Friday, January 02, 2015

Happy New You!

Here is a summary of our progress thus far in reimagineering how we ever invented the individual:

"Christian convictions were submitted to the disciplines of logic and metaphysical speculation, to the requirements of disciplined argument." Importantly, the influence was two-way, in that "Greek philosophy was also transformed." In particular, "traditional assumptions about natural inequality and the motivating power of reason were gradually abandoned" (Siedentop).

The first sentence of this post implies that the individual is something we could have tried to invent, but this is of course not the case, any more than we could have invented life. Rather, it was spontaneously brought about by certain conditions. However, once it began to emerge, it in turn altered the conditions that brought it about: what was an unconscious process was able, through greater self-awareness and -understanding, to become more of a conscious process.

For example, until fairly recently, no one gave much thought to the effect of certain environments and experiences on child development. Rather, children just "grew up," like any other plant or animal. But nowadays we hardly do anything without thinking about the impact on our child's development. We think about their friends, the parents of their friends, the TV programs they watch, etc. We realize that the child is a growing individual who sucks in influences from the world as a plant draws nutrients from the soil.

But you can't go to the other extreme and imagine that your child is something you only invent. Rather, it is very much a case of trying to help him become who he is -- to realize his potential, to recognize his gifts, and to exercise these in the service of God and man. From the start, both my wife and I have been overwhelmed by the impression: Where did this guy come from? No way in the world could we have invented him! There has never been any shock of recognition; rather, the opposite: the shock of an alien in our midst.

So you can't really know what kind of parent you'll be until you meet your child and find out what kind of parent he needs in order to become who he is. But here again, it is obviously not a one-way process.

For example, the other day I read something about crazy Angelina Jolie, who is allowing her children to "choose" their own gender, with absolutely no hint of parental influence or preference. Thus, her eight year old girl Shiloh is pretending to be a boy named John.

To whom is this supposed to be helpful? It can only be to appease some of Jolie's most primitive mind parasites. Even in a sanitized version, here is a person who, at age 14, "aspired to become a funeral director," "wore black clothing, experimented with knife play, and went out moshing with her live-in boyfriend." She "suffered episodes of depression throughout her teens and early twenties," "found it difficult to emotionally connect with other people," and engaged in "self-harm," which is to say "the ritual of having cut myself and feeling the pain, maybe feeling alive, feeling some kind of release."

Apparently the self-cutting wasn't that effective, because she "began using drugs; by age 20, she had tried 'just about every drug possible,' including heroin."

No, we didn't intend this post to veer in a sensational direction. I am no more interested in celebrity gossip than you are. But perhaps we can learn something from this, so let's see where it leads.

"Jolie has had a difficult relationship with her father." No. Really? Didn't see that coming.

Hmm. "She gained a reputation for being difficult to deal with." My guess is that this is because all borderline personalities are difficult to deal with. If you've never had a borderline person in your life, count yourself blessed. Back when I was in graduate school, there was an axiom: never try to have more than one borderline patient at a time in your practice, because they can turn your world upside down. You know, you come home and there's a rabbit boiling on your stove.

Speaking of sexual confusion, Jolie is proudly bisexual: "Of course. If I fell in love with a woman tomorrow, would I feel that it's okay to want to kiss and touch her? If I fell in love with her? Absolutely! Yes!" So, this mind parasite is a gift that keeps giving, in that she is now passing it along to her children.

Here is prima facie evidence of borderline personality structure, which is characterized by extreme impulsivity, essentially because the impulses are coming from different selves that are split off from one another. When one sub-self switches into gear, it displaces the other one: "After a two-month courtship, Jolie married actor Billy Bob Thornton." What took her so long? But then they "abruptly separated." What happened there? "It took me by surprise, too, because overnight, we totally changed. I think one day we had just nothing in common."

Ah, one of those things. Always the last to know. I'm sure you can relate.

One thing about money is that it can insulate you from the effect of your own mind parasites. You can be as crazy as you want to be, with no feedback from the world. And with no corrective feedback, there is no way to learn and grow, so the mind parasites win by default. This is why it so often seems that actors and rock stars all live out the same clichéd pattern. Instead of becoming themselves, they grab a mask from the ancient gallery and live out some predestined pathology (as indeed did Jim Morrison and so many other members of Club 27).

Now, where were we? Let's just say that this new space of potential individuality cuts both ways. Prior to its emergence -- and still in much of the world today -- one doesn't have this space. Rather, as in the ancient world, one's self is defined by culture, by family, by class, by caste, by race, etc. There is very little wiggle room to be anything other than a role that has been pre-selected for you.

Having said that, there are some critical things that have been conveniently pre-selected for us, and of which the accumulated wisdom of tradition is here to remind us: little things like, oh, one's sex. We don't invent everything about the self, for this would equate to nihilism or even blind tenure. Rather, there are some spiritual set-points, just as there are for any species. A newborn calf doesn't have to go through the process of deciding if it prefers meat over grass. That has already been settled.

Now, humans, unlike animals, are not bound by instinct. However, that is not to say that we have no instincts. Rather, for the human being there are certain universal archetypes that are like nonlocal attractors, or "vertical instincts."

Speaking of which, in The Book of Words, Rabbi Kushner writes that we may "exercise more 'freedom' by simply trying to be who we are and, in so doing, become who we are meant to be." "In moments of heightened awareness," we may have the sense of "rising to our destiny" (as opposed to sinking to our fate, which is what mind parasites facilitate). Thus, "We are 'free' to be what Heaven has intended us to be or not, but we are not free to be something else."

Just as there is an intersubjective space of individuation between oneself and other human beings, there is a vertical space between the individual and God. Within this space there is a two-way flow of influences and attractions (yes, even the earth exerts a tiny amount of gravitational attraction on the sun!)

Maybe it's a little orthoparadoxical, but I have no problem with it: "A person's actions thus have a profound effect on bringing the Creation closer to its perfection. These individual acts of free will on the part of a person constitute the 'arousal from below'" (what I symbolize [↑]).

At the same, there is the "arousal from above," or (↓): "At every moment God Godself acts to draw the Creation toward perfection.... Yet ultimately these two levels of free will are not separate. They are both aspects of the same thing. The 'arousal from below' sets in motion processes in the worlds above. Conversely, the power to cause the 'arousal from below' to come about is only in the hands of Godself" (you know -- like some kind of grace or something).

I recommend that you just say yes to this grace, because saying no will land you nowhere, in both this life and the next. Of which this life is a kind of inspiraling shadow-becoming-substance.

Evolve responsibly, and a happy new you!

48 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

... a boy named John.

Why not a boy named Sue?

My wife says, Don't you want to watch the news?

So I sat through the four-hour erection commercials and the promos for CW shows about angsty hot geeks who know kung fu and nuclear physics. And they ran a story about a boy who decided he was a girl and killed himself -- except that the reporter was calling him "her".

My wife said, You need to stop watching the news.

1/02/2015 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I've seen calves that wouldn't suck or even cows that wouldn't let them. This is extremely detrimental to survival, so it doesn't happen very often.

The point about money is important. You can't get away with some of this stuff in less affluent societies. Primitive cultures might have had a superstitious laissez-faire policy regarding the insane, but they usually didn't make them leaders or try to emulate them.

1/02/2015 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Funny -- I was just reading in the Burke/Paine book how one of the corollaries of leftist egalitarianism/relativism is that the insane and unfit have as much a right to rule as anyone else.

1/02/2015 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't care if people hallucinate, I just don't want to be forced to obey their hallucinations.

1/02/2015 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The first sentence of this post implies that the individual is something we could have tried to invent, but this is of course not the case, any more than we could have invented life.

Still reading the post so don't know what this has to do with insanity, but I'm reminded of my recent reading of Exodus and how, in the building of the tabernacle, God gave extremely specific instructions, and actually gifted certain artisans with divine clueprints so that they built it according to The Plan; I can't help but suspect they may even have been given a few technologies that they would never have come up with on their own, in order to make it so. When the people tried to "invent" religion, it never worked; some things have to be given...

1/02/2015 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"Jolie has had a difficult relationship with her father." No. Really? Didn't see that coming.

No kidding. I was just thinking the other day, I wonder how often Jon Voight shakes his head and wonders how he managed to screw her up so monumentally. He seems like a decent enough person, though I have no idea what kind of father he was (or if he was even there at all).

1/02/2015 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny -- I was just reading in the Burke/Paine book how one of the corollaries of leftist egalitarianism/relativism is that the insane and unfit have as much a right to rule as anyone else."
Reminds me of a great quote I ready from Obama the other day, basically that the great thing about democracy is that even a son of a former president can run for president" The irony.

1/02/2015 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...experimented with knife play ...

Speaking of being crazy, that's been bothering me since I read it. If that means playing with your knife, I'm a little worried. Also, if it's an implication that knives are like a penis substitute, I am really worried.

I got two new ones for Christmas and another one is in the mail.

1/02/2015 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I don't care if people hallucinate, I just don't want to be forced to obey their hallucinations.

I agree with that. I don't even have a problem with other people following Al Sharpton. You all go on ahead with your progress parade. I'll just wait here.

1/02/2015 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This guy has got to be wondering if he's hallucinating.

1/02/2015 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or maybe wondering if he should capture him alive or just shoot him.

1/02/2015 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That photo really does capture a world turned upside down: a man of honor waiting upon a wretched sociopath.

1/02/2015 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

"This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions."

1/02/2015 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

That picture of The Reverend Al really shows the new gaunt look Al has been sporting lately. Kind of a Gollum look ... my precious

1/02/2015 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"I recommend that you just say yes to this grace, because saying no will land you nowhere, in both this life and the next. Of which this life is a kind of inspiraling shadow-becoming-substance."

It's not business,it's personal.

1/02/2015 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ha - yes, just so.

I think Bob's cold was virtually contagious. Now I have it, and thus missed the depth charge hidden there. Thanks, Ben.

1/02/2015 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. Al Sharptongue, it's the image of a man who is always hungry, but can't eat his fill.

1/02/2015 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I bet that Marine is also wondering about the sanity of Obama.

Hi Julie. :)

1/02/2015 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous BeagoAl said...

Nasty whiteses. We hates them, Pressures.

1/02/2015 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Surprisingly, I haven't had a cold for several years, of which I'm extremely thankful for.
However, when I did have colds I found that extra vitamin C, Sudafed and Hall's cough drops provided a lot of relief, and extra Vit. C seems to shorten the cold.

1/02/2015 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I don't get a cold very often, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.

1/02/2015 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie said "I wonder how often Jon Voight shakes his head and wonders how he managed to screw her up so monumentally."

Heh, thinking back to this weird bit from 1986, I'm betting that Jon asks that question a lot less than you might think:

"Jon Voight says Hopi elders will give the answer to life"

The bitch about learning what is right and true, is how long you had labored under what was false... and not even wrong.

1/02/2015 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, that's sad.

Explains a lot, though.

1/02/2015 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Wait a minute. Voight is now an articulate conservative and passionate defender of Israel, so the Hopi must have steered him right.

1/02/2015 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

You'd hopi so. ...

1/02/2015 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Back when I was in the Indian Guides, I was a member of the Hopi tribe, so I guess I have a soft spot. No doubt they had their shortcomings, but at least they didn't eat other Indians.

1/02/2015 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Indian Guides? Was that really a thing?

1/02/2015 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I only ask, because with no context it sounds kind of hilarious. Also, they couldn't have a program like that today...

1/02/2015 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it was a thing. I just looked it up to make sure it wasn't a false memory.

1/02/2015 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If you've seen the Honeymooners episodes about the Raccoons, you'll get a sense of the secret meetings of the Indian guides. I have photographic evidence. I'll have to ask the household technical advisor if I can digitize them.

One of the big things was doing crafts like the Indians. I once made a three-foot long rattlesnake by putting beer bottle caps on a string, so don't think it was all frivolous.

1/02/2015 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I remember that one of the things you had to do upon joining the tribe was to make a head for totem pole. They were made out of a block of wood, probably a four by four, with a dowel on one end and hole on the other, so you could stack them up after carving and painting them. Possession of the totem pole would rotate between members, so you'd get to keep it for a week, like the Stanley Cup.

Sure wish I still had my totem... I wonder what happened to it?

1/02/2015 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Julie said "Indian Guides? Was that really a thing?"

By thunder & tootin' it was!

:-)

Somewhere we've got a picture of my brother & me with our feathered headbands and vests, our Dad too... Thunderbolt and Thunder Cloud I think we were, but my memory fades in & out around age six, that was back when we lived in Tujunga Calif, many, many moons ago.

1/02/2015 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In my day, the dad was Big X, the son Little X.

I can't remember what we were. Possibly Big Running Fox and Little Running Fox.

Or was it Little Running Sore?

1/02/2015 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

I think I was little-running-fast-or-be-scalped-by-brother... or something like that.

Woodward Ave... can't remember the address, but I do remember a neighborhood full of kids, probably the most 'Family' friendly place we ever lived... or at least that's how it lives in my memories.

1/02/2015 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I just learned that it was affiliated with the YMCA, which is a little ironic. While looking it up, I also accidentally learned that

"The YMCA was associated with homosexual subculture through the middle part of the 20th century," and that "wearing clothing of any type in YMCA pools was strictly forbidden."

For which reason I am eternally grateful that the Indian Guides had a focus on outdoor activities.

1/02/2015 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

lol

Thanks goodness for small blessings...

My mom used to joke when we were little that if my sister and I had been given Indian names, mine would be Hopping Bunny and my sister, Flapping Lips.

1/02/2015 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Although there was of course a convergence of Indian Guides and the YMCA.

1/02/2015 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

1/02/2015 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Yikes. Glad some things you get to remain completely clueless about.

1/02/2015 06:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"If you've seen the Honeymooners episodes about the Raccoons, you'll get a sense of the secret meetings of the Indian guides. I have photographic evidence. I'll have to ask the household technical advisor if I can digitize them.

One of the big things was doing crafts like the Indians. I once made a three-foot long rattlesnake by putting beer bottle caps on a string, so don't think it was all frivolous."

I bet it's worth a lot nowadays. Can't wait for the pics.
This gives me an idea on how to make a rattlesnake beer cap hat band.

1/02/2015 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

If I had an Indian name it would be Chief Captain Crunch.

1/02/2015 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I knew an Indian kid that had all sorts of allergies. His nic was Running Nose.

1/02/2015 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Just found out that the Pope has appointed a Cardinal from... Tonga!

Raccoons rejoice!

1/04/2015 04:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Soane Patita Paini Mafi! Know him well. Regular guy. Drinks from the bottle.

1/04/2015 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

"Jolie is proudly bisexual"

Ah, "proudly." The positional good's signature tell.

Brad's brain must be a rat's nest of noise and equivocation.

Happy new year, everyone!

1/05/2015 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Of all the objects that have inexplicably stayed with me from my childhood, I still have a peace pipe I carved during a Scouting jamboree in the early Eighties. I have no reason for making sure it stays with me, but it has.

The triumph of hopi over experience, I guess.

1/05/2015 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or maybe just a Sioux veneer of your childhood.

1/05/2015 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gr-uh-oan...Gr-uh-oan...Gr-uh-oan...

1/05/2015 07:53:00 AM  

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