I suppose like everyone else I was sucked into the vortex started by Descartes and codified by Kant, such that knowledge begins in my own melon. But this attitude was probably more shaped by my immersion in Buddhism and Vedanta, which don't place much importance on this maya-ridden world. And the whole innerprise was capped by my psychoanalytic training.
I'll try to cut to the chase and avoid boring you with details, but, just like everything else, you could say that psychoanalysis has a "left" and a "right," at least in a manner of speaking.
In this case, it would come down to the importance of reality, or of the external world. The school of thought to which I was most drawn was the Kleinian, which, you could say, emphasizes psychic reality, almost to the exclusion of reality. It's not what happened, but your unconscious phantasies about what happened, that count. (The "ph" distinguishes these from conscious fantasies.)
At the other extreme would be where I sit today, which is in attachment theory, which is very much rooted in real world experiences with caregivers. Then again, what I've really done is blend the two, for they are complementary, not antagonistic: obviously there is an exterior reality and a psychic reality, and the distance between the two is a measure of psychopathology.
Obvious example. I'll disguise some details, but some time ago I saw a young man who had been abandoned by his father before the age of five. He was left with his mother who, although hardworking, was alcoholic and depressed. When home from work she would drink and stare at the wall with tears streaming down her face. They were also poor and moved around quite a bit, so he was never able to form stable compensatory attachments to peers.
His father re-entered his life when he was 15 or 16, and he remembers this as a kind of blessed time. He felt loved and wanted by his father. He was more confident, and began making plans for the future. But something happened that caused his mother to give him an ultimatum: your father is an asshole. He abandoned you. I'm the one who raised you. You must choose: him or me.
Painfully conflicted -- to put it mildly -- he choose mother. His father tried to maintain contact, but he shut him out.
What happens next is the interesting part: he starts to develop mysterious aches and pains throughout his body, that no doctor can explain. One even says "they're in your head" but he rejects the possibility. He goes "doctor shopping," and eventually finds an alternative healer who tells him what he wants to hear, that he must have been bitten by an insect a number of years ago, and is suffering from the effects. Like Spiderman, only bad.
Meanwhile the effects continue to morph. He starts imagining he emits a horrible smell that causes others to keep their distance. Then he convinces himself they are talking and laughing about his odor. After that they sneak into his phone and install software that allows them to see and hear everything he says and does. He has even wondered whether he is imagining this, but no, he has abundant evidence that this is really happening.
So, this is an extreme case of I Think Therefore I Am, or of reality starting in the head instead of in the world. Rather, the world is simply enlisted as the psychic furniture for his malevolent dreams.
In the past we have discussed at length how the left is a collective and institutionalized version of this pathology. This is why you cannot argue with them, any more than I could argue with my patient. Knowing this, I remember thinking to myself, "what can I say that won't make him suspicious that I don't believe him, or that I'm part of the conspiracy?"
I said something like the following: Please don't take this to mean I don't believe you, but I was wondering what you would say if I could hypothetically prove to you that no one has tapped into your phone and you don't emit a wretched smell? I mean, just for the purposes of exploring alternative explanations? Can you imagine that?
Suffice it to say, he couldn't imagine it. He thought about it briefly but concluded that no, what you say is impossible. The sinister coincidences are just too thick. It would mean I would have to ignore that mountain of evidence.
Let's shift gears for a moment to the political sphere. In my adult life I have never seen so much racial, sexual, and class paranoia coming from the left. Really, as recently as the 1990s I thought we were past all this, but somehow it's gotten worse than ever. In my view this is because, as with the patient above, psychic reality is detached from external reality.
I always enjoy working in our Ventura office, because they publish a local rag up there that has a loony left wing editorialist. I suppose he's no more loony than the rest, but I don't go out of my way to visit those dark precincts anymore, whereas in idle moments I flip through this broadshite and check out what this Mr. Freeman has to say.
This week he has an editorial with the clever title Brave New World. As usual, it vilifies Republicans for everything from eating all our steak to causing his bad smell. Crazy as it is, there is nothing in it that deviates from the mainstream left, and in fact, it provides a useful primer on the left's view of what has happened to the country over the past 45 years, since Reagan ruined everything. It could have been written by Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
And I have to admit, I actually believed some of this stuff myself once upon a time. Hey, I despised Reagan as much as the next grad student or professor. I didn't know anyone who didn't. Well, one. But he didn't move in my circles, and was the friend of a friend. (Excellent. For our convenience the editorial is posted online.)
"America’s Brave New World is run for the benefit of the select few in the upper classes."
Hmm. If that is so, why is the Fortune 500 composed of completely different companies than 50 years ago? Why didn't they control things so they could stay on top? Some ruling class.
"Almost all" of the income "has flowed up to the top 1 percent (the Alphas) due to 'trickle-down economics' or 'Reaganomics.'" Here again, this is a kind of hallucination that the 1% of 50 years ago are the 1% of today, but if that were true, Bill Gates would still be toiling in his mother's basement. I'm hardly in the 1%, but it would also mean I'd still be stocking shelves in the supermarket.
"Economics professor Robert Reich, Clinton’s labor secretary, says the average worker is underpaid by around $49,000 per year (the calculation is easy)." Oh, I'm sure it is -- for a marxist professor who has never run a business or signed a paycheck. What a great way to make everyone wealthy! Just force McDonalds to pay all of its employees $75,000 a year. What could go wrong?
Reality has some sad news for Professor Reich: paying someone more than he is worth does not increase his value. True, misallocating resources in this way may benefit the overpaid worker, but it simply drains the wider economy of wealth and makes us all a little less affluent.
For example, I suppose the VC Reporter could pay Mr. Freeman a six figure salary -- or even a salary -- but this would exceed its entire budget, such that it could no longer purchase the ink and paper to publish his fantasies.
How did conservatives tap our phones and when did they start laughing at the way we smell?
Reagan "was the finest practitioner of the art of picking your pocket with a smile. Feeble-minded Americans voted for Ronnie because his delusions made them feel good."
This is rich. The state picks our pockets for several months, right through Tax Independence Day, whenever that falls. Conversely, I engage in voluntary exchanges in the private economy, where I am always looking for ways to pick a pocket and gain an edge.
What I mean is that, for example, in just the last week or two I've purchased about ten books (and a bunch of CDs), most of which cost as little as one cent, whereas I would have once had to pay full price if I could find them at all. There is literally no way to measure this incalculable improvement in my life, and there are many more.
We are all beneficiaries of such amazing efficiency. It's the same with computers. What once would have set you back $12,000 or more is now available for under $500. The examples are too numerous to relate, but this book on Popular Economics is highly recommended. Without the tax cuts of the Reagan years, all those technological IPOs that now employ so many people and generate so much prosperity wouldn't have happened.
"Next, Ronnie’s crew got control of the media."
Okay. Right. I remember that.
Don't argue. You cannot reason someone out of something he was never reasoned into.
"Ronnie abolished the Fairness Doctrine. We now have the 'furnace doctrine,' with conservatives free to blow smoke and white-hot lies."
The first amendment covers conservatives? WTF? That's not right. Is that what all those conservative soldiers fought and died for?
Well, the left is furiously rolling it back to the world Boy George fought for, so he shouldn't fret so much.
"The middle-class purchasing power of yesteryear, powering a mighty industrial economy, has been severely crimped."
Right. That's why Gordon Gekko's cell phone cost only $15,000 while ours, with then-inconceivable features, have skyrocketed to $500. Or why Costco is so darn expensive. Or why books are so much cheaper in a brick-and-mortar store than on amazon. As I said, I could go on, but I need to get some work done before a bunch of books arrives in the mail and I can dive into them and enjoy this horrible Brave New World.