there is something socially unacceptable about having emotions of any sort at all – and one tries to constrain them.

But these blocked off aspects then become unknown aspects of the self and represent a puzzle and a source of danger.   One has to try to draw them out slowly, but that has NOW become a psychologically  transgressive motion and fraught with danger.  One is drawing out emotions that others have described a socially unacceptable.

This process is terrifying, too.

And then there are the secondary effects of all of this – people noticing your incompleteness and commenting on it.  That adds another layer of psychological difficulty and mental confusion.

So, to function when you are incomplete is very difficult.

I actually think it is almost unbelievable that I made it out the other side, into completeness, finally.   Given my circumstances, you would not think I would.  But here I am!

Handling those who are committed to misunderstand you

You can’t tweak your class elements. What may be possible –which is what I have done – is to get your elements to work FOR YOU in a time of trouble. For instance, a lot of my experience in life has been with people imposing interrogation methods on me. These work like this:

“Who are you?”

–“I told you who I am. I’m from Zimbabwe.”

“Don’t you mean Rhodesia? What a nasty place!”

–“I guess so.”

“So why should we trust you, when you said you are from Zimbabwe. What are you trying to hide?”

–Nothing.

“And yet you left your homeland…for no reason?”

–“My parents bought me here.”

“I guess you think that’s an excuse!”

–“An excuse for what?

“”Don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about. How will we learn to trust you if you do that?”

And so on it would go, in some ways subtle and in other ways not so much subtle – endlessly.

And then I found the sergeant major in me, (but this wasn’t until I had exhausted all other avenues of communication and really tried to hone my ability to communicate under a light of strong inquisition.)

So these days it goes:

“Who are you?”

–“Who are YOU?”

“Don’t you mean your are from Rhodesia? What a nasty place!”

–“I’m sorry, but can you phrase that in a way I can understand you? You’re really not coming through.”

“So why should we trust you, when you said you are from Zimbabwe. What are you trying to hide?”

–“My horror at your big butt.”

“And yet you left your homeland…for no reason?”

–“It seems everything is random and so very confusing!”

“I guess you think that’s an excuse!”

–“Yes, it’s a very, very good excuse..

“”Don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about. How will we learn to trust you if you do that?”

–“You can NEVER trust me, and that’s for sure. You’d have to spend time trying to EARN that right, but I can’t guarantee the outcome, I’m afraid. Smile”

Shamanic awakening

Perhaps the key and irreducible necessity of shamanic mania is the capacity to be a mystery to oneself.
I am almost certain that this is so.
But how does one become a mystery to oneself?  Certainly (as was my case) it helps to be attacked for reasons that one cannot fathom.  OR, one could be a product of weird historical forces that one doesn’t understand.   Or one can be alienated from oneself and mystified and have to work hard to get back inside of oneself.  Or one can have one’s original compass in life thrown out of kilter by some shaking or destructive experience, so that one doubts everything one thought one knew before, and has to start again trying to develop understanding.  Anything that destroys self-certainty can be conducive to the shamanic project.
But day by day I hear people making their self-certain proclamations about right and wrong, logic and illogic, and I know that these people are not shamanic.  If they become outraged at disorderly and confused things and do not tolerate the company of such things for every long, they are not shamanic.
Also, shamanism draws from the deeper levels of one’s visceral awareness, not from the top of one’s head.  It’s too easy to speak totally and to react totally from the top of one’s head, but visceral knowledge always entails some chaos and some contradictions.  To be in touch with this is to be shamanically awakened.

What is shamanic genius?

The way I see it is that there is a kind of natural genius, which is raw power to take in information, to hold it in and to apply it in some way.   That kind of genius may produce very beautiful artifacts, but it is not shamanic.   Shamanic genius is the capacity to transition between different levels of the consciousness, from high to medium to low and back again.   My theory is that the normal state of the psyche is not to want to transition, but to stay in the same place.  Supposing I am a genius, then I want to produce beautiful books presenting my insights and to make myself pleasant to the public and endear myself to them.  That is the drive of ordinary genius.   Ordinary genius always floats upward and upward and upward.

Supposing Marechera was an ordinary genius?  He studied a wide range of classical texts – Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, ancient Roman and Greek literature, the Romantic poets….

I imagine he could have written in the same kind of classical tradition.  This kind of literature delights and it appeals to the higher sensibilities in humanity and to its ruling element.  But as beautiful as it is, this is not the kind of literature that reveals the roots of a society to itself and enables it to heal.

For genius to become shamanic, it has to be compelled to plumb the depths as well as reaching for the heights.   Otherwise the depths of the society cannot be known and people cannot heal.

I noticed this as the distinct difference between Marechera’s writing and that of other Shona writers, for instance Chenjerai Hove.  Hove wrote more in the way of political realism, lauding the struggles of the peasants.   If I were a peasant I would feel elevated by his writing, and perhaps delighted and reassured.  But I would not understand myself better, arguably, and above all I would not understand the real nature of the pathology afflicting my country.  I would not understand its roots.  it is too facile to say that its roots were “racism” and that the enemy was “colonialism”.   That kind of thinking only gets you the repressive tactics of the Mugabe regime.   It’s just too trite.  The writing may be elevating, but it is not diagnostic.

By contrast, Marechera’s writing is not always elevating, but it is always diagnostic.   Why?  Because he was wounded to the soul himself – and his wounding was complex.   It never was, for Marechera, just a simple issue of blacks versus whites and who should dominate.  Therefore he had to resolve the issue of his own wounding in a way that harnessed all his intellectual and artistic skills.   And if we can SEE what he is pointing to in his writing, we can actually free ourselves as well.  But those who do not want to admit that they are spiritually ill, because the events in the country’s history have made them so, will keep demanding something elevating and reassuring.  They don’t want to get to the bottom of themselves as that is difficult and painful.  And Marechera, too, probably didn’t want to get to the bottom of himself, but he had been constrained to.

So the shaman type is bound to the historical pathology by necessity – and, because he is a genius, finds a way to free himself, that can in turn be used by others.  Those who do not understand the complex and necessary nature of this vocation always urge that one hurries along and gets going into the future and embraces whatever one finds there.   But that is to urge the embrace of superficiality and movement for the sake of movement.

It therefore seems to me that there are geniuses – but there are also constrained geniuses, whose subjective well being has been harnessed and made totally dependent on whether or not they can free themselves from a historically engendered affliction on their psyches.   They have to free themselves or else they remain pinned in a pathological state, which is distressing.  So they find new means to freedom and new insights to resolve the difficulty they are in.

Or failing that, they die trying.

Reflection and response on uncanny evocations

Personally, I think that once one becomes more attuned to EXPECTING any slippage OUT of centrism or (to use my term, out of the insistence on “being” and into the recognition of the presence, as it were of “nonbeing”) one finds the kind of writing or gestures that always insist on  the presence of “Being” (or, to use your terms somewhat, the dialectic of satisfaction and non-satisfaction) to be lacking in some fundamental capacity for recognition .    For instance, I just read an article about the MH17, which is supposed to evoke our sense of drama.  The relatives said goodbye to their smiling relatives at the airport and now what remains of these travelers are just broken body parts, hardly recognizable as the people to whom they’d said farewell.  But this writing does not really evoke a sense of horror, because people insist on remaining at the level of “Being” with regard to all of this, when what is really horrific is the turning of Being into Nonbeing.   If a journalist were able to portray the transition of Being into Nonbeing, THAT would truly be horrifying.   It would also more accurately depict what has occurred.  But journalists (and most people) write in very centrist prose.

And there is also a reason for this ACTUALLY VERY SAFE LANGUAGE of centrist prose, because it is very reassuring even in the midst of death, since such language cannot really acknowledge death or come to terms with it.  It is, after all, necessarily centrist – DENOTING THE LANGUAGE OF BEING, even when the words themselves STRIVE VAINLY  to connote the opposite.  So you end up with newspaper headlines with all the pictures of the passengers saying, “BRING THEM HOME”.   That is also centrist (conventional) logic – which is the logic of presence, even in circumstances of its MANIFEST OPPOSITE (death, non-presence, non-being).

Language, it seems always leads us to speak in terms of an illusionary presence.  So much is this so that in THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOGIC there was a huge debate among logical positivists about whether language is misleading inherently, since one can make the assertion “Pegasus does not exist”, but the use of the label, “Pegasus”, already denotes existence.   Similarly, the word “dead relatives as a result of terrorists” also evokes the notion of their existence — and so some people remain transfixed, if not completely, at least in part.

—–

I think that a useful way to look at the problem (although this way also can be misused, lending itself to the naïve and mystical formulations you have been critiquing),  is in terms of the solidifications of meanings that becoming linguistic conventionalism.  And what is language itself, other than a solidification of conventional terms and (even) relationships?  We have (to take a trivial example), “man VERSUS woman”.   We have “cats” – but all “cats”, having been labeled as such,  now seem somehow are the same, unless we look at them more carefully and with a discerning eye.  But language itself compels us to put them in the same bracket, hence one “cat” seems interchangeable with another, even if we already KNOW on some other levels of knowledge, that this is not so.   When the hypnotic spell of language is broken, however, we start to see the variations and the unpredictability and are suddenly in the second dimension of experiencing.

And I think what you are also saying, if I put it in my own words, is that the ascetic tries to enter the second dimension by denying himself satisfaction ON PRINCIPLE, but that this leads to a false light as the dialectic he creates for himself is itself false or illusionary.  You can’t enlighten yourself “on principle”, because you can’t really force the issue of enlightenment.  It’s much more organic than that.

That said, we can’t avoid using language, or even (because of the way our brains function) evoking the metaphysics of presence.   The whole obsession that some people have with their IDENTITIES expresses a desire to stabilize themselves in reality through the use of language.  It’s really very narrow, because I cannot express to you or others who I am by using language.  Unless I were a very conventional person myself and allowed language to pin me down and constrain my VERY BEHAVIOR, any strong labeling of myself would be misleading.

—–

But “non-presence” and “non-being” – isn’t that what Poe’s Raven was trying to communicate to us?  And maybe dogs also sense it, but I think the ravens do as well.  I was in the park one day and one flew very low, flapping sullenly on a horizontal path, and fixed me with its steely eye.

 

Moral authority

One of the very stark differences between traditional Colonial society and Modern Western society is in the notion of moral authority.
The colonials took moral authority very, very seriously indeed.  In some ways they took it very seriously as an actual ethical stance.  In other ways, they took it seriously in the mode of political appearance (the need to seem publicly righteous and self-justified in one’s actions, even in instances, on occasion, where the actions MAY have been questionable).  In any case, though, they saw two sides to the equation:  the one side was the RIGHT to make authoritative moral statements; the other side was the necessary culpability of the speaker if their assertions turned out to be false or misleading.  Colonial society embraced the logic of there being two sides, and attempted to come to terms with both aspects of having authority.
By contrast, contemporary Western society embraces only ONE side at most – and even its embrace of that one-sided moral authority seems to be losing emphasis.
But I was wound up very tightly because I took both sides of the moral equation very seriously in the early days when I first migrated to Australia.  And ever since then,  I have been learning the lesson that contemporary Westerners embrace only ONE side, if any.  (This is particularly the case with the New Left, but perhaps the New Right as well, and maybe everybody.)
I used to automatically trust that if someone took a stance of moral authority, they were also taking a stance of moral responsibility should something go wrong.  But again and again I found this was not so.  I suppose it is delicious to take a stance of moral authority.  But when something – even a trivial thing that could have easily been fixed with quick and thoughtful action – went wrong, such moral authorities would shrug their shoulders and assert, “Well, nobody could have done anything about it anyway!”  But a moment ago there were acting as if they knew EXACTLY what should be done.  They were even telling me EXACTLY how to live my life and what I ought to think and how I ought to repent of certain attitudes and embrace different ones.
But if something goes wrong, or they employ their passivity in a DISCRIMINATE manner to make sure that I, as an outsider, am disadvantaged, they assert, “Well you shouldn’t have taken us so seriously after all!  YOU were just being sensitive!”
Consequently, and just as Blaise Pascal had to unlearn his reason in order to more fully embrace Christianity, I have had to unlearn my instinctive trust in those who have claimed to have moral authority.  They always seem to think they are playing their trump card when they let you down, but somehow that has never come across to me in that way.  Not by any means.
I understand that I am always set up to be on the losing side of this game – but not because of any deficiency, (as it maybe  assumed to be), but because I have a deeper sense of the POTENTIAL for human dignity and the human acceptance of power than is now considered fashionable or perhaps allowable.   So I have often been astonished at the way people suddenly debase themselves in front of me by not accepting their power (the power they had originally assumed when they talked down to me or told me what to do).   They throw OFF their mantel of responsibility suddenly – and seem like maddening apes!

The issue of language use at different levels

1. The issue of language use at different levels:
I think using the term “shamanism” does lead to some misunderstandings at the middle level of consciousness, with middle level people, because what it means to them is a way of life, or idealizing a the behavior of the ancients. What it SHOULD mean to the higher level of the mind is risk taking and adventurism within one’s own mind and in relation to the world. So already we are speaking two different languages – and, unfortunately, this problem cannot be easily solved by changing our terminology, although we could perhaps change our language to be more cryptic in some ways and more open in other ways, thus allowing two simultaneous meanings, on two different levels, to flourish.

As for the term “dissociation”, it also has the exact same problems associated with it. One one level (the middle level, or herd level) it means pure escapism. On the higher level, it means heroism. But first, let me try to explain.

When I had the negative workplace situation at the union job, it was worse than just a “negative” situation. I’m understating or minimalizing what occurred. In fact, whereas I had had chronic fatigue syndrome in a moderate way before, now my whole digestive system had collapsed. I had to take very, very long rests during much of the day, but still without much sign of improvement over a number of months that ran into years.

I remember thinking to myself at that time. “Ok. It’s as if you were riding your bicycle and you were hit by a car and now your body is all mangled. But if you lie there and wait for me and switch off your mind as much as possible so as not to digest the pain, because that takes up too much energy, I will go and get help and come back for you.”

Actually my mental pain and disappointment at the set back and what it seemed to imply about me as a person was very extreme. I had to switch off from my rage and my intense sadness. These emotions were so intense at that time that I did not know how to handle them. So I went looking. And that is when I began reading Nietzsche books over and over again, looking for answers. (I had the basic understanding at that time that I needed to reformat my mind, so I was looking for a blueprint that was more adjusted to MODERNITY and would not mislead me as my existing map had done.)

So switching off from aspects of my own mind whilst I looked for a map to help me became a mode of mental discipline for me. (And I have always said, and been quite clear about it, that MY understanding of shamanic “dissociation” involves DOUBLING.)

So, eventually, what I have NOW is a map, and one that has continued to help me to restore my physiological and mental health. It doesn’t matter what you call it, as as the middle level it will still be misunderstood. The reason why it will be misunderstood? Because so far as middle level people are concerned, THEY already have a map, which they do not need to look for. That map is defined FOR THEM by the drive to conformity, which satisfies them completely.

But I had TRIED conformity and that had not worked for me, but had only made me physically ill. So *I* needed a different map from them.

Now, as you can see I am not talking about anything either particularly ancient OR modern when I speak about having created my paradigm. I’m just relating things from the point of view of my own experiences and how I think the mind can redeem itself.

(And by the way, you can see I even take Nietzsche’s notion of sickness or invalidity very seriously.)

2.

So am I NOW tough? Well, my spirit (relating to my internal sensations of success or failure) is well enough happy that I am *sufficiently* tough. And, whereas sufficient toughness is all that is needed relative to a situation, the outcome is ABSOLUTE in relation to oneself – one EITHER passes the line and restores one’s physical and mental health or one does not. I have done so – and therefore the outcome is, on a personal level, ABSOLUTE. But one must always remember that INTRApersonal toughness (between the individual and himself) and INTERpersonal toughness (between the individual and various others) are two different things.

3.

SHAMANIC dissociation (the form that involves doubling, to “get help”—one might also call it “instrumental dissociation”) – is not the same as involuntary dissociation. (One might imagine a situation where somebody involuntarily dissociates, for instance if their leg is blown off, and this does actually buy them time to get help, but these are not precisely the same things.) The point of shamanic dissociation is to split oneself into two to find answers by research and experimentation and then to return to oneself and make oneself WHOLE again (no longer split).

4.

Perhaps the process of shamanic splitting followed by recovery can be never-ending (a continuous dialectic), as we temporarily shelter ourselves under a rain umbrella in order to find answers. But we must, in the end, integrate those answers with our WHOLE BEING, to build health. Endless doubling is itself not the answer.

5.

In the end, the problem of communicating “shamanic” experiences may be related to the opacity of language in terms of how it functions in a LIMITED way according to our basic principles of life, which can be very different as explained by the video. If one’s phenomenological range is bound by the desire and need to conform, one will draw very different meanings from all sorts of terminology than if one’s range is determined by the capacity and need for risk and adventure.  What cannot be avoided are misunderstandings – although the source of these can now be UNDERSTOOD, at least, since we now have a map.

Repost

The parallel between traditional shamanism and the psychology of shamanism that I have elucidated should be obvious. The following text depicts the quintessentially shamanistic orientation toward uniting the world that is veiled from consciousness with the world that is available to consciousness, in order to create a unity of the sense of being that is felt to have been lost:

 

According to the “World Myth” found in many cultures, the earliest stage of human life was one of total harmony and wisdom. The planet was connected to the sky, which was always a place of light and the focus of human devotion, by the bridge, tree, mountain etc., thought to be the “axis mundi”, the center of the world. “Humans could effortlessly communicate with the gods above.”[Eliade] They could pass between heaven and earth without obstacle because there was no death yet. This easy communication was cut off by a “fall” from grace similar to that in the Christian bible. Since this “fall”, the only way to cross the bridge is in “spirit”, ie. as dead or in ecstasy. This bridge is full of obstacles, demons and monsters, and the way is as narrow as a razors edge. The crossing is dangerous and only privileged persons succeed in passing over it in their lifetime. ” In the myths, the passage emphatically testifies that he who succeeds in accomplishing it, has transcended the human condition; he is a shaman, a hero, or a spirit and indeed this passage can be accomplished by only one who is spirit. “[Eliade] The shaman in crossing by way of his ecstatic journey proves he is spirit, and attempts to restore the “communicability” that originally existed between this world and heaven. What the shaman succeeds in doing today through ecstasy, could be done at the dawn of all beings “in concreto” ie. without trance, in the physical body. ‘The shaman reestablishes the primordial condition of all mankind.”[Eliade]

[ see: http://easternhealingarts.com/Articles/shamanism.html ]

 

 

And Marechera really did embody the Nietzschean principle of living his ideas – thus becoming “the spirit” (that is, the creative drive) that ran “alongside him” [Zarathustra]:

 

I love him who keeps back no drop of spirit for himself, but wants to be the spirit of his virtue entirely: thus he steps as spirit over the bridge.

 

 

Bataille’s shamanistic orientation goes further to eludicate a dualism between two fundamentally different “worlds”, which the shamanistic consciousness must cross between:

 

Insofar as it is spirit, the human reality is holy, but it is profane insofar as it is real. Animals, plants, tools, and other controllable things form a real world with the bodies that control them, a world subject to and traversed by divine forces, but fallen. [Bataille, George, Theory of Religion, Robert Hurley Translation., p.38.]

 

 

Taking this quote along with the text above, from Eliade, it is apparent that anyone who was capable of crossing between these two worlds would effectively restore an integral unity that had been lost. This can be understood allegorically, in terms of the restoration of the primal unity with the mother, as a source of wholeness. Yet, such a description risks being cast as “pathological” or in an overly simplistic light of contemporary psychology. It is absolutely crucial to add a further proviso, concerning shamanistic dynamics and how they operate on our minds: wherever reality – as held in place by dominant ideologies and political power and its rhetorical devices– is unable to hold our consciousness into one place, doubt arises concerning the nature of the real and whether it is as real as it may seem to be. This opens up a wormhole in the nature of real and access to the realm of “spirit”. The realm of the spirit is both the existential counterpart and yet also the negation of the real (it is the negation in terms of the fact that the self-evident quality of reality becomes open to doubt and questioning: Ultimately the bridge to the other realm is crossed in terms of answering the question: is the real that pertains to communicable experience really the ultimate form of reality – ie. all that there is? Shamanistic doubting of this sort is extremely politically subversive.)

Short course on planetary awareness

My level of diligence in trying to understand some things has always been extreme and this could never be understated, but it has been very difficult for me because the configuration of my own psyche has not been in accordance with the patterns described in much of the material I have been reading (for instance during my PhD).
Books address common phenomena, but usually within a cultural and historical context.  When it is not explicitly noted that there is a particular cultural and historical context to the writing, or what that context is, is can seem as if the book is addressing everybody, in the sense of giving a very broad map of the human soul, when in fact its notions are far more specific and limited than that.
In my experience, anyway, much of psychoanalytical thinking seems to provide a backwards map.  I mean it has many of the features of my own psyche labeled in reverse, with some additions made and much of what I have in me missing from the map’s representation.
For instance, take the phenomenon of core narcissism.  This is equated with an notion of a core, irrational self, which is also very self-interested or self-absorbed and – because it is irrational in its nature – prone to outbursts or assertions that have no objective meaning or value.  This is what psychoanalysts refer to when they refer to the internal structure of the psyche.
Logically, if one thinks of the most core part of the self in these terms, it makes sense to assert that by accommodating oneself to society’s demands, one gains rationality, real power and benefits – all the things one ought to want from life, which are not available so long as one is under the sway of the dominance of the core self.
Now that I have articulated it in this way, it makes sense.  But it is amazing how long it has taken for me to grasp a simple concept.  That is NOT because I lack intelligence by any means, but because I could not help having my own SELF as a looming reference point, which meant that I was working with a sense of two maps, each having very different coordinates.
As I have said before, it seems to me that I am closer to being a Gas Giant, with some hardened external features.   I do not have a molten core – which is not to say that after a very great length of time I cannot be provoked!
So when people may suggest, “Oh, you shouldn’t have tried many things, because that only reveals your core narcissism (i.e. your unsightly larval core trying to extrude itself),” I’ve never understood how that could possibly be.  To try or not try many things doesn’t seem to make any difference to a Gas Giant.  One tries this or that, and if it doesn’t work out, one reforms oneself.  What would be of benefit (at one time) would be to break some of one’s rigid features on the outside.  But there was never any core narcissism, just a core diffused state of being.
By contrast, to speak as if daring too hard in terms of diversity of experience, or daring too hard in terms of intensity of experience was innately wrong-headed leads to confusion and misunderstanding.  (Even in the case of larval personalities, that would be, I think, generally a wrong-headed form of moral criticism.)
So, these assumptions regarding character structure seem too narrow and too inappropriately  moralistic.
But there is another avenue, too, of misunderstanding.   That is in terms of the capacity to feel guilt.  I believe it is what separates the modern character from the more old-fashioned type, definitively.
The modern type does not feel social guilt or responsibility.  They may and almost certainly do feel individual guilt and responsibility, which can lead to an even greater refinement of character and oversensitivity in some ways, but they do not tend to feel any social guilt, as if something they could have done might affect the whole social group for the worse.  That kind of thing would be very unusual.
The modern type, therefore, thinks relatively narrowly, in terms of the self, and must be gradually inducted to participate in a broader reality through gentle coaxing – designed to draw them out of themselves.
By contrast, the one who thinks almost entirely in terms of social guilt and responsibility does not have need of any such coaxing.  Imagine saying, “Well try to have a social conscience about you!  You are too narcissistic!” to such a person whose real problem is that they are overwhelmed by social conscience to the point that they are stuck in a petrified condition in relation to what seem to be very fixed and overwhelming Truths.   (If you are really crazy, you can further tell them that any act they may decide to perform is an act of narcissism, because they are trying too many things.)
Bataille speaks to people in the second category of being, but not those who are already very much at ease with themselves and with asserting their wants and needs in the world.
Of course the first type of person just thinks Bataille is encouraging people to act out, to go the wrong way and to become irrational in many regards, but that is because what this kind of person who criticizes thus has the greater need for is a gentle coaxing in the opposite direction – away from the core self and toward the greater good.  But there are some who still haven’t discovered their core selves yet, and for whom such misdirection could be disastrous, even deadly.
The people who need Bataille the most are the old-fashioned types of personality who can still experience social guilt, but perhaps experience it overwhelmingly, and need some method to break down some parts of their encrusted shell.
There are different sages for different types of people and for different needs, but nothing guarantees their adherents will not misunderstand each other, especially when their psyches have to be mapped differently.

Planetary constitutions

The metaphor of coming out of one’s discomfort zone slowly is not one I can particularly relate to, as I have always, in a lot of ways, been in a state of rather high discomfort.  I have learned to distrust all self-improvement programs over the years.  And there are other reasons, too, which I won’t go into, because it takes too long and you would probably have heard much of it before.   I guess, though, a key issue is that people are structured differently psychologically, and we should bear this in mind.  If someone has a narcissistic core, as most people in the West tend to do, as they are brought up to feel they are individual competitors, then a training that teaches them to gradually move from their home base into the wide, outside world, whilst becoming more diverse and shedding their prejudices, might be very good for them.   But I have no such internal core – rather, a very diffused core.   That means I am actually best when I am a little bit prejudicial, and certainly nobody ought to advise me to gradually move away from myself even further, or to be more open-minded than I have been.  That’s because my default state is to be totally removed from myself and absolutely open-minded.  But for me that is not a good thing – and others can sense that too.
So let us think of ourselves as different kinds of planets with different mineral constitutions.  Many will have an obviously a molten core – a feature I have often encountered before.  But I have a very gaseous core.   I’m more solid on the outside than I am internally.   Therefore, moving gradually away from my inner self, or its supposedly narrow concerns, does not make any sense to me.

shamanic adaptation/mutation

Our deficiencies in some respects are what makes us choose the shamanic path.   I should make it clear by saying that the way we are effectively able to compensate for deficiencies of any sort is what gives to us our shamanic insights (following a shamanic “initiation”).
Let us take me.  I am completely lacking in mammalian drives, in that I cannot even perform grooming behavior in relation to another human and consider that action on my part to be putrid.
But BECAUSE I am so lacking in said mammalian drives, I inevitably draw attacks.  And these attacks are of the sort I can learn from.  Not only that but there was ONE PARTICULAR attack which actually seemed to alter my DNA.  So now I have the ability to wear X-ray spectacles, as it were, because I can actually SEE mounting group emotional intent, and defend myself against it before I am completely overwhelmed.  Whilst in some respects this may not be as good as having mammalian drives and being more directly adaptive, it seems to serve my purpose of survival.
Also this new knowledge lends itself to philosophizing and making intellectual observations about mass psychology, which is nice to be able to do, and certainly passes the time in a pleasant way.
I guess some people never can see GROUP EMOTIONAL INTENT and some people partially sense it, but I have a very detailed orientation toward it now, whilst I had no perspective whatsoever prior to my initiation.
I wouldn’t want people to think my shamanism has to do with mere intellectual posturing.  There WERE significant adaptive changes I experienced, under intense heat.  But on the other hand, my tendency to draw the fire of others had to do with my innate deficiencies.

historical trajectories

The opposite to modernity is the past reality that there used to be fixed social roles, which made for social immobility.
Modernity is the notion that one takes one’s identity with one, wherever one may go, because it is encapsulated in the individual, where his skin begins and ends.  But past people were relatively socially immobile, because they were part of their environments, which they were unable to take with them.   If the environment changed significantly, they died.
When one considers the nature of history, this is one of its main trajectories.

meditation

So I had a very deep level of awareness last night, as a result of drinking wine and not sleep so deeply, but mulling.
It seems that one point I’ve always had in contention with what I take to be basically modern types, and I mean those who see civilization as basically a source or nourishment, rather than the wilderness, is that precise issue of the womb which is at the base of their sense of being.
It seems that I don’t have this fundamental fall back position that these modern types do, which is to go back to the womb.  (Well, in actual fact due to the differences in constitution, I have been largely misunderstanding this Freudian terminology over the years.)  The idea seems to be that there is a kind of womblike state that one can reenter, or will automatically revert to if one is of weak character and/or has reasons to diminish one’s stature in order to gain sympathy or power through appealing to ones diminution.   I think I understand this now, that in theory such a state exists, a state of COMFORTABLE REGRESSION.
To me, though, any sort of regression is never comfortable.   Rather it is a painful necessity, like having a cold bath on a very cold day because the water heater isn’t working.   It’s really not deeply pleasurable in most ways, not at all, although it has the potential to be reinvigorating and reconstituting.
Now, I think this awareness stems back to something I mentioned the other day – something about how my parents’ attitude to death disturbed me, for its relative nonchalance.   Then, last night I experienced a reversion – a form of regression – to the mindset of the colonial culture I was brought up in, and I realized that this was precisely the attitude that was instilled in us.   We were taught to be very nonchalant about violence and to treat it very lightly and dismissively.
But this is quite a negative thing, if that needs to be said, because when the thermostat for violence recognition is set very high (so that it is barely recognized at all) and from a very early age, one is also likely to accept a huge amount of violence to one’s own being before one acknowledges a sense of discomfort.   This means that at a foundational level of one’s being, one is prone to violating one’s own sense of being quite intensively.
I know I could not speak to a Freudian about this, since what I am describing (the constitutional nature of the colonial personality) is so thoroughly out of their scope.  The difference is entailed in their fundamentally different concept of the womb.  They may impeach me not to regress and not to hurt myself, but if I do not return to myself every so often, but allow a different sort of womb, the cradle of civilization, to take care of me, I end up feeling very stressed and out of place, because it is vital for me to pay periodic visits to the wilderness.  I’m not renewed otherwise.
The Freudians, though, keep insisting that there is such a thing as self-diminution.   I’m unable to experience that.  At the base of my being is something that wants to explode violently.  That is not diminution, or a strawlike nest, but an arms cache.   To regress means I become a victim of my own aggression.  But at least I keep tabs on it and know what is going on with me.  I actually CANNOT UNDERSTAND how someone can regress and not become more vulnerable in relation to themselves, as if they were handling live grenades.  Is it possible that for some people there is comfort in smallness?
But Freudians insist on some kind of facile remedy.   Can you imagine a very modern type, a type who takes civilization as a nest, trying to handle these non-civilized aspects of my being and doing it as deftly as I have learned to?   Their whole map is different.  The want to coax very comfortable people out of a warm self-diminution.  “Risk something,” they say.  “Try to engage with civilization.”
Before I understood that the constitution of my psyche was VERY different from that of modern people, and when I was trying to understand HOW things were constituted, I went to a therapist to talk about the degrading workplace situation I’d experienced, because I thought there must be a means and method to move beyond it.  But the map of modern minds is very different and this chap just tried to address me as if I had a fear of engaging with things in civilization.   That was never it at all.   I had a fear of engaging with MYSELF IN A DEPLETED STATE, because that is when I lose my sense of proportion and develop a tunnel vision and start to attack myself.    As for the things in civilization itself, they do not bother me, or really interest me in the deepest ways.
But then these types, who see things in this way, start to talk to you in a baby tone and keep demanding you make your mincing steps toward the thing that is supposed to be so terrifying to all and sundry – civilization.
But actually the violence that underlies civilization and which is also at the base of my own being is much more terrifying to me.   I don’t like, in a way, the right wing extremism that formed me.   If I can get away from its sensations I will, but otherwise, in a collapsed or overly passive state, I fall back into its modality.   I become the victim of my own thoughts and self-hatred, because I don’t find right wing notions very palatable.
In the end I have to build some kind of distraction around the more jarring aspects of my being, like an oyster builds a pearl to protect itself from jarring things within its shell that cannot be so easily removed.
But modern types, it seems, have an entirely different problem, that is the need to simply coax themselves out to engage more.
Even my metaphor will be lost on modern types, perhaps after being radically misinterpreted.

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Children of Christian Narcissists

musteryou:

A very perceptive post

 

Even now, having a conversation with my mom can be like speaking with a child.  You never know how it is going to go, or what is going to set off a temper tantrum.  There is no emotional regulator there.  I, of course, was expected to empathize with her one-hundred percent and live my life in a way that would protect her emotions and not set off her rage.  When you try to get your character-impaired parent to understand you, this usually results in them telling you that you do not understand them.  Except we know them better than we know ourselves.  We had to learn for our own emotional survival.  I think what Christianity added to this equation was her ability to justify her poor behavior and neglect by labeling it God and truth.

Originally posted on godless in dixie:

godego

[Guest post written by Deanna M. Boudov]

If you are like me and you were indoctrinated as a Christian since birth by your character-impaired parent(s), you may ask yourself:  What came first, the religion or the personality problem?  Sometimes these two wonderful things just come together in one wacky, messed-up package.

Neil and I are in a group of what I like to think of as a union of sorts, an International Brotherhood of Survivors of Christianity.  We mostly just goof around on the internet, and on occasion meet up in Texas at a halfway-house for wayward adults. I am often shocked and heartbroken by Neil’s experiences in Dixie, and feel both guilty and grateful to live in the Northeast.  Here Catholics and liberal Christians may think you are a complete weirdo for not sharing their beliefs, but the most likely scenario is that you are not going to lose…

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Psychological projection as political attack

musteryou:

worth reposting

Originally posted on Nietzsche's hairs:

Yesterday, I spent the largest part of my day loafing in the bed, in retreat from the cold, and reading Teresa Brennan’s book, The interpretation of the flesh: Freud and femininity.I must say that in her conclusions, she agrees with something I had been contending all along, that the manner of treatment of adult women in the public sphere can have a profound ontological effect on them.

Here is what she says:
“Of course the notion that this projection can castrate the other presupposes that psychical energetic connections work not only within but between beings. [...] For the subject, the advantage of this projection is that it disposes of the affects and anxiety that otherwise inhibit his ability to follow a train of thought, and/or linguistic chain of association; the disadvantage is that this ability depends on maintaining critical blind spots.” ( p 233)
Here we have an example…

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“There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but lets be absolutely clear. I am determined to price carbon”. Julia Gillard

musteryou:

Malicious editing

Originally posted on Fair Media Alliance:

I love a good conspiracy theory – I especially love to laugh at them.

One of my very closest relations has tried many a time to convince me about the Aliens at Roswell.  And we have a friend who has a dossier, several inches thick, which proves beyond a doubt that no planes ever flew into the Twin Towers.  And then there’s the Grassy Knoll.  I don’t disbelieve any of these good people, but I don’t believe them, either.

From http://www.ascensionearth2012.org/2013/01/roswell-interview-with-alien-survivor.html

But there is a certain power in numbers, as this recent poll by Public Policy Polling in the US suggests with gob-smacking results like these:

–          37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at  41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax

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Your map of the world is insane

This is a huge point:
“That would be like a pilot going insane, under the bizarre delusion that the world doesn’t exist and that his map IS the real world!  Imagine that!”
And, of course, I had to bump against the containing walls of the theoretical postulates I had encountered in order to see their limits and in what directions they would lead me.  I actually placed myself inside their confines as much as possible.
And what I found is that the ideology of Freudianism was constructed as by priests.  In other words, every stage and every limitation that is BUILT INTO the paradigm utilizes stigma in order to keep you moving in a very prescribed and predefined direction.  This is psychology functioning as ideology.  Let me give an outline.
1. The early childhood stage is defined as “paranoid-schizoid” and (by Lacan) as “psychotic”.
2. The mature stage is defined by necessary alienation and a drop off of the powers of imagination.
3.  However, the “depressive” secondary stage is viewed as necessary and superior to the first stage of maturation.
4.  One lives out one’s adult life in a mode of unreality, always seeking ego inflation and having to be warned against it by the mechanisms of society, which function for your own good.  But always you are hungry for gratification.  You have an immature kernel and you ought not to be believed.  You just have to conform and get with the programme.
5.  You die, and if you psyche is in a good condition  when you die, you leave a worthwhile legacy to humanity through your sacrifice and proper attention to your duty.
So, this is the map of psychoanalysis – and as you can see, built into it there are not escape routes, not exit points, not even fire exits.  Obviously it is a paradigm created to keep very sinful and untrustworthy people on a particular prescribed and predetermined track.
But, one thing I also noticed.  This paradigm disallows EVEN THE POSSIBILITY of clear and honest communication at any point on the developmental ladder.  One is always delusional because under the sway of ego and its alleged goal of self-gratification.  So nothing you say is TRUE and nothing can be communicated, apart from the weird self-serving delusions (considered delusionary precisely to the extent that they depart from the normality of social convention).
***
And actually – apart from the priests – one need not see humanity in such a stark and hostile way.  For instance, one does not deride oneself for wanting to eat lunch.  It’s natural and normal to want satisfaction.  There’s nothing sinful about this.
To want to eat, to want to become fatter, is perfect, so long as there is a counterbalance and plenty of exercise and rest.
Also, to communicate, even about those things that the priestly paradigm has nominated as ABJECT, is not a crime or a sin.  One just has to realize that there has been priestly mislabelling.

Key Concepts

The constant short-circuiting of my message.    It seemed that CULTURALLY it was assumed that everything one said had to serve ego gratification in some way.  This was the block I kept encountering as I tried to develop my theory of shamanism in the humanities department – the specific blockage.   People kept assuming that whatever you said or did – even if you were pointing to pretty severe calamities – you were just pointing them out to gratify your “ego”.  So, it was after this that I began to see “ego” (in this particular sense of obstructing good sense and good communication) as a feature of Western culture, and perhaps its core cultural assumption.
But there is also another mode of being where one is too innocent to know (or deeply grasp) whether a particular experience is stigmatic or not.  That seemed to me a more WHOLE and desirable state.
To have one’s full range of experiences but not to divide oneself into stigmatised or unstigmatised sections seemed to me to be ideal.

More Proof

musteryou:

This is why people are so confused about value.

Originally posted on Clarissa's Blog:

If anybody still doubted that online degrees were worthless, Starbucks is paying for a few of its baristas to get garbage online degrees. The degrees offered by the diploma mill the poor bastards have to attend are in ultra-respectable fields such as Global Leadership. What a great prospect: from a Starbucks barista straight to being a global leader.

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stigma/lens

One of the marks of stigma is overly conscious thought or overly conscious behavior.   This is a fundamental stigmata that others recognize, because if a person has been forced to over-analyze their thoughts and actions, they have been caught out for expressing unnatural-seeming behavior before.  So, I think it’s the story of the frog and the princess, really.  If the princess kisses the frog, it can become a prince, but otherwise it keeps going along as a frog and even develops some further deformities.  What is the deformity?  Again – excessive self-awareness….which is not bad in itself, but draws attention as a stigmatizing sign.
But the shaman, being more than an artist, uses that acquired stigma as a double-sided sword or two-way lens.   It’s like this.  When I am stigmatized, I see into the concerns and anxieties that other people have that they are desperately trying to get rid of.  They want to force those negative aspects into me, but I (if I am shamanic enough) deflect or redirect their energies.   Whenever someone tries to project something into me, by retaining my neutrality, I recognize this as a feature of their own self-preoccupations.  Armed with this knowledge that they have inadvertently given me about themselves, I can do what I want with it (depending on the level of my ethics, capacities and good will).
I’m sure there are many adept practitioners of life, who are not socially awkward and can function on multi-levels of communication, but I think the difference is that the shaman carries a stigma which enhances his or her lens.
Also, I think that the mammalian herd level of existence is really just about nourishing the young and being warm and even-keeled.  I think that the lizard brain dimension actually feeds into and INFORMS (forms inwardly and instructs) the normative herd dimension WHEN IT IS UNDER STRESS.  You see, the foundations are determinant of what occurs at the higher levels of being.

Shamanic terminology

Why I chose the word dissociation to describe shamanic states was three-fold.

 

1.  It evokes exactly what you said it means, “coping mentality where things don’t seem real.”, but with an addendum because in effect, in shamanism, when things “do not seem real” that is the point where reality melts and has the possibility of reformulating itself.  Or more simply, when one suffers from “soul loss” one leaves the present mode of subjective conventionality and in this state of fugue one searches for the missing part of one’s identity until one finds it.  When one does find it eventually, one carries the missing soul part part into the realm of the here-and-now and one has recovered oneself.

 

2.   Dissociation has a sense of psychological organic responsiveness to it.  Whereas desolation is something that may have already been mapped by one’s culture, and therefore has objective features, dissociation always relates immediately to the subject him or herself and their own subjective features.  And it is a mechanism triggered by subjective need.

 

3.  The third reason I selected this term is to reclaim a psychiatric term and use it in a broader, but competing paradigm.