TGU — describing the world

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

5:20 a.m. Yesterday’s speech patterns were hard to follow, at times. My fault? Your fault? Merely the difficulty of the material?

Mostly the latter. Attempting to preserve relationships among so many elements to be considered can be difficult. Intuition and perseverance will bring you to the meaning, though. Words as sparks, not as description.

To the degree possible. Okay, I left myself a note: “The objective reality of the weather we live among. The world not primarily in relation to us.” And even my own note seems cryptic this morning.

However, “cryptic” is not “meaningless,” nor “impenetrable.” So let us begin there. To examine the world as it exists, rather than as it exists in relation to you, or to us, is more difficult than you might at first think. That is what science thinks it is doing, of course, examining what it thinks of as the inanimate world – everything from nebulae to geologic strata to subatomic particles. But the danger has been the temptation to divide the world – to divide reality – between living and dead, just as it divides the living between aware, or conscious, and not, and then between self-aware and not. One can do quite a lot of useful work of analysis that way, only, the basis being wrong, a systemic bias will run through every conclusion, every investigation, every division of reality into comprehensible parts.

You mean, I think, science will thus accumulate facts but not truth.

Well – not the truth, certainly. Particularly, not the truth that there is always deeper truth to be found that will entirely invalidate any way of thinking (including this one) if carried far enough. Knowing the limits of the possible is the beginning of the process of broadening the area included within those limits.

So let’s look at the world in its own terms while remembering that we are intrinsic to the world, yet it is also not all about us (non-3D, as well as 3D, obviously, since, we remind you, they are inseparable in fact, if not always in analysis).

How do we do that?

How does religion do it? How does mythology do it? Take those two approaches and blend in how science does it. What do you get?


As you often say, very funny. What you get is an approach that examines oneself as part of a greater whole, without pulling the center of attention back to oneself. So, if the world was created by God and man was placed in the garden and the counter to God, the adversary, stirred up dissention – that is a story that accounts for the world without making it “all about us” and without making it “all about everything but us.” Or if the existence of the world is taken for granted and the various forces in the world are personified in the inhabitants of Mount Olympus, again we see an account that describes the familiar passions, discords and difficulties of our lives, and ascribes them not to an individual’s failings or marred nature but to the effect of our living among the gods and the consequences of the actions of the gods. So, Eris, the goddess of dissention [discord], doesn’t even think about humans, but humans are plenty familiar with dissention, you see. These are two ways of describing more of the world than the scenery, so to speak.

Science describes the setting, while religion or mythology describes our inner life in that setting?

No, a scientist might say that. For that matter, many religious or philosophical thinkers might think that. But that is a product of the initial wrong division of the world, you see, the division into “this” or “that” rather than “this” and “that.” Carl Jung would not make such a mistake.

Should we invite him in to make his own statement?

Called or not called, Jung, too, will be here. [A play on Jung’s inscription on a stone that said, in Latin, “Called or not called, God will be here.”]

Very funny. Okay, Dr. Jung, would you like to comment?

Societies with an active religious awareness need no science of psychology. It was the poverty of the Western imagination in the 19th century that led us to begin to carve a way out of the dead-end in which Western civilization found itself. Freud and his pioneering work almost had to come from a non-Christian source – it led out of difference from the taken-for-granted mythos of Christianity, you see, even if what passed for Christian thought had lost its vitality in our time. For me, a non-Jew, to join that movement enthusiastically was somewhat daring, looked at conventionally. This may explain to you why Freud adopted me so whole-heartedly, and why when our basic fundamental differences forced us apart, he regarded it as personal betrayal. Freud’s cultural background was Jewish, though he was not observant. Mine was Christian, though I was not observant. For a time our mutual pursuit of the unknown truths we were glimpsing held us together, but then our backgrounds limited the relationship, and this is not understood even in your time.

In your time, to speak of Jewish or Christian is considered bad manners, or bigotry, or primitive thinking. Therefore there are things you cannot see, because the unnoticed screen [in front of our vision] allows you only limited slots through which to peer. But you may turn that to advantage if you once set aside the screen—resolve to exhibit bad manners, or display bigotry or ignorance, if that is how people will take it, and see what is.

It is not anti-Semitism to see that Jewish culture is not Christian culture, as neither are Islamic culture. To pretend that different things are not different is to lose the ability to deal with them. At the same time, it is not helpful to oversimplify in the other direction. A Jew in 19th century Austria is not the same person as a Jew in 20th century America, nor in 21st century America! You are (as we were, as everyone always is) mixtures of cultures within you. Ethnically, you are one thing (or many things, depending upon how mixed your physical heredity). On a soul level you are other things, depending upon who and what you have been before this life. And on a social level, you are something else.

I got the sense of that as, if my ancestry is Italian (as it is), with whatever unsuspected strands that may include, and my other lives include sojourns in England and India and Egypt, etc., and that mixed body –soul heredity is placed in mid-20th century America (as it was), the result is not going to be very typical of any of the three elements considered separately.

Yes. You are not stereotypes, and neither are you tabula rasa. Life is more complex than it is sometimes thought to be. And this is what I have to say on this topic. Consider three strands of influence – your body, spirit and soul contributions to the being that is you now – and from there look at the world you try to understand.

“Soul” in this case meaning, I take it, our life as placed.

Yes. Your physical heritage is one thing, a matter of genetics. Your spiritual heritage is another, a matter of your original composition as modified by past decisions (or, one might less accurately say, by past experiences). Your soul is less a heritage than an ongoing contemporary experience: It is the thing that is you, as it expresses here and now.

Did we go off on a tangent, discussing ethnicity, etc.? Was that leftover business for you, given the accusations of anti-Semitism made against you?

What would a tangent be? The straight line may be the shortest, but it is not the most comprehensive. To see various aspects of things, what you may consider tangents may be very helpful. That is to say: Use your background, don’t apologize for it, or ignore it, or think it irrelevant. (How could any aspect of your life be irrelevant?) And therefore use the same process of analysis on whatever you examine. Freud was more than a European Jew in a secularized tradition in middle Europe – but he was those things, and how can you understand him if you do not take into account his background? I was the son of a Protestant minister who had silently lost his Christian faith. If you don’t know about my father, if you don’t know I was a Swiss peasant as well as a European scholar – how can you know who I am?

I realize, this still seems to you to be digression. But it is not. It is, rather, preliminary clearing of the ground. Careful study of new material will do you little good if you insist that it fit into your accustomed framework, most particularly if that insistence is unconscious, hence not under your control.

Hmm. So when we do resume?

You haven’t exhausted the topic you proposed this morning.

Everybody’s a comedian, even you. Okay, our thanks as always. Mine particularly. It has been a while since we spoke.

As you know, the resources are always there, for you, for anyone, only the interest must be there, and not only an idle curiosity.

I do know. Thank you.


One thought on “TGU — describing the world

  1. Thank you again, Frank for sharing these with all of us.

    I particularly resonated with what Jung said. It seems that lately the party lines are that people of different backgrounds are very different from each other or that people are all basically the same (depending on which party’s perspective we choose). The both-and feels more true to me.

    I liked the first part, too. What I took from it is that stories, myths, and such, give people a chance to see a wider perspective because we identify in ways to the characters without ourselves being the central, “only-important” role in it. If we tell the story of “what the world is” from our own personal perspective we stay stuck in our own lens or filter. When we follow a myth or religious story, it has relevance to us because we can identify with qualities in multiple characters. This spreads our focus out. We feel we are involved (so it has relevance to us), but we are not as locked into the lens of our own self.

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