Historical forces and psychological projection

I confess to quite an acute skepticism of psychoanalysis because its terms of reference have seemed to me limited to the late capitalist nuclear family, without taking into account social or historical events.    Because this kind of psychoanalysis is worse than useless to me personally, my skepticism had continued to grow and grow. Recently, however, I found this article and considered it embrace a balanced form of humanism.

I’ve learned to steer clear of traditional psychoanalysis because the paradigm it promotes seems to encourage people to believe that is one is suffering in some way, it is likely to be because one is “projecting something”.  I developed the impression that psychoanalysis was often, if not always, a means to expressing an unwillingness to deal with historical facts.   By not dealing with these and with the impact they can have on the psyche, one preserves a sense that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and that nothing  can or should be changed, apart from at the level of the individual.   That is, the person suffering should change themselves, but they should do so in a way that doesn’t implicate others or avoidable historical circumstances in the process of change.   They should just make the changes as part of their moral duty to society, above all by hardening up and not taking any nonsense from anybody.

While I’m sure that the imperatives of bourgeois society are not necessarily the imperatives of psychoanalysis, there seems to be an overlap.  According to the article I’ve linked to, the capacity to dig into emotional states, to find out what is there,  is a core part of psychoanalysis. But, psychoanalysis occurs in a context, which is that of contemporary society, the society of the bourgeois individual.  The functioning of the individual is important within this sort of system, but their individual mental states are not relevant so long as they perform their job effectively.  Forms of therapy that would try to coax a person into expressing a certain impersonal demeanor are particularly noxious, although perhaps quite common.   The article linked above outlines how psychoanalysis is supposed to simply make a person more aware of their hidden motivations, so as to have more control over their lives. The impressive aspect of the article was that it didn’t frame a person’s suffering in terms of individual moral culpability.

My resistance to psychoanalysis as a system has been on the basis that I must necessarily and rightfully defend myself against insinuations based on bourgeois concepts of moral culpability.   I don’t mean to imply that I’m a perfect little angel, in bourgeois terms.   I just want to get rid of the bourgeois framing of experience.   We are not guilty sinners, who suffer because of our mistakes or deficiencies.  This reductive way of viewing human nature does much harm.   Rather, we deal with issues the way we do, sometimes inadequately, because of emotional overload.

Sometimes the emotional overload is so strong that we demand others bear some of its weight.   That is known as ‘projective identification’.  One does not resort to this because one is immoral or lax, but more probably because one does not know how else to deal with the burning intensity of emotional pain apart from spreading it around.   By doing so, one survives, although if the emotions one has to spread are negative, this is highly costly to others.

We may often not come to  like people who project onto us, because they are giving us a burden not our own.   That tends to produce resentment and sometimes rage. If the project is negative, and not made up of overflowing joy, or if authority is not what’s being projected onto us, we may feel that we have no choice but to carry someone else’s pathology.  We might do this willingly or unwillingly, but it can be more difficult, when young, to develop the ego strength to resist powerful forms of projection.

2.

I still have the notion that disaster can strike at any time, and it will be my fault.

I think I understand how that belief came about, but I would never have reached an understanding apart from  my belated awareness of some very specific historical circumstances.

My father’s rage was lit by his mother allowing her husband, his father, to be killed on a flying jaunt in World War 2.   Participating in the war was “the thing to do,” his mother had said.  It sounded frivolous.  He didn’t have to do it, but it was the flavor of the day.  My father said he didn’t “trust her judgement”.  Of course not — because a light tone ought not to be followed by a disaster.  The two aspects of the deadly outcome, the feeling before the world fell apart and the feeling afterwards, are incongruous.  There was much to distrust, including possibly, his mother’s judgement.

All the same, I know what she was feeling, because it was how I felt when harsh and critical judgement were projected onto me.  You see, my father didn’t ‘trust my judgement’ either, on the basis that I seemed like a person not to be trusted.   When I scan the past for anything I may have done to provoke such unwarranted criticism, I do not find it.  It is likely that my gender was the fundamental element that drew this fire.

My grandmother’s internal workings have become mine, to a certain extent, as a result of my father’s issues.  It is true to say that his relationship with her became his relationship with me.  I know how it feels to be blamed for something terrible that one can’t quite put one’s finger on.  I’ve had the responsibility to rectify historical wrongs, but without understanding their specifics.   I just felt guilty.  Also, it was very important for me that the world should know that I was deeply traumatized and not ‘hysterical’ — women of my grandmother’s era were often depicted as ‘hysterical’ and my father was inclined to handle his rage by displacing it — and condemning me.

The plane that went up and never came down was all my fault.   I didn’t realize the source of all the hostility and aggression, but had I understood it all much earlier, my ego would have still needed further years to develop to be able to take the strain of being targeted in this way.

Psychoanalysis may be a useful tool, then, if it helps people to understand the sources of their pains, but it surely takes a great deal more to overcome historically inflicted blows — and, if history is out of its picture to begin with, what then …?

RHODESIA, SEX AND GENDER:  THE RIGHT-WING WAY.

3. The cure for a man who still believes in female hysteria is to wait until he has something very urgent he needs you to understand.

Then say: “I’m sorry. I’m not getting it. Would you try and say that again in a way I can understand? I encourage you to keep persisting, if you like. Or, by the same token, don’t persist. Either way, it’s all the same to me!”

What is the unconscious mind?

I much prefer the unconscious being the relational side of the brain, rather than it being seen as the repressed vestige of the mind’s suppressed aggression and rage.  It just makes more sense not to condemn and vilify emotional experiences as such.  It’s the condemnation of emotion, common in certain cultures, that produces the repressed unconscious.   In reality, though, we can’t have any relationships without emotion.  The emotion we experience in relation to the other is, actually, the relationship itself.  Apart from this, there is no relationship, although there can be a formal agreement in place.

All relationships must be regularly fine-tuned, if they are to be maintained, and this is done by the relational side of the brain. If we are unable to maintain relationships through this fine-tuning, we end up with repressed aggression and repressed rage.  These, however, do not constitute the authentic nature of the unconscious.

My memoir and the theory behind it

An interview with Allan Shore

QUOTE:

His training as a psychoanalyst was critical in highlighting the importance of the relationship between the mother and the infant. But there was a struggle within psychoanalysis – in particular between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein – about how much was really a creation of the infants mind., a phantasy. Bowlby began to fervently argue and bring in data from other disciplines to show that the real relationship, that the real events, not only were there but they were indelibly and permanently shaped there in a way that would affect the way that the personality would develop over the lifespan.  [EMPHASIS MINE]

This is precisely what I was interested in studying when I wrote my memoir!

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2013

I’ve decided not to try to change much.  If something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it, as the old cliche goes.

 

My goals for that rabid number, 2013, are to develop further with my fitness and my training.  I’ll probably do a grading (martial arts test) in June, as it is going, since I slightly injured my left knee again.  Also, it is much easier to do the grading in the middle of winter, than when the heat presses in on you.

 

Whatever I am doing, I will just do more of it.

 

As I am writing and editing, I will do more of that.

 

I will increase my amount of training, be consistent, and get into some sparring.

 

I will continue to assist others and to teach.

 

Small changes:

 

I will try to eat less meat, during the summer.

 

I will start a new project to meticulously produce at least one small book.

 

I will brush up and improve on:

 

1.  Formal logic

 

2.  French

 

3.  Shona

 

 

Gendered discourses

1.  As Theodore L. Dorpat says, primary process thinking deals with the relational aspect of the communication. To use my own words, people are always thinking, “How does this other person relate to me? Am I someone they want to dominate, someone they want to submit to, or am I considered equal?” We can attempt to communicate to others by disregarding this side of communication, but that is unrealistic, because you cannot have a relationship with someone based purely on the exchange of facts.

Despite this, it seems that many people have been taught that an ideal relationship is based purely on factual exchange, and this method is the best for avoiding emotional complications. However, the very same people who believe this also quickly become paranoid if the other party also goes into stealth mode by avoiding signalling his intent.

This indicates that they expect to experience the emotional side of the relationship, but they don’t want to have to pay attention to it or to work on it. They reap their twisted harvest.

2.  Attempting to communicate without relating, many American men fall into a mode of paranoia.  Often this does not take long.  The subtext goes like this:

I was just trying to regale you with “the facts”, but I see you are not trying to relate to me as a human being after all.  I can’t stand it. “You’re a mess”.

Am I wrong in suggesting that a demand that only one party should express themselves in a relational manner (and will be penalized for not doing so) is a gender issue?

I am not mistaken at all, because those who start from that position also go on to condemn those who do not relate to them  for being “a female stereotype” who have perhaps also brought the condemnation on themselves.

A demand that one side of the equation should “relate” whilst the other side should avoid relating is, therefore, a demand that others play a gendered role in the communication process.

Accepting you have become corrupted and recovery

Let’s Spread the Word: Wetiko | Reality Sandwich:

‘via Blog this’

An article, linked to above, worth reading.  It may come across as New Age, but I also arrived at the same conclusions through my careful, far more academic study and observation.

I also concluded that the patriarchal religions perpetuate this deformed state of consciousness, by encouraging men to project their darkness onto women.

Intellectual shamanism reverses this process by insisting that one develop a relationship with oneself.  As the article says:

[The pathological person’s] will becomes dedicated to hiding from the truth of what they are doing, a truth which endlessly pursues them, as they continually avoid relationship with themselves.  [Emphasis mine].

My intellectual shamanism is concerned with the structuring of the human psyche and with remedies through restructuring and forming a relationship with other parts of yourself, that may have become alienated from the whole.  Accepting one’s dissociated and split state, one goes looking for them.  This does not involve blind searching, but active and reasoned looking.

The moralistic tone of the article, especially where it suggests that “excess” or boundary-crossing are always “evil” reveals much of the limitations of New Age psychology.  Whether these are “evil”, or corrective of pathology depends on how you use them.  Otherwise, it’s like saying that dynamite is bad under all circumstances — because it causes destruction. Few things are intrinsically bad in and of themselves — and sometimes a degree of destruction is necessary, in order to recover full health.

Shamanism and identity

The old and new traditions of shamanism are linked by their idea of the psyche as being made of disparate elements that require integration if one is to function as a human being, without an integral loss of being or distortion of it.   Nietzsche depicts Zarathustra as being concerned with the selfsame issues:

When Zarathustra went one day over the great bridge, then did the cripples and beggars surround him, and a hunchback spake thus unto him:

“Behold, Zarathustra! Even the people learn from thee, and acquire faith in thy teaching: but for them to believe fully in thee, one thing is still needful–thou must first of all convince us cripples! Here hast thou now a fine selection, and verily, an opportunity with more than one forelock! The blind canst thou heal, and make the lame run; and from him who hath too much behind, couldst thou well, also, take away a little;–that, I think, would be the right method to make the cripples believe in Zarathustra!”

Zarathustra, however, answered thus unto him who so spake: When one taketh his hump from the hunchback, then doth one take from him his spirit–so do the people teach. And when one giveth the blind man eyes, then doth he see too many bad things on the earth: so that he curseth him who healed him. He, however, who maketh the lame man run, inflicteth upon him the greatest injury; for hardly can he run, when his vices run away with him–so do the people teach concerning cripples. And why should not Zarathustra also learn from the people, when the people learn from Zarathustra?

It is, however, the smallest thing unto me since I have been amongst men, to see one person lacking an eye, another an ear, and a third a leg, and that others have lost the tongue, or the nose, or the head.

I see and have seen worse things, and divers things so hideous, that I should neither like to speak of all matters, nor even keep silent about some of them: namely, men who lack everything, except that they have too much of one thing–men who are nothing more than a big eye, or a big mouth, or a big belly, or something else big,–reversed cripples, I call such men.

And when I came out of my solitude, and for the first time passed over this bridge, then I could not trust mine eyes, but looked again and again, and said at last: “That is an ear! An ear as big as a man!” I looked still more attentively–and actually there did move under the ear something that was pitiably small and poor and slim. And in truth this immense ear was perched on a small thin stalk–the stalk, however, was a man! A person putting a glass to his eyes, could even recognise further a small envious countenance, and also that a bloated soullet dangled at the stalk. The people told me, however, that the big ear was not only a man, but a great man, a genius. But I never believed in the people when they spake of great men–and I hold to my belief that it was a reversed cripple, who had too little of everything, and too much of one thing.

When Zarathustra had spoken thus unto the hunchback, and unto those of whom the hunchback was the mouthpiece and advocate, then did he turn to his disciples in profound dejection, and said:

Verily, my friends, I walk amongst men as amongst the fragments and limbs of human beings!
This is the terrible thing to mine eye, that I find man broken up, and scattered about, as on a battle- and butcher-ground.

And when mine eye fleeth from the present to the bygone, it findeth ever the same: fragments and limbs and fearful chances–but no men!  [emphasis mine]

Attaining wholeness — this was the project that Bataille read into Nietzsche in his introduction to his book, On Nietzsche.   Bataille thought the majority of his time was prevented from being whole due to the enslaving nature of work.  In other words, history has a structure that creates deformities in its subjects. One need not take up Bataille’s Marxist view explicitly to understand that history — and our responses to it — lead to the fracturing of identity.

Identity is, after all, not a tangible possession, but is an emotional relationship to one’s inwardness.   One is whole so long as one’s inwardness is integral, But force of circumstance may cause one to lose that relationship with one’s integral self.  In that case, one loses wholeness and becomes deficient as a human being.

The resulting deficiency is not precisely personal, but can be viewed in terms of one’s relationship to one’s environment, which will differ from individual to individual, whilst often also having some aspects that are held in common (depending on the nature of the historical dynamite that would be capable of separating limb from limb).

It’s easiest to give an example on the basis of one’s own experiences, since one can claim to know oneself the best.   In my case, I experienced a degree of emotional numbing after emigrated from Africa to Australia in 1984.   In shamanistic terms, this meant my inner sense of identity had become scattered and was less than integral.   Emotional scattering is also cognitive scattering, as Antonio Damasio suggests. It can lead to being unable to make the best decisions.  Due to my having become scattered, I became susceptible to many viruses, as well as to others’ misinterpretations of my identity.   I needed to restore the parts of myself that had become historically scattered, in order to restore my sense of wholeness.

My idea is that the fundamental goal of shamanisms, past and present, is to restore the individual’s human wholeness, by recovering the parts of the self that has been lost due to historical change.

Since shamanism deals with history and with political forces, it differs from psychoanalysis, which restricts itself to pathologies arising from family structures.

Intellectual shamanism today is concerned with strategies to restore an individual’s wholeness, through emotional integration of parts that were at times lost, due to the suddenness or violence of historical shifts.

Clarifying some concepts of INTELLECTUAL SHAMANISM

JFA:    
My use of psychology is totally abnormal … because what I am stating is that when you lose touch with conventional reality, because of hardship, or pain, you go on a journey to find a better reality and you come up with one
KR:    
can the external condition be an agent or another being of some sort or its just a deformity created by extraordinary conditions
JFA:    
especially Perkinson’s text on shamanism as a black American identity and Taussig. My view is closer to Taussig’s
conventionally it is a deformity, but I don’t think this is what it actually is
KR:    
Does intellectual Shamanism manifest only through the affected person’s ability to engage intellectually through works such as writing?
JFA:    
I think there are reasons to think, in the case of Bataille and Nietzsche, and others, that it enhances self awareness
Not just writing, but self-awareness
KR:    
Marechera, to a reasonable observer’s POV, exhibited strong evidence of being mentally ill or mad.
JFA:    
Yeah.
KR:    
… so despite that, he was more self aware?
JFA:    
It is also a feature of aspects of Bataille and Nietzsche’s writings — they are seen as mad philosophers
That is exactly what I’m saying, although I also allow that the cost of being self-aware can be a painful sort of madness
Like Nietzsche said, Hamlet was mad because he was certain of the truth
KR:    
One would find it hard to give one’s child Marechera’s children’s book!
and yet what he advises kids is naked truth which is normally not told to kids directly
JFA:    
Yeah, yeah, that is what I see, too
actually, to know the truth about power relations could send most people mad. They don’t want to know it
 0
KR:    
I am more convinced that most of normal life is false and the life Marechera saw and experienced was the truth … and living, walking and talking it appears abnormal
JFA:    
We have a god intoxication, or an idealism intoxication, in that we believe in hidden purposes, or that life is a training ground for morality.
To see that this is not the case is difficult
It would wreck the psyches of most people
 4
KR:    
I agree … and so lies seem to normalise life … and make morality seem sane??
 5
JFA:    
In a way. It’s not so much lying, but idealism, which is a milieu we’re born into. It’s a kind of lie, or distortion, but also a form of adaptation
It’s not like it’s morally wrong not to have a morality, if you know what I mean.
Or that it’s morally right to have one. You are standing outside of morality
 7
KR:    
You talking to someone who is not technical in this subject – more of a novice and so my language is not very good
 8
JFA:    
OK, I meant Nietzsche, Marechera and Bataille are standing outside of the idea that there are hidden moral principles in the universe
 8
KR:    
Yaah, I understand better when you say “standing outside morality”, which is a perfect context for most of what Marechera did and say!
 9
JFA:    
But I think you understand it
Well, because most people think there are hidden principles governing outcomes, when there are none
There is no principle that assures that if people do the right thing they will have good lives. They will more likely be serving others without realizing it
 1
KR:    
I remember reading where Marechera wrote something along the lines “don’t listen to what your parents and all adults say, because they all lie to you and all other little children”
 1
JFA:    
Yeah, yeah. It’s idealism
Nietzsche called it the ascetic ideal
 1
KR:    
I don’t fully understand what idealism is.
 1
JFA:    
ah
It’s a bit hard to explain
 2
KR:    
The question is to whom should little kids listen to … Marechera seem to tell kids to just do what they want
 3
JFA:    
Yeah, good point
Well he thought kids had a better capacity to live a meaningful life than adults
 3
KR:    
is this not anrachism?
anarchism
 4
JFA:    
I think it differs from anarchism although it is compatible
 4
KR:    
How does it differ?
 5
JFA:    
Well, the idea that kids are in tune with nature or the universe in a way that adults have lost touch with
So, if adults get in touch with what the kids still have, they will live more meaningful lives
…which is also the benefit of going mad
because you get back into that childlike condition of receptivity
 6
KR:    
being in tune with narture, I hope is not equivalent to extreme form of limited experience and knowledge – which is what little kids have.
 7
JFA:    
ha. Well, that is the other side of the paradigm. I had to do battle with that one, because it is the bourgeois perspective
But the idea is the quality of life, not the content, or in other words, ontology, not epistemology
 9
KR:    
“bourgeois perspective” – no idea what it is.
 9
JFA:    
Um…it’s kind of the cynical view that there can only be one sort of order and that is the one we presently have
For instance, that to be adult you need to conform to existing mores, have a full time job, etc
 1
KR:    
By quality of life do you mean, in a child’s case, the perfect state of bliss, lack of care and worry, built on a foundation of no knowledge of what might or might not be?
 1
JFA:    
not really.
Actually, if you look at Georges Bataille, who was a French philosophical writer, he says that this “non-knowledge” involves the embrace of terror in the immediacy. So instead of trying to postpone our terror of death, we encounter it directly, without mediation.
But this gives us quality of life, because then we start living it as it really is and don’t postpone it
 3
KR:    
For Marechera, I wonder whether there was a way of his viewing the world that did not accelerate his physical discomfort or destruction
 4
JFA:    
We can even live it on our own terms, because we know that there is no truth outside of ourselves of the sort that really matters in an eternal or infinite way
I think it did accelerate his destruction
Morality, even though it is false, is mode of self-preservation
 5
KR:    
I wonder where if the sense of self-preservation or is this state also invalidates self-preservation?
 6
JFA:    
Nietzsche seemed to think that it was both
Your preserve something, but you also lose something
 6
KR:    
Oh I had not seen your last sentence on self preservation.
 6
JFA:    
I hope this makes sense
Nietzsche thought that those who wanted to seek beyond themselves would sacrifice themselves to their best qualities
Sorry. “create”beyond themselves
 9
KR:    
It does not because nature itself if left to operate will establish brutal rules such that non-conformance will lead to one destruction … rules of nature must be obeyed in most cases unless one craft strategy to postpone their repercussions.
  1
JFA:    
What are the rules of nature?
 2
KR:    
any that can natural befall matter
 2
JFA:    
Still don’t quite understand what you are saying
what your objection is
 3
KR:    
anything that naturally happen does so by force of rules of nature
3
JFA:    
Kind of, but nature is also pretty random
 4
KR:    
yes but the randomness is systematic
which makes it the rule
4
JFA:    
Yes, it tends to be systematic in the broader picture and random on the micro level
What is your objection concerning “nature”?
 5
KR:    
there are times what I see order in randomness
5
JFA:    
yeah, there is order in randomness, indeed.
 5
KR:    
My view is that being close to nature does not lead to quality of life
6
JFA:    
Yeah, being close to nature, as in being subjected to it, is not good
 6
KR:    
so it probably does not explain Marechera
6
JFA:    
But one does not subject oneself to nature as a necessity, but only by way of an experiment, and on one’s own terms.
hmmm
a matter of terminology
also I don’t quite understand what your objection is, but I think it is to the term, “nature”. But one need not understand it in terms of the grass and trees
  
8
JFA:    
Being wild, living under the hibiscus bush
ok
a temporary immersion in an unmediated reality — that is what I meant by “nature”
 9
KR:    
To me nature is both what you say AND also interacting with the elements
0
JFA:    
Ok. Yes, probably. I think the key is to get away from the mediation of civilizing meanings
 0
KR:    
“unmediated” – means in both the virtual and the physical
1
JFA:    
To destroy your civilized mind with drugs and alcohol
 2
KR:    
thats probably not the only way … there may be more ways to achieve it 🙂
2
JFA:    
of course!
So we will talk later
 3
KR:    
I believe living purely and normally can also achieve it in the manner that people like Ghandhi may have done
later
3
JFA:    
I think that is a way to live morally, but it doesn’t touch on the kind of realm of experience that Nietzsche, Bataille and Marechera did
 4
KR:    
Can any one really seek this?
Answer next time
5
JFA:    
I think they tend to be thrown into it by force of circumstance, but that they find something beneficial in it
I don’t think you seek shamanic initiation unless your life is already hellish and it seems the only option 

After the Chimurenga

 | Clarissa’s Blog

People have tried to change me ever since the end of the Second Chimurenga, in 1980.  Both political leftists and political rightists have tried it for reasons best known to them.

This eventually caused me layer upon layer of traumatisation.

Once you get pulled into the power of evil people, the effect of their force field is hard to resist.  Other people won’t let you get away. I’ve even had people imply that because I was in such a hard place that I tried to accommodate all the demands for change, this meant I had an unstable sense of self.  If you try to give people what they’re forcing you to give, it means you had something wrong with you from the start.  The ideology of dominance and submission typically reverses cause and effect.   “If you comply with me, I will prove you are evil!” is the ideology of evil and self-hating people.

The good news is, I’ve finally found a way through — by giving up.

You know, if an assailant has you in a bear hug, you can find that difficult to resist, but if he grabs you when you have a lot of air in your chest, you can suddenly let all the air out and make your body go limp. You can then drop to the ground and escape.

This is what I’ve finally managed to do on a psychological level, because I had learned over the years that the more I resisted, the worse it would become for me.

Restoring lost things

People have said to me in not precisely these words, “How dare you go on about the same thing, this African thing?  Why not give it up?”

The answer has always been: “No! Impossible.  One cannot mingle mechanically in the realm of things and systems when there are those lost items missing.”

Now I understand — although I didn’t then — why I was hell-bent on recovering lost facets of reality; how this task preoccupied my every waking moment.   To recover lost possibilities — that was the meaning of my memoir and forms its basic structure.   These experiences were primarily those of my father, who had lost everything.

My allotted task, whether I denied it or not, was to be a better mother to my father than his mother had been.

That is why I had to find these missing items, which were facets of experience.   Once I found them, I would not only understand my task better, but I would be more effectively equipped for the main task.

The attempt to understand unconscious processes through writing led to the absurd result that I ended up writing a memoir that wasn’t really about me, but about “my task”, and if asked, even up to a couple of years ago I couldn’t define it.

“Restore what was lost.”  That is what my father had communicated to me via his subliminal language.

Something was very much lost and I had to find it.   Finding it would make things good again.  Find the lost elements; the lost facets.  Then you can restore everything.

My father’s lost childhood, then his lost brother, then his lost war, then his lost home from the backdrop to my writing.   Everything lost.

When I finished writing the book, I felt that I had begun the restoration process, which was far from finished. I had at least established, “things were lost”.  But then people confused me.  They said the book was about me, when I didn’t see so much of myself in the book, but rather my overwhelming project, the project that preoccupied me night and day, and made me feel on the verge of failure. I was getting older and still hadn’t found “it” yet.  That made everything seem more urgent.   Every email sent to me might have contained a clue.

I realize now, the sense of urgency I had come from the role of mother I’d been allotted.  The mother saves.  Only she didn’t.  She deposited her child in boarding school and left him at the mercy of his cold, adoptive father.  So, now I was given the task to save my father, part of whom had been left in boarding school, and part back in Rhodesia.   Yet, my father made me mad, very mad, and angry.

He was an unpleasant fellow to be around, viewing me very hazily as if I had been some ephemeral ghost, whilst making gender-stereotyping pronouncements.  He had a short fuse, and responding in unconventional ways to anything would be enough to set him off.

He liked to see everything about the world only in one way.   In this perspective, there were no problems or difficulties.   If you brought a difficulty to his attention, it was because you were being an undependable child, showing a lack of faith and trust in something higher than you were.   You were trying to tear down the social system with your little issue.   I deserved the severest censure, and no reprimand could be harsh enough.

My father also demanded that despite being worthless and a failure, it was still my job to save him.   I had to save him from his worthlessness and sense of failure, which was actually an emotional state.

My thesis was, in a way, trying to save him; my memoir, definitely so.

But then people said I was writing it about myself, and that confused me, since I couldn’t see where I appeared in this.

The Marecheran genre and the importance of history

Imagine if you had begun your life in a country which began a civil war when you were in primary school. You were exceptionally smart, but “civilization” was identified as the capacity to speak English and act in a British way, whereas liberation was identified as the ability to renounce British values, including the English language? Imagine your parents were on the side of the “liberation”, but to be on that side meant you couldn’t liberate yourself personally from a state of extreme poverty and repression, since the only means to do so was by getting an education in a missionary school? The psychological conflict this would produce would be tremendous. It would probably tear your mind apart.

And then, someone comes along and presumes to analyse your psychological torment in relation to your comments about how your mother had become a prostitute to support the family. “What a terrible thing to say about one’s mother!”

Well, this is to suppose that the writer was just alleging prostitution and that his mother hadn’t actually needed to make money in this way. Why doubt the writer? It must be important to make it seem like all of his psychological torment was a result of having “mummy issues”, but why does a critic need to see it that way?

Psychoanalytical theories and perhaps especially academic versions of those, do not take into account political and social issues. They make those who have used every amount of ingenuity to survive tremendous waves of upheaval seem like blathering idiots who brought their problems on themselves. The same applies to my memoir, which is in the Marechean genre. One cannot separate the individual from the historical and social context of the times without losing meaning.

This is partly a response to the following post, which I endorse:

http://clarissasblog.com/2012/10/10/is-obama-a-narcissist/

Why some ideas sell

I’d like to make another point: that universities should get over their market-based assumption that would-be intellectuals ought to test out their ideas in “the market place”.

One could end the market-based delusion just by engaging with empirical evidence.  Ideas that have been imposed and reinforced through tradition, deprivation, or the cultivation of fancy are those that sell today.   There is no particular magic to this.   There’s also no particular “discerning power of the public” that anyone can cater to.  If a book or an idea is pushed, people will buy it:  If not, people will leave it alone.

Here are some of the top-selling books that the public has noted worthy of purchasing:

The Da Vinci Code

With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history. [Amazon.com Review]

 The Secret

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.In this book, you’ll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life — money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You’ll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that’s within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers — men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible. [Amazon]

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia 

This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans. [Amazon]

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy 

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires. [ Amazon]

***

As we can see, people are hungry for religious mystification,  new age mystification, the mystification of self-indulgent femininity and the mystification of sex via the mechanics of sado-masochism.

Also note:  If I’m the one “just being cynical” here, how does one explain away the evidence that the public wants to feed on shit?  Christianity, femininity, self-indulgent consumerism and dominance and submission have been trained into the masses over eons.  Consequently, what has been instilled also informs their tastes.

Should academics then turn to the public to approve of their skills or to sign off on whether their ideas have any market-place validity?  What is the nature of the mystical affirmation that such academics would be seeking from the public?

Wilfred Bion, Lacan and Bataille

Key to Bion’s work is the idea that people need to express what would become a “nameless dread” if it were to stay outside of the field of society and specifically, socially rendered intelligibility. Bion’s is a dualistic model of the mind, just as Lacan‘s is, but there is much more of a direct metaphysical continuity between Bion’s “unconscious” and the articulate, socially structured mind, than there is with regard to Lacan’s viewpoint.

For Bion, the unconscious is experiential reality that hasn’t been articulated. Indeed, the unconscious can never be fully articulated because it is multidimensional** (has, in effect, more dimensions to it than we can simultaneously process with our rational minds). Articulation, therefore, is always a process of simplifying (indeed, oversimplifying for the sake of managing) that which is irreducibly complex. From my reading of Lacan, there is a complete transition from the prearticulate level of the infant’s experience of the world, to the articulate social interpretation of the experience. His is a more complete mind-body dualism — dividing  the rational from the irrational aspects of experience, in a way that is designed to be practically impossible and thus makes place for the Catholicism of “sin” as an automatic part of the human experience, since we must all fall short of the Ideal.

But for Bion, the unconscious is the damming up of experiential reality, and the work to be done is in the further interpretation — the actually simplifying — of memory, to make it manageable, and to reduce the feeling of “nameless dread” (as it were, by giving the dread a name and a social context and meaning). The naming of the “nameless dread” is the social contextualisation of it by means of  an objectively recognised form (in words). This is like opening the floodgates to allow the water to go through the wall of the dam.

But we can see the role of the artist in all of this — to convert nameless dread into something that is socially meaningful. Thus the interpretive movement between the “paranoid-schizoid position” of disintegrated self and inarticulate experience, towards the “depressive position” (of simplified and linguistically reduced meanings, which, nonetheless “make sense” socially).

The Bion model is also shamanistic: the subject mediates between the multidimensional space of the unconscious field (in some senses the “spirit world”) and everyday, limited three-dimensional reality, which can be articulated and can be expressed rationally.

One might add to this understanding Bataillle’s perspective.  So long as one does not express oneself in language, one keeps hold of the unbroken whole of experiential reality:  this splinters as one speaks of it. 

Bataille takes his understanding of the nature of subjective experience and its oftentimes antagonistic relationship to language from Nietzsche, who says: 

Ultimately, what does it mean to be ignoble?—Words are sound signals for ideas, but ideas are more or less firm image signs for sensations which return frequently and occur together, for groups of sensations. To understand each other, it is not yet sufficient that people use the same words; they must use the same words also for the same form of inner experiences; ultimately they must hold their experience in common with each other. That’s why human beings belonging to a single people understand each other better among themselves than associations of different peoples, even when they themselves use the same language; or rather, when human beings have lived together for a long time under similar conditions (climate, soil, danger, needs, work), then something arises out of that which “understands itself,” a people. In all souls, a similar number of frequently repeating experiences have won the upper hand over those which come more rarely; people understand each other on the basis of the former, quickly and with ever-increasing speed—the history of language is the history of a process of abbreviation. On the basis of this rapid understanding, people bind with one another, closely and with ever-increasing closeness. The greater the danger, the greater the need quickly and easily to come to agreement over what needs to be done; not to misunderstand each other when in danger is what people simply cannot do without in their interactions. With every friendship or love affair people still make this test: nothing of that sort lasts as soon as people reach the point where, with the same words, one of the two feels, means, senses, wishes, or fears something different from the other one. (The fear of the “eternal misunderstanding”: that is the benevolent genius which so often prevents people of different sexes from over-hasty unions, to which their senses and hearts urge them—and not some Schopenhauerish “genius of the species”!—). Which groups of sensations within the soul wake up most rapidly, seize the word, give the order—that decides about the whole rank ordering of its values, that finally determines its tables of goods. The assessments of value in a man reveal something about the structure of his soul and where it looks for its conditions of life, its essential needs. Now, assume that need has always brought together only such people as could indicate with similar signs similar needs, similar experiences, then it would generally turn out that the easy ability to communicate need, that is, in the last analysis, familiarity with only average and common experiences, must have been the most powerful of all the forces which have so far determined things among human beings. People who are more similar and more ordinary were and always have been at an advantage; the more exceptional, more refined, rarer, and more difficult to understand easily remain isolated; in their isolation they are subject to accidents and rarely propagate themselves. People have to summon up huge counter-forces to cross this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile [advance into similarity], the further training of human beings into what’s similar, ordinary, average, herd-like—into what’s common. [emphasis mine]

*Actually this analogy is mine. Bion’s is that the mother of the infant initially is the one who acts to “contain” or hold the inarticulate emotions of the child, and thus she gives social form and shape to them. My analogy focuses on this “nameless dread” as if it were to occur outside of a defined social context, whereas Bion shows the way this “nameless dread” is generally diverted towards becoming meaningful social content.

**Godwin, Robert W “Wilfred Bion and David Bohm: Toward a Quantum Metapsychology. .” Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought 14.4 (1991): 625-54

Shamanism and the reworking of memory

The shamanistic view is different from the psychoanalytic view that holds that psychological projection is an anomalous attitude of reprobates.   In terms of shamanism, absolutely everything one sees, hears or encounters is a projection.   Neurology makes it clear that perception is a function of the brain’s incorporation and rearrangement of data.  According to Atul Gawande:

Richard Gregory, a prominent British neuropsychologist, estimates that visual perception is more than ninety per cent memory and less than ten per cent sensory nerve signals.

The information we take in from our ears and eyes is not the same as what we experience.   The brain takes a huge amount of information from the senses and then rearranges it in such a way that a human being can gain advantage from it.  We see what makes sense to us, often by adding to incomplete information by producing information from memory, so that we often encounter precisely what we expect to see. We are the creators of our own realities.

 To go a step further, we don’t visually experience the far sides of the color spectrum that beetles and bats may do.  But, had we the needs and desires of insects, our brains would have learned to give us a different range of information.  We would have learned to sense a far wider spectrum including infra-red and ultra-violet.  Becoming aware of these light waves perhaps does not serve us as humans, since this may not give an advantage in indicating  food or sudden danger.

Humans and beetles inhabiting the same space will nonetheless experience different qualities to their environments.  What comes to the foreground and what pales into insignificance will not be the same aspects of the terrain.  A friend tells me that on taking LSD one hears all the background noises to life that would ordinarily be filtered from awareness.

 To  have the benefit of vision  enables us to navigate our human worlds effectively as humans.  A parallel world may exist for other species.  Each takes from the sensory environment what will nourish it in terms of what it is.    Taking in too much of reality would obstruct us in our normal activities.   We do well to leave a lot unnoticed.

 On the basis of being separate peoples and cultures, we also automatically impose filtering mechanisms.   I see what I need to see to nourish myself according to my particular needs, desires and capabilities.   I am convinced that others who enter the same environments would not see or experience the same network of meanings that are available to me.  I switch off when confronted with young children, for instance.  I can’t focus on them and my brain attempts to block them out.  I’m learning to notice social tensions, but they don’t intrinsically interest me, so they are about the last thing I recognize when I enter a new environment.

 When I began my life in Australia I didn’t “see” social relationships — only natural ones.   When I began a new job many years ago, I didn’t “see” institutional relationships.  I saw only postmodernist metaphysics, by virtue of which I had been trained to see the world.  I began reading Marecheralater and had to get rid of a lot of postmodernist assumptions to understand him.

 Contemporary humans get to move through their environments by throwing off one reality to enter another.   Shamanism enhances the process of gaining knowledge of our worlds by encouraging us to switch off from what we think we know, which is just a neurological projection however useful.   We can’t enter another environment so long as we are certain of what we know.   This is only possible by entering a state of uncertainty.  As Bataille says of Nietzsche, out of this striking moment of dissolution a philosophy is born:

Let no one doubt for an instant! One has truly not heard a single word of Nietzsche’s unless one has lived this signal dissolution in totality; without it, this philosophy is a mere labyrinth of contradictions, and worse; the pretext for lying by omission (if, like the fascists, one isolates passages for purposes which negate the rest of the work).

In terms of what I have described of shamanism, Nietzsche’s way of writing, whether intentionally or not, actually invites a radical rewriting of consciousness on the basis of a fundamental dissolution of reality.  By means of such shamanistic reworking, one’s existing projection gets dissolved and is replaced by another, superior reality.  This would be a result of  including a different network of memories in one’s perspectives. This adjustment in seeing, however, leads to handling life more effectively.

The self and ego

I  agree with this: “I believe that it is important to listen to your body when it tries to tell you through sickness that something is not OK instead of trying to shut it up with pills and potions.”Completely Open Thread « Clarissa’s Blog

I would be working a job that was entirely wrong for me, not be in a relationship, and identify with a defunct ideology, had I not listened to my body. Listening is vital,  but this implies developing a different sense of identity from the one that remains resolute in one position, as if rigidity were a sign of strength.

Nietzsche:

To the despisers of the body will I speak my word. I wish them neither to learn afresh, nor teach anew, but only to bid farewell to their own bodies,—and thus be dumb.

“Body am I, and soul”—so saith the child. And why should one not speak like children?

But the awakened one, the knowing one, saith: “Body am I entirely, and nothing more; and soul is only the name of something in the body.”

The body is a big sagacity, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd.

An instrument of thy body is also thy little sagacity, my brother, which thou callest “spirit”—a little instrument and plaything of thy big sagacity.

“Ego,” sayest thou, and art proud of that word. But the greater thing—in which thou art unwilling to believe—is thy body with its big sagacity; it saith not “ego,” but doeth it.

What the sense feeleth, what the spirit discerneth, hath never its end in itself. But sense and spirit would fain persuade thee that they are the end of all things: so vain are they.

Instruments and playthings are sense and spirit: behind them there is still the Self. The Self seeketh with the eyes of the senses, it hearkeneth also with the ears of the spirit.

Ever hearkeneth the Self, and seeketh; it compareth, mastereth, conquereth, and destroyeth. It ruleth, and is also the ego’s ruler.

Behind thy thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage—it is called Self; it dwelleth in thy body, it is thy body.

There is more sagacity in thy body than in thy best wisdom. And who then knoweth why thy body requireth just thy best wisdom?

Thy Self laugheth at thine ego, and its proud prancings. “What are these prancings and flights of thought unto me?” it saith to itself. “A by-way to my purpose. I am the leading-string of the ego, and the prompter of its notions.”*

The Self saith unto the ego: “Feel pain!” And thereupon it suffereth, and thinketh how it may put an end thereto—and for that very purpose it is meant to think.

The Self saith unto the ego: “Feel pleasure!” Thereupon it rejoiceth, and thinketh how it may ofttimes rejoice—and for that very purpose it is meant to think.

To the despisers of the body will I speak a word. That they despise is caused by their esteem. What is it that created esteeming and despising and worth and will?

The creating Self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself spirit, as a hand to its will.

Even in your folly and despising ye each serve your Self, ye despisers of the body. I tell you, your very Self wanteth to die, and turneth away from life.

No longer can your Self do that which it desireth most:—create beyond itself. That is what it desireth most; that is all its fervour.

But it is now too late to do so:—so your Self wisheth to succumb, ye despisers of the body.

To succumb—so wisheth your Self; and therefore have ye become despisers of the body. For ye can no longer create beyond yourselves.

And therefore are ye now angry with life and with the earth. And unconscious envy is in the sidelong look of your contempt.

I go not your way, ye despisers of the body! Ye are no bridges for me to the Superman!—

Thus spake Zarathustra.

——-

*  Note the shamanistic doubling in the form of the self and ego.  The self observes and judges one’s behavior as a whole.  One’s ego would do well to listen to it when things start going wrong.

Altered states of consciousness

The use of psychoactive drugs enables a shaman to discover a cosmology that would make us all connected to each other, in particular via a sense of unity with organic nature, as the prime source and origin of life. The insights gained through exploring this cosmology are useful. The sources of malaise can be ascertained, observed and come to terms with.

The range of possibilities for life may be greater and more widely varied than those observable in everyday existence. Thus, a shamanic journey can lead not only to healing, but to creative solutions to life’s difficulties.

Shamanic experience could also free one from idées fixes through a baptism into new experiences.

This is of course against the grain of Nietzsche, who feared, as Luce Irigaray pointed out, the element of water, including oceanic experiences.

Have no fear that water is “feminine”,as it is only so according to essentialist notions of identity.  Patriarchal religion would urge us to see it in this way, but there is no need to trust patriarchal versions of anything, given that the patriarchal priest is invested in maintaining specific power relations.  We should rather distrust anything essentializing — at least until we can test it for ourselves and work out what its value might be.

Rhodesia and I

Even as an adult, I was often very insecure about my knowledge of the world.  That was  because everything I’d grown up with had been defined in extremely patriarchal terms.   Both men and women had authority in every aspect of life in my childhood.   Women’s authority was on a par with that of their male counterparts.   The only difference was that men knew about politics in a way that women didn’t.   The men went to war and it was forbidden to tell the women back home everything they had experienced.   To this degree, women were on a par with children — although they were authoritative in public life, they were not expected to carry the emotional burden of war.

The structure of colonial society was hierarchical in terms of knowledge.  As it seems to me now, there was a cabal who knew what was really going on with regard to the war and the likelihood of winning it.  Then, there were those like my father, who went along with the program because it was the decent thing to do.  As in the second world war, the lack of men around the place meant women had fairly high status, being those who were able to manage the running of institutions with an old-fashioned whip-hand.

They had greater power than women have today, when men are present and competing with them (which leads to gender war and psychological strategies to demoralize the other).  Despite this, they did not speak of the war “we” were prosecuting, and indeed, in the high school I attended it was forbidden to speak of it.

That was how it came about that my peers and I grew up with a traditional British education, but remained wholly naïve about politics.  We studied the history of Europe but we did not study recent, colonial history.   When “Rhodesia” became “Zimbabwe” and an uncensored version of “The Herald” began to appear on the library lectern, we sometimes used to flip its pages with a sense of fascination and complete incomprehension.  The tactile sensation of flipping the pages and observing the strange imagery in the late morning sun was enough for me.

Children were a step below “women” in the Rhodesian hierarchy, so we occupied a world of our own.   We were not to know anything at all, but to be protected from it.   That was the role of the strong Rhodesian male — to protect the (white) women and children from too much knowledge.

The structure of the antiquated society explains everything about my attitudes as I became an adult and understood that I was suffering from a knowledge deficit.  I had a number of strategies to try to cope with this, most of which failed me.

One was to try to get adults to tell me what I was missing — to fill in the gaps that comprised my knowledge failures.   This was a wholly failed strategy.  Whenever I went to see a psychological counselor of person of that nature (which I did sporadically, at various points in time), I generally wanted to draw from them the knowledge I’d been lacking.   I had a feeling that if I could get the knowledge I didn’t have, I’d be able to piece together all sorts of aspects of my reality that didn’t make sense before.

Needless to say, the psychological counselors I saw were not trained to fill in the gaps of your missing knowledge and it was hard even for me to try to gauge what knowledge I had to get to make reality into a coherent whole.   A lack of substantive knowledge can become a psychological problem, interfering with one’s way of interacting with the world, but contemporary psychology doesn’t recognize this as a fact.  I would inevitably talk at cross-purposes with such helpers — and then leave feeling that I hadn’t obtained much of what I’d hoped for.

The problem was:  I never had a psychological problem so much as a deficiency in understanding, which made me seem like an idiot, walking into walls that others already seemed to know were there.  I’d tripped up on too many barriers due to my worldly ignorance (which also related to sexual matters).

Much of what had led to this was that my Rhodesian engendered superego defined my limits.   I couldn’t do the work to find out what was “out there” because to be quiet and accepting of all sorts of boundaries was my acculturated norm.

To “transgress” authoritative boundaries, whilst defying the superego, became my means to escape from the Rhodesian cultural identity that had failed me.

Freud and Failure

Why say that psychoanalysis has elements of Judeo-Christian metaphysics in it that are logically consistent with a witchcraft continuum?

For a start, when one looks at the structure of psychoanalysis, along with one of Freud’s significant cases, one sees that how guilt is always at the source of any psychological tension, not in the sense of the patient having committed a crime in real, tangible reality, but rather that lying and self-deception is considered to make up the fundamental part his/her being.   In this sense, the patient is always the criminal, Oedipus, having killed his father and had sexual intercourse with his mother, and consequently blinded himself.   That this crime is held to be true on a metaphysical level, rather than a real one, doesn’t mitigate the logic that one must seek the cause of one’s problems in one’s own actions. The patient is always the quintessentially guilty party.   Outsiders may be relatively innocent, unless they turn the torchlight on themselves and thus reveal their similar, primeval guilt.

Let us now consider the case of Dora, one of Freud’s significant cases and noted therapeutic failure.   Dora’s parents were wealthy Austrians.   My understanding is that her father was having an affair with another woman and in order to keep quiet someone who had noticed this, he was attempting to palm his daughter off onto that guy for her to have a sexual relationship with him.   Here’s the story from the point of view of a Freud researcher:

In 1898, when she was fifteen, Dora was brought to Freud by her father. Alongside her physical symptoms and general sullenness, she had developed, according to her father, an irrational belief that his close friend Herr K. had made sexual advances toward her. Freud’s initial response to Dora was not at all what her father expected: Freud concluded that her account of Herr K.’s behavior was accurate, and he agreed with her that her father had in effect handed her over to Herr K. as the price for his own affair with Herr K.’s wife. Freud’s response to Dora also seems to surprise Masson, who, in The Assault on Truth, alleged that, having abandoned the seduction theory, Freud routinely attributed his patients’ stories to fantasy, thereby excusing the abusive actions of adults. In this instance, however, Freud initially took the side of reality against fantasy, and of the child against the parent.

But, Masson complains, Freud’s loyalty to Dora was short-lived, his original alliance with her soon giving way to opposition. Instead of accepting that she simply found Herr K.’s attentions unwelcome and was understandably angered by her father’s self-interested betrayal, Freud insisted that Dora’s hostility to Herr K. was unreasonable and her anger against her father excessive. Indeed, Freud regarded both her intense aversion and her anger as manifestations of her hysteria. After all, Freud reasoned, Herr K. was a prepossessing man still in his thirties: Dora should have been aroused, not disgusted, when he embraced and kissed her (at age fourteen), just as she should have been flattered by his serious romantic interest in her. Freud even suggested that the whole matter could have been satisfactorily resolved had Dora married Herr K., which would of course have freed Frau K. to marry Dora’s father.

[Paul Robinson Freud and his Critics  UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley · Los Angeles · London © 1993 The Regents of the University of California]

According to Freud, there is nothing wrong with being sold into patriarchal sex-slavery, whereby one’s own views, timing and intentions are overruled by one’s father.  Rather, one should welcome it whenever it happens instead of being “hysterical”.  Here is more from Robinson, who writes sympathetically on behalf of Freud:

Freud suggests, in particular, that Dora was unconsciously in love with Herr K. and very much desired a romantic relationship with him. Her unconscious attraction explains why she reacted so violently both to Herr K.’s sexual advances and to her father’s contention that she had merely fantasized them. There was in fact an element of fantasy involved in her situation: the advances were real enough, but they were not entirely unwelcome. Dora’s extreme disgust disguised feelings of self-reproach. She had, in effect, gotten what she could not admit she wanted.

Dora had desired to be metaphysically raped by both her father and Herr K (and subsequently by Freud).  Of course this is not a physical rape of the mind, but a psychological one.   When a witch says, “I wasn’t cavorting with Satan and I strenuously protest the assertion that I ever wanted a dalliance with the Dark Lord,” she is in fact admitting her guilt.   She wouldn’t be over-reacting to an honest question by a respectable Christian gentleman concerning her alleged fantasies unless she knew that the assertions made by the Inquisitor were — quote — “really true”.  Or does that even make any sense?  She no doubt felt guilty about not following the patriarchal mores of her culture.  Freud would have known that that is the nature of Superego — to induce social conformity and makes us feel badly when we breach it.  But, defying social convention is not the same as lying to oneself.   Dora defied her father because she was true to herself and she nevertheless felt guilty because by being true to herself, she was going against social convention.   In other words, as hard as is for the patriarchal mind to imagine, Dora and her father were two different people.  What’s more, Dora had a different idea about social conventions than her father did, even though the weight of public opinion was in line with “father knows best”.

Freud is of course no inquisitor of the middle ages as he never professed to read minds nor take the side of rape apologists. If that were so, it would be enough to tip us all over the edge of hysteria*. [joke]

—–

*It should be noted that I do believe in an unconscious mind.

The fact that many people will not perceive the deep nature of patriarchal hostility toward women, but opt for the easier path of attributing hysteria to those who point it out, is a function of their unconscious minds’ displacement and projection.  

The witchcraft continuum

Psychoanalysis is more often than not of the tradition of the Christian Inquisition, in that it wants to establish some intimacy within the sphere of evil.

We may be familiar with the Medieval notion of witches, being those who were morally corrupted by the devil, to the point that only torture or death could “save” them. Such spiritual corruption attributed to women, both young and old, was considered to put them at odds with the divine truth, the absolute metaphysical reality, including the ability to be aware of their condition. Only through continually wearing them down over a number of days and sleepless nights, could those accused of witchcraft be even brought into awareness of the sinister nature of their deeds. Otherwise they would deny their evil, because the devil was in them.

Much of contemporary psychoanalysis also puts individuals, especially women, at odds with “The truth”. This divine truth is always patriarchal ideology, especially in the Judaic formulations of a Freud. According to these formulations, the truth is never self-evident, never on the surface, but always has to be rummaged for. Original assertions have to be discarded, whilst one waits for a moment of unguarded speech, at which point the accused will inevitably acknowledge that everything she had said was back to front.

This is the moment the priest/inquisitor had been waiting for. He had known it was coming all along as the process of disregarding whatever the ” witch” had said whilst applying pressure to say something else inevitably brings this about.

One does not vigorously deny anything, unless those allegations happen to be true. Vigorous denials are a sign of the spiritual warfare for one’s soul, with God and the Devil battling each other for supremacy. To assure God wins, the woman has to die, and it is always a shame when she doesn’t go to her death gracefully. That’s when the stage plans are in danger of being ruined.

The priest must battle valiantly, therefore, against Satan’s forces, to win the moment of forced intimacy in which “the witch” confesses to her crimes and is willing to go to her death for her sins. This is the moment the priest had been waiting for — when he and the “witch” are one, in crime and forgiveness.

This fundamental reversal, where the one really guilty of a crime (the priest) causes his victim to confess to an outrageous level of sinfulness and guilt is the stage play constantly repeated in every patriarchal system, especially those of Abrahamic derivation. Psychoanalysis is no different whenever it posits the existence of an unconscious at odds with normative communication.

If one denies what has been stated many times, in order to find a residue of “truth” in what has not been said, then one is guilty of believing in witchcraft.

God is the reification of rational order

 Women are the made to stand for the entropy driving the universe toward more and more disorder until God (reified Reason) fades away to nothing. Just another irrational power game justifying  of one group of humans dominating another.
Even many secularists get suckered into playing this game — Richard Dawkins was, for instance, when he implied that women trying to draw some demarcation lines of their own (which is always a patriarchal no-no, since women are intrinsically without structure) is just so much whining and silliness.
The lines he would draw between rationality and irrationality are consistent with Western culture being quintessentially rational, and cultures where women allegedly (or actually) suffer more than anybody might normally do in Western culture being considered irrational.  This contrast is hardly as stark, in reality, as our metaphysical conceptions would lead us to assume.

 

Life without the bliss

There’s no bliss in participating in groups for the sake of firming up collective identities. For one, there is always a cost or some form of sacrifice required by the superego on the basis of its becoming accustomed to group enforced norms. Secondly, many a “community” in itself is not all that endearing as it engages in backbiting, threats and all sorts of unpleasant behavior in order to keep its order. Communities are often enclaves for regressive and stupid outlooks.

A an organisation M was in is being attacked from the inside by a sub-group who propound identity politics as the only way forward. They attack others who disagree with them and then they claim that others are victimizing them because of their own particular identities. I was thus attacked by one of these who wanted to set up a women’s enclave. I made a flippant, but good natured comment in support of M, and I got put down by one of those (who was demanding women should be treated differently, because she said they had separate problems). She hid behind patriarchal rhetoric by implying that I was a “wife, talking about her husband”.   Her deeper, patriarchal insinuation was that I was simply being an female airhead and was therefore not funny.

So, I did what any intelligent person would do under such circumstances, and decided to use their identity ammunition against them. “You are against women per se,” I insisted. I was severely reprimanded for saying that in a private email by a male of the group who had taken on the role of pater. He had a lot of scolding to do.

I replied, (keeping in the vein of identity politics and its poor form of logic): “How can you say that to ME, a woman?” After that, I got this very private and particularly unhumorous email from pater:

Nice attitude. Good to know that concern for others is high on your list of priorities. Who the fuck do you think you are, the Queen of Sheeba? Being a woman doesn’t give you the right to say whatever the fuck you feel like regardless of the consequences for anyone else. What exactly is it about you that makes you think that it does? If you talk shit which you do I call it out. What is it about being a woman that makes you think you’re above being held to account for the consequences of your actions?  [emphasis added]

From this I learned that contemporary identity politics is nothing if not inconsistent, also that jokes have “consequences”  (meaning that I would be charged with having adopted the immoral stance of not caring about others).

To be on the receiving end of a stern patriarchal scolding, whether from a man or a woman, is no joking matter!

Identities as cultural and metaphysical constructs

I’ve had experiences with some US guys, who must have thought I was playing this game of trying to put on a tough image to get in with them, or something. Much of the experiences occurred on the Internet. As I’ve always stated (because it always seems to bear repeating), I come from a different culture, so my attitudes are different and I’m never really sure what games I’m deemed to be playing.  I am what I am.  In some ways, I could be considered very tough and generally insensitive to social mores, since from my early childhood, I did not feel the need to rely on social approval for my inner nourishment.  In terms of environments and quality of air, I am extremely sensitive.  I also respond a lot to changes of light.

Metaphysics doesn’t abide complexity, so it has to reduce it into something simpler.  Consider a child painting inside the lines of a prescribed figure.  The figure is that of a unicorn, or a donkey or a teddy bear.  Any color that falls outside of the lines belongs to “not Teddy”, because what falls inside the lines is “Teddy”.  Here, we don’t have complexity, we have a binary vision, divided into states of being “is” or “is not”. In this way,  presumably I was deemed to be playing a tough girl game,only to be playing it inconsistently, such that I let down my guard every now and then to show the “real me” — presumably the ultra-sensitive girl underneath that “cool girls” really are, despite the fact that they’re pretending not to be. (After all, it would be wrong for US types to let go of their gender essentialism in recognition of the women who seem to be exceptions to a rule.)

It seems really, really hard to put it across to some US types, that all humans can experience the world positively and negatively. If I experience some things positively and say so, I am deemed to fall on the “cool girl” side of identity. If I acknowledge some negative things, then this is deemed to be “my mask slipping”. Thus gender essentialist ideas (that women are all really weak and only pretend to be cool) are reinforced, whilst the real individual and her actual experiences are stripped of meaning in deference to some concept of categorical consistency (something quite different from characterological consistency and even inimical to it).

Such an insistence on reifying concepts of identity is why I think much of USA culture is insane.

***

Some people invest their egos in their reified identities and some don’t, and to some degree whether one does this a lot of little can be down to cultural factors, engendered in one’s youth.  A reified identity is one based on an abstraction about masculinity of femininity, and not on something like lived experience, or real subjective states.

My concept of Western culture, for a long time, was that it consisted of investing your ego into a reified identity concept. I tried, with all my might, because I intended to adapt to Western culture, for otherwise, people would keep accusing me of inconsistency for being naturally myself according to my earlier cultural conditioning. Now, finally, I’ve given up. I have to be consistent with my own views, but inconsistent from the point of view of those who believe people automatically fit into categories.

Patriarchal metaphysics: the reversal of cause and effect

Judeo-Christian metaphysics maintains that the negative principle of life (woman) must submit to that which is deemed to be the positive principle (man), or else all hell will break out, civilization as such will be doomed and evil will be perpetuated as a general rule.

Everything centers around The Father in the same way as the Earth circles the Sun. Women are considered to be negative or shapeless, unless they get their true essence of being by conformity to patriarchal mores. Ultimately they must submit to a man to find their identity and redeem themselves from evil, which is related to a state of chaos and/or formlessness.

Men are to be considered always the perpetual victims of female recalcitrance. This is only logical if you assume that the force of evil (chaos) is necessarily more violent and powerful than the force of good (logic and order).  At the same time, since this sense of gender relations is founded not on empirical or psychological facts, but on metaphysical precepts, nothing really changes if women do submit to patriarchal mores.  Evil in the world is not reduced by submission, since women themselves are  evil, which is metaphysical view that remains intact no matter what women may do.  This is how patriarchal systems justify bringing to bear on women a lot of hostility “for their own good” and to “make them see reason”.  This increases the more the man in charge is feeling unstable — for he feels a sense of “evil”, perhaps fuzzy and undefined, or perhaps interpreted as the devil himself, moving through his agent of women to undermine his psychological resources and cut his courage.

With their intrinsically back-to-front consciousness, patriarchal systems continue to hold that women inflict harm on poor suffering men who just happen to be in power over them, whenever women act according to their volitions.