Thursday, July 21, 2011

Everybody's Got Something to Hide

Your inside is out when your outside is in
Your outside is in when your inside is out
So come on...
--John Lennon, Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

It's a little odd when you think about it, but with the emergence of Life, we suddenly have a cosmos with millions upon millions of subjects, each a world unto itself: "The animal kingdom gives rise to a variegated profusion of subjective images of the world, all of which are closed off from one another." And "each of these images is completely finite; it operates within a peculiar environment that is snugly fitted to its particular sensory apparatus" (Balthasar).

The image just popped into my head of a room, like those used by security guards, only with a huge bank of monitors showing what different animals see, and how they see it.

Impossible of course (especially the latter), but one wonders if there isn't a common Subject of which they all partake -- or in whom they all participate. Everyone has a piece of the puzzall, and yet, all of the pieces combined don't come close to constituting the Subject. Think of the sunlight that streams into a room and then enters the eyes and brains of everyone in it. Being that light is a wave, it remains one despite the fact that it is present in the diverse subjects. Is the sun in us, or are we in the sun?

There is a sound reason why Light is one of the primary and universal icons of Spirit. It is not that Spirit is an analogue of Light. Rather, vice versa: that Light is an analogue of Spirit. Spirit is prior to Light, as truth is prior to knowledge.

One of the reasons we cannot perceive the world as another animal does is that (as alluded to above) its environment is so "snugly fitted to its particular sensory apparatus." In other words, the subject is ordered to the object, seemingly with no "remainder." But for human beings, this remainder -- this free and indeterminate area of being -- is everything.

However, even knowing this is knowing something about lower animals, isn't it? We also can't consciously know what things look like from an infant's perspective, yet we can nevertheless intuitively enter their world and be in communion with them.

The same might be said of the mentally ill individual. A psychotherapist utilizes empathy in order to enter the world of a patient, even though the boundary between us remains "absolute." Yet despite the boundary, both patient and therapist can sense when they are close to, or distant from, one another. Indeed, one routinely senses the same thing in any intimate relationship, for, as we were saying yesterday, one cannot have intimacy in the absence of distance.

One could also apply this to the political sphere, in that there has been a complete "empathic failure" between liberals and conservatives. I feel that I understand them, but I am quite certain that they do not understand me at all, because, like an inept therapist, they never stop offering "interpretations" that simply do not apply to me ("hatred of art"?).

Imagine a therapist who, no matter what you say, keeps telling you that you really want to have sex with your mother. This is no different from the liberal who, no matter what we say, tells us that we really want to enrich the wealthy, hinder the poor, hurt blacks, oppress women and homosexuals, etc. That we want no such things poses no obstacle to their interpretation.

Conversely, I know that liberals want to grow government, raise taxes, and redistribute wealth, for if they don't want to do these things, then we have no argument (at least in terms of economics). And yet, for some reason, saying this makes them angry. I know people who are offended if you even call them a liberal. What gives?

Here again, there is an analogy to therapy, in that one cannot offer an interpretation until a patient is ready to hear it. This is part of the art of therapy, which involves a lot of cultivation of the soil before it is possible for truth to grow.

The same, of course, applies to religion. Not for nothing does Jesus employ so many agricultural metaphors and similes. One can hand the truth to someone on a silver platter, but this accomplishes nothing if the person isn't ready to hear it.

Balthasar writes that each sentient creature is like its own "clearly articulated word. Nature has produced an immense number of such words -- as many as there are genera and species of living things."

Now, as we have discussed in the past, words are more than mere words, because, for one thing, they are both transmitted and received in an irreducible complementarity. There is no Speaker in the absence of a Hearer, which is another way of saying "intelligence" and "intelligibility."

But this complementarity undergoes transformations as we ascend the scale of being. For example, "plants are only spoken words," whereas animals begin to "speak as much as they are spoken" (ibid.). One might say that in the evolving subject, passive intelligibility begins to transition to active intelligence.

In short, animals begin expressing things from their own interior. This process culminates in man, who doesn't only express "things," but is able to express himself. Recall what we said a few posts back about the "cosmic movement" that proceeds from "inside" to "outside," which is none other than commun-ication. It is con-versing, or "flowing together."

In the case of humans, the communication proceeds from inside (the subject) to outside (some form of symbolic representation) back inside (to the receiving subject). This is what we are doing right now, although much can go wrong in this benevolent cycle, as evidenced by our malevolent troll, who not only fails to receive the communication, but converts it to an object of his own fantasy, and then projects it into me. If we weren't a psychologist we would be puzzled by this behavior.

As we move from plant, to animal, to troll, and to man, "consciousness attains greater interiority and so becomes self-consciousness." This "inner dimension is not only luminous, as it is in the case of the animal, but also light for itself" (ibid.). In other words, it doesn't just shine a spotlight on the world, but can reverse its gaze and shine it upon the "content" of one's own subject -- or even impersonal subjectivity as such, as in Eastern meditation techniques.

In this luminous passage of greater interiority lies our freedom -- freedom to act, freedom to speak, freedom to know, and freedom to disclose our interior to others. This introduces so many problems in the cosmos that One sometimes Oneders whether it was worth the hassle. For starters, man "is the first entity that can freely tell the truth, but for the same reason, he is also the first that is capable of lying" (ibid.). D'oh! See Genesis for details.

Note that in the so-called object, there is always a distinction between "what it is" and "how it appears," or between essence and existence. But in man this is complicated by the fact that this distinction also applies to the subject, whom we are always "striving" toward and yet somehow never reach. In other words, the subject too has an appearance and a reality, but who is the Speaker of this intelligible reality? That would be the longwinded and logoquacious being called God, but I don't want to blow too far ahead of oursails.

Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to be, on the one hand, a subject who were entirely known; or, on the other, completely incapable of expressing oneself and escaping our own closed world. Each would be hell in a different way. In the former there would be no privacy at all, while in the latter, no intimacy.

People on the schizoid/autistic end of the spectrum can inhabit both kinds of hell, in that they can feel intensely scrutinized by others, as if they are psychically naked, and yet, incapable of intimate communion with others. There is no "privacy," and yet, no "publication" either, at least none that is voluntarily disclosed from the free space within.

The purpose of this blog is to simultaneously commune, both vertically and horizontally, i.e., with O and with (¶). As I have said before, it has become my primary spiritual practice, a kind of "circle" into which I want to allow others while excluding the jerks. It's not that kind of circle. There are blogs for that.

One is, of course, free to criticize it, but this is to miss the boat and even the water, because the reality of it is not taking place in a "critical space," so to speak. I am not arguing, persuading, cajoling, evangelizing. Rather, just sharing the space.

I hope! Otherwise, I am all alone in this crazy place, with no way to get out or to bear witness to the miracle of being here at all.

The deeper you go the higher you fly
The higher you fly the deeper you go
So come on...
--John Lennon

40 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Speaking of therapy analogies, there's one thing I've often wondered: how do you distinguish between the patient getting angry because the therapist is completely wrong, possibly even insultingly so (as any normal man would probably be at least a little PO'd at being told repeatedly that he wants to sleep with his mother), and the patient getting angry because the therapist is correct?

7/21/2011 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh, you know. That is a vital part of therapy, working through the empathic failures.

7/21/2011 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which are inevitable, I might add. I am not a mind reader. Or at least I don't use it on patients.

7/21/2011 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:)

I'm sure they'd consider that a relief.

Heck, for that matter, I'm sure you'd consider that a relief.

7/21/2011 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, you always pose the interpretation in a speculative, almost imaginative way, as in "I wonder if..."

7/21/2011 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Otherwise, it really is an assault on the dignity of the patient. Rather, we are always trying to learn from the patient. The patient is the teacher, we are the student, and no two people are alike. Except for William and Anonymous, of course.

7/21/2011 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Having finally finished the post (amazing how long it takes to read something when there's a toddler running around), I suppose my question was already more or less answered :)

7/21/2011 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Not for nothing does Jesus employ so many agricultural metaphors and similes.

The Parable of the Sower in particular is sort of a meta-parable explaining not only a truth about the kingdom but how parables are supposed to work in general. Jesus explains to them that He sows the seeds and it takes a while for them to gestate, develop, and bear fruit.

After all this time, it finally dawned on me what He meant when He said, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?" D'oh! indeed.

7/21/2011 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"As we move from plant, to animal, to troll, and to man, "consciousness attains greater interiority and so becomes self-consciousness.""

I do like how you put that.

7/21/2011 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

You know what you need, Bob (Aside from a chainsaw trephination to remove the punning structure under the medulla oblongata, of course) ?

You need a new book. A collection of the best of the blog just buffed and polished and poured into a kindle cone.

Get kracking laocoon rackcoon.

[And why is my verification word: "petednes"?]

7/21/2011 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes, even our friend the dog tends to end its days with an overwhelming amount of dogginess compared to personality. But humans, as Confusius (?) says, are born nearly alike but end up vastly different. Indeed, one man may end up like unto a god, another a veritable demon, although there will always be some zombie-like types who are at least partly interchangeable. Even so, each man and woman on Earth, ever, has their own name, although not all know it.

The sheer amount of freedom granted to a human is stunning, even though when we first start exercising it, it turns out to be at first smaller than we believed.

7/21/2011 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

I had a frustrating lunch today with a friend of mine. He wanted me to look over his writing and philosophy of life which he summarized in a 5 page Word document. How do you tell someone who thinks everything they think is a priceless gem which will change the world that they are not just wrong, but impossibly wrong. It wasn't that he wasn't hearing me, it was that he couldn't hear me. No communication at all. He needs to be right, and to see himself as a smart man. The truth of his ideas is not important as long as everyone loves him for having them. It's a trap a lot of people fall into. The funny thing is a few years ago my friends were the ones smiling through gritted teeth at my crackpot theory of the week. If I've learned anything since becoming a Christian is that you cannot have real knowledge, the Truth, without humility. You can't communicate if you are so full of yourself there is no space for anyone else.

7/21/2011 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Gerard - that WV is just to give your comment the seal of O-thority.

7/21/2011 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

James - there's the rub. If they are unable to hear, you can't tell; you can only show, and hope that eventually their ears will open. If they are blind as well, you can't even show; then all you can do is be, and hope that they will decide something about your be-ing is worth emulating.

7/21/2011 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

Conversely, I know that liberals want to grow government, raise taxes, and redistribute wealth, for if they don't want to do these things, then we have no argument

Reagan taxed the rich higher than Obama for most of his presidency, grew government, tripled the deficit, and raised taxes 11 times. But you KNOW that Obama is a "socialist."

What we do KNOW are the lessons of history that we learn by FACTS. Reagan presided over an unemployment increase after cutting taxes for the rich but raising them for the middle class and the poor.

This isn't about political theory, or economic forecasts. It's about learning from facts, which Republicans can't seem to do. They live in a fantasy where bogus concepts, proven false conclusively by history, continue to dominate their thinking: 'trickle down,' 'taxing the rich kills jobs,' 'higher taxes lower GDP,' etc… Bush cut taxes, produced less jobs than any modern president. Clinton raised taxes on the rich, the economy prospered. The right continues to become more radical - to a point right now where Reagan would be considered a socialist by the teaparty. Huckabee admitted that Reagan would today be considered a liberal.

Me? I'm beginning to not give a shit. I am 100% debt free, in superb health, money in the bank, secure easy well-paying job, state socialized health care and the Republican Governor just gave us socialist state workers a 3% raise. I'm set. I'm not going to suffer. It's the unemployed / under-employed, in debt, no health care, middle class renters that are going to be suffering.

These poor idiots are the tools of the GOP establishment mindset. They'll cut their own throats and vote GOP because they're brainwashed to do so by the conservative media shills. While the GOP policies under Bush have bankrupted America, the Kock Bros. and their ilk, the top tier CEOs - whose salaries have continued to rise amid Wall St. and housing market collapse, and whose taxes continue to fall, are taking the lions share of income in America. Their greed knows no bounds.

The bottom line is: they want to put all the sacrifice for the economic recovery on the backs of those poor suffering middle class bastards. The GOP elite thinks they can get these unfortunate fools to vote Republican by diverting attention to wedge issues like gays, guns, NPR, Plan Parenthood, etc... while throwing out demonizing labels like 'socialist'... when the Obama's proposed taxes are lower than Reagans.

If the GOP can pull this off, Americans are really stupid. Either way, I don't give a shit. These are the good times. NO NEW TAXES! YEA!!! More for me. I may vote GOP.

7/21/2011 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Magnus,
The sheer amount of freedom granted to a human is stunning...

So true. I've been watching freedom slowly bloom, here in my own house, and it does start small. And with each expansion of freedom, there must also come responsibility. As the external gates come down, the internal barriers of caution and wisdom must arise, or else there is no true freedom - only chaos.

7/21/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Julie,

Just keep dropping those Wisdom bombs. :)

7/21/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:)

Thanks, James.

7/21/2011 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

... there will always be some zombie-like types who are at least partly interchangeable ...

As the preacher says, if you can't say "Amen", say "Oh, me".

7/21/2011 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, my!

7/21/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I think we just got Mr. Hollowman's Opus-sy.

7/21/2011 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/21/2011 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Skorpion said...

And speaking of mental illness as a core component of political rhetoric (NSFW)...

7/21/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Mush said,
"After all this time, it finally dawned on me what He meant when He said, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?" D'oh! indeed."

Mush, I think you would really enjoy this book:
The Parables of Our Lord

Arnot spends some time on that very concept...among many others I think you would find equally as interesting.

7/21/2011 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Skorpion - prolonged exposure to that page may cause actual blindness.

What a perfect example.

7/21/2011 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Thank you, Rick. You had told me about the book before, but I had lost the author's name. This time I downloaded it to my reader before I had a chance to forget.

7/21/2011 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

My pleasure, Mush.
The Introduction of the book alone is worth the price of admission.

7/21/2011 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Great post, Bob. Fergot to say that.

7/21/2011 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I second Dr. V, You need to write me a new book. That's what you need.

7/21/2011 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

W assured us, "I'm set. I'm not going to suffer."

That, uh, barely audible >>clunk!<< that you heard (but ignored) when you wrote those lines was the Law of Famous Last Words activating.

7/21/2011 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If only all liberals stopped giving a shit about us, we'd be in paradise.

7/21/2011 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I can't actually run video at here at work, but if this is what Google says it is, I think willian's comment can be best summed up this way.

And yes, please, please stop giving a shit about us, and everyone else too, for that matter. The fact is that is the actual truth of the matter, you don't give a shit about anyone, feel guilty about it, and then want to compensate by doing them the favor of making everyone into what you think would be best for them... and your piece of mind.

Please, admit you don't give a shit, and move on.

Just think of all the extra pussy serenading time that would free up, eh?

7/21/2011 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Taranto takes down the doltish Deepak

7/21/2011 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Walt - the sad part is, should the law take effect he'll probably learn not a thing from the experience. And yes, I also wish his claim to not give a shit were true; then we could all breathe a sigh of relief...

7/21/2011 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Julie -

As you'll recall, Ronaldo Maximus (the Gipper) was aware of the Law. One of his favorite quips was, "Never say 'never.'" He knew!

7/21/2011 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"In other words, the subject is ordered to the object, seemingly with no "remainder." But for human beings, this remainder -- this free and indeterminate area of being -- is everything. "

Hmmmm... Roy Masters teaches in his meditation exercise to be aware of your thoughts but not get pulled into the thought. Notice it and then pull back into that space between your thoughts. I wonder if this is an exercise in learning to hang out in the "free and indeterminate area of being" you are referring to?

7/21/2011 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"In the case of humans, the communication proceeds from inside (the subject) to outside (some form of symbolic representation) back inside (to the receiving subject). This is what we are doing right now, although much can go wrong in this benevolent cycle, as evidenced by our malevolent troll, who not only fails to receive the communication, but converts it to an object of his own fantasy, and then projects it into me. If we weren't a psychologist we would be puzzled by this behavior."

A projection-reflection on the trolls part. Hmmmm.... That has an almost Quixotic touch to it, Bob.

Who is he fighting? You, or his own inner demons?

The trouble is that he has picked you as the object to place these reflections. Still, you are in his head rent-free.

How fun!

We have our own Quixotic-Battle here with you as the mirrored knight! I think I'll stick around with a bowl of buttered popcorn. :)

To battle, Sir Knight!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onQJZ-gzwsc#t=14s

Has the role of Sancho Panza been taken, yet? :)

7/21/2011 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. I am merely a stand-in for some demonic presence or ghost of the nursery. One can perceive this most clearly when the projection is so distant from the reality, i.e., "I'm rubber and you're sniffing glue."

And John: yes, Roy is correct about that.

7/22/2011 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cond0100 -- it is also obvious when the projection is so "rigid" and persistent, unsusceptible to correction. At once the mind loses its fluidity and becomes a self-confirming closed system. We all know people like this.

7/22/2011 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Revelation
by Robert Frost

WE make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

’Tis pity if the case require
Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.

7/24/2011 09:54:00 AM  

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