Searching for Absurdity in an Intelligible World
"The heart must therefore be pure, and if not already pure it must be purified. This is the sine qua non of success" (Mouravieff). You know, wise as serpents, innocent as doves. Or, unless you are coonverted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (which is, of course, within).
And when we say innocent, one must especially be innocent of lying, in particular, to oneself. Just this morning Mrs. G. and I were talking about how (cautiously!) pleased we are with how Future Leader is turning out, in that he is completely unrepressed and full of life, and yet, polite, compassionate, and well-mannered. All along, we've been working with the idea of not allowing the "civilizing process" to succeed at the cost of having to repress and deny critical parts of himself. When that happens, it sets the stage for secret lives, unarticulated agendas, psychic envelopes, emotional blockages, barriers to thought, attacks on linking, etc. Mind parasites.
Mouravieff points out that the admonition to be as little children has often been taken "as a restriction of the intellectual life," which is obviously an error of the first magnitude. Indeed, it leads to nonsense such as this: an atheist group calling for a "national day of reason" -- as if there is anything reasonable in not knowing the limits of reason. When Jesus said to be as little children, he certainly didn't mean that we should all think like childish atheists.
Paul clarified the issue when he said that one should be mature in intelligence, understanding, and judgment, but be "babes" in terms of malice.
Skipping ahead a little, Mouravieff makes a provocative point that "Our lives often resemble a well-conceived theatre play in which the roles are upset by a person searching for an absurdity; each of us is this mischievous or comic being." Emphasis mine. But why the emphasis? I think because this goes to the issue of mind parasites, which can almost be defined as a "(sub)person in search of an absurdity."
For what is a mind parasite, ultimately? It is a semi-autonomous bit of consciousness that has split off from the central self, and has an agenda all its own. This agenda is never rational from our point of view, but is usually rational on its own plane.
Take, for example, the routine case a girl who is sexually abused or traumatized in some way, and then grows up to think she is a "lesbian." Unconsciously there is a fear and rejection of men, but it comes out as a pre-oedipal attraction to women (in the pre-oedipal stage we are still merged with Mother). In other words, it is a movement back in developmental time to before men -- and sexual differences -- even existed (and with it, a confusion of sex and mothering).
But in any event, mind parasites are always seeking an absurdity, whether it is the fantasy of complete safety, escape from death, omniscience or intellectual certainty on the plane of reason (like the above atheist group), freedom from sexual differences, suspension (or reversal) of time, etc. Freud focused on the denial of sexual differences, but modern psychoanalysis has revealed many more.
And this also goes to what I was saying above about Future Leader. When it comes right down to it, we are trying to raise a child who is free of mind parasites, but who is also, and most importantly, good. Think of an extreme case, say, Tiger Woods. He had very "hands on" parenting, but what did it result in? An absurd compulsion to spend 16 hours a day seeking a kind of meaningless perfection that is impossible anyway, while spending the rest of his time living out the secret lives of his sexual mind parasites. He's truly a miserable, pathetic human being, an utter failure. And if I had a child like that, I would never recover from the shame.
When mind parasites hijack the script, "Life then takes on the character of perpetual compromise with oneself," causing "changes in the intellectual center due to cheating and lying; heart disease if the emotional center is sensitive and still aspires to the truth," other diseases of "obscure origin," and a general "accelerated aging" and premature death. Living a lie takes its toll, as there can be no peace within the self, only temporary cessations of hostilities.
The works of Allan Shore -- and I'm not necessarily recommending them, as they are more for professionals; for a more popularized but still sound presentation, try this -- describe the cascade of neurobiological changes that take place in the child exposed to stress. If the stress is chronic, it leads to permanent changes in the brain. It is as if the mind parasites are etched into our nervous system.
What is so fascinating about Schore's work is that it actually documents the existence of mind parasites with hard science, and even pinpoints the main areas where they take root and affect in the brain. For example, the deepest mind parasites are contained in the preverbal right brain, since it develops ahead of the left brain during the first two years of life. But since this hemisphere is nonverbal, this helps to explain why these mind parasites are beyond the reach of language, and can live out their dramas in such puzzling and self-defeating ways.
This is an extreme case, but many years ago I evaluated a man with a shoe fetish. In fact, he even wore a pair of women's hi-heeled shoes during the evaluation -- which was quite a sight, since he was a bearded, grizzled elderly man otherwise attired in a pair of soiled overalls.
I don't have time to get into the details, but it turned out that his mother had died when he was three or four years old, and that in order to cope with his grief, he would snuggle with her shoes. Quite sad, but a vivid example of "searching for an absurdity."