Monday, December 22, 2008

The Breast of the West (1.17.12)

UF asks the question: "Does not the very idea of movement -- biological, psychic or intellectual, it does not matter -- presuppose an affirmative impulse, a conscious or unconscious 'yes,' self-willed or instinctive, at the basis of all movement that is not purely mechanical?" Indeed, if this "yes" were not at the basis of things, then "universal weariness and disgust would have long ago put an end to all life."

Now that I think about it, virtually all forms of mental illness have as a central feature a lack of movement, or a "stuckness" about them. When someone is depressed, it is not just that they are sad -- everyone has their moods -- but that they are in a kind of static and joyless state of mind. There is no movement. Or, if there is movement, it's all arbitrary. Nothing is any better or worse than anything else. There is no convergent meaning, as everything goes "flat."

Come to think of it, this is the reason why one of my first published papers touched on this very topic. In it, I compared the workings of the mind to a dissipative structure. Here it is: Psychoanalysis, Chaos and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure.

The reason I bring this up is that in my book, I took some of these same ideas and merely transposed them to the key of Spirit -- the central idea being that the higher self, no different than the local ego, can only grow under certain conditions; specifically, it must be open, it must be far from equilibrium, and it must exchange matter, energy, or information with the environment.

I hope this doesn't sound academic, because it is actually highly practical. In fact, I'm a little surprised and relieved that I'm not famous, because it is a kind of "master key" that unifies disparate phenomena, both within and across domains.

Let's begin with the realm of psychology. I believe that all forms of psychopathology result from the person failing on some level to meet the criteria for a dissipative structure.

For example, let's take the pathological narcissist. The narcissist typically develops a "false self" or "as if" personality to negotiate with the outside world. While he will use people to prop up and mirror the false self, in reality, there is no deep exchange with others, i.e., no L or K link. Rather, he uses people in order to maintian a kind of static equilibrium, so as to avoid painful emotions such as shame. In other words, the narcissist may outwardly appear to have a strong ego, but it is actually quite brittle. The very purpose of his narcissistic defenses (i.e., the false self) is to protect it from an emotional catastrophe.

But such a person slowly dies from within, because if one cannot tolerate pain, one cannot tolerate pleasure. In order to maintain the closed system, the narcissist also closes himself to real love, which causes the soul to wither from within. He eventually dies of his addiction to the false mirroring.

When people hear the term "narcissism," they often think of it in terms of physical beauty, but it can equally affect the intellect. Academia is full of brilliant people whose intelligence has been hijacked in the service of their narcissism, so that their minds eventually become closed and therefore no longer susceptible to real organic growth (vs. a kind of mechanical accumulation). Obama's new science advisor, John Holdren, comes readily to mind, but one could think of hundreds of others. One also thinks of Queeg and his petty Darwinian fundamentalism, so utterly closed off from the greater reality.

The other day, I mentioned the schizoid person, whose mind becomes closed for unconscious fear of damaging the other with one's love. Likewise, portions of the personality can become sealed off, frozen, and autistic, and therefore highly resistant to change -- like giant boulders, or sometimes fine sand, within the soul. Other times it is felt as a kind of icy glacier. The point is, the images symbolically disclose an underlying reality, which is always joyless because it does not flow.

Some people who appear to be open systems are actually tightly closed systems who are merely interacting with their own disavowed projections. One thinks of people who suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. It's fascinating when you think about it, because these people are under the delusion that they are interacting with the "outside" world, when it couldn't be more obvious that they are really just trapped in their own private Idaho.

And here is another key point: this state also brings a kind of pseudo-freedom that conceals actual enslavement to the projected object, from which they cannot in fact get away. It reminds me of the Taoist idea that if you want to control a cow, just give it a large pasture. In America, "freedom of speech" is precisely that large pasture, in which people are free to find their own fences, which then provides the subjective illusion of real freedom. But Raccoons -- by their very nature -- are very quick to identify these intellectual and spiritual fences, which we don't so much "tresspass" as transpass. Did you notice how our former jester was forever trying to contain us in his little scientistic pasture?

I could cite dozens of other examples of how this works on a psychological level, but I think I'll spare you. The point is that the identical principles equally apply to the spiritual plane. The deep structure is the same, but the object (or Subject) is different.

What is a spiritual practice but the effort to form an open system with.... let's just call it O, because if we define it ahead of time, we fall into the danger of actually being a closed system interacting with our own projections. There are so many warnings about this in the patristic literature, not to mention a Meister Eckhart, that I'm not going to get into specific examples.

Well, maybe one. Eckhart spoke of the idea of the soul being like a virgin, or being in a state of poverty. In both cases, he is talking about none other than being a truly open system with O. You know, blessed are the poor in spirit. Why's that? Because their's is the Kingdom of Heaven. Explain. Okay. Poverty = spiritual emptiness. Kingdom of Heaven = the flow of internal joy.

The Tao Te Ching (I love this particular translation) also makes so many brilliant points about this dynamic that I won't bother to cite them all. Here are just a few:

The Tao.... is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.

But if you want to be crooked, get bent!

Nah, I made that last one up.

Anyway, speaking of Blogo, the same principles apply to politics, for how could they not?:

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists....
If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

Suffice it to say that leftists are not just un-Christian but un-Taoist, being that government becomes a huge and intrusive breast that keeps one a child forever.

But the real coonservative?

I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.
I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother's breasts.

You see? The ultimate open system. A divine child forever.

And when the breast is not available, my teddy will just have to do.


Blogger julie said...

"Now that I think about it, virtually all forms of mental illness have as a central feature a lack of movement, or a "stuckness" about them."

"Apathy is the great enemy of self-rule. Indeed, it is absolutely antithetical to it." (via Vanderleun again)

12/22/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A-pathy = absence of e-motion.

12/22/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It's funny you put that particular Tao passage in today; just last night, I was reading the section on Beauty (SA, pg. 666), and a quote by Chin Shengt'an that starts with a very similar passage.

12/22/2008 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Chin Shengt'an said...

Laotse has said: 'Thirty spokes are grouped around the hub of a wheel, and when they lose their own individuality, we have a functioning cart. We knead clay into a vessel and when the clay loses its own existence we have a usable utensil. We make a hole in the wall to make windows and doors, and when the windows and doors lose their own existence, we have a house to live in.'

12/22/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous liberal cheapskate said...

"If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

Bleeding Heart Tightwads

12/22/2008 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the psychopathologies mentioned in this post (depression, narcissism, schizoid personality) may have some underlying spiritual utility.

One must have something to push against in order to be propelled.

What is the counterpoise to each of the maladies? What are the shadow images that run parrallel to these problems?

The disease is the beginning of the cure, but the real effect is for growth.

Narcissim sets the stage for great selflessness; depression for great joy; schizoid personality for great love; etc.

The caveat is that it may take more than one lifetime; if you discount multiple lives, then this proposition is obviously unviable.

12/22/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Do not cooncur. True depression and narcissism are a total waste of time.

12/22/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

It's like saying that cancer sets the stage for great health.

12/22/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

They may afflict us and we may gain from the affliction but to ask for them is downright silly - it is not natural to be sick.

12/22/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Anon @ 9:12,

I'm with River on this one. Are you daft? There is little meaning in your lofty prose.

12/22/2008 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger James said...


A-pathy = absence of e-motion.

This equation is true in my experience. Succinctly put.

12/22/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

...they are really just trapped in their own private Idaho.

Yes there are lots of bushes out here to whack through, which is just plain fun.

12/22/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

It's like saying that cancer sets the stage for great health.

It's like saying lies set the stage for Truth.

12/22/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

From Julie's link: Apathy is the default position for those living under a tyranny.

And I believe that such apathy gives way to fatalism. Fatalism creeps into the cultural psyche of such people. It permeates the topsoil of existence and bonds with ones worldview, creating a mat of shallow roots and decaying hopes. It stunts deep philosophy and truth from reaching the light of day.

12/22/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ahhh...! Excellent pic!

I do miss being able to peek in on those scenes at night... once they hit late teens, you're less likely to be treated to cute scenes, and more likely to be treated to loud snoring... or the sounds of some other form of air escaping the body....

12/22/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, James, River C:

This is anon from 9:12

According to the teachings of the the Mother, severe illness (like any other major life event) may be a choice the soul makes before birth.

The illness is a teacher; so my point was, the soul that wants to learn great selflessness while in the flesh may choose to experience some narcissism first; much as a cook learns to saute correctly by burning a few pan fulls.

My theory is that things are arranged quite efficiently; it would unlike the Supreme to waste time on an illness, as Bob conjectures. Something can always be squeezed out of it.

However, my caveat again, is that if there is insufficient time to lean things (i.e, one life only), then obviously Bob's, Rivers, and James' viewpoints are correct.

Gee, isn't metaphysics fun? We can't solve this one with the available information.

However, it may help to have the attitude that every occurence works for some desired result in some occult way.

This keeps existential despair at arm's length.

12/22/2008 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

My theory is that things are arranged quite efficiently;

And so is blogger. It's quite easy to at least give yourself some sort of name. It keeps existential confusion at arm's length...


12/22/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>> . . . someone is depressed . . . they are in a kind of static and joyless state of mind<<

Static yet restless, I think, as opposed to the Divine stasis, which is a rest that is also a movement.

Pain is *agitation*, the closed loop. Hell is eternal restlessness.

Heaven is the end of agitation - it's an eternal rest, a rest that is also a flowing.

12/22/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

>>"But Raccoons -- by their very nature -- are very quick to identify these intellectual and spiritual fences, which we don't so much "tresspass" as transpass."<<

I was just reading the other Ralph. When I read this part, the low gong sounded:

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please,--you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party he meets,--most likely his father's. He gets rest, commodity, and reputation; but he shuts the door of truth. He in whom the love of truth predominates will keep himself aloof from all moorings, and afloat. He will abstain from dogmatism, and recognize all the opposite negations between which, as walls, his being is swung. He submits to the inconvenience of suspense and imperfect opinion, but he is a candidate for truth, as the other is not, and respects the highest law of his being.

12/22/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J of A:

Anonymous posting allows for a certain creativity that becomes restricted if one takes an identity.

For instance, I can post as a woman or a man. I can post as a raccoon sycophant or a moonbat, or somewhere in between.

I can alter the mood, tone, syntax and diction of my prose to fit a passing whim.

No, I don't want a fixed identity. I am sorry if this sows confusion; however, prose should stand on its own merits or lack thereof without further information.

Why don't you try posting anonymously just for thrills? OR have you already?

12/22/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoltan! Is that you?

12/22/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Your prose is just fine, excellent, in fact. Your purpose is what is questionable. Show up with different identities, and fool all the folks into thinking- what? Why would anyone want to make a game of deceiving strangers on a blog? What kind of fun is that? Suppose you ran into someone in the real world who thought this was amusing. How much time would you spend with someone who showed up with a different identity every time you meet him/her/it? That's all well and good for a character in a Lou Reed song, but it doesn't play well in the real world.


12/22/2008 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninymouse said "No, I don't want a fixed identity."

And so you do not have one, and having no identity, you have acheived what you were after.


12/22/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

On a different note:
"Part of Alexander the Great's army settled down Asia and became Buddhists. They created the Ghandarvian Buddhist culture, a high point in human history. The Ghandarvian Greek Buddhists created the first Buddhist art and sculpture. When Islam invaded they had no army, only good thoughts. Alexander the Great's best soldiers had become absolute pacifists. After the jihad, we do not find a single Buddhist in what is Afghanistan today. Good thoughts and good works are not enough in the face of violence.

From American Thinker. The Evil of Good Deeds and Good Thoughts


12/22/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Fixed that for ya, anonymous 3:06 said...

Anonymous posting allows for a certain cheap thrill that becomes restricted if one takes an identity.

For instance, I can post as a woman or a man. I can post as a raccoon sycophant (thus giving myself away, as true raccoons are by definition not sycophantic) or a moonbat, or somewhere in between.

I can alter the mood, tone, syntax and diction of my prose to fit a passing whim, something which I could do even if I assume an identity, but which I believe would give away too much of my true character, hence the obfuscation.

No, I don't want a fixed identity. I am sorry when this doesn't sow confusion; I believe my own prose and attempted trickery superior to your honesty, and it delights me when I think I've scored a point.

Why don't you try posting anonymously just for thrills? OR have you already? Just the thought of raccoons behaving badly makes my leg tingle...

12/22/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

But one thing you can't hide
is when you're crippled inside

12/22/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Post annonymously for thrills.
uh- it wouldn't deliver any.

Too bad you weren't born forty years ago. You'd have been a howl at prank phone calls.


12/22/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Posting anony is your idea of thrills? Oh dear, how tepid. With such low standards you'll ever get picked for a water balloon launching team.

P.S.: Any fool knows a cook learns to saute correctly by watching Julia Child.

12/22/2008 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

From a software frame of reference, psychopathology would be a little like the old FORTRAN infinite loops. In this case the process runs through set of conditionals that exit without doing anything -- except to start the process again. You can be running through a lot of cycles, giving the illusion of life, but you're not doing anything.

12/22/2008 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

And now, for something completely different ^.^.

12/22/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous person. After hearing your testimony, I took on an identity. I'm not quite ready to trot it out; I'm feeling shy.

However, before I do "come out", I would like to direct the spotlight onto a certain quality called "plasticity."

It is the practice of not hardening one's identity into any set form. The one constant needed is a desire to serve the Light in whatever capacity is called for; that should not waver. Everything else is up for grabs.

Life becomes a simplified matter of discerning, trusting, and acting on Divine orders, if you're skilled enough or lucky enough to sense them clearly.

Aurobindo did it; he mutated from a school principal into a husband into a radical politician into a revolutionary into a poet and author and finally into a Yogin and recluse.

He stated explicitly that he was a plastic instrument of the Master of Works, aka God.

What could Will become? What could Van do? How about you J of A? Are you malleable?

And now I'll quit; you've had enough of me for the week.

12/22/2008 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Prince Albert in a can said...

Anon said,

"For instance, I can post as a woman or a man. I can post as a raccoon sycophant or a moonbat, or somewhere in between."

You forgot to add "or as a self appointed expert on The Mother. You see, I KNOW people."

12/22/2008 11:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'd suggest you turm on a light to get an initial bearing before you decide to serve it.
Aurobindo you ain't.

P.S. Please get on with the identity change, you're giving us a bad name.

12/22/2008 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous austracoon said...

"Academia is full of brilliant people whose intelligence has been hijacked in the service of their narcissism,..."

Jud 9:14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.

12/23/2008 03:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Bush derangement syndrome was coined and popularized by the media (which it's odd you'd use a political quip used by media pundits instead of a legitimate illness) it was mocking the fear people had about the direction of Bush's policies. Ultimately though I find it hard to mock them now as many of the problems BDS sufferers were concerned with came true. The difference between then and now however is merely how desensitized we've become to the insanity of the Bush administration.

And speaking of that, I'm humored you would notice that illnesses have a "stuckness" and yet not see that this administration has been stuck and solidly unmoving on so many of its stances. Hell it was practically paralyzed when the economy started to turn. America's disease is its lame-duck.

12/23/2008 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Divine plasticity? God does not change. Also, any excuse will do, anonymouse.

12/23/2008 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "And speaking of that, I'm humored..."

No doubt it happens often.

12/23/2008 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Did you notice how our former jester was forever trying to contain us in his little scientistic pasture?

Yes, and as long as we raucously refused the fences, he was content to keep erecting them and we were content to transpass them with much chatter and noise.

This pattern has been observed by a new troll and will be implemented non-stop and ad nauseum-- because it knows that Raccoons cannot resist poking their pointy sticks at officious toads. It is just too much fun!

With my hatpin in hand and at the ready, I wish all weenie anonymous trolls a lump of coal in their stocking. And I wish their momma had loved them better.

To my fellow and much-esteemed Raccoons I extend wishes for a very Merry Christmas!

12/23/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Divine plasticity? God does not change. Also, any excuse will do, anonymouse."

Not sure to which post you're referring, it seems to cover several. And I see nobody making excuses really.

"aninnymouse said "And speaking of that, I'm humored..."

No doubt it happens often."

On this blog, of course. Any real arguments? Thought not.

12/23/2008 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Merry Christmas Joan, and thanks!

12/23/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

Anonymous, is what I?

This post reminds me of happy days in the 1960s reading Bateson's systems analyses based on his studies of schizophrenics (Palo Alto VA Hospital) and marine mammals (for Naval weapons development, Waimanalo).

Finest work in the field of systems analysis I have ever seen, which is not necessarily saying much since I did not afterwards spend much time reviewing work in that field.

My MDiv thesis, however, treated of congruences of OT theology and systems theory.

Luck to have it read at that time and place!

This post also reminds me of the oscillation historically between periods of emphasis on oneness (mysticism/realism) and particularity (rationalism/nominalism), or more subtly and dangerously, between particularity and false or tendentious oneness (tyranny), such as our own.

Bob is contending with two heresies simultaneously: particularity (left) and, much worse, false oneness (extreme left, Goldberg's "liberal fascism").

It is a noble fight -- say in this context, "movement," which is a fine exegesis of "fight."

12/23/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Real arguments? You can't handle a real argument, which is why you need to construct an illusion of a real argument. That way you control the outcome, or rather, you think you do.

12/23/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Happy Days was in the '70's, but it was about the '50's.

12/23/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Namaste Dude! said...

Hey Anon!

If you can't muster up the courage, Bob can certainly muster up his Clicky referrals and identify you by your ISP, no matter how many names you use. Unless you've gone to the trollish trouble of getting a cloaker for your croaking output, and even then, "coon vision" will find you out.

12/23/2008 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ben said "That way you control the outcome, or rather, you think you do."

I suspect the only 'outcome' aninnymouse is in control of, involves toilet paper.


12/23/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Zoltan said...

A-pathy = absence of willing, eager, irresistible entrance upon the experience of pathos. Pathology.

Not merely emotion, which could be anything, literally, including what is here called "intellection."

Rather, absence of compassion (Sanskrit karuna, absence of empathy with one undergoing the experience of tragedy, of defeat, mainly, but also the experience of success, of victory.

And any experience in between those poles, including what is the large majority of experience, namely, ambiguity, mixtures of defeat and victory.

Most Americans alive today have never experienced a mother's love.

That is pathetic.

That is the specific pathos, the pathological electoral base, that, unfelt and unfixed, enabled a Fraud to be in position to lay hands on the mechanisms of federal government and destroy it.

12/23/2008 10:03:00 PM  

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