Friday, December 12, 2008

Come For the Fate, Stay for the Destiny (1.05.12)

That could be the motto of the coonical pslackologist, for our mind parasites subject us to fate, while our true self reveals our destiny. Fate and destiny, although often used in the same way, are actually -- for our purposes, anyway -- opposites. You might say that fate is the destiny imposed by your dead past, while destiny is the fate opened up by your living future. Let me explain.

Or better yet, let Bollas explain. The term "destiny drive" is taken from his book, Forces of Destiny, but he's really reframing established psychoanalytic ideas in a more modern theoretical context that sees the mind as intrinsically intersubjective and "object related" as opposed to being more like a hydraulic machine driven to discharge instinctual tension.

(I hate to get all pedantic on your asses, but this is an important point to get out of the way. In modern psychoanalytic theory, "object" mainly means "subject"; this is because classical psychoanalysis regarded subjects as merely the object of an instinctual discharge. When they shifted the focus to the subject, they retained the old nomenclature. Hence, modern psychoanalysis is confusingly called "object relations," when it would be more accurate to call it "subject relations." The shift is as profound as the move, say, from Newtonian to quantum physics, but it is as if they retained the old language.)

I don't want to get too bogged down in theory, but the point is that modern psychoanalysis focuses much more on the discovery, articulation, and elaboration of the true self, as opposed, say, to instinctual conflict between id and ego. Instincts are still important, but they are understood to operate in an irreducibly interpersonal field.

Now, the question is, how does the true self actualize and grow? Bollas's thesis is that it is through the discovery of one's unique idiom, which you might say is the signature of the true self: human idiom is that peculiarity of person(ality) that finds its own being through the particular selection and use of the object. In this sense, to be and to appropriate are one.

In other words, you might say that the true self is a preconceptual logos, or clueprint, that must find the objects it requires in order to elaborate itself and "live." In this regard, Bollas says that the self's idiom is "akin to a kind of personality speech, in which the lexical elements are not word signifiers but factors of personality."

There is no real being in the absence of this articulation of one's idiom, only a kind of paradoxical "negative being." Or, to turn it around, when you cannot articulate your idiom, your life will feel like a stifling prison, whatever the outward circumstances.

Hence what I was saying yesterday about the centrality of liberty. In the absence of liberty, it is very unlikely that you will be able to discover your own unique idiom, which is again the key to the articulation of the true self. Private property is a fundamental expression of (and requirement for) liberty, and the most precious property is one's self. But without secure private property, how can the self appropriate what it needs to speak its idiom? If those things are determined by the state, or by political correctness, the self is sharply constrained in its ability to find its real idiom.

You could also say that when you fail to find your idiom, you will feel as if you are haunted by a kind of fate that blankets your life, and from which you cannot escape. More on which below.

In the introduction to the book, Bollas speaks of his own child, and I am sure most of you parents out there will fully relate: "What struck me was how he was who he is from scratch. He seemed to be in possession of his own personality, his very own unique configuration in being (what I term an idiom) that has never really changed in itself."

In cogitating on this common observation, Bollas simply transferred this awareness to the therapeutic setting, and realized that one of his primary functions as a therapist was to be of assistance to the patient "for private articulations of his personality potential -- which could only be accomplished by eliciting different elements of my own personality." Bollas realized that in order to do this, he had to temporarily ignore his own idiom so as to "be" what the patient required of him at any given time. (Here again, you parents out there will relate.)

Here you can see the problem. A patient comes into therapy because they are bogged down by their fate. Something happened early in life that foreclosed their destiny, and now they don't know how to find it, because it is buried beneath so much life history, forced choices, defensive adaptations, etc. But the true self is still there, seeking a way to express itself and be. This innate urge to articulate the true self is what Bollas calls the destiny drive. The therapist's job is to serve as a mediator, or midwife, in the birth of this latent self.

Now, what is this true self, phenomenologically speaking? I would say that it is aliveness itself, only transposed to the key of mind, or consciousness. Although difficult to define, one can see it as a kind of red thread that runs through one's life. You definitely know when it has been touched, and it is obviously critical to pay attention to these sometimes subtle moments of contact, in order to "find your way."

The odd thing is that the true self is obviously a form of "knowledge," but it is more in terms of inclinations to "perceive, organize, remember, and use" the world in a certain way. When there is a good fit between idiom and world, it brings with it a very specific form of "joy," which Bollas has elsewhere called "the erotics of being." For example, the joy some people find in this blog is simply a case of finding your idiom mirrored to you in a satisfying way, so that you become aware of your own true self. One can only wonder why our jester is addicted to a foreign idiom that can bring him no joy or peace.

We not only require people to articulate our idiom, but material objects, books, films, music, hobbies. As Bollas says, we could conduct a kind of "person anthropology" by paying attention to the objects chosen by this or that person. I know that this blog is as unique as my fingerprint, in that it represents the fruit of my own inimitable selection of objects and subjects for the articulation of my being. I don't have many readers, but I suppose it's surprising that I have any, given how personal it is.

Back to the idea of destiny vs. fate. According to Bollas, only in modern times do we begin to see an increasing distinction between the two terms, so that destiny begins to take on more positive connotations -- the idea that "one can fulfill one's destiny if one is fortunate, if one is determined, if one is aggressive enough" The whole idea of destiny could only take root once people gained a degree of economic and cultural freedom, and were "able to take some control of their lives and chart their future." (One can well understand why America is the land of the "true self," at least for conservatives, whereas liberal victimology represents the perverse erotics of fate; don't think for one moment that people do not take perverse and sadistic pleasure in their victim status.)

But fate has very different connotations. Again, it results in being "pushed around" by the past instead of "lured" by the future. The more one is fated -- in particular, by mind parasites -- the less one can manifest one's destiny. (I am sure it would be fruitful to meditate on the implications of this as they pertain to the idea of predestination, which can either be enslaving or liberating, depending upon how it is understood.)

Now, when a patient comes in for treatment, it is often because they are a victim of fate, or the Curse of the Mind Parasites: "The person who is ill and comes to analysis either because of neurotic symptoms, or characterological fissures, or psychotic ideas and pains, can be described as a fated person. That is, he is suffering from something which he can specify and which has a certain power in his life to seriously interfere with his capacity to work, find pleasure, or form intimate relationships."

Bollas says that "we can use the idea of fate to describe the sense a person may have, determined by a life history, that his true self has not been met and facilitated into lived experience. A person who feels fated is already someone who has not experienced reality as conducive to the fulfillment of his inner idiom."

Okay, let's pause, take a breath, and reflect on these ideas in more personal terms.

Nah, let's just stop for now. To be continued.

***

Related idiom @ American Digest, The Star:

To see something special. To see something beyond yourself and your imaginings. To follow it wherever it leads. To always remain prepared for miracle[s]. That is the inner music of the story of The Star. Like all stories that survive, it is the music of the heart and not of the head, and like the heart, it will endure.

43 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

"I don't have many readers, but I suppose it's surprising that I have any, given how personal it is."

I dunno - to me, much of the appeal is that it is personal. It almost has to be. If you were talking about all of these things from an impersonal, purely objective or clinical perspective, you'd be about as interesting as our jester, like a hydrophobic scientist explaining the wetness of water. Or a soulophobic jester explaining the mechanics of me-ness.

12/12/2008 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

True, but it is possible to be personal and nevertheless come up with this kind of hideous crap.

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

Auggh

12/12/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Oh man, that's just not right how can...

Totally derailed... second sentence, or so? Jeez.

Destiny drive... must have something to do with the logoi described by Maximus Confessor. Maybe!

12/12/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"(I am sure it would be fruitful to meditate on the implications of this as they pertain to the idea of predestination, which can either be enslaving or liberating, depending upon how it is understood.)"

I would attest that it can/should be not only liberating, but exhilarating, and an immense source of joy. Why? Because, as illustrated by UF re the world card, the creation is God's ongoing work of art. Those who are consciously being comformed to His image by His work can not only find great joy, but sustaining comfort as well re the outcome.

And that's just from my own puny grasp of the sovereignty of God.

12/12/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

One can only wonder why our jester is addicted to a foreign idiom that can bring him no joy or peace.

There's that term again, 'addicted'. Nice reverse-psychology. What's the one way I could prove that I'm not addicted? :->

As to 'no joy or peace', why can't one's idiom be to wrestle with foreign ideas?

Heck, all the various diagnoses of my pathology here are fascinating - 'autistic', 'addicted', 'theist in denial', etc. Reminds me of, well, this. I mean, there must be a pathology, right?

12/12/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous coonass said...

Ehh, we got us some snow dow heuhh.

12/12/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"You might say that fate is the destiny of your past, while destiny is the fate of your future."

Ho!

"But fate has very different connotations. Again, it results in being "pushed around" by the past instead of "lured" by the future. The more one is fated -- in particular, by mind parasites -- the less one can manifest one's destiny. (I am sure it would be fruitful to meditate on the implications of this as they pertain to the idea of predestination, which can either be enslaving or liberating, depending upon how it is understood.)"

At the risk of using a very saturated word (wait let me squish out all the extraneous connotations... eh... I step on it and step on it, but it pops back up like a sponge... oh well), sounds an awful lot like "Karma".

12/12/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous sehoy said...

Lightbulb moment.

Fate is the closed circle.
Destiny is the open spiral.

Fate is a prison.
Destiny is freedom/liberty.

Just restating things I've read here and MoTT, but, oh boy, I am finally getting it.

12/12/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger debass said...

When a child is born, the personality is what is needed for the advancement of mankind at that moment for those parents. If the parents get out of the way, so to speak, the child will fulfill it's destiny. But of course, not many parents are willing to let their child become what they are destined for without trying to manipulate their personality to fit some desired preconceived idea.
I have had to fight tooth and nail to keep all the supposed experts on child rearing from suppressing my daughter's personality. When she was born, I could tell right away that she understood everything I was saying. So I just let her be herself. I never wanted some clone of myself. I wanted her to achieve her full potential.
Bob- You may find this humorous that she is studying psychology in college and has been writing a book for the last couple of years.

12/12/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"The odd thing is that the true self is obviously a form of "knowledge," but it is more in terms of inclinations to "perceive, organize, remember, and use" the world in a certain way..."

A KnowledgIzer?

"... When there is a good fit between idiom and world, it brings with it a very specific form of "joy," which Bollas has elsewhere called "the erotics of being."

And thus the importance of Liberty in Life, so that we can realize the knowledge of the Pursuit of Happiness.

12/12/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

GB says: Here you can see the problem. A patient comes into therapy because they are bogged down by their fate. Something happened early in life that foreclosed their destiny, and now they don't know how to find it, because it is buried beneath so much life history, forced choices, defensive adaptations, etc. But the true self is still there, seeking a way to express itself and be.

Reminds me of Jesus saying, you have to become as a little child, or "you must be born again".

I might say you must be born again, and again, and again, ...

But maybe that's just me.

12/12/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"...we could conduct a kind of "person anthropology" by paying attention to the objects chosen by this or that person..."

I've always liked that. I've also always practiced that with people, starting with their manner, chosen manner of dress, books (or lack), music, art (or lack)... always interesting to see if the evidence stacks up to bear any relation to the image put forth.

When the evidence doesn't sync up with the self image consciously put forth, I'm not surprised to see evidence of something like this,

"Bollas says that "we can use the idea of fate to describe the sense a person may have, determined by a life history, that his true self has not been met and facilitated into lived experience. A person who feels fated is already someone who has not experienced reality as conducive to the fulfillment of his inner idiom.""

12/12/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It seems to me that this was the deeper meaning of American Beauty, in which the Kevin Spacey character travelled back to the age of 16 or so to try to find out where he'd gone off the rails, and to begin again -- to go back and try to undo his dreary fate in order to find his destiny.

12/12/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Kind of like America itself.

12/12/2008 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Scarlet Pimpernel said...

There's that term again, 'addicted'. Nice reverse-psychology. What's the one way I could prove that I'm not addicted?

Merciful Heavens, Bob! Ray has discovered your covert strategy and refuses to cooperate. Damn and blast!

Sink me for a fool, but I do aver that our man Ray is picking up mystical signals through his iron filings. Egads.

12/12/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Alternate Ray said...

Real Ray - Take care buddy that those filings don't turn on ya...what with yer magnetic personality and all.

12/12/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

One for Ray -

Scar
with humorless skill
a physician stitches up
an unsightly wound

12/12/2008 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Quint said...

I mean, there must be a pathology, right?

"he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes."

12/12/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we remain in eternal conflict

except for moments of integration

the goal is to expand the latter moments

this can be done by asking to be

the worst that you are

for it is the unconscious split

that engenders the continouous conflict.

all the positive thinking in the world

and all the therapy

will not cure the basic fault of the split

unless the unconscious and all its contents

are outed

through self verbilization

of our greatest fears, hurts, but even worse, our greatest beastialalities.

this is the true self

the one denied

so that all our lives

are lies.

we contain true monsters in our dark side

and only by asking for their conscious participation

in our daily self talk

can we merge.

thus the true self, the personal idiom, is a hideously mixed creature from a saturnalian past, and only by consciously coaching out our inner monsters, and owning them totally, as present energies in the living here and now, can we ever have a flicker of hope, of true self integration.

how many of you daily own the fact you are murderers in waiting?

or that you love to cause others pain, however well you may disguise that trait from your self, your proper public idom?

daring is what true destiny demands

if one is to be wholly accepting

of all rejected parts.

the power of self confession

the strength of true ownership

the fragmented self becoming one

so quit quibbling over words

graps the key concept

work hard daily applying it.

been there, done that.

all of it.

and yes, stll working, sweating blood, in this lonely effort.

to make the unconscious

conscious.

to own all rejected parts

permanently

the true definition of riches.

12/12/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Lonely? Ah, Lord no.

12/12/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Anon, so you followed Dupree's hideous crap back to this site?

12/12/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"I think it is safe to say that the Mayor went ballistic when he heard about this and ordered all this PC stuff to be halted forthwith."

EXCLUSIVE: Boris Saves Christmas!

12/12/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aloonymouse said "we contain true monsters in our dark side and only by asking for their conscious participation in our daily self talk can we merge."

Hmmm...

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12/12/2008 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Thanks for the Boris link, Ximeze!

Until our own government can muster up the bollocks to do the same, I remain very bah-humbug about any "official" greetings.

I have found, in fact, that even my banker is not allowed to say, "Merry Christmas." So, I walk up and greet everyone with a smile and a cheery, "bah, humbug!" Everyone smiles and nervously says, "uh, yes! Bah humbug to you, too!"

I think we almost have more fun that way.

12/12/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

From Dupree's link:

"The product of the practice is a Write,"

People who turn verbs into nouns should be dragged off and shot. I would consider it to be very eucharistic in the "this was my body" sort of way.

12/12/2008 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

For most people:

good drugs=bad writing

Poor Joe should read Dear Leader and find out that borderless nonsense does not a jazz riff make.

Joe might be a lit professor; he's certainly lit.

12/12/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

anon:
or that you love to cause others pain...

Would it hurt if I disagreed?


...ever hopeful

JWM

12/12/2008 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What kind of person anonymously drops that kind of hideous crap on a guy's blog while he's out at the office Christmas party?!

12/12/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

The Heavens are playing the Moon card tonight.

It could explain the anonymous regression.

12/12/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

What struck me from yesterday's and today's posts is the concept of the true self striving to express itself through us -- to use us, to communicate its/our idiom to and through us.

This is not a new idea for me, but you are explaining it very well.

Seems to me this idea provides another example of "objective" Hope.

* * * *

Now for the corny part...

I understood today how sadhus and hermit-types (Abhishiktananda comes to mind, among others) can take off and simply wander: from the stand-point of fullness of being, all conditioned behavior just holds you to this world; and the sheer beauty of being alive in this world is sufficient reason to carry on. A very simplified experience of complexity.

12/12/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

All goofing aside here
Anon, you sound like scary fusion of a high school kid who just read his first Herman Hesse book, and a pre-adolescent kid who is obsessed with cool monsters.
You want monsters, anon?
You want people who live by this credo:
only by consciously coaching out our inner monsters, and owning them totally, as present energies in the living here and now, can we ever have a flicker of hope, of true self integration.

Trust me. They are out there, and they are waiting for you. Or perhaps you are one of them already.
Ever see a monster movie? Because movie monsters do just exactly the same stuff as their more human counterparts.
Integrating your inner neighborhood with monsters is not analogous to welcoming an asian family when they move into the house across the street.

It's more like this:

Godzilla->Toyko = (destruction)

Monsters fuck things up.
That's all they do.

And yes, we all have our own private wars to wage against our own personal demons. Monsters. If you think you get hurt fighting the monsters, just wait and see how badly they will fuck you up(and those around you)if they talk you into joining them.
Trust me on this one, please.

JWM

12/12/2008 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

The "joy" from this blog..

Ah ha!
I knew you could tell, Bob.
I knew it.

12/12/2008 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

You have readers because it's the only way for students to learn skill and tradition. As Polanyi says, from a master.
We can tell.

12/12/2008 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill Murray said...

I said "a master", not "the master".

12/12/2008 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Back to comment #2, Dupree, that's the difference between a higher personal level and a nether personal region ;)

Good gravy, that man is loathsome!

12/12/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Ray:
Are you trying to be McMurphy in this nuthouse?
Or do you secretly seek your own private online Nurse Ratched?
;)

JWM

12/12/2008 08:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I'm the Bull Goose Loony around here, and this hospital ain't big enough for two of us.

12/12/2008 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Church Lady said...

I got his Nurse Ratched.

12/13/2008 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

For example, the joy some people find in this blog is simply a case of finding your idiom mirrored to you in a satisfying way, so that you become aware of your own true self.

And the potential of our true self!

12/13/2008 03:16:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Now, the question is, how does the true self actualize and grow? Bollas's thesis is that it is through the discovery of one's unique idiom, which you might say is the signature of the true self: human idiom is that peculiarity of person(ality) that finds its own being through the particular selection and use of the object. In this sense, to be and to appropriate are one.

Or, as with the Left, one can choose not to grow, subjected by fate to find their own common true idiot.
"Hey! look at me! I'm so unique...just like everyone else in the hive!"

Those not too far gone will have a faint true idiom tryin' to peak outta the crust of idiocy, while some will show no signs whatsoever.

Speakin' from personal experience, I much rather have true self idiom, and that more abundantly, than the illusion of "uniqueness" that the false self, the idiot oozes.

Hmmm, liberty or slavery? I'll take liberty for the entire essentialada, Alex.

12/13/2008 03:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Norman Bates said...

Anon-
I like to "get along" with my inner psychopath too.

What's that mother? Oh I couldn't do that. Okay mother. Whatever you say.

12/13/2008 03:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Lizzie Borden said...

"My beloved monster and me
We go everywhere together
Wearing a raincoat that has four sleeves,
Gets us through all kinds of weather

She will always be the only thing
That comes between me and the awful sting
That comes from living in a world that's so damn mean "

12/13/2008 06:19:00 AM  

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