Monsters and Crosses
This comes very close to what we mean by idiom, for just as satisfaction of a desire teaches us what we had implicitly wanted, the "destiny drive" teaches us who we are by selecting (or by being mysteriously attracted to) objects, experiences, and relationships which "materialize elements latent to [the] personality" (Bollas).
Aristotle wrote of how, "through repeated encounters with the world," experience transforms the particulars of the senses into the universals "that come to rest in the soul." Philosophy itself "lies in a broad circle about the loose space of wonder," such that this primordial wonderlust is the beginning and end of our journey. Thus, philosophy "is what it is before it can be termed knowledge" per se.
By the same token, we could say that we are who we are even before we are anyone in particular. As Bollas writes, the discovery and articulation of our idiom -- the destiny drive -- is "dependent on the environment's sensitive presentation of objects for such use."
By "environment" he means the human environment -- in particular, the parents whose job it is to figure out who this mysterious little person is and what he wants. You can't give the child "just anything" -- or in other words, treat him anonymously -- unless you want to attenuate his destiny drive and make it more complicated for him to become who he is.
Or, parents can try to implant a false destiny, which is something I see a lot of these days. Living as I do on the white trash side of the border to some mega-affluent areas (e.g., Malibu), every child has been pre-selected to attend an elite university, so grades and homework and achievement are absurdly important even in elementary school -- as if the most important point of childhood isn't to freaking have one.
I can't recall it being this way when I was a kit. Nowadays there is such an absurd mystique associated with college, which one would think couldn't have survived the experience of having actually attended one of these graveyards of curiosity. In other words, one can imagine how my father, who had an 8th grade education (back when it meant something), might have been overawed by the prospect of Higher Education.
But most boomers attended college and then some. Do they really believe it "educated" them? Or that they obtained something there that cannot be obtained elsewhere for much less money? Please. Don't confuse the Destiny Drive with the Conspiracy. That's elementary.
This is interesting: Aristotle says that while knowledge of a thing "requires possession of it," "we are not in possession of a thing until we love it."
So, you might say that love is the thing -- or the Thing prior to the thing -- for he means the "delight and desire given to this initial act of knowing," all the way up to the last toppermost of the papamost act of knowing, i.e., the beatific vision, or contemplation of God.
Why indeed is there such a thing as "the pleasures of the mind?" Why this soul-delight?
Normally we think of the hedonist as someone who simply indulges the pleasures and passions of the body. I would suggest that so long as pleasure is confined to that cramped dimension, it is prima facie evidence of a failed destiny drive; or in other words, the drive has misfired, or is maybe compensating for what has been lost "above" by pursuing what is below.
It occurs to me that this is the opposite of how Freud characterizes it. For him, pursuit of the higher is simply a sublimation of lower drives. It is a defense mechanism, a pale substitute for what we really want, which is basically food, sex, and status among the primates.
Now, there was a time that I couldn't help believing that, or at least entertaining it. After all, I was in graduate school, learning psychology from the proper authorities. To paraphrase the famous bumpkin-sticker: Freud said it, I believe it, and that settles it. I don't want to oversimplify it, but nevertheless, not a single one of my professors spoke of the soul, or of God, or of the spiritual life.
I went through maybe six months in the "Freudian mode," so to speak. Looking back on it, I can't really say whether it was the cause or consequence of a depression, but depressing it was. How could it not be? Everything I have ever done or will do is just a self-deceiving transformation of primitive instincts?
I didn't intend for this post to get all personal, but perhaps it is instructive, for that depression speaks to a Destiny Drive Fail. Here I am, in the place I am supposed to be -- or where the Conspiracy wants me to be -- and I am not happy.
But you know the old line: more tears are shed over answered prayers. Which is another way of saying thank God for pain, which is ultimately another way of saying thank God for the Cross! I've been thinking about that last one for the past week or two... How to put it...
It started with an episode of the Journey Home on EWTN. The guest was talking about how when everything was going well for him in life, it tended to swell his narcissism and grandiosity, and thus alienate him from the Cross. Conversely, his "afflictions," so to speak, brought him back down to earth and closer to God.
I think something similar happens to me. Now, let's extrapolate this to an extreme case. Let's take someone who actually does succeed in becoming a Prince of this world. Would he not be a narcissistic monster? Is one of the salutary purposes of the Cross to prevent Monsters? Otherwise, why flash it before vampires and such? And why does the anti-Christian world produce so many monsters?
That was a short paragraph, but it strikes me as loaded with meaning, with things to chew on.
So chew on. It always takes me about six months to get used to Daylight Savings Time, so I slept late and now have to get ready for work...