Besides blogging, and writing books, I am guilty of writing a monthly column for the online magazine The Meta Arts (www.themetaarts.com). Although the month of December is nearly over, the column for December 2010 may be of interest.
The opposite to madness
On the day after the mid-term congressional elections last month, I asked the guys upstairs for their take on the situation and, as usual, got more than I expected.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
6 AM. So, looking at things from a non-physical perspective, what do you think of the intellectual and emotional currents that played out in yesterday’s elections? Not the sort of thing I usually ask you.
[TGU] What makes you think so? Who do you think you’re talking to when you’re talking to yourself?
Nobody, I would have thought. Nobody but myself.
[TGU] Yes — and you’re such an indivisible unit, right?
Hmm. That’s a thought. I just got that when we talk to ourselves, it could be looked at as our calling various elements of our mind into consciousness so that they can experience the moment together and allow an interaction to take place.
[TGU] It’s another example of holding things together in RAM and processing them, which changes all the ingredients.
Makes us one big Mixmaster, doesn’t it?
[TGU] That’s what you do your whole life. That’s how disparate strands at the beginning of a life become (or don’t become) something of a unit by the end of the life. If in the course of your life you actively think about things, and associate this with that by living them consciously, by the end of your life they are no longer separate elements, but one.
Bearing in mind all the distortions caused by the “time” analogy, etc.
[TGU] Of course. And if you re-read what we’ve seen so far, you’ll see that the analogy is integrally connected to all of it. It just can’t be helped.
You mean, I think, that any time we think of two or more things at the same time, they get tied together in our minds, regardless what we’re doing with them. We may be building a logical chain of thoughts, or we may be connecting memories or we may be associating various things by one process or another, but whatever we’re doing isn’t as important to this process as just the fact that we are considering them together.
[TGU] Close enough. And your lives will tell you that things that are done repetitively acquire a stronger bond. They become ever more of a unit within you. And not just ideas and thoughts. There are emotions involved, and emotions are the strongest factors welding things together. Things, no matter how unconnected or even antithetical, that are welded by a common emotion become units impervious — or anyway highly resistant — to being dissolved. You can see this politically.
Go ahead. I was wondering if you were going to ignore the original question.
[TGU] One salient feature of politics is how emotions are expressed through the ritual of political campaigns followed by voting followed by preparation for the following campaign. It has been observed that what the Nazis loved to do in Germany was campaign, even though (or perhaps, we suggest, because) the elections themselves were meaningless. It was the glimpse of something beyond the personal — the participation in something huge and grand, such as Joseph Smallwood got in the army — plus the sense of being at Armageddon and fighting for the Lord, to quote Teddy Roosevelt. None of this has anything to do with logic or economics or, really, with fact. It has to do with emotion.
A nation that lives in abstraction loses its sense of reality on a personal level, or rather, personal life becomes unbearably oppressive, solitary, meaningless, and ultimately fear-ridden. Only apocalyptic visions connect emotionally to people in such a state.
What is intellectual madness is sometimes emotional necessity; you might even call it emotional sanity. If those millions of Nazis hadn’t had the Nazi party to coalesce around, do you think they would have somehow become sane? It took numbing catastrophe, played out over many years and ending in entire external defeat, before that demon lost its grip upon the German people. And how did it lose its grip? By the process of the entire destruction of the social conditions that had fastened it upon them psychologically before the Nazis ever took power. (Indeed, it was that situation that allowed the Nazis to take power.) Had it not been the Nazis, it would have been the Communists, and had it not been them either, it would have taken some new form. It had to emerge; it had to take a body.
The way to avoid the Nazis in Germany and the Communists in Russia would have been to have removed (or never put into place) the conditions that called them forth. The only opposite to madness is sanity. The opposite of social pathology is social health. Wilhelm Reich was closer to the truth here than nearly anyone in Europe. If he and Carl Jung could have collaborated, something even more historic than what they did separately might have resulted. But that was never in the cards, of course.
To return to our elections —
[TGU] The disconnect between people and government is wider every day, and the alternation of parties and ideologies does not interrupt, but heightens, the process. This is as it must be, because the cause of the discontent is not political; hence it cannot be healed by political action or movement. And it certainly cannot be healed or even papered over by “communication.”
I have been saying, lately, that in retrospect we lost our government in 1963, and we are living through the progressive stages of disempowerment as they ripple through the structure.
[TGU] That’s one way of seeing it. Another would be that the Roosevelt-Truman-Eisenhower-Kennedy era — a little more than 30 years — was an interruption rather than a trend. Johnson and Nixon were sort of aftershocks, but the first four were the main wave. Government and the people were linked emotionally, regardless of political opposition. Even when people disagreed with policies — even vehemently, even with hatred — still the link was unbroken, beneath the level of individual consciousness.
The assassination snapped it. So did the Civil Rights movement. So did the Great Society. So did the Vietnam War. So did the various protest movements called the counter-culture. First right than left became alienated from the government as representative of themselves, and now you are seeing the result of 50 years of it playing itself out, to the point that pretty nearly nobody really feels represented by government, especially at the federal level. The machinery is too large, the application too cumbersome, the levers of power too obviously rigged.
In a condition of perceived powerlessness come frustration and fear, and these are very powerful emotions linking in people’s consciousness whatever political and social ideas and attitudes they may have. Thus, as you have observed, right-wing and left-wing websites and news sources increasingly have the same tone, the same slightly hysterical, shrill, self righteously certain tone. They’re all at Armageddon fighting for the Lord. Makes you wonder who’s fighting against him, doesn’t it?
I can’t see anything to do but stay in my own world while the dinosaurs fight it out. But it makes me feel guilty — thinking of John Lewis, for example, whose biography I read yesterday.
[TGU] When you don’t have a clear task, it’s better not to try to find one or carve one out arbitrarily. Do what you feel called to do. The more people who do that, the less fuel for the fire.
Meaning, I take it — hold your center.
[TGU] Politics and ideology and government have their place in life but they are not any more central than physical life is central to life seen whole. Just as living in 3-D is important to life but is not all of it, so politics etc. is important to 3-D life but is even less of life than 3-D life is of overall life.
To confine things to your everyday social reality. The forces that people are feeling are real forces that will be experienced and translated one way or another. How they become translated is less important than that they become translated. Your keeping your center assists the process.
11 AM. Come to think of it, I think I hear you saying that election campaigns keep people out of trouble. Rather than generating all that hatred as it appears, perhaps they merely channel it and keep it within bounds, partly by giving people the next election to look forward to, partly by keeping it in a well-defined us-and-them relationship rather than letting it become more free flowing and perhaps generally antisocial.
[TGU] We’d hardly say “instead of.” It is true, what you just said, but it is at least equally true that politics is failing to do these things; hence the rising anger and the inability to compromise or even listen. The fear has risen to smothering proportions, drowning out reason or faith. Thus you see people developing seeming split personalities. In their personal lives they are reasonable and able to love. In their impersonal lives — when they are being driven by fear and cartoons — they are unreasonable, implacable and unable to love or even tolerate. If you cannot see that this is people under the influence of first one then another set of strands, we’ve wasted a lot of your ink!
No, I do see it. Is there a cure?
[TGU] Fewer real things to fear, fewer chimerical things to fear, fewer elements of life that seem isolated, fewer causes for substituting someone else’s judgment for one’s own. Or — or — conscious decision to live in love.
Which isn’t going to come from politics.
[TGU] No, but which could transform (and defuse) politics.
Where is it going to come from?
[TGU] For black communities in the South 40 years ago, it came from the churches. Can you see any equivalent today?
White churches seem to be centers of reaction and fear.
[TGU] Or hotbeds of rest. So where are you going to look besides within?
I don’t know.
[TGU] It can only come from people physically associating as people, the way churchgoers do. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything. Nothing coalesces without some central gravitational pull.
Well, I just can’t imagine what it would be. We don’t do anything communally since that damned television was invented.
[TGU] Then a new means of people coming together — and we don’t mean virtually — will have to develop. The need will manifest it.