Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Logotomized Always Lie

With dumb-as-a-postmodernity, much of Western civilization has undergone a spiritual logotomy that results in the removal of one's higher spiritual sense. But just like a victim of lobotomy, the logotomized person doesn't even know what hit him, for he is now missing the part that might know.

In the not-too-distant past, no one was really religious, or "chose" religion in the way that we must consciously be and do. Rather, it mostly chose them. It was simply the pneumatic context in which humans lived, and one thing modern developmental psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for there can never be one without the other. (Think of modern physics, in which "objects" are no longer radically separate from the space that contains them.)

True, truth is truth; nevertheless, it makes all the difference in the world what sort of receptacle or "matrix" contains that truth. If the container is false -- i.e., determined by the Lie, or hatred, or envy -- then it will color all of its content in ways that may be imperceptible to the individual except in the form of symptoms, i.e., emotional or cognitive pain or dysfunction. These symptoms are alternately "absent presences" (anxiety) or "present absences" (depression).

To take a simple example, consider the truth of justice. Human beings are born with a precognitive, archetypal understanding of justice -- a preconception, or empty category, that must be filled out by experience.

Leftist attitudes toward justice (i.e., the insatiable moloch of "social justice") essentially result from a deformation of this pre-existing truth, as they enforce their idea of justice in fundamentally unjust ways -- i.e., racial quotas, income redistribution, attacks on private property, class warfare, etc. All forms of modern leftism are essentially dishonest appeals to truth, unjust appeals to justice, unfair appeals to fairness, coerced appeals to generosity, etc. Again, it's the container that is so destructive, since it damages even "good" content, i.e., charitable impulses.

Please note that the omnipotence of the fantasy -- the end -- justifies the means required to attain such a beautiful thing, which always requires the coercion (and implicit violence) of the state. The same dynamic explains the terribly unjust and coercive monstrosity that is Obamacare, which will only require more state coercion in order to "fix." At each step along the way -- from kickbacks, to bribes, to penalties -- state coercion is required.

There was a time that the Church, broadly speaking, was generally able to contain the human spirit and provide a vehicle for its articulation and development. For some one thousand years, the vast majority of people in the West lived, thought, felt, worked, and died within this meaning-generating container.

Now, a spiritual container must not only be capacious enough to hold the human spirit -- which tends toward the infinite -- but must also paradoxically provide a sort of "friction" against which we may think and move.

In other words, thinking spiritually in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts. Indeed, if religion could not do this, it would not only be entirely static, but would provide no satisfaction for the soul's intrinsic desire to grow with knowledge. The Bible really would be the end of theology instead of the beginning, and the importance of the great saints, doctors and mystics would also be rendered meaningless. And history would have no purpose at all, since the truth would all be located in the past.

This specifically human form of knowing -- the dynamic interplay of what Bion symbolized as ♀ (container) and ♂ (contained) -- is a critical factor that distinguishes us from the beasts, since it is not only analogous to play, it is play. It is well understood that certain young animals play -- i.e., puppies and kittens -- but that virtually all adult animals lose this capacity as they grow into their mature archetype, which is essentially fixed and final.

But man only fulfills his destiny by preserving his neoteny -- i.e., the retention of a childlike, epistemologically open attitude -- to the end of his days. Not only is man born immature, but he must remain so on pain of putting an end to the growing process. But again, since man verges on the infinite (♀) and the soul is all it knows (♂), there can be no end to the maturational process.

Now obviously, there are mature and immature ways to preserve our immaturity. When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content. For example, spontaneity is not a content or specific idea that one may hold in one's mind like an object and be done with it. A -- perhaps the -- major task of parenting is to raise one's child in such a way that he will have a happy, healthy, and productive container for the rest of his life, irrespective of the specific content. And in all likelihood, if you do things right, your child won't even be consciously aware of this blessed container until he has children of his own to contain!

This was an idea that was probably first worked out by the developmental psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who wrote about how, for example, one's lifelong capacity for "basic trust" is forged in the first 18 months of life, largely depending upon the quality of parenting one receives. No one talks much about Erikson anymore, as his ideas have been extended, elaborated, and fine-tuned by others, but his basic conception is correct. Note how each of his stages has primarily to do with the container, i.e., trust, autonomy, identity, generativity, etc., not any specific content.

The trusting person sees the world very differently from the non-trusting -- which is to say, paranoid -- person. Surely it is no coincidence that the Muslim Middle East has the lowest quality of parenting and the highest degree of paranoia, along with an almost total lack of creativity, openness, and autonomy. This is obviously worrisome, since democracy and free markets can only flourish in a high-trust environment.

To put it another way, trust is huge enabler of market efficiency, removing all kinds of obstacles to doing business with one another. Almost any American can do business with any other American, whereas in tribal cultures, the circle of trust is greatly narrowed.

But I want to return to the topic of religion as the container (♀) of an explosive force, or content (♂). Call it the "spiritual drive," or the "pneumaphilic instinct," but whatever it is, just like any other human capacity, it requires a container to guide and channel it -- just as, say, music requires a system of musical notation to structure and give it depth.

Bach, for example, was born with a "musical drive," but what if he had been born at a time prior to the western system of musical notation, which allows one to think with such complexity within the chordal space of vertical musicality? The point is again that an adequate container is critical for one to achieve one's potential in any given area.

It is no different with religion. The other day, I was reading of how Dawson felt that different historical eras were literally different worlds which we could not really understand by projecting our own world onto them. This makes total sense to me, because true empathy of a patient involves not just understanding their content, but their container.

Furthermore, real change generally doesn't involve the patient obtaining this or that piece of missing information. Rather, it involves a slow alteration and repair of their container within the context of the therapeutic alliance. Truly, therapy is just something you do to distract the patient while his mind is healing itself, mainly as a result of an intimate relationship with another.

So anyway, my point is that modernity -- e.g., the scientific revolution and the birth of the individual self -- essentially exploded the religious container that had contained the mind and spirit up to that point, and there is no going back to that innocent world. You cannot put the bats back into the belfry or the truthpaste into the tube. Different world.

They say that modern physics displaced earth from the center of the universe, just as natural selection displaced man from the center of the biosphere, thus rendering the religion of Christianity hopelessly quaint, what with its cognitively reassuring firmament above and a God who just happens to be in the form of a man.

Whatever. The point is not to argue over facts, which is to say, the content, but to understand the cosmic, and even metacosmic, nature of Christianity, so that it may serve as a container for the historical middle world we happen to inhobbit. I suppose that's the point of both my book and this blog, which is why I never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up. One Cosmos "Under" God is really another way of saying One Mother of a Cosmos Contained by Father God. And they say God himself was marrily contained for awhile, but that's amother story.

21 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

...never argue with the other guy's content when his container is so messed up.

That sounds like the sort of thing one should have to write 100 times across a chalkboard. Maybe a post-it note will have to do...

11/23/2010 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Veering off topic already, I was just looking at the reviews for The Servile Mind. One of the commenters remarked,

In a similar irony, the more we ask the government to do in the name of altruism, the more interest-group-politics result, where we all end up vying for a piece of the government pie at the expense of others.

I saw this in action a couple of years ago, up close and personally, when I accompanied SnoopMurph to a meeting of the State Legislature where she had been asked to speak on behalf of state funding of arts programs. It was being requested that some of the funds be used to cover the expense of filling in or closing off abandoned mines, which would save lives (a lot of them are simply holes straight down; people have walked or driven into them, never guessing their next move would be their last), and the man making the request was very passionate about the endeavor. He had a lot of great points. Apparently, he had been in to the legislature many times, requesting funds from practically everywhere, and had been turned down at every point.

Thus, we were in the absurd position of pitting arts programs against efforts to reduce the number of literal death traps hidden all over the state. Two elements which should never have been in opposition, imho.

11/23/2010 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was also thinking of how normal people typically become more conservative with the maturational process, in contrast to those people with quite visibly dysfunctional containers who remain liberal for life, e.g., Air America, MSNBC, the tenured, etc. Because of the broken container that cannot contain its primitive content, their madness is palpable to others.

11/23/2010 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

OK then. My parents dropped the ball, and I never made it to Erickson #1.

My container is cracked. My contents are tainted.

I'm an old bison cow with a broken off arrow protruding from behind my left foreleg. It has been dripping my life blood for decades.

I'm tired. I can barely wobble across the steppe. I have no hands. How can I get this sharp point out of my center so i can heal?

Is there recovery from a deficit at Erickson #1? I'm desperate.

11/23/2010 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I was also thinking of how normal people typically become more conservative with the maturational process

I wonder how many people never reach that stage of development simply by virtue of local culture - that is, because literally almost everyone they know is a leftist? I'm thinking of people like Neo and Robin of Berkeley particularly, inasmuch as they managed to move past it in spite of their surroundings; had something not provided an awakening, so to speak, one wonders if they'd still reflexively think left, simply by virtue of being contained within a rigid cultural construct?

11/23/2010 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm making connections with this post in every paragraph. It's alive.

BH, you'll be OK. The rest of the herd ran off a cliff. Head for the river.

11/23/2010 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"I was also thinking of how normal people typically become more conservative with the maturational process, in contrast to those people with quite visibly dysfunctional containers who remain liberal for life, e.g., Air America, MSNBC, the tenured, etc. Because of the broken container that cannot contain its primitive content, their madness is palpable to others."

I was anti-Reagan in elementary school.

I was pro-union in middle school.


I've been conservative since High School. Although this was probably just a generic Republicanness. I'm not happy with any political party these days.

I just absorbed the conservative approach because I figured it was more logical than being an insane communist/leftist.

Is there anything to this Erikson thingy? As far as I can tell, I never really established an identity (stage 5) or intimacy (stage 6).

I figured that you never wanted to rebel against your parents because your parents were the ones who provided you with insructions as to what you were supposed to do with your life. Ergo, you do what your parents tell you to do. I tried to replace my parents with my friends as the driving authority in my life, but that didn't work very well.

I haven't had functional parents since I was about 23(?) or so (death and debilitating stroke). Which means they long since ceased having any influence on me.

At some point, I put my life on autopilot and engaged cruise control. I figured I could make it all up later once I got some money and saved up for retirment. I figured I needed a few million dollars (at least) to accomplish anything of value in life.

All I know is that I have no idea who I am or what I am doing with myself.

I do save money well, however. But just exsiting until I reach retirement isn't working out so well.

I can also ask "hey, what's the point of [whatever it is I don't understand]?"

11/23/2010 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

In other words, thinking spiritually in a truly creative way means that there must be an interaction between container and contained that produces new thoughts.

This goes back to Friday's observations about how things line up. Without a container that allows for enough light to seep in and illuminate the underlying truths of disparate elements, thus helping to produce those new thoughts, there could be no growth. Perhaps even no potential for growth, depending on how stifling the existing container may be...

11/23/2010 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Mushroom:

Regarding your advice. I will head for the river. I will lie down in the soothing waters. I can see it so clearly.

There are trout in the crystalline stream that will guard me.

The wicked arrowhead that has jabbed and sliced me inside since infancy will bury itself in the gravel riverbed and be fossilized.

I shall emerge dripping and refreshed, no longer a wounded bison but a whole person at last, after my long immersion.

My container will be intact . What years remain to me will be better.

Thank you, Mushroom. From you came precisely the right thing I needed to hear.

11/23/2010 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Related, Prager.

11/23/2010 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

When Jesus says that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he surely doesn't mean that we must stamp our feet and throw a temper tantrum until God lets us in. Rather, he's talking about things like openness, spontaneity, creativity, timelessness, and trust (or faith).

Now, "openness," "spontaneity," "timelessness," etc., all apply to the container, not the content.


Per Prager, a big part of the problem of leftism is the rejection the facts of life. In that sense, they retain a childishness - a juvenile refusal to accept that which one doesn't want to know - while simultaneously losing the childlike ability to be open, etc., if that makes any nonsense.

11/23/2010 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos of nothing, this little throwaway line at the end of today's Bleat is just sublime:

I love falling asleep with the distant sensation of engines and waves. It’s a comfort. The sea is home to us all. It is the void from which we emerged. And now it’s even better, because there’s French Toast.

11/23/2010 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Julie says:

"Per Prager, a big part of the problem of leftism is the rejection the facts of life. In that sense, they retain a childishness - a juvenile refusal to accept that which one doesn't want to know - while simultaneously losing the childlike ability to be open, etc., if that makes any nonsense."

That sounds about right.

I'm going with my new assertion that leftism is a permanent cult with no real leader.

All you need is a fervent desire to create your own reality while retaining the childish rejection of actual reality. Plus you need lots of feelings coupled with a lack of rationality.

Leftists cannot think (meaning those who tend toward the Mommy State). But, boy, can they feel.
They have lots of feelings. And their feelings are easily hurt.

11/23/2010 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

BH, we are sympatico. You are welcome.

Per Prager, a big part of the problem of leftism is the rejection the facts of life.

That's mostly the point Kipling made in "The Gods of Copybook Headings" -- that we think increasing knowledge gives us not only the right but the power to decide what is real and what constitutes wisdom.

11/23/2010 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I became a conservative in high school.

And it was only in college that I became religious in any real sense at all. It might have helped that the guy across the hall from me converted to Catholocism and ran off to join a monastary and my roomate became a Catholic priest.

I think these might have been unusual experiences at a major state school in the 1990s.

Of course, I still don't know who I am or what I am doing with my life.

11/23/2010 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

I have some friends that don't seem to be either left or right, liberal or conservative. They don't seem religious, but they don't seem non-religious either.

They don't refute GW but they don't support it either.

Everything is taken on a case-by-case basis with them, with no ideological template that I can detect except expediency.

Interesting jobs, money, convenience in food prep and house cleaning, the well-being of family members, enjoyment of diversions, aquisition of consumer electronics and cars, seem to be on the docket.

They don't talk God, environment or politics. They just yawn.

I call them centrists, fence-sitters, or non-aligned.

They pay taxes and vote, but how else does this class of persons affect our nation and what value do we place on them, if any?

11/23/2010 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger SnoopMurph said...

I am intrigued by today's post. My son, whom I think fills his own container half the time without help, was inquiring last night about ancestors, trying figure out how we are all connected. ("It had to start somewhere and how did they become all of these different families if it was just started by two people? Wouldn't we all be in the same family then? How would you figure that out exactly?")

He wanted a definitive answer on how we could trace ourselves back to the beginning. Person by person. I finally managed to clearly communicate that sometimes we just have to know that there are questions we cannot completely answer. But the questions are part of the journey. We had to trust, even though he couldn't go back line by line and lay out the evidence. To my surprise, he reacted by being open to the idea of not knowing-a big step for him.

I always hope that I don't leave him with a cracked or tainted container. He is quite conservative at the tender age of six. I, on the other hand, have gradually become more and more conservative in my impending maturity.

11/23/2010 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

“With dumb-as-a-postmodernity, much of Western civilization has undergone a spiritual logotomy that results in the removal of one's higher spiritual sense. ”

Painfully true.

“one thing modern developmental psychoanalysis has discovered over the past 40-50 years is the priority of the mind's container over and above its content. Or, at the very least, one must always regard container and contained dialectically, for there can never be one without the other.”

I like this idea of container and content (an integrated set of Qualities and quantities…?). I wonder, such as with the mention of the need of spontaneity, would something like my old favorite of a scaffolding… or I’m imagining a3D shaped and enclosed wire mesh, what, armature? like they sometimes use for plants or even sculpture, which encourages the growth within its form, but also in turn shapes the growth beyond its constraints, without breaking them?

Eh… then again… K.I.S.S.

“Please note that the omnipotence of the fantasy -- the end -- justifies the means required to attain such a beautiful thing, which always requires the coercion (and implicit violence) of the state.”

Exactly the case.

11/24/2010 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

mushroom said "I'm making connections with this post in every paragraph. It's alive."

Yup.

"BH, you'll be OK. The rest of the herd ran off a cliff. Head for the river."

Lol. True, but still lol.

11/24/2010 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(Psst! Cuz Dupree! Wakey wakey, clean-up on aisle three)

11/24/2010 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/25/2010 07:36:00 AM  

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