Cosmoanalysis: The More We Change, the More We Become the Same
I remember back in graduate school when it dawned on me that I wasn't studying "knowledge," but rather, being.
This came as a shock to a would-be intellectual, because it meant that no amount of memorization -- of conforming the mind to the body of knowledge called "psychology" -- would render me superior to the uncredentialed, the un-overeducated, the untenured rabble. Rather, I was just like everyone else, except that my particular form of knowledge was useless.
Where's the point? I mean, if one doesn't have what it takes to become wealthy, a person of average intelligence can at least console himself by pretending to be smarter than everyone else. But now that rug was pulled out from under me as well. All your wisdom is folly to the unconscious!
The point about being taking priority over knowing is especially true of my racket, clinical psychology. In fact, I can't think of a field in which it is more true, with the possible exception of theology. But even there, we have dogma and revelation, which are given, not anything we come up with on our own.
I suppose mystical theology would be the closest approximation, because that too is a reality inaccessible to mere knowledge (k). Rather, it is experiential, so that real knowledge of it must proceed from experience, knowing from being.
In contrast, an experimental psychologist can spend his entire career designing various moronic studies and convince even himself that this constitutes real knowledge of man. Or, one can be a neuropsychologist and administer tests showing a correlation between this deficit over here and that part of the brain over there. Or, one can be an evolutionary psychologist and make up Darwinian fairy tales to account for this or that human trait or ability. Music? Poetry? Art? All just genetic booty-calls. Now, where's my Ph.D.?!
In the words of J. Winston Lennon, one thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside. You cannot fake being, because doing so is the very quintessence of fakery. To not be who you are -- to pretend to be someone or something else -- immediately exiles one from being. It seems that most people (for reasons we will get into) cannot tolerate being, so it is preferable to be something else. But then you're not being, are you? You've just rendered yourself null and void. D'oh!
Now that I'm in this wistful and reminiscent frame of mind, I'm flipping through my dissertation, which was completed in 1988 and unread since. In it I see that there is a section entitled I Think Therefore I Am: Knowing Separated From Being. Let's see if it contains anything relevant to our present endeavors, shall we?
"Philosophy and science -- that is, mind and matter -- were not always in the incommensurable position they find themselves in today."
Okay. Tell me more.
Well, this oldBob -- who was quite the intellectual romantic -- goes on about the "mystical and transforming power" of real knowledge. But in a world in which knowledge is excised from being, it inevitably devolves to a function of desire" (which I would now say includes power, not to mention control).
Blah blah yada yada, this Descartes fellow, with his "I think therefore I am" business, helped usher in "the erroneous belief that knowledge can be totally separated from being, and furthermore, that 'being' is the inferior side of the equation."
As it applies to psychoanalysis, it resulted in the implicit idea that the "cure" is "the result of gaining proper knowledge about the workings of the unconscious mind." But this only ends up trying to "contain" what cannot be contained by mere knowledge, for the drop cannot contain the ocean.
"It took some time for psychoanalysts to realize that the true reality of psychic life had to do with intimate emotional experiences, and that knowledge could never be made separate from this underlying matrix.
"[T]he mystery of the mind must be tolerated, and one must not eliminate the pain of 'not knowing' by formulating doctrines and explanations which claim a final understanding.
"When knowledge becomes a completely rigid or closed cycle, it leads to alienation from the generative ground of reality: enchantment and wonder are bartered away for security and safety," contributing profoundly to what oldBob calls "the demystification of being."
What we call "treatment" actually revolves around explicating the patient's relationship to truth. This "must be investigated freely, as freely as the patient's associations, only at a higher level of abstraction.... only by arresting habitual thought patterns can one sever the threads that bind one to the explicate order."
Wait, there's more!
Believe it or not, this knowledge is "deeply and mythologically rooted in the firmament of the sacred," the latter of which "cannot in any way be detached from being.... Psychoanalytic change proceeds first from being what one is, and then knowing one's experience."
Tell us more about this ultimate knowledge rooted in being, oldBob.
Okay. This knowledge "binds one to the whole of things, 'the primordial ground, the ever-present starting point of all creation.'" Suffering in this view "is indeed conceived as ignorance, but not in the same sense of being ignorant of mere information. It is a much greater kind of ignorance, which has to do with alienation from the ground of being."
"Human beings have the capacity to participate in a perpetually open cycle of creativity arising from a timeless, implicate order. This is the realm from which spring not only creativity and art, but genuine in-sight."
The common core of the sacred is "the experience of a completely ineffable and transcendent, and yet immanent and and prehensible, fact. The nature of this fact relates to the 'cosmic dimension' of human beings."
Yeah, I guess I pretty much invented cosmoanalysis, so I got that going for me.
Plus le Bob change...