The schizophrenic, as I have shown, fears dedifferentiation because he equates it with death. He has failed to create a “womb” in his unconscious that could serve as a matrix for establishing unconscious linkages. [...] All he can do is copy the process of dedifferentiation on a conscious level which is impossible. He merely splinters his rigid imagery. Owing to their incompatibility the fragments become telescoped into ‘bizarre” (Bion) mixture forms. Symbol formation becomes impossible. What ought to have been conscious symbol and unconsciously symbolized object violently collide on the same conscious level. One of them must give way. [....] What the uncreative psychotic does is a horrible attempt at doing in the conscious world of hard unyielding objects what is only possible in the undifferentiated unconscious matrix of image making.
An undue emphasis on the role of depression in creativity at the expense of mania neglects the polarity of mania and depression. They are fundamental human attitudes, perhaps representative of Eros and Thanatos. Once we accept the equal status of the two polar positions, we can discern their cooperation rather than antagonism in the work of creative integration. Creative depression allows the ego nuclei which are split apart on a conscious level to be contained and held together, while creative mania swings down to an undifferentiated leve of awareness and resolves the sterilizing dissociation between the many levels of ego. Depression acheives ego’s HORIZONTAL integration (occurring on the same level), while mania leads to VERTICAL integration by joining surface imagery to its unconscious matrix. Together they bring about the basic rhythm on which the ego’s health depends. (Ehrenzweig 1967: 194-195).
I have suggested that Thanatos, the death instinct, could be made responsible for the self-destructive effect of dedifferentiation a temporary decomposition of the (depth) ego; abstract thought can be seen as a success of Eros, the life instinct […] (Ehrenzweig 1967: 284).
This psychological dynamic described above exemplifies the meaning of Zarathustra saying: “I love those who do not know how to live except their lives be a down-going, for they are those who are going across.”
Of course, just as we have pew sitters supporting child rape in the Catholic Church, we also have Establishment ‘Nietzscheans’ who sit very still on their perches whilst proclaiming that the above quote represents Nietzsche’s surreptitious trick for getting rid of those among us who are “mediocre” — those who, needless to say, are not perch sitters.
One of the most perplexing things I found when trying to adjust to Western society and its conceptions of how reality actually works was the reversal of subject-object relationships. I still find this extraordinarily difficult to cope with. It always takes me by surprise. It seems to me that within Western culture, subjects are not obliged to act under any circumstances. Rather, they are morally committed to sit around and wait for “objectivity” to make its move.
Although it sounds very odd when stated like this, the point can be stated rather more theoretically. Within the Western cultural system at large (there are exceptions to this rule in terms of small subcultures) reality — including subjective reality — is deemed to be the product of various kinds of “invisible hands”. There is, for instance, the invisible hand of the market, the invisible hand of fate, and the invisible hand of other people’s judgements about you. These determine your destiny. To act on your own behalf, on the other hand, is deemed to be egoistic and arrogant.
Westerners generally don’t act on each other’s behalves either. Instead they sit around and wait to see what the “invisible hand” has to say about the matter. To do anything other than remain perfectly passive whilst waiting for this hand to make its point is deemed to be mindblowingly conceited. “Who am I, a mere mortal on this Earth, to override the will of some potential (but not as yet visibly manifested) invisible hand?” One simply has to wait for fate to pronounce its verdict.
If any invisible hand wants you poor, it will certainly stamp on you in this way. Or alternatively, it might want you to prosper. In that case, any human intervention prior to fate calling forth its child would surely take the shine off such a momentous event, making it seem less valuable. Any invisible hand must surely be allowed to do its work, without others risking their own spiritual sanctification by speaking up. Far better to Rest in Peace.
I find this notion that “objectivity” alone creates subjects (and that it should be left alone to do so) to be laughable!
There is of course a lot of sentiment involved in returning to this earlier level of consciousness. But there is no sense of rabid emotionalism in the way that Westerners understand that or expect it: certainly, there is no sense of being “out of control”, but instead a contraction of my involvement with the world. I become more inward and narrowly rational.
I resort to the condition of being a Stoic.
Patriarchy is not noble. Taking the easiest approach in life is not noble. “Well,” you say, “women are weaker than me, so how can I show my strength unless I step all over them?”
A lack of skill in expressing one’s power, coupled with a failure of imagination is not noble, either.
If women are really weaker than you then for you to demonstrate a lack of intellectual and physical gumption in relation to women will not demonstrate your strength.
Patriarchy is not noble.
“Well,” you say, “in terms of my culture, I’m still gonna say it is.”
Pick your nose and you have an oyster! — in terms of your particular culture, that is!
Patriarchy is not strength.
Bataille is a Western thinker, although he has a bit of the Catholic tradition in him, too. It isn’t easy to explain transgression, but it has to do with one’s relationship with one’s Superego. Bataille likens it to “sinning”. To try to give you some idea, if one just conforms with what one has been taught to do, since childhood, one can be very moral, but one does not encounter the sacred. To have a fresh encounter with the sacred one has to go against the grain of what one has been taught is right since childhood. It’s not a matter of going against one’s conditioned ethics on principle, or in the abstract. To the contrary, what one is really doing is challenging one’s limitations. It can be very easy to be “good” in a passive sense. But there is a kind of goodness that transcends this passive sense of being good. By being bad, one goes beyond all earlier, naive conceptions of goodness (especially goodness as passive compliance to one’s authorities and their demands). One discovers a different way of looking at the world. The experience that allows the world to open up to you more than before is related to the sacred.
Consider the Idealism that defines the contemporary bourgeois personality structure as kind of dissociation. In this sense, what it allows is a kind of shamanistic journeying. One can be whatever one dreams one is, simply by dreaming it. One is not limited by physical reality or necessity, in terms of this mode of consciousness. I can run with the swiftest athletes, or deal with information as perfectly as any of the most refined thinkers.
The issue, then, is not whether I actually have the skills or basic building material to do these sorts of things. Rather, the deciding factor is how much self esteem I have. So it is when bourgeois consciousness takes its shamanistic journey: If I believe I can do any of these things, I surely can! Physical factors shall not limit me! I am only limited by my ability to dream (which is, in turn, limited only by my levels of self esteem!) The sky — the sky alone — is the limit and outer parameter for bourgeois consciousness, simply because it is a consciousness separated from material reality and from one’s body.
Physical reality and material limits can nonetheless obstruct one’s real progress at times. One realizes one doesn’t fly, after all and perhaps one understands implicitly if not altogether clearly in the mind that there are concrete limits to what one can do. Despite Oprah and The Secret, these limits have nothing to do with the level of one’s self-esteem, but with concrete factors — which an actual shaman makes it a life’s work to understand more fully.
Bourgeois shamanism is different. This particular shamanistic dissociation enacted by those who want to be upwardly mobile will inevitably bring no knowledge and experience back to the individual at the level of material awareness. When this becomes apparent, it turns out to be not shamanism at all, but rather a pathological state of dissociation.
The mind that wishes to fly ever upwards, economically, might wish to accuse those who have effectively accepted their concrete limitations of having “bad self esteem” for not living beyond their means. But this is not the nature of shamanistic realism, which understands that accepting one’s material limitations and working with them is the key to harmony.
The bourgeois “shaman” nonetheless expresses irritation at any manifestation of reality that doesn’t directly meet his standards (whereby one simply becomes whatever one wants to become). When he blames those who fail his standards, he ultimately blames himself — for he, himself, will also fail his standards to be whatever he imagines he can be.
“Heads will roll!” he says, over and over, and over, again. Without end. That is his final cry: the expressed outcome of his basic faith.
Last night, I dreamt of merino sheep. First they were on a plateau just above a cliff face in Scandinavia. Everything was bathed in a kind of orangy light, making the flat grass and cliff seem smooth and strange. These sheep were of the past, truly ancient, and were the sign of Scandinavian society’s wealth as it moved towards the future. Next, there were Merino sheep more locally, but I don’t remember them well at all. These sheep were in Australia, in the present, where the light is clear, less orangy and more translucent.
Considering Freudian theory, I am under the impression that the male consciousness, (in the process of projecting itself into the position of female experience), is rather disgusted with itself and self-condemnatory of the fact that it feels the penis is an instrument of damage. Yet at the same time, the male, in his consciousness cannot renounce that he has one. How does he reconcile the fact that he has a penis with the fact that he considers it would be entirely natural and healthy for women to recoil at the possibility of there being any sort of (damaging) instrument as a penis?
Muddled thinking. But it is the patriarchal normal way of reasoning out of any cognitive dissonance to make out that it is nature itself that is perverted and not the values and ideas of any patriarchal system.
Oddly enough, the ideology that continues to permit patriarchal violence seems to be so strongly predicated on the assumption that women do not like sex. In other words, it upholds the view that there is no point in differentiating the worst kinds of violence and psychological abuse from regular old sexual intercourse: according to patriarchal logic, if women accept the latter, then they are also obligated to accept the former.
My thesis looks at the life and writings of Dambudzo Marechera, a black Zimbabwean writer who adopted a particularly Modernist style of writing. He lived from 1952 –1987 and was a prolific writer during his short life. His psychological approach was born out of the social catastrophe of the second Chimurenga war against Rhodesian colonial authorities that took place from circa 1966-1980. Dambudzo Marechera was a boy born into a state of war and troubles. His first name loosely means “strife” in his Shona language. The thesis examines the way that psychological trauma in an African context is linked to an opening of the lens of consciousness into a very different understanding of identity than approaches relying on tradition or even contemporary identity politics. I argue that this alternative perspective has much in common with traditions of shamanism and with philosophical modernist notions of shamanism (Nietzsche and Bataille). I argue too that Marechera’s approach to writing literature, and to understanding the deeper nature of the world around him, relies on a conceptual doubling of the self. In this doubling process part of the identity stays in the here and now, that is it is anchored by the physicality of the body and its realistic identity, based on historical fact and recognisable physical characteristics – such as race and gender; whilst another part of the identity “journeys” into the spirit realm. This second level involves understanding that a shamanic practitioner psychologically dissociates from the body to experience a state of phenomenological disembodiment. He or she does so in order to search for solutions to society’s problems that are not accessible to the mind in its state of everyday consciousness. A shaman may journey to the higher realms of consciousness, to the lower realms, as well as into the past and the future. The thesis argues that Marechera’s writing reflects the quintessence of shamanistic practice and illustrates this by an analysis of his rich output of literary texts across a variety of literary genres.
An animal will fight to the death to protect its young from harm, from hurt, from pain.
What aberrations, then, are these, the parents of my generation? Truly there has never been any species before like the one called Rhodesian.
And I see, finally the truth behind the myth that was Rhodesia.
These we once called Elders, these who take such pride and pleasure in the pain and fear they sent their sons to endure, these twisted mentalities who calmly paid the annual fees for lifestyles they enjoyed, those annual fees that were invoiced with their children’s blood, these creatures are not supermen, not something special; just maggots who belong under the damp rock somewhere, protecting their fishbelly whiteness from the light of the sun.
White Man Black War -p131.
Lunatics and stalkers. These are not issues that overly concern me, but rather are topics that have entered through my peripheral vision via facebook.
The lunatics were those who merged and floated together just above the moon. I wasnt a lunatic, I was a goth. I had to try to drive two cars back from a camping trip at once. I was too only a young child, clambering up to look through the windscreen.
I was in a hotel suite. The phone rang — probably a work call. I lifted it up. Iwas to do with work, but in an unusual way.
A well modulated male voice was crackling over a very bad line: “I want you to fix the damage you have done ….. ten years ago, you told me …. global warming. “
“Where did you get my phone number?”
“Are you in Sydney?” he said.
“No,” I replied. But then again, upon reflection, I was.
“Where are you?” I said.
“I’ve always been in Perth.”
“How did you know that I was here?” I asked again. (Even I didn’t know for sure where I was.)
I had a few problems of my own. Just then, I noticed what I had managed to overlook before — that the alarm clock radio on the desk was emitting a gaseous blue flame. A certain amount of light was coming out of it, and every time I tried to pinch the blue flame out, the alarm clock glowed blue all over, after which time the little flame appeared elsewhere on it. Then I suddenly noticed that the radio was making it hard for me to hear, by belting out some kind of gaseous chorus. I said: “Just a minute ..”
I turn the volume dial down, but then I couldn’t hear once more for the volume turned itself up again.
The caller continued on and on in a measured, business-like way. I couldn’t hear him clearly over the static, but tried different questions.
I think in imagery, not in words. This essential difference enriches my life, but it also slows down the process of communication. I have to translate what I see (in my mind’s eye) into actual words that more-or-less convey the content. I do not immediately have, at the tip of my tongue, the right words for every situation — since situations are not, for me, replicable and interchangeable. Every single situation is a new one.
Due to the fact that I rely so heavily upon my own perception of any situation, I am not good at imposing order that I see to be arbitrary. I do not say, “Let such-and-such be a certain way!” I do not believe in Logos (language as efficacious “spirit”) very much. (One would have to be a postmodernist to hold that language by itself changes reality at the speed of light.) I believe in a slow pace, a gradual adjustment of the inward lens until things come into sharper focus.
I believe that my approach towards understanding my world is akin to shamanistic ways of understanding. This does not mean that it is actually shamanism, but it is akin to that. On the other hand, it seems to me that those who take the opposite approach — who view Logos itself as a command system, to control reality — are the shaman’s natural enemies. They are what Nietzsche refers to as the “priestly type”. They are the philosophical idealists who hold that reality itself has no existence apart from the priestly law. The priestly law is that one must take what the priest says as authoritative, and not dare to look at anything with one’s own eyes.
The priestly type is certainly the deadly enemy of the visual metaphor, whereas the shaman is its friend. The shaman says, “go forth and know for thyself and taste of this forbidden fruit – the knowledge of good and evil.” The priest says, “it is forbidden.”
My communicative processes are slow. I tred, at times, with heavy feet, and glib and well-sounding phrases do not immediately come to my lips. The signs for all to see, if they are capable of seeing, is that I am not one of the priestly type.
When I hear, at times, a priestly type speaking — in his conventional priestly manner — I hear that he wants to pull the wool over my eyes, by combating words with words. I wonder why he doesn’t know that words are just an epiphenomenon of my vision — and fundamentally inessential to it? Just because he speaks the opposite words to the ones I have just spoken, he believes himself to have thoroughly refuted me. Now he sits down and is content, believing himself to have cast the devil far asunder. Now he partakes of various other intoxicants of the mind; some ‘good book’ — perhaps Nietzsche, whom he reads as just another Malleus Maleficarum. (For ‘Logos’ without vision means that all “authoritative” books are just another version of the One and Only Western priestly text: The Bible.)
But, I KNOW — It’s hard to get this message across.
I speak slowly.
Not only does he lie, who speaks when he knows better, but more so, he who speaks when he knows nothing. And thus you speak of yourselves, and lie to your neighbor with yourselves.
Thus says the fool: “Association with men spoils the character, especially when one has none.”
The one goes to his neighbor because he seeks himself, and the other because he would rather lose himself. Your bad love of yourselves makes solitude a prison to you.
It is the farthest ones who pay for your love to the near ones; and even when there are five of you together, there is always a sixth who must die.
I do not love your festivals either: I found too many actors there, and even the spectators often behaved like actors.
Not the neighbor do I teach you, but the friend. Let the friend be the festival of the earth to you, and a foretaste of the Overman.
I teach you the friend and his overflowing heart. But one must know how to be a sponge, if one would be loved by over-flowing hearts.
I teach you the friend in whom the world stands complete, a capsule of the good, — the creating friend, who always has a complete world to give away.
And as the world unrolled itself for him, so rolls it together again for him in rings, as the becoming of good through evil, as the becoming of purpose out of chance.
Let the future and the farthest be the motive of your today; in your friend you shall love the Overman as your motive.
My brothers, I advise you not to love of the neighbor – I advise you to love of the farthest!
My dawning insight is that women may be able to shamanise more easily than males. By that I mean that they MAY find it more easy to access their natural powers of creativity born out of cataclysm/trauma more easily than males can most often do. Now I think about it, my dream was about cataclysm (Victoria Falls, and the bursting of the womb) that leads to redoubling oneself into a new force that is giving birth to a new society.
Having said that, I think that Mike is a shamanistic male, one who is able to access the pre-existing primeval rhythms of destruction and regeneration within himself. To know the force of these powers is to give force to ones personality. I consider Mike to be one of the most masculine of men. The only thing with shamanism is that one should be able to ride the primeval forces like a wave — that way both the primeval forces and the higher mind are united. Anton Ehrenzweig sees, in the capacity to move between destruction and regeneration of perception, the key to creativity. Shamanism extends the process further as the destruction and regeneration of one’s very self. And even Freud took note of the pattern as inherent in our very biology – one submits to Thanatos when one goes to sleep. Waking up, one presumably comes under the sway of Eros.
Frida Kahlo is the archetype of the female shaman, whose body, being shattered, gives her visions.
“What does it mean to give birth to oneself?”
I am in the womb of patriarchy, perched on its precipice.
There’s no way out. Paths lead here or there, but movement — running — is the only way to neutralise the patriarchy, and there are militia working distractedly on every corner.
The young girl who is me, and isn’t me, has dust on her face, and her skin is taut through stress-related dehydration. But she has learned to run. Her running is supernatural. She has attained esoteric knowledge, through metaphysical struggle. I kiss her face in symbolic reassurance.
The whole structure is collapsing inwards, so that VICTORIA FALLS cannot be kept back but starts to cascade into the very structure of the building.
A Shona woman says: “The new society appears in the womb of the old.”
I was reflecting on Deleuze and Guattari last night, and I do believe that they have a huge flaw in their philosophy. There is a lot of good stuff, too, but like most positions that rely rather more on theory than on experience, they have drawn too wide a sweep concerning their theory of anti-oedipus. What they effectively end up doing is to say that “part object” thinking — ie. thinking that is traditionally ascribed to the early pre-Oedipal stage (although they rightfully argue it goes beyond this “stage”) — should take the place of thinking in terms of whole objects. In other words, it is a particular function that is associated with any person that is more important than the personhood of that person. The personhood of the person is not ontologically important — as that plays into the logic of Oedipus, which is what they want to dispense with.
So D&G’s liberation from fascism and moral dogmatism seems inextricably linked to liberation from the influence of persons. One need not see the other as a whole person, but only see them in terms of what they can give to you; the particular function that they offer.
I think this is not very liberatory, overall, from a feminist point of view. Too many males are already accustomed to viewing women as “part objects” in a way that relates to their experiences of their mothers. “A woman is one who nurtures me and makes me feel good.” “A woman is one who is malicious and mean, withholding nurturing.” These kind of perspectives involve the reduction of the whole woman to the function of nurturing. Such epistemological reduction of reality to the level of “part objects” does not, however, avoid the lure of moralising. We know that patriarchy does almost nothing else than moralise about women from the perspective of treating them as part-objects (functions or potential functions in the service of patriarchy).
So I would say that although D&G want to align themselves with feminism in theory, they actually fail in practice.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are persons - not ‘part objects’.
Let me make it very clear, right from the outset: I do not consider that one can hold a philosophical position of any sort and blame victims for their problems. When one blames victims for their problems, one is adopting an ideological stance. This has nothing to do with philosophy.
There are various philosophies, nonetheless, that lend themselves to a logic of victim-blaming. One would have to be a crude reader of these philosophies and at the same time lack the capacity for observation of other human beings to derive such a reading from these texts. Such perspectives may nonetheless be produced and developed because of the very, very low level of education that many have received.
In Nietzsche’s philosophy, it would be logical to conclude that social oppression is the clear enemy, since it produces an inward psychological poisoning — “ressentiment” (hidden, but active resentment). The common assumption that because one belongs to an oppressed group — blacks or women — that one must suffer from ressentiment is clearly wrong. The common assumption that if one complains of oppression that one is suffering from ressentiment is also wrong. The common assumption that more oppression is the only “Nietzschean” solution to those who suffer from oppression is also wrong. None of this takes into account individual psychology — even less does it take into account that the origin of the downward form of oppression may be ressentiment. Just because somebody is powerful in material terms does not mean that they cannot be weak of character and suffer from delusions. There is nothing in Nietzsche’s philosophy to suggest that material success is associated with a strong character. Nonetheless, it is the most common ideological perspective to assume that women and blacks (especially if poor) are actually oppressing the oppressors. It is assumed that they are demoralising white males as a collective identity just by existing. So speaks ideology — But not, I hasten to add, philosophy.
Then there is the Freudian strain of victim blaming. This is related to the incest taboo, which infants are considered to show little capacity to observe. Similarly, in parts of Africa, it is thought that adult AIDS victims can cure themselves by raping a child. It should be clear who the guilty party and who the innocent party is here. The innocent party is the child. This doesn’t mean that the adult doesn’t have a heavy burden to bear, or that life isn’t desperately unfair for the adult AIDS sufferer. It’s all that way and more, especially when a sense of moral guilt is added to the physical decline associated with the AIDS virus. Nothing could be worse. But sharing the guilt around isn’t really a solution. Just because one has caught the AIDS virus doesn’t mean that an innocent child should carry the responsibility.
“We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead.”–Isaiah 59:10
“and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.” Deuteronomy 28:29
“And the blindness of the blind one, and his seeking and groping, shall yet testify to the power of the sun into which he hath gazed,–did ye know that before?”–Nietzsche
Compare the quotes above Nietzsche gave a very non-Biblical (shamanistic) meaning to his aphorisms. He thought it was funny to take portentous Biblical words and change them into ideas that oppose Biblical trains of thought with more naturalistic ones. For instance, he thought that knowledge had to do with realizing just how necessarily and interminably irrational reality is. The more one gazes into this fact, the more one loses one’s illusions about any overarching rationale for human existence.
In opposition to the Biblical views, which imply that blindness to the light is the result of not acquiescing to God’s will, Nietzsche maintains that blindness is the result of gazing too directly into reality — that is too much into “the light”.
Marechera must surely have read Nietzsche, as his parodic humor suggests that the blinding light of knowledge emerges out of the Devil’s ass.