Friday, February 01, 2008

The Primacy of Illusion and the Co-creation Reality (2.02.10)

A fundamental problem for human beings is that unreality, magic and illusion are actually their "default" state, while reality and disillusion are only learned (if they are acquired at all). This is a subtle argument, so please pay attention. It's one of the keys to the Enigma of Man, who is ultimately responsible for imagining all of reality, so that if his imagination is undeveloped or misused, he will fail in his gnocturnal O-mission and miss the whole point of being here in this dream.

Just remember, we are speaking in great generalities, which is always the case in metaphysics, which involves the most general statements one may make about reality. You may even think of what I am about to say as a "modern fable" about our psychic origins, a fruitful myth of psychogenesis.

Because human beings are born in a neurologically immature, completely helpless state, we are steeped in illusion and fantasy while our brain and nervous system are being assembled. Early experience is "hardwired" in, so that the substrate of the human mind is built on the illusion that we are not really helpless and powerless, but that our painful and frightening needs will be magically alleviated through our wishes and desires. No one is as powerful as an infant, since an infant is omnipotent.

For example, we are cold, lonely and hungry. We cry. Suddenly we are swooped up, carressed, comforted, and spoken to in a soothing manner. Nourishment appears out of nowhere, converting painful stomach contractions into pleasant fullness, while at the same time we are bathed in the radiance of a soft, enveloping, benign universe we will eventually know as "mother." But at this point it doesn't have a name. It just is. It is the psychic ground from which the (m)other will gradually emerge.

Given good-enough parenting, we will gradually become “disillusioned” from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that our feelings are urgently important to other people, that life is fair, that it is possible for all our needs to be magically taken care of -- that it is possible for heaven to exist on earth. Under ideal circumstances, we will first have the edenic experience described above, only to be gradually awakened from it in a non-traumatic way, as the reality principle seeps in little by little. A conservative is born!

For a variety of reasons, other children will never experience this blissful paradise, experience it only sporadically and unreliably, or be traumatically banished by the premature impingement of reality. For such individuals, there will always be a painfully nostalgic longing for what they missed, the infantile utopia in which frustration does not exist and desire is instantly converted to satisfaction. A few of these individuals will be lucky enough to obtain lifetime tenure at a major university, but the rest must deal with an unyielding world that does not mirror our unresolved infantile needs.

I think this underlying template of infantile illusion has a lot to do with false beliefs. Not merely false in the sense of “untrue,” because no one can know everything, and it is not possible to get through life without holding some beliefs for which there is no proof or which will later be proven wrong. Plus, healthy fantasy plays a vital role in the ability to imagine and engage with the Real. What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. You might call this the realm of "lower vertical fantasy."

In fact, one of the giveaways that we are dealing with motivated stupidity is that the false belief is held onto more fervently than a demonstrably true belief. Someone who thinks something is true is generally more than willing to submit the truth to scrutiny and to allow reality (i.e., the Real, not to be confused merely with the exterior world, the fallacy of scientism) to arbitrate. But when a belief rooted in motivated stupidity is challenged, it raises the psychological hackles of the individual, triggering a cascade of easily observable defense mechanisms: projection, denial, splitting, etc.

I think the problem of motivated stupidity especially afflicts contemporary liberalism. President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, "the biggest terrorist in the world." The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his "wealthy friends." "Global warming" during the seven years of his administration did not cause hurricaine Katrina (in fact, global temperature has been unchanged since 2001). This has not been the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, another thing that is easily provable, since it is finally undergoing a downturn after what, 24 consecutive quarters of growth? President Bush is not a racist. Unlike liberals, he doesn't hate Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas just because they're black. There are not 200,000 veterans living under bridges that are crumbling on them. Women don't earn "87 cents on the dollar," the middle class isn't shrinking, real income is rising, more jobs are created than lost as a result of global trade, third world poverty is not caused by our wealth, and the environment is getting better, not worse.

True, we are in a crisis, but as always, it is a crisis of stupidity.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. You understand their assumptions but they don't understand yours, so you inevitably end up on their level. Plus, weak thinkers embrace their false ideas in a manner disquietingly similar to religious groups who predict the second coming, or the arrival of space ships, or the Cubs winning the World Series, but who do not modify their beliefs when the event fails to come about. In fact, it is a well-known observation that a few of the disappointed may depart from such a group, while the majority only become more thoroughly entrenched in their belief system, defending it all the more stridently. No matter what happens, attendance never dwindles at Wrigley Field.

What this obviously means -- obvious to a Raccoon, anyway -- is that the primary purpose of worldly beliefs is not necessarily to comprehend reality. Rather, belief systems are superimposed on a deeper ground of emotional need for comfort, predictability, and meaning. There is a deep emotional need for the world to make sense, even if the explanation actually makes no sense outside its own closed cognitive circle. This is why people throughout history have believed such nonsense. (This also touches on the critical importance of a revealed belief system, but I won't get into that at the moment.)

What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it -- to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects or reduce the quality of life (cf. Sick Societies, by Edgerton). No lion ever entertained the idea that it might be healthier to live on grasses rather than flesh. Penguins don’t decide to live near the equator, where it isn’t so cold. Only human beings can hold ideas that are completely illogical and self-defeating, since only human beings are desperately in need of an ideology, or "mental-emotional environment," to organize the external world and their internal experience, irrespective of whether it is actually functional or true.

In fact, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the majority of beliefs human beings have held about the world down through history have been false, usually ridiculously so. For example, just consider medicine. Until the early 20th century, the average visit to a doctor was likely to leave one in worse shape, not better. But useless or harmful treatments helped people cope with their otherwise intolerable anxiety, and were obviously psychologically preferable to the frightening truth: that no one knew why you were sick or how to cure you.

Even today, the majority of Americans, and certainly all liberals, are economically illiterate, much preferring wishes to indisputable facts and principles. As it pertains to Republicans, it's as if they have a chronic condition, whereas for Democrats it's intellectually fatal. Ron Paul is not wrong about everything.

Last night, while watching parts of the Democratic debate, I wasn't just struck by the vacuity of the combatants, but equally importantly, the low intellectual level of the MSM questioners. In all of these debates, nearly all of the questions come framed in wacky leftist assumptions, as if they are just natural to the human condition instead of a perverse aberration. Why doesn't someone ask, "where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is permitted to run healthcare?," or "on what grounds do you think it is permissible for the government to steal people's money at gunpoint in order to fund your collectivist fantasies?"

So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them. The internal world is just as real and enduring as the external. Thus, it will be interesting to see what they do with their hate should a Democrat win the White House.

In fact -- and this should go without saying, but it doesn't -- the internal world is ultimately the source of the external world, since, if we remove the human subject, there is no world at all. Unless we deeply understand the nature of this human subject -- both vertically and horizontally -- including its genesis, its purpose, and its pathologies, we will end up not knowing where we came from, why we're here, or how to get where we are supposed to go; in short, our origins, our present being, and our cosmic destiny.

30 Comments:

Blogger gumshoe said...

Bob-

I'm guessing the last
4 to 5 blog postings are your current work on OC's 'Gnowa's Arkive'.

Is that correct?

2/01/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, just straight re-runs, but edited for the first time, and with some contemporary events inserted. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sort of enjoying the exercise... This was an update of my fifth post in October '05.

2/01/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Is there then a deeper symbolism with piercing of the side with the Spear of Longinus?

Worthy of contemplation, possibly, given the talk of the reality of interior worlds, even if they are physical interiors being used to symbolize the non-physical interior.

2/01/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Looks like I'll finely be able to have a moment on Blogger this week - thank you mister snow (and of course, global warming). I’m going to dump this all out now, because I’ll probably get yanked away again at any time.

Had a JWM moment earlier this week, but turned out to be more of a heart retreat, than a heart attack. I'll put up a post this weekend, got a cool picture of wires coming out of my head - seems appropriate.

"it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. You understand their assumptions but they don't understand yours, so you inevitably end up on their level. "

Oh... after a few weeks of battling boobs on Amazon (hmmm), I can authoritatively second that one.

"What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it -- to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects or reduce the quality of life (cf. Sick Societies, by Edgerton). "

In addition to the fact that only human beings can be wrong, I think you're onto something there,

"Even today, the majority of Americans, and certainly all liberals, are economically illiterate, much preferring wishes to indisputable facts and principles. As it pertains to Republicans, it's as if they have a chronic condition, whereas for Democrats it's intellectually fatal. Ron Paul is not wrong about everything."

What's so frustrating, is when you try to walk them through it,
'Ok here we go, 1+1=?'
'Two?'
'Good! Ok, 2+2=?',
'For?',
'Almost, it's Four, but that was a good try. Ok, 3+3=?'
'Anything I want it to be?'
'Groan...'


There's a disconnect, as soon as you venture into any conceptual depth, what Thomas Sowell calls thinking beyond stage one... they reflexively return to the safety of their assumptions. Can drive you nuts.

"So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them. The internal world is just as real and enduring as the external."

There you go.

"Thus, it will be interesting to see what they do with their hate should a Democrat win the White House."

Interesting... yes... but some experiments, like cloning a human into having 3 heads, two of which look like Hillary... just shouldn't be made.

"Unless we deeply understand the nature of this human subject -- both vertically and horizontally -- including its genesis, its purpose, and its pathologies, we will end up not knowing where we came from, why we're here, or how to get where we are supposed to go; in short, our origins, our present being, and our cosmic destiny."

Isn't the real breakthrough of the Greeks with Reason, and the Judeo/Christian with identifying yourself as being of value and importance in the hierarchy, that it enabled us to venture out from our internal delusions about reality, and see what's really there beyond what we imagined there was there? That there was not only something there, but we were worthy of discovering it, and finding a truer grasp of ourselves within it all?

2/01/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Vanster!

Was starting to get really worried, since you've not commented recently.

GlowBullWarming dumped a load in your hood, taking Blogger out?

Flogging boobs on Amazon (heehee) would give anycoon Heart trouble.

Yea, but how well does your cool pic stack up against the images from City of Lost Children?

http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/
ref/lostchildren.jpg

2/01/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Van!
We're prayin' for you and I hope you get better soon.
I was beginning to wonder where you were.
You had wires in your head?
So you were wired? :^)

Take it easy, okay?
I look foreward to your story.
God bless you, Van.

2/01/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Y'know, progressive.

2/01/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. You might call this the realm of "lower vertical fantasy."


Motivated stupidity. Bob, your brilliant communication of the undescribable never ceases to amaze me. :^)

2/01/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous skully said...

Ahoy Sensei Van-
Just remember, a grog a day keeps the witch doctors away.

2/01/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But when a belief rooted in motivated stupidity is challenged, it raises the psychological hackles of the individual, triggering a cascade of easily observable defense mechanisms: projection, denial, splitting, etc."

The recent comments the last few days by moderanonomuck is an excellent example of this.
This particular troll is also passive/agressive.

2/01/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Van! Hope you're doing better - you've missed out on some soft pitches in this week's ClueBall tournament.

Bob - this actually has been very enjoyable. Thanks for doing it!

2/01/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van said-
"Isn't the real breakthrough of the Greeks with Reason, and the Judeo/Christian with identifying yourself as being of value and importance in the hierarchy, that it enabled us to venture out from our internal delusions about reality, and see what's really there beyond what we imagined there was there? That there was not only something there, but we were worthy of discovering it, and finding a truer grasp of ourselves within it all?"

Yep! Realized potential. Goin' past the shoal waters of "safe" assumptions and venturin' out (or in) into the vast See of O.

2/01/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Walt, you know the worst part of that story? My first college was nine miles from there. The only thing unsurprising (and frankly a relief) was that I didn't know any of the key people listed in the article.

Brattleboro is the same town that, within the last couple of years, passed a law allowing public nudity. They banned it a year later. I'm starting to think they just really want the rest of the country to know they're there.

2/01/2008 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Van: So you got wires to the head? Cool! All they did with my head was knock a couple of times, and check the echo with a tuning fork. Hope you're doing OK.
Here's a note from the unyielding world that does not mirror our needs, infantile or otherwise.
I've been working for the local school district filling in part time for the custodial and maintenance crew. This fall a permanent full time position for night custodian came open. I put in for the job. So did the other two guys who are on the sub list with me. Three candidates. One of the guys has more seniority than I; one less. The guy with more seniority is forty something, wife, kids, mortgage. He and I were there every day all summer long, bustin' butt. The guy with less seniority got his first check this last summer and took off for a month. He's twenty something, wants to move out his mom's house, fix up his truck, and get some decent tattoos. He got the job. Imagine that. They went and hired the younger, stronger kid; not the candidate with the greatest needs.
Real world, baby.
There's a lot I want to say, but I've been down with the flu all week. No sleep. Fever dreams. Dark night of the soul crap and all that. I'm just beat. Maybe I'll check in later.

JWM

2/01/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ben 12:49

LOL! Too true. It IS fun to watch them squeal when they get tagged.

Likely this accounts for Van showing up just now: the scent of Intyredux permeating the air. Van phonehome.

Hey, Van can follow DL's lead & repost, with light editing & some contemporary events inserted, his stuff from slightly over a year ago.

2/01/2008 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ah, man. What can I say except "slam dunk"?

I'm currently very deep into the process of getting a little $25M firm up and over the $100M wall, so I will have very limited time to post here for a while. I read every single day though! Usually on the tarmac or in the limo on my phone (thank God for web-enabled phones).

2/01/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van:

Sounds like vasovagal syncope, a usually benign but thrilling phenomenon.

2/01/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"battling Amazon boobs" . . . too many competing mental images. Must reboot.

Van, what a mensch. A heart retreat and you still find time to set me straight, philosophically speaking. I'd wondered where you'd been. Welcome back.

2/01/2008 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

JWM-
Hang in there man. I hope n' pray you feel better soon, and as/when you get through this, you'll get a deluge of grace and revelation.

It's a helluva way to get there, and it's easy for me to talk about it bein' worth it, so I won't follow my first impulse to shower you with platitudes that mean bupkis when you're just tryin' to survive and get through this.

Just hang tough and fight your way through is the best thing I can think of to say.
God bless you.

2/01/2008 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Ben, You totally rock.
*sniff*

(I didn't *sniff* swertagod I didn')
;)

JWM

2/01/2008 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

ximeze said "Was starting to get really worried, since you've not commented recently"

@#$@%&* blogger did something a couple weeks back to their html so that I can't sign in as me to blogger through my pocketpc anymore, I can read fine, but can't comment. ARGHHH!!!!

We've been updating pda's as they're sent in from the field FedEx throughout the day (w/my software btw, proud papa boast), snow delayed them today, so I had an opening this morning to pop in.

"...does your cool pic stack up..."

emmm... I don't do the belt strap thing... tre' gauche.

:|

2/01/2008 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(Hey all, Thanks for all the kind words)

2/01/2008 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous walmart shopper said...

I always get a kick out of the tenure jokes. It would be fun if a lefty professor stopped by some time, all PO'd, to let us know how upset he is about what he's read here.

(Is that unhealthy of me?)

2/01/2008 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(Skully... out of grog... they don't sell it here... and uh... wife prefer's that I don't make anything but software in the house... but I do have MacKesson's Tripple Stout on hand. Ooh-hoo! Makes Guiness look like weak tea. Very functional!)

2/01/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad Bob said "...Sounds like vasovagal syncope..."

Yeah, that's what the doc's settled on, but couldn't pin it to a reason, couldn't get any indicators from the tilt-table or anything else. The puzzling thing was why my heart rate was so low...
but I figure, as long as it's keeping a beat, I can live wi' dat.

2/01/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's very simple: your condition is idiopathic, the medical term for who the f**k knows.

2/01/2008 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Did you notice the mention of "defecation syncope" in the Wiki article? Tragically, I read somewhere that Toots Mondello suffered from that. That's why he was 4-F in WWII, or so the story goes....

2/01/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

AHH! ISS! LOL!

2/01/2008 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Van,
RE Toots Disease, the suffered were those who had to use the head after him.

Take two jokes and call me in the morning.
RR MD

(Hope you feel better soon :-)

2/02/2008 06:17:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Idiopathic styncope?

2/02/2008 06:25:00 AM  

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