Friday, December 9, 2011
The great thinker—the erudite and innovative information vacuum himself—progresses more profusely every single second he lives. Theories, equations, observations: everything he does grows exponentially. That is, until a time comes when his ideas can no longer be expressed to anyone but himself, within his own now ultimately-unique mental framework: his very own Ultimate Paradigm.
Even his most industrious adherents remain miles behind the great thinker’s ingenious novelty. And it is, after all, novelty of a kind; mere yet profound originality and complexity, never before seen (like everything, all the time) but consisting of all that has ever been (necessarily).
Over the course of thousands, perhaps millions of years, he grows utterly asocial. He can no longer relate to other beings directly, but nonetheless regularly releases mysterious publications detailing his now-considered mystical, esoteric doctrines. The few released can still only be genuinely fathomed by their creator, who continues working on some ever-progressing opus, ever combining ideas to forge more “veritable” refinements, more purified and brilliant extractions.
After millions, or perhaps billions of years, the thinker has become a stationary organism; physically, he goes nowhere. In previous stages he was confined to a town; this slowly shifted then to a street; then to a house; and finally, he reached a point where movements were no long practical: his ideas have now far surpassed the capacities of his fellow beings and the great thinker subsequently becomes fused to the earth—that is, physical movement has become completely superfluous to his raison d’être.
The organism (“he” has now become “it”) changes; it is no longer what we would conventionally call a human. Its vocabulary, way of speaking, guttural enunciation, etc., has become completely foreign and continues to diminish (in the eyes of the common perceiver) over time. It—the organism— long ago realised that the work it was so profusely dedicated to had always-already been a work pertaining to itself—all this life-form’s figuring, that is, all of “the great thinker’s” work, always ultimately pertained to it. Essentially, it had discovered itself as being, in a sense, the most refined form; as All Things, always presently in the moment of their ultimate expression. Necessarily, its work continued and thus its form continued to change. But this change was not, quite correctly, perceived as indiscriminate; that is, the organism no longer differentiated between progress and regress, but mysteriously apprehended itself as simply always becoming, but never being. This is not a graspable concept, because it is always-already changing.
An account of the change the great thinker, or “it”—the organism— underwent could be approximated as follows: It’s female and male aspects, both physically and psychically, became integrated and eventually diminished due to its socio-environmental circumstance and the ensuing developments, hence it’s becoming an “it”. Its thought eventually reduced to pure metaphor and analogy; there is nothing, it has perhaps noticed, that is not another thing. As such, the need for its own physicality, its locomotion, vocal ability, emotional existence, and so forth—such needs ceased. The corporeal body atrophied, very slowly of course, until eventually it became a rounded, blob-like figure. Once this form took shape it slowly shrunk, like a balloon (bear in mind that its size indicates neither evolution nor de-evolution, but perhaps revolution or merely chaotic, rhizomatic development).
The great thinker’s concepts naturally emptied themselves; they realised themselves as nothing and slowly began falling away, shedding what was inherently already-absent, a void mistaken for a distinction, everything-that-is mistaken for categories of “truth” or being in general; essentially, all things cancelled themselves out and nothing remained—except, of course, all things.
As such, one particular occurrence can embody the entirety of the ongoing process that is characteristic of the thinker: as their words slowly integrated one another, dropping some parts and keeping others, the words became, in and of themselves, omega points; that is to say that they were, to use a modern phrase, always-already the “cutting edge” in a semantic-linguistic sense. Their existence was always-already invested with all meaning. It could have been this point, or absolutely any other, which triggered the great thinker’s figurative satori; perhaps, indeed, the first time it could finally see its being slowly fall away into emptiness, into nothingness, until finally even its corporeality began disintegrating and descending downwards, into mysterious subatomic realms.
And so, smaller and smaller it became, slowly losing all of its conventionally-perceived intelligence, of course its cognition in any sense, its sentience, any vestiges of reflective thought, all the senses: like an ice block, which, despite being in the coolest shade, is still melting away, and will ceaselessly continue to become what it has always been becoming. It—the thinker-cum-organism—finally grew so small and so indefinite that one day, it itself became a subject of study.
The new greatest thinker, adorned with all the knowledge ever to exist, with knowledge refined meticulously throughout the ages, using the latest in telescopic technology, places the tiny particle—which now constitutes what is left of the original great thinker—beneath her lens. What the magnification reveals startles her greatly: the particle is everywhere at once, while at the same time being nowhere at all.
Immediately she, the new greatest thinker, begins to shrink—this time much faster than before.
masses of X-eyes listlessly staring, joyfully absent and laughing in merriments;
X-masses roaming the streets like homeless people looking for food, stressed and alone; the X-mass of the Earth is equal to the combined weight of every person who is not clinically, but visually and obviously, obese (extreme mass);
eXtra-mass, too, because everything produced by it and promoted by it and consumed by it is indeed superfluous and “extra”;
X-masturbation, all day, every day, for the entire year until the times comes to come, to pump that Xmas joy over all those pretty, waiting faces, all the kiddies and the blindfolded, handcuffed parents staring dumbly around as that shower of white, white snow covers all in head to toe and little, little do they know that this, indeed, is Santa’s blow AND X-masturbating priest, for this of course is the grandest time of the year for Santa and he alike, what with all those excited infantiles around—that is, the physically matured ones also, because surely it’s just as arousing to fiddle with a child-like adult…;
X-mas-ter, for he, He, the father, the Fathers—they all lead, with their big white hands, wise white beards, outstretched arms, alluring pseudo-warmth;
X-Mass, the Holy Communion with the X-massive cock of patriarchy, forever penetrating everything it sees, every domain it self-righteously claims as its own, when of course, the truer communion, oh so sweet, is to be had elsewhere, in other places, in limitless atmospheres where the true gods roam the land, the forest, the hills and rivers, and where intoxication is ecstatic, not X-static;
X-masculine, for He, He and He, the Holy Trinity, is, in fact, of course — what else could it be but — She, the latter being, without doubt, you and me, forever-bound eternity, served over a glassy lake with the perpetual realisation that I am not at stake, nor doth the guilt of my sins maketh this true divine lake one of “hellfire”;
X-mass consumption of all the right satiating agents, to drench you in contentedness, and leave you waiting so keenly for the next loop…
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Part of me worries that these words will be taken away from me,
as though I own them;
that someone might even be interested.
Other parts remind me that I am, right now, of course,
information expressing itself, the universe itself posing.
Speak clearly, your voice is fading:
I am not the netherworlds, this is not an empty bar;
people's hands are already upon this -
they may even have grasped it before I even conceived of it.
There is no copyright, only the right to copy.
Paradox: all things are original, yet are necessarily composed of other peoples' works.
Other peoples' works are all original, yet are composed necessarily of other peoples' works.
And so on, ad infinitum.
Paradox number one (of many).
Stealing is a frame of mind.
I am a bundle of information in flux;
I am not an "I", nor is this "I" anything ever - it is always moving;
being is processes and interconnectedness, it does not seem to agree with the verb "is", but my language gives me a hard time sometimes (or maybe it is all those "I"s);
forever moving, we move, and onwards is instilled with value judgments - rather, we just move around, in all directions, constantly, along with everything else that is constantly is-ing, being, moving, whatever.
I already know all I know, which is tentative at least - but keep me posted anyway, there are exhilirating perspectives which I might like to tap into.
It all comes down to *bleep* (insert loop here).
God is not on your side; this way of looking at things is the drool falling from a mentally retarded person's mouth. There is only disrespect here if you see it.
I am divine, THEY are devout;
I am within, THEY are without.
My friend once told me that something that implied we are all Jesus, because we are all gods. Only Jesus told everyone about it, so they crucified him.
Everything said is beyond wrong and right outside of a context, the latter being also within a context, which is within another context, and so on, ad infinitum.
Laugh at funny words, realise that you laughed because you thought they were stupid, and then realise that you are immensely prejudiced. Most people are missing the third step.
A dying spirit and existential anxiety.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
What might be wrong with the idea of order, even if it is vague? I thought a lot about this throughout my schooling, and I still do. There may be nothing wrong with it. We need some sort of order to be able to interpret writing; it is the only way writing can be read (a very vague notion, but the author trusts that the reader gets the gist). But something always tugged at my shoulder about this. There was always an itching sensation. Somewhere on my body, every time I was taught any form of standard, would itch unbearably; and it would invariably be one of those hideous blitzkrieg itches which strikes without warning and leaves he or she who experiences it throwing fingernails everywhere in frantic search of the stingy little bastard.
Anyhow, this is sort of how it went, in a far less figurative sort of way. Why should I adhere to any standard? I found myself asking. I’m sure every writer has gone through a similar self-enquiry, a similar self-liberating critique of the entire (god damn) system. It seems reasonable, after all; I mean, we are essentially taught to write innovative, catchy pieces, while at the same time adhering to some form of at least sub-universal guidelines. A short story should be unique, it should be expressive of the individual—but must use tools and styles (and so forth) which are necessarily used by all, in order to be what it is supposed to be. There’s a lot wrong with these ideas, and a lot that is useful.
So far, so good. I can’t really, justifiably anyhow, have problems with what I’ve said so far. There are certainly many hiccups and issues abundant in adhering to standards, especially industry standards (which seem to unequivocally support generic merchandise, at least in a broad sense); but to be able to view something in a mode similar enough to a given author is necessary to communicate anything at all, even if it is absolutely nothing like what the author intended. This latter point cannot be emphasised enough.
So where is the problem?
It lies in the idea of chaos. Of course it does; it makes perfect sense. But how, exactly?
Before we start writing, we necessarily learn language. Language is a huge part of how we view the world, as has been pointed out and thoroughly discussed and debated by many philosophers and thinkers. What can be said simply, without going into the details of linguistic philosophical debates, is that as we learn language we associate linguistic objects and strings of objects with the external world. We wind up, essentially, with a linguistic system which we use to express ourselves vocally about the worlds around us, as well as the worlds within us. Once this system is at least fundamentally established, it becomes a sort of point of reference: we refer to it constantly, and eventually it becomes something we can do “without thinking”.
When it comes to writing (and arguably many other artistic or creative mediums), we necessarily assemble the words we have learnt (including all their extended structures, i.e. sentences, phrases, paragraphs, and so forth) and order them in such a way as to create a form of some kind, often linear though of course not always. This transcription, however, is not so simple.
The way we initially use words—that is, by speaking them—is jumbled and chaotic. Before we become literate, our writing is “all over the shop”; there is little order, repetition, low “standards” of grammar and punctuation, as well as many other incoherencies. It is nearer to chaos than more mature, “professional” writing. We initially write as we see the world intuitively, through our subjective eyes and thus through our immediate first-person experience of the world. It is essentially a chaotic literacy, whereby the way written words are assembled corresponds to a closer degree with what we are directly experiencing, or perhaps more correctly, how we remember ourselves to have experienced things. One is reminded of pieces written in childhood, whereby the rules are clearly not followed (for they are not yet learnt), and where descriptions are wild, fantastic, and even arguably incorporate far more intriguing elements of imagination than the finely tuned passages of “professional” authors.
An example might help here.
This is a passage from a piece of writing I wrote when I was eight years old, titled "The Animal Mask":
One day their was a boy he wanted to buy a animal mask but his mum sed no
so he snook it and suddenly bang he fell out of a tree then he got up and he took off his mask and he was in a animal world and all the birds came to him for some reason wait a miney he said I think this is a animal mask that that goes to a animal world he had a look around but all he could see was trees and animals he met a tolking dog and he could fly too
chapter two the tolking dog
he was very smart and he found aplace for him the next day he went fishing…
And so on.
This is basically a stream of consciousness piece of writing. There is no punctuation, everything is described haphazardly, yet still in a kind of flowing way. Specific things are being described, but you get the feeling that the little author wasn’t really selecting them—they just came to him that way. There was really no scene set, no characters introduced or developed: everything is described directly and without regard to the author’s lack of insight into exactly what is going on. If I had to imitate this style right now, I’d write “typing thinking a computer screen there are some dark windows a guitar next to me what time is it when should I stop this sentence am I getting the point through…” etc.
It isn’t really possible to recreate it genuinely, but the point is that the world being put onto paper by semi-literate beings—those without “knowledge” of the rules—leans more towards the chaotic world that is actually experienced. As we learn the rules of language and even when we begin to manipulate them, our writing becomes far more orderly.
Though of course, not at all completely orderly.
Just as a movie portrays an impossible reality of successive scenes with no temporal regard, so professional or at least coherent writing portrays a neat, aesthetically approachable, but impossible ordering of the world. Both the bulk of movies we watch as well as most pieces of writing we read are mere abstractions from the chaotic world we all experience (the world described by people yet to be conditioned by the systems of written language). This could be applied to other creative areas also—even to speech itself.
Nothing terribly new has been said. There is an awkward sigh from the reader, who wanders where this is all going. And so, a question ensues.
Can order be taught before the chaos from which it is born is acknowledged?
Not an easy one. What is this bundle of words getting at? you might say. Is this where is gets a bit juicier, so I can stop forcing myself to read this?
Chaos is not taught, generally speaking. We are taught to order most things, not only in writing, but in life. Chaos is what there actually is, as opposed to order, which is what we attempt to create (I am aware that this sentence is loaded with meanings, but hopefully they converge in some general area and help the point along). I have to choose every one of the words I am presently typing—in fact, I just hesitated twice, made a few mistakes, backspaced countless times and am currently rethinking how I should end this sentence, all as I am typing it. I am merely picking pieces from the chaotic world, which is not limited by my objective-subjective worlds, which is in fact not limited at all. For in the chaotic world the subjective and objective are not distinguished; they flow together, always, in a constant stream; and writing is, of course, extracted from this chaotic realm and thus always contains the elements inherent in it: even stream of consciousness styled writing only attempts to tap into the stream. In fact, it is not possible; there are too many things going on at once. Order is essentially an attempt at taming chaos; and in a way, the two lead into one another constantly.
So what if we don’t get taught chaos¬—why should we? It seems a fair question. But in my experience, I have found that the only really fluent, orderly, relatively comprehendible writing I have been able to do has come after accepting and contemplating chaos. And this makes sense to me. How can we go to school and get taught methods of order, when we have not yet grasped the chaos from which we were born and into which we were, and are all constantly, thrust? There is nothing in the lived experience that even remotely resembles the order represented in writing, or media and art of many kinds. To write without realising that one is abstracting from an intensely chaotic experience is akin to smoking without knowing how to inhale: an essential element is missing from the experience.
Before I go on, I have to mention that I am not trying to make any groundbreaking statements about what it is to write and what writing is good or bad or what not. That is subjective and extremely complex. Nor am I trying to say anything terribly concrete about the matter (the tentativeness of all my own assumptions has hopefully been inferred by the reader). What I am trying to get at is likely something already understood by many great writers, perhaps has been understood for a long time; nevertheless, I think it is worth bringing to the surface for those under the impression that the order we are taught in writing is the more important, or essential, aspect. It is commonly known that order and chaos go hand in hand, and to understand one the other must also be understood. In a funny way, they are part and parcel of one ongoing, dynamic process.
I honestly believe I have benefitted from contemplating chaos alongside order, not just in writing either. Industry standards, and any standards enforced and taught in writing, of course have their place; as I mentioned, they are necessary (though potentially evil) in writing. I do not think such standards should be adhered to austerely, or even at all if one feels so inclined (some coherence, even if it is implied or interpreted by the tiniest demographic, does seem appropriate, however—unless one is writing purely for oneself, in which case there are no real rules. In the latter case, personally developed symbols could even be used, interpretable by no one else but the writer). One can easily create a piece which is nearer to chaos than to order, and have it be enjoyed by many readers; in fact, the innovations observable in writing in the modern world seem to be signs of a return to more chaotic styles, as opposed to the more “proper” styles of classical writers (this is arguable, of course, for example if chaos and order are interpreted as relative).
What I have written is itself not intended to be particularly orderly: looking back, it is really a kind of “thinking out loud”. But the urge to expose a general lack of recognition of chaos inspired me to write about it in relation to writing itself. It seems evident that all things “orderly” are put forth in educational institutions, while the chaos from which this order is born, and is inextricably bound to, seems to be, for the most part, ignored. This is perhaps a reflection of a larger lack of recognition, which in turn could be part of something even larger—most likely, many things. Ignoring the chaos in putting down words is directly associated with ignoring the chaos of experience. It must be emphasised that I am not suggesting that to write chaotically is “truer” in any sense, but rather than an appreciation of this chaos seems, at least to me, to be an efficacious way of improving how we portray our various styles of order, or more precisely, our degrees of chaos.
I only know myself as a human body, with arms, legs, a neck, shoulders, and so forth, because I know that I am really none of these things; they are merely name-tags, attached not only to the constantly moving processes which underlay them, but to the indefinable flow beyond¬. Neither could exist, however, without the other.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Good times, of course (patronising chuckle).
But what about the not-so-wrenching taboos? What about taboos that may not have been discovered yet, or which perhaps exist but have not yet reached the forefront of human fear or thought in general? There are many, to be sure. But one recently arrived at my mental door step, and I could not stop thinking about it: initially, not in fear, but in a more contemplative way which in turn led to theorising which in turn led to—well, yes—to fear. But no such a simple fear, as will be discussed.
At this stage you’re itching to know what the fuck I’m talking about, no doubt. It is worth the wait, I assure you. And here it is.
For the Pig People are, in a sense, a people; they are not a clan or a unified group of any sort, but they are a commonly perceived “type”, if you will. What is the author talking about? you find yourself asking ( me too!). But somewhere, I venture to assume, lurking in the back of most minds, is a notion of an archetype that is “the Pig Person”.
What is a Pig Person?
A Pig Person is the title I have chosen to denote the evidently noticeable amount of people in this world who resemble the common farmyard animal mentioned in their very title.
Immediately I cower in fear. There are rocks being thrown at me and people screaming obscenities at just how insensitive I could possibly be. I run and try to hide, but they find me, legions of them, pointing accusingly at the sinner: “How dare you!” they whine, “how dare you propose that there are human beings, human beings, on this earth who you could possibly term ‘Pig People’! Away with you and your esteem-crushing ideas!”
But I have as yet said nothing insulting about these beings. Of course, they are human; of course, they aren’t actually pigs. Both the former and latter suggestions are to me absolutely preposterous, and for that matter, far from the point.
My point is that there are Pig People. Each and every one of us knows it. Even those who chased me just now, threw objects at me in rage and denounced even my mention of such an idea—these people, perhaps, know it most. For in their hasty rage—far too hasty not to be questioned—they give their little secret away. They know, most of all, that the Pig People exist; it is not surprising (perhaps it is even usual) that those who are most afraid of a taboo are the first to pounce on it, sinking their conservative claws into its flesh and essentially doing all they can to prevent its being addressed by anyone ever.
But I have gone off track: a further explanation of the Pig People is due.
We all know them. We see them and we take note of them in our minds, consciously or subconsciously. Some of us may even know a few, be friends with a few—but we do not explicitly mention their appearance in our social groups, of course. The latter would be too daring. It would perhaps be akin to arriving at a table of friends and announcing, without phase, “Hello, my friends! I have decided it best for personal reasons to commit suicide tomorrow at dusk. I have indeed had a grand time with most, though of course not all of you, throughout my mediocre life and wish now to depart on personal grounds which I shall not detail right now—and certainly won’t detail any time after dusk tomorrow morning. (Beat). So…what’s for lunch?” Though this example is but a little ridiculous, I think it perhaps approximates the message I am attempting, very slowly, very dragged-out-edly, to, well, approximate.
The Pig People are, of course, people who resemble pigs in their physical appearance. Having said this, as mentioned before they do not really look like pigs; their features merely resemble pigs: the upturned nose, the characteristic chubbiness of the face and sometimes other parts of the body; and sometimes even the posture. Of course, the first two characteristics mentioned are the cardinal ones. They are what usually, I conjecture, cause one to think to themselves, “My God. This person resembles a pig!”
Immediately, this comes across as an insult. No one would ever, under any circumstances, mention this resemblance to one of the Pig People themselves: for they are, of course, human, and such a remark is certain to crush any human’s self esteem, their physical self awareness, and so forth. I oftentimes wonder whether the Pig People are aware of themselves as resembling pigs. Surely, one would think, these people have some inkling. But this, of course, I cannot say for sure, for I am fairly confident that I am free of all pig-like characteristics, what with my scrawny physique, my large-but-not-upturned nose, and rather drawn, if anything horse-like, face. Hmm.
And so what now? The observation has been made. Many, I’m sure, feel somewhat awkward now, what with being faced with the explicit description of the Pig Person phenomena. It is a strange thing, aye. Indeed. Indubitably. Intuitively. Indelibly.
I have lost my trail of thought, just now, right at this moment…
There it is!
Yes, there is one other thing. The Pig People are necessarily a minority. They are a small group of people, scattered about the Earth, who presumably have not amassed as a distinct sub-culture yet. Maybe they have, I am not of course sure. But they have not, I am sure, amassed in such a way that is as yet identifiable, or particularly evident in the global community (like, say, the radical UFO societies around the globe).
Are the Pig People a threat? Well, if I were one of them, I would want to find others. See, the fact of the matter is that pigs are looked down upon by most humans, like most animals really. They are seen as disgusting because of how they behave, despite that such behaviour is of course relative to the lifestyle of the pig. Of course we find it disgusting, but this is just because we ourselves see rolling around in the hot mud, lazing about and eating profusely, snorting, etc. as disgusting (oddly enough, humans are prone to do pretty much all of those things, with perhaps the exception of…no, wait—we snort, too.). So, really, there is nothing to it. Being deemed a Pig Person is only insulting to the prejudiced masses of this world. But of course, such features are perhaps not seen as physically attractive in the human realm. A problem, to be sure. Undeniably. Indubitably. Indeed. But, there is a solution to this.
Beauty is also relative, and for humans involves also a hugely complex and wide array of emotions and associated phenomena (you could insert a billion words here, but I’ll just stick to these particular approximations, for they approximate what I am ultimately trying to approximate in an approximately approximating way, so as the approximations themselves should become self-evident enough to outline my main approximation—approximately, of course). And so, there really are no reasons to fear these people. They are but people, like you and I; they merely resemble pigs in very vague ways, and are not in any way pigs themselves (unless it is meant metaphorically, in that the particular person is in fact a Pig person whose behaviour resembles that of a pig so emphatically that they are deemed disgusting, unhygienic, or what not, so on and so forth, ad infinitum).
The only real fear we have is of the Pig People becoming fearful themselves. We cannot afford for this to happen. If they become too self-conscious about the way others perceive them—that is, as Pig People—then they will form minorities and they will eventually unite, perhaps even march the Earth in an advance of war. This sounds farfetched, but if they begin to feel themselves to be outcasts, to be looked upon as repulsive and even as lower forms of being (even worse, as inhuman), then a counter-culture is sure to ensue.
This is, perhaps, preventable, if we just give them a little mud to wallow in, and some mounds of food.
The moral of this story: Don’t write a piece describing Pig People which concludes with a prescription not to point out Pig People in order to prevent such people becoming fearful and thus forging armies that march the Earth in some whacky form of the End of Days.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Everything I have thought about since the dream has probably reshaped my recollection, that is, changed the way I presently look at it (as opposed to the way I first experienced it); though I hope enough of its essential features remain for a relatively honest, in-depth reflection, which I will now write.
I remember next to nothing about this dream other than the aforementioned dreamscape, the fact that there was a little girl there with me, and perhaps most importantly the intense feelings I experienced both during the dream as well as retrospectively, concerning the figure of the girl and the environment. I was very fond of the girl; she was extremely benevolent in ways I cannot describe through any of her actions, seeing as there were no such actions— at least any which were retained in my memory upon waking. There was something pure and fascinating about her; she seemed to emanate, evoking feeling from me without really doing anything. The fact that I somehow knew I was a little boy again in the dream, as opposed to the adolescent I am in waking life, makes this facet of the dream even more enigmatic.
I’m fairly sure the dream came to me in first-person, i.e. through my own eyes as a little boy in the dream. The girl was sitting somewhere around the middle of the field, I think. I am unsure whether any contact was made at all, really; but the impressions I received from the girl were strong both during the dream and when I awoke, and remain with me even now. She was a force I could trust; a guiding and benevolent figure, there to let me know that things were alright and that there was nothing to worry about (“benevolent” is the word that came to mind immediately after recalling the dream, and so will be used inordinately throughout this reflection). There isn’t much more I can write about her exact character, as there isn’t much other than how I felt. With this in mind, I came to look at the little girl as some aspect of myself, seeing as her presence alone evoked such intense and unambiguous impressions from both the little me in the dream as well as from my waking, reflective self. For that matter, the “little me” in the dream can also be viewed as an aspect, too, as will be later speculated.
It can only be assumed that this figure, the little girl, is, in some sense, a part of me; obviously a product of my mind. This is more or less undeniable, even under paradigms like Jung’s where the collective unconscious can produce archetypal dream figures, common the world over. The latter are still products of one’s own psyche; they merely contain ubiquitous archetypes which fit into collective templates, which relate to the individual in important ways anyway. Anyhow, I think it is fair to say that, at least for the purposes of this reflection, the girl was indeed some amplified aspect of myself (or more than one, combined?)—and that this also applies to the child version of me, through whose eyes I experienced the dream. (What I think is contentious is exactly what “an aspect” of oneself is; the idea is widely interpretable, and so a lengthy discussion on this notion will, for now at least, be avoided. Hopefully the way the idea is used in context here will give an idea of what such an aspect could possibly be).
So, in this light, who really is the little girl and what does she symbolise? I was interacting with an angelic, amorous, utterly benevolent and benign figure in this dream, who made me feel safe in some very intense way, even in waking life (the feelings, like many dreams, emanated into my waking life, and even now I can incite a nostalgic, peaceful feeling, just by recalling the dream and, particularly, the figure of the little girl).
In Jung’s paradigm, the function of dreams is compensation; that is, dreams compensate for psychical forces which lack in waking life, forces which work to bring equilibrium to the psyche, or healing (much like a wound works at healing itself after the damage has been done). Generally speaking, the little girl could represent some part of myself that is lacking, which, in this case, would seem to be a benevolence towards others, or perhaps even a benevolent attitude toward something within myself. It could indeed be that I lack a certain benevolence towards others, which in turn suggests a lack of benevolence towards myself which I merely project onto others.
But of course, there is more to be observed here, and even such speculative conclusions might be a little premature (but interesting, nonetheless).
The dream, first of all, takes place in a vast green sports field—rectangular, if I remember correctly (which is now almost impossible to say for sure). I get the feeling there may have even been soccer goals at each end (the idea of competition?). Anyhow, this vast, green expanse was surrounded by other vast, green expanses. So, it can perhaps be said that we—the little girl and my “little self”—are “out in the open”. We are exposed and visible. There is nowhere to hide, because even the thresholds of the outer fields are quite far away; and beyond them, of course, are the “dark woods” (the trees, of course; but for the sake of speculation and reflection, they can be seen to represent the archetypal, ubiquitous forest: the unlit, unknown region of oneself). I name them so certainly due to my influences from dream interpretation literature (notably and obviously Jung), but also because I am convinced of the idea that dark forests, in some sense, appear ubiquitously as “nether-regions”; places where people are generally frightened to go and where, in myth, folklore, etc., very mysterious and strange things happen, which of course reflect something deeper than that observed on the surface-level. This is a very widely-made observation, which doesn’t necessarily make it unquestionable but, again for the purposes of this reflection, the general assumption will be made.
So, there I was: a little boy, exposed in an open field, with this wondrous little girl; and beyond us, far away and thus not immanently threatening, laid the darkness.
Without any remembered interaction, or any action at all for that matter, it is admittedly quite difficult to speculate as to what this dream could be saying, or what it could have been showing me about myself (or even if, as the extreme skeptic says, the dream has anything to express at all). As such, I will venture to interpret it based on the reasonably clear imagery and feelings which I do possess. Nothing conclusive will appear, however, and none of the aforementioned should be considered in any way concrete.
With the malevolent forces so far beyond us (the girl and I), the feeling of being safe and warm comes as no surprise. There is simply nothing immediately threatening here; it is far away; though, I think importantly, it is still there. The fact that we are both young—somewhere between five and ten would be my estimate—suggests a certain type of innocence. We are far from the darkness, perhaps, because we are still so young: at such an age, there is little concern for “serious” matters, nor is there any of the existential anxiety which I assume, based solely on my own casual observations, tends to spawn and proliferate during adolescence. Generally speaking, at this age kids are still enveloped in the simple and innocent joys and thrills of childhood. Perhaps—as so crucially emphasised in Freudian theory—the underlying developments in this stage of life are pivotal in determining one’s being in future years; but nonetheless, there remains that purity, that ignorance of the anxieties of life and of its pressures, hardships, etc., which come about at the onset of adolescence. (The vagueness of terms like “puberty” and “adolescence” are to be noted. I dislike using the terms in any concrete sense, so bear in mind that I try to use them in a very general, non-concrete sense; that is, they tend to cover so much ground that any fixed conception of them does not do justice to the complexities of individuals. Furthermore, the diversities which such terms signify are themselves constantly in flux.).
But what could all this point to, if it indeed points to anything at all? Perhaps the dream is showing me my still-innocent, unexposed aspect; the side of me that remains far, far away from danger—from my “unenlightened” aspects. But why the benevolent little girl, intuited as a guiding-type spirit? Even now I can recall her as a guiding force, a playful but comforting figure, there as my companion, friend and perhaps even caretaker. Could this girl be the babysitter for the part of myself which chooses not to go forth into the darkness; the part which now stands alone on the playing field, having removed all other players, both friends and rivals, out of fear or personal insecurity of some kind—who needlessly chooses to wander alone before the darkness? She is there to help me, but she does not force me or even urge me to do anything; she merely tends to me in this no-man’s-land (the field).
The little boy in the dream suggests to me a blissful quasi-ignorance; a knowing, but choosing not to face just yet—and this latter idea is, as well as being fairly plausible, perhaps not as ominous as it appears. I felt no pressure of any kind in the dream or in recalling it; only peace and calm. The little girl, as guide, does not tell me that I have to, but rather takes care of me presently, exposed as I am in the open sports field which is, presumably, where I have chosen to be; and chosen, notably, to be alone. It is just me and my helper, who is in essence a part of me, thus deeming me in a sense completely isolated from others.
It cannot be emphasised enough that what has been said thus far is but one possible interpretation—and a biased one, at that, for I am undeniably free to extrapolate from my own self-knowledge, for good or for worse. Nor is it comprehensive, but rather looks at the salient parts of the dream and tries humbly to interpret them.
So, in sum:
There is within me, in some sense, a still-ignorant childlike aspect—an attitude of willing naivety—which chooses to lurk around, out in the open, rather than facing up to certain things (the distant, not-yet-threatening darkness) which are at very least known, but perhaps not fully grasped. It—the journeying aspect—has chosen, for complex reasons, to do this alone. This part of myself is not forced into doing anything; it is childlike and treated as such in that it can roam about playfully, lovingly and with a caretaker, without feeling forced to take a peak into the darker regions just yet. This could suggest immaturity, or being ill-prepared for such things presently. The girl is another part of myself, who in an explicit way explains the “little me”’s unequivocal comfort and contentedness. She is feminine, which suggests that she might be from the darkness (in the Jungian sense that every male contains an often neglected feminine side, which, being that which remains unseen, resides in “the darkness”). If this were so, she might be a peaceful taste of what’s to come: a figure who the little boy obviously has no reason to fear; in fact, quite the opposite: she makes the little boy feel safe, tells him that everything is okay and that right there and then, they are far enough away from the darkness not to have to care too much about it at present. Importantly, the little boy might not know that she is from the darkness; perhaps the peace he is experiencing is a taste of what the darkness has to offer. It is noteworthy to repeat that there are no others present; to me, this suggests that, despite not even facing up to the darkness, the “little me” has chosen to go it alone, to neglect the need for others in this particular quest (whatever it may be…).
But before this goes too far, it must be restrained; for these are, of course, speculations built upon many other speculations, and to go so far and perhaps even as far as I have at all, other dreams are needed as well as a deeper understanding of and exposition of my personality and life-situation. For now, despite it appearing to be an interpretation cut short, I will rest content in having reflected on and explored the dream as far as I have been presently able, and hopefully offered the reader some kind of insight into the possible ways of looking at and reflecting on the dream-world.
All speculation is tentative, and where conviction seems evident I urge the reader to disregard this impression. Beliefs are not my concern and this reflection is merely an attempt at divulging my personal interpretations, not an attempt to put forth fixed ways of looking at dreams. The latter, as Carl Jung pointed out, is not possible; each dream must be recognised as inextricably linked with the complex life of the individual who dreams it. This is, I think, common even to popular ideas on dreams, and I hope the above reflection has made this point self-evident.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Last night’s dream was a perfect example of a dream that defies any dream theory suggesting arbitrariness, or random memory imaging (i.e. the brain kind of ‘shorting out’). I find such theories unreasonable and extremely unpalatable (admitting my bias…); in fact, I would go as far as to say that they reflect an ulterior motive, a kind of academic defence against something that contains too much mystery to be treated ‘scientifically’, or methodologically in any way. It’s strange; I can’t say the dream was linear per se—I don’t think any I have are— but it was linear in the context of a dream and its perhaps common perception as a bundle of garbled memory/imagery. Dreams are known to be erratic, confusing and difficult to grasp in any conventional way. But this merely marginalises seemingly inexplicable elements; it does not address them in any way.
This dream was almost a hero’s journey type dream. I arrived at a distinct destination, a place where I was expected to be and where people knew me: a speech night of some sort at my old school, Mentone Grammar. But I left this place. I decided that I wanted to get away, and one of the people I had to avoid in leaving the place was a figure of my past who could no more resemble authority than anyone else—a former Vice Headmaster at Mentone Grammar. The man was intimidating: huge, broad-chested and with a potentially explosive temperament. Among others, he stood for everything I hated and probably still do hate about the world, convention, authority, conditioning and other such social elements. Anyhow, I slipped away, eventually arriving at a large Coliseum-like set of steps—very Roman indeed. Very monolithic and epic. I sat on these steps and was addressed by a God-like figure. I do not remember what the figure said, but when I left I began to ascend a huge set of (this time more regular) stairs. I struggled to endure the seemingly endless steps, but was eventually helped by a group of young Asian men. They were so benevolent in their manner; it was strikingly obvious that they posed no threat, and would only prove to be helpful to me. They even spoke in a gentle way. I remember very little from after this point in the dream, however.
In looking back on this dream I see a bundle of interconnected metaphors. I think, perhaps, that I could interpret this dream in many ways; but this is my initial interpretation. The night before I watched the movie Platoon. I think this is where the Asian men came from. The way I interpreted the movie (thus far) very much emphasised the rejection of the east by the west, in many senses. Among the arguably multiple dichotomies in the film, the central one in the protagonist’s platoon obviously stuck out: half was Man and half was Woman. That is, one half of them represented a feminine aspect, which sympathised with the enemy, the easterners, far more than the other side, whose attitude was far more brutal and whose acts reflected this. I plan to write a piece focusing on Elias, the leader of the feminine (or pot-smoking, ‘hippie’) side, because this side appears to be the side breaking through, but which is perhaps defeated in the film by the Barnes-led, masculine half. Anyhow, to continue with the dream: the Asian men were solicitous and helped me in such an amiable, respectful way; I couldn’t help but see them as an element of the Suppressed Feminine. I had just received some form of word, some logos, from a God figure on some ancient steps. This suggests to me, among other things, ancient knowledge: contemporarily suppressed knowledge. Something long forgotten, buried beneath the death-mounds of Man. Initially, I had arrived at my old high school, Mentone Grammar. This school was an all boys school and instilled patriarchal values in a very rigid, classical way; it shaped its subjects in a stereotypically Man-like fashion. After receiving the word, I was met by easterners at the foot of a huge ascent. Enlightened in some way, I was beginning a new journey back up to the grey, cold world of Mentone Grammar (the guys I knew from Mentone waited above, ready for some speech night). This could simply be seen as society, put vaguely. I was struggling to go back to this society after having been spoken to by the God figure, but was aided by the east, by the solicitous Asian men, who even appeared effeminate in their physique¬: not queer, or ‘girly’, but gentle and nurturing, like mothers. There were about three or four of them, all pushing me up these stairs, with no qualms about helping me. Going back to a patriarchal society after direct contact with some form of suppressed knowledge, or aspect, or perhaps just pure energy, was extremely difficult. But there were (are) aides. What is suppressed is not gone; it manifests in other ways and is even prominent in other cultures; it is always there, playing some role in some form—just as it manifested itself in Elias’ camp in Platoon, the latter being in the almost quintessential atmosphere of manliness: war.
And so, this is one way of looking at the dream. I cannot say there is a fixed meaning to dreams, or cause; and this is probably why it is often marginalised by the strictly methodised scientific method. But just because there are layers and layers of potential meaning, each perhaps buried in a different corner of the dream to be later excavated, this does not deem the dream devoid of value. Perhaps the dream is merely reflecting, as opposed to telling; perhaps it has a homeostatic effect, as (I think) Jung suggested, keeping the dreamer’s psyche in some form of balance; and perhaps, at times, the dream represents all that is marginalised in the human psychical life. I see no reason why it can’t be all these things, and more. Any formulaic approach to such vastly mysterious phenomena is, I think, bound to fail; nonetheless, a lot has been gathered from dream theories, and as such they cannot be blindly dismissed. And as an aside, I think that perhaps, at times, the dream is not so mysterious it all: it overtly displays something of significance, be it a conflict or what have you, from the dreamer’s life.
And this was but one dream, from a cornucopia of dreams and dream experiences. If this holds so much potential thought, so much significance but with no rigid meaning—what of the entirety of my dream life, of anyone’s dream life?
*thoughts continue as overlapping waves*
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Popular opinions, in subjects not palpable to sense, are often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. They are part of the truth; sometimes a greater, sometimes a smaller part, but exaggerated, distorted, and disjointed from the truths by which they ought to be accompanied and limited.
…the new fragment of truth is more wanted, more adapted to the needs of the time, than that which it displaces…
Marx’s notion of ideological rule will also be briefly considered, as its relation to popular conceptions and majority opinion is relevant to the concluding discussion on drug use.
But first, an outline of the relevant aspects of Mill’s thought.
Mill was largely concerned with individual freedom and the threat of its being encroached by the state or—more emphatically—the majority, the latter being, in essence, dominant popular opinions. Contra Rousseau’s notion of the general will (in which “the vote of the majority binds the minority” , and which is “always rightful and always tends to the public good”, disregarding “private interests” ), Mill repeatedly stresses that the general will must be kept in check. If it is not, there is danger of society itself becoming tyrannical, of the “tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling”. Essentially, Mill’s concern lies in the notion that majority opinions can pull in and intimidate minorities, hindering minority opinions which are essential to the refinement of truth, and to the expression of free thought in general. The force of majority opinion can be observed all over the world, where all kinds of minority groups—from sub-cultures to political parties—are seen to hold ideas considered “perverse”, but which are often of far more value than is popularly considered. Without said consideration, many opposing opinions are thoughtlessly written off and disregarded, which not only damages the victorious opinion through exposing its inability to defend itself against an opposing view, but augments that popular opinion in such a way that it is in danger of growing into a ruling dogma.
Here we can make a slight comparison with some of Marx’s ideas.
Marx put forth the proposition that people are subjected to the ideas of the ruling classes because they do not have the means to express powerful counter-ideologies. The ruling ideology represents “the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas” ; that is, “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.” Similarly, Mill recognises that “wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interests, and its feelings of class superiority.”
Both Mill and Marx recognise the ideological domination of the upper classes, though perhaps to different extents. The popular conceptions of drug use in the modern age are no exception to the rule of majority opinion. Generally, it seems that the lower classes are seen to be more associated with substance abuse than the middle to upper classes; furthermore, this is generally interpreted as a decadent trait, frowned upon by those who believe they know better, but who, of course, are often addicted to legal drugs like coffee, alcohol and cigarettes, but do not consider themselves so. As will be discussed later, this is largely due to a lack of information available on the specifics of drug culture.
But to continue: Mill stresses that one must be responsible for any actions that are seen to affect society, but concerning oneself “independence is, of right, absolute…” Essentially, one is sovereign over one’s own body and mind. Mill later qualifies this statement, noting that others may be affected through one’s individual actions. This slight ambiguity proves difficult in the case of recreational drug use, as the point where personal use can be seen to affect others has not been clearly defined and such a definition is no easy task; nonetheless, it is not a task which should be neglected or overlooked, especially considering the prevalence of many drugs in the modern world. It seems that consciousness-altering substances—which have been in use for time immemorial—and the human propensity to alter consciousness, which is arguably as natural as eating or sleeping , are not something that can be easily stricken from the list of basic human liberties.
It is important that Mill sees knowledge as relative and as such rejects universal ideals and divinely inspired morality, or dogma. Humans are “progressive beings”, whereby external forces are only necessary when there is a concern for others. As a utilitarian, he is largely concerned with pleasures and pains, arguing that these, as well as the means by which they are required, eventually become peoples’ primary ends. Such pleasures are found in societies that exercise a comprehensive form of liberty, whereby there is “absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral or theological.” Furthermore, in such a society there is no silencing of opinion whatever; such silencing is “robbing the human race”, including the silencers themselves in that a portion of the truth may be lost in the very act of suppressing opinion. In sum: “All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.”
Mill also declares ages “no more fallible than individuals” and considers truth to be perpetually affected by persecution. The modern age, it appears, is no exception. Rarely today do arguments consider extreme cases, as Mill would have had it ; but rather, many laws and general societal issues presently seem directed towards a lowest common denominator. This, of course, has some prudential merit, but has been excessively and blindly applied to many areas of law. Societal opinion reflects this attitude and has grown customary and uncritical in many matters, including recreational drug use; it is rarely considered that, as Mill states, “He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice.” Rather, it seems that custom is not only vigorously defended and aimed for, but has even become an accepted part of developmental education: rarely is questioning custom in order to refine one’s opinions and progress as a human being—as part of a progressive society—an accepted aspect of healthy learning.
According to Mill’s paradigm, it must be assumed that a safe form of personal drug use should be allowed. This, of course, must take into consideration any form of drug use which affects others, and there is certainly a complexity to this issue which calls for much consideration; nonetheless, one should be free to experiment under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, not only have “the right circumstances” been stricken from consideration in many cases—that is, through legislation—but the illegality of many drugs has stripped individuals of their freedom to experiment with their own bodies and minds, or deemed them criminals for doing so. Obviously, an argument advocating the free use of mind-altering substances is laden with complexities well beyond the scope of this essay, but in short: every drug should be treated in its own right, with consideration for the various relevant properties pertaining not only to the drug itself, but to the user. Like alcohol and cigarettes, which are both legal killers, many illegal substances should be treated objectively and with the relevant scientific, medicinal and spiritual research firmly in mind.
It is important not to bypass Mill’s statement that actions should not be as free as opinions regarding other people; but it is also important, in this topic, to stress that he advocated practical diversity and the application of “different modes of life”. It is evident in modern Australian society that recreational drug culture is not accepted as a way of life, but rather is frowned upon by the majority as unquestionably perverse, dangerous and to be treated as an illness to be cured—and, of course, criminal. But consider Mill’s account of human genius, whereby the genius is considered “more individual than any other people” and is of utmost importance in the progress of society. Many people admire genius in their day-to-day lives, particularly artistic genius; and it goes without saying just how many artists have been inspired by drug experiences (the 1960s counterculture movement epitomises this). Many people, it seems, have been drawn in to the majority view that the generic category “drugs” is and always will be detrimental, despite being ignorant admirers of drug-infused creativity. The actions arising from such drug use has produced creations that will likely be forever admired.
The stigma surrounding drug use seems to derive from one of Mill’s primary concerns: a lack of fierce discussion and debate. As such, the general public’s attitude toward drug use has taken the form of dogma. Of course, like many other issues such as alcohol and tobacco ingestion, there are elements of potential harm to drug use. However, the very fact that “drug use” is frowned upon is evidence that the issue has not been comprehensively discussed; that is, the epithet “drug” has been blindly applied, rather than each substance being separately addressed and perhaps most importantly, conveyed to the public in such a way.
Considering the fact that many people harm themselves and others with legal drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes (the latter being, essentially, the sanctioned poisoning of populations of people, seeing as it is commonly understood that poisonous chemicals are in the product), it is completely inconsistent that other drugs are so ruthlessly outlawed due to the same fears. Furthermore, the prevention of information and scientific research heightens the potential for irresponsible use by those who choose to use these drugs. And again, the fact that these substances are forced into underground markets creates not only the loss of tax revenue (on the money being illegally circulated), but also the loss of taxpayers’ money in law enforcement costs arising from the underground criminal drug trade.
Mill states that the whole meaning of truths “cannot be realised until personal experience has brought it home.” How many of those who legislate have any more than a vague, biased notion of what, for example, psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms actually do to a human being? It is easy for conservatives to stand back and condemn substances; their opinions are, of course, set in stone—there is simply no need to re-address the legal status of something which has been, largely due to ignorance and naivety, deemed “dangerous” to the user and those around them. But this is exactly the kind of embedded dogma that Mill warns us of. Unless information is gathered and made public, there will forever be a naïve attitude towards substances and the laws will inevitably reflect this closed approach. Advocates for the prohibition of substances simply have not taken on the counter arguments, leaving the issue in limbo while populations grow increasingly misinformed or ill-informed about psychoactive substances.
A slight revival in psychedelic research perhaps tells us that there are in fact benefits in this field. For example, the first scientific study of LSD with human subjects in thirty-five years (since Albert Hoffman’s work) was recently undertaken in the UK with the aide of private funding. The subject of the experiments was the nature of the creative process in relation to brain chemistry, as well as the possibility of use in psychotherapy. Again, LSD, cannabis and ecstasy have been used to treat conditions ranging from anorexia to anxiety, as well as psilocybin to treat those with chronic substance addictions. The organisation MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has looked into the use of LSD to treat anxiety related to terminal illness, as well as MDMA for psychotherapeutic benefits. Although these studies have proved completely safe when undertaken with care, there have still been considerable bureaucratic pains in establishing them.
Even if there were absolutely no usefulness for such substances (which I would argue is simply not true), there should still be ongoing discussion in order to strengthen and refine existing ideas. It is becoming a well-known fact that legal drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes are bigger killers than many street drugs, which exemplifies the ignorance inherent in present authorities’ attitudes towards drug use in its entirety. There can be no strong contention and thus no refined knowledge of substances if they are banned outright, even for medicinal and scientific purposes. Furthermore, the aforementioned legality and consequential proliferation of legal substances like alcohol and cigarettes, which are arguably more addictive than, for example, psychedelic drugs, points to ulterior motives within the parties that control drug legislation. Again, the concept of Marxian ideological rule comes to mind here.
The issue of recreational drug use and individual liberty has only been briefly addressed here, and much needs to be discussed in order for progress to be made. Perhaps what is most important about Mill’s thought in general is that, regarding any given societal issue, he sees progress in the reconciling of opposite ideas to form a fuller, more comprehensive and updated truth. This is reminiscent of the basic form of Hegel’s dialectic—thesis, antithesis, synthesis —, of Marx’s seemingly fallacious account of historical progress. The idea remains highly relevant, especially in a world where opinions are so ruthlessly pitched against one another, without the consideration that a portion of the truth is likely inherent on both sides; a world where egos tend to block the way to a reasonable, open and pluralistic approach to the pursuit of dynamic knowledge. None should be shunned due to popular conceptions deeming their ideas perverse. Society still strives to free individuals from limitations placed upon them by both the state and popular custom, both of which remain formidable forces barring the way to true and ongoing individual liberty and societal development.
Campbell, D, ‘Scientists study possible health benefits of LSD and ecstasy’, The Guardian, October 23, 2009
Ebenstein, A, Introduction to Political Thinkers, 2nd edition, Thomson Wadsworth, 2002
Engels, F & Marx, K, The Communist Manifesto, trans. S. Moore, Penguin Books, London, 1967
Frood, A, ‘Can Illegal Drugs Help Depression?’, The Sunday Times, August 23, 2008
Hencken, R & Yazar-Klosinski, B, ‘MAPS International Clinical Research: the Year in Review’, Entheogenesis Australis, no. 2, 2011, pp. 7-10
Jacquette, D, Cannabis: Philosophy for Everyone, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010
Marx, K, ‘The German Ideology’, in J Rivkin & M Ryan, Literary Theory: An Anthology, Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1998, pp. 250-255
Mill, JS, The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women & Utilitarianism, The Modern Library, New York, 2002
Mill, JS, Utilitarianism (Including Mill’s On Liberty and Essay on Bentham and Selections from the Writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin), William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1962
Rousseau, J-J, The Social Contract, trans. M Cranston, Penguin Books, London, 1968
Russell, B, A History of Western Philosophy, Touchstone, New York, 1945
Wilson, F, ‘John Stuart Mill’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007, retrieved 1 June, 2011,
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Who would have thought
that a time would come
when I could only communicate
Yet here I am, trapped,
—have I lost my Reason?
I float everyday;
I am fluidic,
dynamic and in flux;
never any thing,
I am the wisp of air
that leaves the dead
—because how could it be otherwise,
when I have seen the stars?
This-morning, upon waking,
I remembered that I had left my body
and hovered vertically above it;
I thought I was stuck.
But I am stuck only in verse
—and how onerous it is,
to be so stuck.
What a concept!
A good author, surely,
would have been inspired
to create a fitting prose piece…
May. As-well. Be. The. Town. Fucking. Drunk.
Hear ye, hear ye!
I am inebriate, eternal;
I have realised my oneness with all things
and now, I will drink to it.
Such sorrow from he, who is stuck
I always wrote so well this way,
and was proud because
there was never delay.
The hands would work magnificently,
irrespective of state of mind.
But then, at dawn on that dire day,
I was no longer charmed
These days are an ongoing sigh,
short-lived high after short-lived high.
No one external to the poet,
really knows; and my doubts
have all become certainties.
I am lost, sick, intoxicated:
I am alone, torn, isolated and elated:
I am The Dynamic God, embodied within:
I am the calmer days, before I was stuck,
My brother and sister
—already blessed in this, the ultimate moment—
what should they think?
They will see me always,
tangible as a glass jar,
each tick of a tick-tock clock,
diminished and disposed of
by real moments;
by that which is,
and always is so.
I am now only words, well-ordered;
Divine Verses, sprawled out
across the bed, the mind afloat
above the body,
yet both the same, as always;
and both with endless hands,
holding endless hands,
We are all stuck,
for we are all,
Thursday, April 7, 2011
to view the world as a dying kind
while revelling in sacrifices that are
so blind to the mind's eye.
Not a call to arms,
just a reminder: you do have two,
and a mind that melts like hot glue
when that big hand squeezes that big trigger
and ejaculates slowly into your head,
so you feel cosy and neat on the inside
and fall asleep in absent euphoria;
in a dream until (if ever) you wake up...
Is there a reason that I cannot help
- despite my best efforts to switch to 'optimistic mode' -
but see, all around me, as if in glee,
people who could have been (so much) more?
Scrap the tags: the years, the months,
the milliseconds, career-driven monks ;
something is so surely amiss.
I swear; could it be; surely it is:
a vast, vast, gross, gross
THWARTING OF HUMAN POTENTIAL;
automatons shuffling around and about the place,
believing with such vehemence
that they're O-so free!
and O-so not in need of a sharp tool,
(used only by fools)
to cut away that great, beastly portion
(a joke, of course, but you know it by some such name)
'Don't tell me, no, don't ever tell me, that I am not free;
who are you to see, with your eyes so squeaky-clean?
Fuck you, little boy; there is a consensus here,
and who are you to wash my shoes?'
Like an over-battered fish,
but still squirming around on the inside;
a great body of water gurgling
at the back of many a mind.
Taken aback by such contempt, such marvellous pre-emption,
the hippies, queers and other circus clowns
fold back up into that square;
the smallest one, before you can simply fold no more...
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
that birds of Self awaken, and sing.
The dreamscape, be it sweet or sullen,
pervades the quasi-sleeping mind
in its most potent form
with rhythmic, tribal beats;
a rainbow of perception, of sound.
and the conscious state of waking
the mind is wiped of its waking indigence
and a new freedom kicks in.
It is a world not before visited;
euphoric, like earth’s fruit,
it makes the mind dance on pillows, with no shoes.
At first, there is no control
and the dream-state roams untamed;
but later on, with training of the mind,
one can fly and bound in lucidity
and sing as they please.
There are no boundaries in the dreamscape,
it is an ultimate fantasy world of which you are the grand creator;
the megalomaniac at the wheel,
dangerous, but immortal like the snake
eating its own tail.
Stares at the lane markings on the road,
the road signs, illuminated by his headlights
and with them he reflects:
On sex, on love, on craving and hate;
the speed limit on the freeway
and on driving itself.
Human must drive, to rid himself.
He has been told that all he must do is exist
—is this too much for him?
He cannot handle it.
Feeling the surrounding darkness sprinkled with lights,
Another million words, another series of minute actions.
I’m poor again, with a thousand dollars.
I left my soul in the car, but it’s made its way back to me before
So I’ve got sweet nothing to worry about.
A movie, a book, a photo;
The rain fell, made sounds as it did so
And then dissolved into the earth (or went back up).
Here is another Saturday, then another Sunday:
I feel less fulfilled than the last
And the one before that too.
Family’s still there, friends still there;
Job, still there.
Regulated behaviour, also still there.
Droopy eyes on a sullen night
But it’s Friday, not quite the weekend;
But it’s Friday, it presages the weekend.
Time, still there (as abstract as it might be).
Awareness of scheduled life, still there.
Fight off stomach pains early Saturday morning (still there);
Stare at walls when emotionally induced immobility kicks in (also still there);
Walk aimlessly and think of evil things,
Evil things that might help.
Another weekend: still there.
The agonizing derivative of a dead or dying culture;
Of a loss of contact with the unknown
—the Dead Mistress of archaic times
(O, sweet maiden, how we miss you so...).
We have a dead pre-history;
But not in a temporal way.
It is a lost influence, with many answers;
It is a loss of consciousness
Which we have failed to detect
—even with our sonar pulses.
This is not subjectable to new technology.
It is not as though one can actually see God.
At a loss, we adhere to whatever is given,
To anything that is made to exist for us;
But below the surface level, She lies sleeping
—but not dead.
Sweet Mistress, let me feel your gentle palm,
Resting between my eyes.
Let me absorb what it is that you have given,
But what Human has failed to take.
Contemplation: another weekend.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Speculation as to the origins of the numinous mind, namely what it is, how it came about, what it meant for the human species, and so forth, will be briefly discussed and critically evaluated in this essay. Numinous figures such as the shaman and mystic will also be referenced in order to understand the impact their practices have had on the evolution of communities and human life. Altered states of consciousness, including psychotropic induction, ritual dancing and posture, will also be explored so as we can determine what these practices and their effects may have meant to primitive communities, and what they mean to humans today.
Before commencing the discussion, I think comprehending the nature of the numinous mind can be aided by the distinction which Kant makes between phenomena and noumena: the former opposes the latter, which derives from empirical experience, but manifests as “an emanation of the necessarily non-encounterable thing-in-itself” (Mulhall 1996, p. 25). Put more simply, the numinous is that which is behind empirical experience, which we cannot experience directly due to its nature, but which is inextricably linked to phenomena. This distinction is, I think, exemplified in the practices that are going to be discussed and explored here.
Oubre (1997, p. 111) defines the numinous mind as signaling “a collective projection of the unconscious, an emergent property of mind or consciousness as it achieves increasingly greater capacities for abstraction.” She goes on to note particular individuals who acted as culture-accelerating agents via their societal roles, assisting in the mind expansion of other members of the group (Oubre 1997, p. 111-12).
In its primitive origins, the numinous mind served as the seat of abstract thought, whereby the sacred could be reached and potentially have an effect upon the profane. Note Oubre’s use of the word “unconscious”: what is contacted by the numinous mind is not, she argues, a part of the conscious mind, but rather an “other world” in which spirits, demons, and other numinous forces, all of which are outside of direct human control, reside. In a way redolent of Jungian collective psychology, the taming of these forces could very well have corresponded to the quelling of individual or community conflict in primitive peoples; thus, in addressing and successfully neutralising these forces, the most efficiently organised religious societies could have benefited from their beliefs in very profound ways—namely, in providing them with social cohesion. This would accord with Durkheim’s contention that religion (and assumedly the numinous mind) cannot be an erroneous phenomenon; it has proved efficacious in integrating individuals into a community and thus, in a sense, must be “grounded in and express the real” (Durkheim 1995, p. 2). Despite a high level of contention, the beneficence of religion throughout the history of the human race can hardly be denied: it is the failure to consider the diverse and dynamic forms of religion that leads to a general censoring of “religion” in modern anti-religious groups. From a general failure to appreciate this diversity, an ignorant approach will necessarily follow.
The shaman (and proto-mystic) has “a longer history than do any other spiritual figures in the human lineage” (Oubre 1997, p. 112-13) and is found in the vast majority of primitive cultures, “from the Australian aborigines to the Jivaro Indians of central Ecuador and Peru to the Yakut tribes of Siberia”, the latter of which is where shamanism is known to have originated (McKenna & McKenna 1975, p. 9).
The figure of the shaman has been variously described as a visionary, capable of entering other-worldly realms of experience (Drury 1982, p. 2), as a “great master of ecstasy” (Eliade 1964, p. 4) and, intriguingly, even as harbouring symptoms comparable to those of the modern day schizophrenic (McKenna & McKenna 1975, p. 19). These varying takes on the shaman are but a few, and obviously overlap in describing the function of this spiritual leader. The fact that he has been compared to modern day schizophrenics is particularly notable, as it seems to have important implications regarding the status of the more “magical” numinous elements in modernity. What were once regarded as imperative spiritual practices, used for medicine, healing, hunting and many other communal needs, are now interpreted as the symptoms of mental illness. This type of temporal distinction could, I think, be applied to more than just this particular manifestation of the numinous—the same comparison could be made with the ritual use of hallucinogenics and as they were used in the nineteen-sixties, or the way that certain superstitions remain prominent among many non-religious people, despite their often having no rational grounds for believing in it.
Comparative analyses aside, clearly we have quite an important spiritual figure in the shaman, one who confers with forces that most cannot access directly and through which he gains wide-ranging knowledge which can be shared with or bestowed upon the community. This is a prime example of the numinous mind at work—perhaps the numinous mind in its most stripped down, undiffused form. What the shaman practices can be seen in its collective form in modern-day world religions, albeit in a far more diffused, less magic-based, and indirect way; there is contact with the sacred realm from the profane realm (often through a mediator in monotheistic traditions), which can be seen (if we consider Oubre’s mention of the projection of a collective “unconscious” above) as contact with the unknown parts of the self or community. This is, perhaps, where religion becomes so efficient in binding people together.
The collective numinous mind can be seen to have created as well as balanced the sacred-profane divide, utilising it as a source of communal nourishment – but has it done any more than just consolidate groups of people? Has the numinous mind, as Oubre suggests, contributed to “the biological evolution of the human brain” (Oubre 1997, p. 13)? This is, of course, not something that can be easily proved, if it all. However, like any evolutionary theory, I think its plausibility needs to be considered in light of any supporting evidence.
The relationship between the capabilities of consciousness and the biological bases of such capabilities is integral to this line of argument. Oubre (1997, p. 113) argues that in proto-humans, symbolic thought created an augmented intelligence, which required the refinement of the central nervous system, as well as encephalisation. The phenomena associated with numinous thought could thus have contributed to human biological evolution.
In any argument of this kind, we get stuck in a “what came first” cul-de-sac: did humans acquire symbolic thought through biological evolution, or was biological evolution a product of symbolic thought? For example, human speech is clearly advantageous for human communication and progress (and, it has been argued, literally shapes our experience of the world), but whether the physical capability to make guttural sounds, produce noises and eventually words, was developed first, or whether the physiology evolved in response to human efforts to articulate themselves aurally, seems incredibly difficult to determine (not researched for this article).
Another possible group of evolutionary contributors involved in Oubre’s evolution of the numinous mind are psychotropic drugs: an important facilitator, it has been argued, in bringing about the varying potentials of symbolic thought, which in turn could have contributed to numinous development. I do not think the role of these agents as catalysts can be overlooked, especially considering their prominent shamanic and ritualistic use. Anyone who has taken a drug of any kind – especially “mind-altering” or “consciousness-expanding” drugs (psychedelics/hallucinogenics) – has most likely experienced unpredictable thoughts, ideas and imaginings. These are elements which are, generally speaking, not reproducible in normal experience – they form new experiences of consciousness, reality, etc., the origins of which is debatable (much like dreams). Obviously, such experiences vary according to the substance taken and the subjectivity of the taker – this cannot be overemphasised.
Drury (1982, p. 10) observes the frequent usage of psychotropic drugs in shamanism, with naturally occurring psychedelics such as datura, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms being used to gain access to other realms. He goes on to note the interesting fact that common themes have emerged from various yage (ayahuasca) experiences in South America, namely: aerial flight, dizziness, visions of ornate cities and the experience of the soul flying into the participant.
The power of such drugs need not be described further; such experiences appear to be creatively limitless and vastly interpretable. This is a clear point of interest in the development of the numinous mind, particularly in evolutionary terms. Oubre (1997, p. 148) brings to light the fact that early humans ingested hallucinogens both as a religious practice as well as inadvertently, and argues that these “surrealistic and visually heightened experiences in turn would have enhanced their perceptual acuity, thereby rendering them especially susceptible to noetic or inner symbols” (Oubre 1997, p. 150). This is supported by Terence McKenna’s bold (but nonetheless considerable) “Stoned Ape” theory, whereby our primate ancestors gained access to the numen via the ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms (Oubre 1997, p. 149).
An important supporting observation to these ideas is the use of medicinal plants by both early humans and primates. Oubre (1997, p. 148) refers to the ingestion of datura by baboons in order to rid themselves of parasites. This tells us that hallucinogenic effects were most likely experienced not only by early humans, but also by pre-humans. This supports the correlation between numinous thought and biological evolution in that there are clear evocations of symbolic thought in the primitive shaman, which are arguably enhanced by the ingestion of psychedelics; if pre-humans also had these experiences, whatever symbolic thought they already possessed – even if it was barely existent – would be drastically affected by this expansion of consciousness. Evidence exists that suggests that some animals may even be drawn to altered states, such as birds flocking to consume intoxicating berries (Oubre 1997, p. 152); this, in turn, suggests that pre-humans could have been drawn to the transcendental experience and thus, one could reason that this experience must have had some evolutionary benefit. Representational imagery and symbolic thought inherent in hallucinations may have facilitated hominid understanding of the physical world and it could be argued that the propensity to achieve these experiences is innate (Oubre 1997, p. 153). The prominence of alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, cocoa and other drugs in modernity is an obvious piece of supporting evidence for this argument, as well as the psychedelic explosion of the nineteen-sixties and the modern revival in ethno-botanical interest.
Other methods to achieve such altered states may have also played a role in neural evolution, such as meditation, chanting, drumming, dancing, prayer, contemplation, and so forth (Oubre 1997, p. 150) – all methods which are, interestingly, still prominent today (and legal, unlike many psychotropic drugs), but which are notably less efficient than psychotropics. We have here an array of perceptual alterations, each induced to achieve transcendence of regular consciousness and each still practiced in the modern era – some of which are still strongly related to religion in its varying forms. I think there is an undeniable link between the two and that, in some ways, religion and altered states are interchangeable in their functions. Each can be experienced as either escapism, or a retreat from the world and projection into a different, “better” world (note the many “world-rejecting” religions). Again, both can serve to bring people together, forming cohesive societies and communities. Perhaps most importantly, religion and transcendence, in its many forms, do not look like becoming extinct anytime soon, again bringing to mind Durkheim’s argument.
In the religious experience we have an abundance of symbolism and a strong link to a religion’s respective numinous/sacred worldview. The relevance that the evolution of the numinous mind has to religious thought is that without it, religion would simply not exist; its development allowed for symbolic paradigms which earlier on may have been quite primitive and “uncivilised”, but which grew into socially effective belief systems, capable of envisaging all-powerful beings and forces. I think there is a strong argument to suggest that psychotropic drugs, ritual dancing and chanting, and the practice of shamanism could have – and most likely did have – profound effects for the evolution of the species; defining these effects has been one of the challenges of this essay. The re-birth of mind-expansion and orgiastic/ecstatic states in the sixties seems to have been an attempt to reintroduce “spirituality” into an increasingly “godless” world, where the numinous connection to the unconscious had begun to fade. It could be argued that with the advent of globalisation, the immense technological advancements of the twenty-first century (global intercommunication, portable interconnectedness, etc.) and the debatable corruption of many main-stream, world religious groups, today’s world is that godless world, a world in which “we have stripped all things of their mystery and numinosity; (where) nothing is holy any longer” (Jung 1964, p. 84). However, the numinous mind seems to be persisting in its various forms, its function proving necessary even in today’s vastly superficial, increasingly westernised world.
Drury, N 1982, The Shaman and the Magician: Journeys between the worlds, Penguin Books Australia, Camberwell, VIC
Jung, CG 1964, Man and His Symbols, Dell Publishing, New York
McKenna, D & McKenna, T 1975, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching, HarperCollins, New York
Mulhall, S 1996, Heidegger and Being and Time, Routledge, London and New York
Oubré, AY 1997, Instinct and Revelation: Reflections on the Origins of Numinous Perception, Gordon and Breach Publishers, Amsterdam