Learned Ignorance and the O->k Operating System (4.05.10)
As I have mentioned before, this is how I regard the "unconscious" which Freud was the first to describe in a systematic way -- not as something "below" the conscious mind, but "within" it -- and vice versa. In other words, the mind is somewhat analogous to the "total flowing atmosphere," so to speak, of the earth. If one looks at a cloud in the sky, for example, one is generally not aware that what is available to the senses is actually a small visible "ripple" standing out against the backdrop of a much more encompassing meteorological process. (For those of you in Rio Linda, "meteorology" is not the study of meteors.)
It turns out that the subatomic realm operates in this fashion as well. A subatomic "particle" is not actually a separate entity, but the local manifestation of an oceanic, wavelike reality which is nonlocal and unmanifest. In my view, thoughts can be seen in the same way, as analogous to clouds produced by the total atmosphere or subatomic particles floating atop the oceanic field of quantum energy. If O represents the ocean of total consciousness, (k) is a little grain of sand tossed upon the shoreline between ego and Self. There is always a complementary relationship between O and (k), just as there is between wave and particle. This relationship "cannot not be," any more than there can be time without eternity, horizontal without vertical, interior without exterior, male without female, or Herman without Toots.
Being that he was the product of an intellectual zeitgeist that represented the apex of the mechanistic/materialistic/positivistic worldview -- a worldview that no one believes anymore, except for philosophical retards and other atheists -- he constructed his theories of the mind along these lines. Freud actually had two different models of the mind, but both were misleading because they were rooted in the fashionable mechanistic and reductionistic metaphysics of the day.
I don't want to get sidetracked into a history of psychoanalysis, so at risk of oversimplification, let us just say that in one model, Freud regarded the mind as "layered," so to speak, with the unconscious "below" the conscious mind. In his second model, he developed the idea of different "forces" pushing each other around, namely, id, ego, and superego. The point is that both models clearly borrow from a domain with which we are familiar -- the physical world -- and transfer concepts appropriate to it to the study of the non-physical world. But of course, the mind is not an object and it doesn't have layers. Whatever the mind is, it is not a machine or a bag full of stuff, even though we often look at it that way.
In my first academic paper, published some 16 years ago, I attempted to re-vision psychoanalysis based upon a new metaphysical understanding rooted in theoretical ideas emerging from quantum physics. When Freud set forth his metapsychology, it was with the intention of making psychoanalysis reflect the leading edge of scientific inquiry in his day. Therefore, I asked mysoph the question, "what would psychoanalysis look like if it reflected the vast changes in our understanding of how the universe works?" So I did that. But did anyone notice? Noooooooo. Plus ça change...
Now, where am I going with this, you might ask? I was provoked in this direction by a typically O-racular comment made by the mysterious Ms. Dilys, a "pioneer Coon." I mentioned to her that I had recently been immersing myself in some psychoanalytic reading, something I hadn't done in awhile, and noticed the marked effect it had on my mind -- even my spirit. In fact, this is the reason my recent posts veered explicitly into politics, because I had entered a different mental space -- a different world, really. The writing simply reflected my entry into this alternate mindspace.
It wouldn't at all be going too far to say that immersing oneself in psychoanalysis is very much analogous to using a different operating system to navigate one's mind. Again, the mind is an infinite ocean of subjectivity. That is what it is: O. But in order to think about O, or to translate it into local knowledge, we require an operating system. This is where "all the trouble arises," because people tend to fall in love with their operating systems, and not realize that there are other systems -- some very good ones and some very, very bad ones. Islamism is an example of the latter. On the oppsosite end of the spectrum, our classically liberal founders came up with the best political operating system ever devised.
Obviously, in my opinion, leftism -- or any philosophy that can trace its lineage to Marx -- is also a horrible operating system, partly because it legitimizes some of the most regretable characteristics of human beings -- both innate and parasitic -- but also because it poses a more or less permanent barrier to obtaining the "true" operating system.
In other words, Marx, like Freud, was informed by the mechanistic science of his day, so that he is wrong a priori. In Freud's case, his key ideas could be adapted to our evolving understanding of reality -- or at least I attempted to do so in my book, my doctoral dissertation, and in a couple of academic papers. But Marx's ideas cannot be so adapted, because they are completely at odds with reality -- economically, psychologically, historically, spiritually, politically, epistemologically, morally, ontologically, and comedically -- which is why leftists are such angry and humorless tighta**es.
Now, having said that, I would guess that the majority of psychoanalysts do not share my understanding of psychoanalysis, to put it mildly. Most do not accommodate the vertical, but reduce it to the cramped dimensions of their psychoanalytic operating system. Freud, for example, was completely hostile to religion. He regarded it as an infantile drive to reunite with the mother in blissful oceanic oneness. Toward the end of his life, he posited a life instinct ("eros") and a death instinct ("thanatos"), and for Freud, the "religious drive" clearly fell into the latter category, since it represented a refusal of reality and a backward-looking impulse to dissolve the ego and fall back into the clutches of the Great Mother.
Now, there is no question that Freud was half right about this. Many people who are outwardly religious are quite obviously seeking infrarational regression and fusion, not post-egoic evolution and union. Not too long ago I saw a fine example of this (certain details have been changed), a remarkably narcissistic and hysterical man who believed himself to possess special spiritual gifts (no, not Petey). On the one hand, he had a split off sub-personality that had led a vaguely sociopathic life at the margins, but he identified with a grandiose part that had been anointed by God from childhood (as a magical compensation for obviously inadequate parents whom he protected from his rage through idealization).
In fact, I am sure that this man's spiritual grandiosity facilitated his rule-breaking, since he was "above the law" and was entitled to certain things because of his disappointing parents. He happened to be a minister in a highly emotionalized and "vital" denomination that allowed him to lose himself in his grandiosity, and to "perform" it for others. In so doing, he could have his grandiosity mirrored, and his flock "benefitted" by taking part in, and identifying with, his flamboyant grandiosity.
This seems to be a common pattern, both in certain Protestant denominations and certainly in the "new age" movement, which is pervaded by grandiose and narcissistic individuals who encourage identification with their grandiosity, such as the dreadful Tony Robbins. This infantile wish fulfillment is also the basis of "the Secret," which is one part spiritual truth to ninety-nine parts pernicious vacuity. There is a proper way to manifest reality through God's grace, but it will not be the reality the ego desires, nor will it be what one expected; and pain will be involved, which is one of the marks of authenticity. Its pathological variant involves the regression to infancy, when wishes could be seamlessly converted into their fulfillment in a pain-free way.
Now, when I mentioned to Dilys that I had been navigating around O with a different operating system, she dropped this cryptic nugget on me:
"Have you heard of the 'learned incapacity' idea, that proper execution of every calling requires the disabling of certain kinds of intelligence? For instance, I know a lot of people who are just too intelligent to be [certain professions], because there are some things one needs not to know in these roles, some mental and emotional strategies that must be disconnected. I imagine a certain incapacity for the numinous would be necessary in the psychoanalytic approach" (emphases mine).
I had never thought of it in exactly this way before, but this is truly a key idea, for it explains how every discipline inevitably takes on a cult-like quality. For example, although my graduate education is in psychoanalysis, and I was even accepted to a psychoanalytic institute, in the end I decided against continuing down that path, and this is why: there was something about a full immersion bobtism in its operating system that I knew would pose a barrier to another part of mybobself that was trying to ovolve and come into being.
For to submit to a discipline, whether it is psychoanalysis, science, law, or climate hysteria, is to begin to interpret the world in terms of that operating system, which only reinforces and reifies the system -- it creates the mental food it eats and digests, making the system grow up big and strong. It is something that cannot be helped. It is why these naively matter-worshiping muddlebrow jerktivists such as Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett believe what they believe: they must believe what they do, given the constraints placed upon them by their scientistic operating system. As the law of Dilys implies, they have disabled certain kinds of intelligence, but call it intelligence; and they must not know many things in order to possess a certain kind of limited knowledge.
As I have mentioned before, one of the great shocks of my life has been the unending discovery of how fruitful the traditionally religious operating systems are for novelgaiting around O. Some 600 posts later, it continues to be an endlessly generative surprise for me. I don't know where it comes from -- well, I suppose I do, in the sense that it comes from O -- but I do know that it would be inaccessible without the proper operating system. These bonehead atheists are simply salesmen who want us to trade down our state-of-the-art operating systems for their archaic old version. No thanks. No Coon in his right cap is gonna work for Maggie's farm no more:
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more. --Bob Dylan