This is the first blog in a series discussing the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
After watching Morbius, I felt flat and bloated like I had just downed a Family Sized Package of Cheetos too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Morbius’ origin story!
The movie is well acted, well executed, and has superb special effects… just as we have come to expect from a Marvelous Marvel Movie… or should I say, just as we have been conditioned to expect?
Perhaps that’s it, Marvel Movies are entirely predictable. In the past 20 some years, they have become perfectly formulated to meet popular tastes. Because of this, we know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to expect it.
Marvel Movies run on well worn tracks of success. Yes, a few have been busts, but on average, Marvel Movies make $715 million dollars per movie with at least half of this gross-income, which means it goes right into the pockets of Robert Iger, CEO, and the Disney-Marvel Cinematic Universe. This has been the case since 2009 when Disney brought Marvel Cinematic Universe from Ronald Perelman who formerly use to pocket the bucks.
The Marvelous Marvel formula has evolved to include hooks and lures about how each newly rendered Marvel character retrieved from the Marvel vault and brought to life on screen will met up and team up with other recently revived Marvel characters for the next Marvelous Marvel movie.
Heck, soon the different Disney universes and their characters might begin meeting up with Marvel, or ever perhaps as, Marvel characters to fight off the bad guys.
Perhaps like this super cool new chic: Tinker Bell Die Hard Predator Ape?
Hell YEAH… this might actually BE interesting!
Marvel Characters Are Archetypes
We adore Marvel characters because they are archetypes. They speak to things deep inside of all of us: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Stuff that is really, really hard to speak to each other about in our overly average, highly regimented, very repetitive work, work, and more work worlds.
Mostly we don’t talk to each other about this stuff. It is so much safer (and let’s face it, it is so much easier) to be superficial with each other.
That’s what the movies are made for! Right?!
Movies give us an emotional release and a little freedom from all that stuff pent up and building up inside of us. The stuff we don’t or can’t talk to each other about, at least not on the deepest levels where our wounds usually lay. These are deep interior layers that we can seldom reach without self-expression that can lead to self-realization, if we allow it.
This is what archetypes partly do for us. They help illuminate things inside of us that are vague, mysterious, troubling, or even exhilarating. But things that are hard to put our finger on because they are inside of us and we can’t see them with our eyes. We can only feel them or try not to feel them when they bother us too much.
Archetypes are mental models that give shape and perspective on the shadowy, nebulous, unsettling, fuzzy states and feelings that can overtake us. They do a lot more than this, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to how archetypes provide man with mental models on how to handle and act to feelings rising inside of him and all around him in other people.
Ever since Marvel’s founding in 1939 by Martin Goodman, which was then known as Timely Comics, the characters have been giving shape to man’s collective shadowy feelings and showing us possibilities on how to channel and handle our dim, indistinct inner worlds in our shared outer world.
In 1951, Timely Comics became known as Atlas Comics. It is not until June 1961 that it transforms into the franchise we know it today as Marvel with the launch of The Fantastic Four.
Ever since its beginning, Marvel characters were created to meet a moment. They emerged from the fabric of that time and in the spaces of what was happening in the country or world at that moment. Their creators invented characters who could met the demands and uncertainty of the times in which they were created.
I am sure each creator imbued their characters with the super powers everyone needed at that moment to survive mental through the demands, threats, and catastrophes of the times. That is what archetypes do. They provide strong mental images combined with stories that imbue inspiration, hope, and courage into the hearts and minds of real people who need to meet real life challenges as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
CharacterDate Created Creator(s)
Sub-Mariner | 1939 (Build up to WII)| Bill Everett
Human Torch | 1939 (Build up toWWII) | Carl Burgos
Angel | 1939 (Build up to WWII) | Paul Gustavson
Masked Raider | 1939 (WWII & shifting economics) | Al Anders
Phantom Reporter | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics)| Robert O. Erisman, Sam Cooper
Black Widow | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics such as women working to build war machines and bombs) | George Kapitan, Harry Gahle
Vision | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Captain America | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Black Marvel | 1941 (Intensification of WWII) | Al Gabriele
Uranian Boy | 1950 (First atomic bomb drop 1945) | Stan Lee, Russ Heath
The Fantastic Four | 1961 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
The Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Red She Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Thor | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Spider-Man | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Steve this time)| Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Iron Man | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck
Doctor Strange | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962) | Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Black Panther | 1966 (Civil Rights Act sign 1965) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
-- See full timeline at Wiki
I think you get the idea.
So, What’s Wrong With A Little Marvel Time?!
There is nothing wrong with a little Marvel time.
The issue is much more subtle and pervasive than that. It is not so much that we go to the movies to watch great, big, spectacular dramas that take our minds off our worries or give us a joyful jolt of non-reality.
The issue is rather what we are not seeing when we go to the movies, especially the really BIG blockbuster ones that are highly formulated and super monetized to capture our time and attention.
These blockbuster cash cows act like somewhat steamrollers crushing the competition and funneling more and more money into the pockets of billionaires who own mega conglomerates that control the content and production of multiple franchises and merchandise.
And guess what the mega billionaires want you to do?
They want you to go to see more of their movies and buy more of their merchandise so they make more money.
And we do exactly that… and each time we do, they grow even bigger!
If you’re wondering why Marvel movies all look alike, it’s because of us. It is the way we are choosing to consume them.
I recently learned more about this from Terry Gross’ interview with Lucas Shaw, who is in charge of Media and Entertainment at Bloomberg and writes the Screentime newsletter. He’s the one who made me aware of how much content Disney owns!
But there are a lot of other big Media-Entertainment Titans operating out there too and all of them want to get inside our heads and tickle away some our money that we make working highly automated jobs that require at least 8 hours of our days, 5 days a week.
Sadly, despite popular opinions, most of us do not work in our Dream Jobs! Indeed, most of us must go through the motions 8 hours days doing very boring, tedious, monotonous work. So who wouldn’t want to break free and escape into a Marvelous Marvel movie when it comes out?
But that might be exactly what the super rich want us to feel and react. They can make money from lots of bored people who need to escape from their dreary, mind-numbing, mechanical lives with a Fantastic New Movie!
And, hey wait, you can also escape and feel just like the movie characters feel by buying this splashy new watch or this brand new fancy car or this mouthwatering, very pricey dress. And of course you need the latest technology to go along with all this! You want to look modern don’t you?
All these fancy, enjoyable costly things are there to help you escape from your boredom and ease your burden of living highly repetitive, unvarying, humdrum modern lives.
Lucas Shaw tells Terry Gross how the movie-TV-streaming business is becoming one super long ad promoting consumerism, capitalism, and merchandising by the new Titans of Industry.
SHAW: You know, Barry Diller, I feel like, has been declaring the death of Hollywood for a long time now, so I do take what he says with a little grain of salt. But he's right that the growth of Amazon and Apple, which I would say are now two of the six major studios in town - you know, they've replaced some of the other ones that have been consolidated in the deals that we've talked about - entertainment is not their primary business. And it speaks to maybe the lesser value of traditional film and television in broader culture, where it - so does the fact that YouTube is now bigger than any TV network, that if you - that TikTok is as popular as any streaming service.
You know, film and TV doesn't have the same stranglehold on culture and on youth that it used to. And it's - if I were running one of these traditional media and entertainment companies - running Warner Bros. Discovery, running Disney - it would certainly scare me that two of our biggest competitors don't care about making money from film and TV in the same way because it means that the stakes are lower. The approach is going to be different. And entertainment is just a means of selling something else - in Amazon's case, you know, diapers or books or whatever it is; in Apple's case, phones and other devices. -- FreshAir, July 20, 2023
So my take away from this conversation is that the purpose of movies, TV shows, and streaming platforms are increasingly veering towards a focus on how to keep viewing audiences glued to a particular station-conglomerate, so it can make more money–be that ads, subscriptions, or the super cool merchandise they make, create, and sell.
The Hollowing Out Effect of Money
This hyper-focus on making more money is a major force in hollowing out many Marvel characters. You can read about the reasons why 16 actors are talking about quitting or leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.
The Marvel universe seems to be becoming more one-dimensional and cartoonish as the focus on making another blockbuster and capturing the vast majority of the market take precedence over story. This focus on money has a watering down effect on the characters, making them feel less real, less vibrant, and less inspiring.
They are losing their numinosity, which is what archetypes hold for us. Numinous content gives our lives meaning, content, and purpose. Without numinosity in our lives, we feel drab, automatic, and mechanical.
But maybe the mechanization of man is one of the very objectives these new Titans of Industry seek to create inside of us.
If we are continually feeling unimportant, unremarkable, and unnecessary in keeping the clogs of industry running in the world, then we need to compensate for our super small roles in society.
How else can we wake up each morning and go out to do our boring, repetitive jobs?
So a good Marvel Movie is a great antidote to not feeling like a machine!
But, don’t get too caught up in the marvelousness of a Marvel movie! That would be going too far in our highly mechanized modern world.
If you do happen to believe Marvel characters are real and you look up to them and draw hope and courage from then (like any good archetype should do), then you will get laughed at because we are not really suppose to identify with them anymore. They are simply entertainment.
We watch them, then we get up the next day and go back to work to make some money so we can go watch the next amazing Marvel movie coming out soon because there was that little teaser at the end!
Another troubling result of the Marvelizationof Man is that Marvel movies are impacting how other movies are made or even more importantly, NOT BEING MADE.
With great big, super blockbusters with BIG special effects (like Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar), more and more people only go to theaters to see these on the silver screen. They don’t show up for the “other movies” being made and trying to survive in an increasingly one-dimensional entertainment universe.
Basically, every studio wants a piece of the action in this “shared universe” business.
But it’s hard to argue that any of them have been as successful as Marvel has.
This effect is drying up the field of creativity for the creation, production, and life of other types of movies that deal with difficult but really important stuff such as Women Talking:
The women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Though the backstory, we see a community of women come together to figure out how they might move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children. Stay and fight or leave. They will not do nothing.— Official synopsis
Or like the Fabelmans:
Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
It is lpLoosely based on Spielberg's childhood growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, from age seven to eighteen, a young man named Sammy Fabelman discovers a shattering family secret, and explores how the power of movies help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. —Toronto International Film Festival
He also encounters antisemitism and bullying, which is a very important issue that deserves far more airtime in our current culture and polictical climate.
Or going back even further to the time of radio like Suspense: Report From A Dead Planet
Another thing that struck me while watching Morbius is that really talented actors are playing pretty superficial, very simplified characters.
Matt Smith for example is the villain in Morbius. He is great as the villain, but his performance leaves me feeling empty. He is a really talented actor! Why don’t I feel more from his performance in Morbius?
Because I’m not supposed to?!
His super villain in Morbius is pretty vanilla compared to his roles in Season 1 and 2 of The Crown, The Last Night in Soho, and my all time favorite The Doctor of Doctor Who.
Also, Jared Leto who plays Morbius struck me as a super talented actor as well. I haven’t seen him before. He does a great job playing Morbius. In fact, he imbue more life into Morbius than the role allows.
Tarantino previously said that he would not want to direct a movie for Marvel Studios for the simple reason he is “not a hired hand.’ As someone planning to direct just ten movies in his career, and with only one of those to make up the number, it is probably not surprising that the Pulp Fiction helmer would want to concentrate on his own ideas. When it comes to the MCU, the director says that the franchise does not contain any “movie stars” as the characters are all people want to see. He said:
“Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is… you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times, you know, but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.” -- Quentin Tarantino Says Marvel Actors Are 'Not Movie Stars'
PUBLISHED NOV 22, 2022
Quentin Tarantino has been vocal about his feelings regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like he isn't quite done yet.
I will still watch Marvel movies.
But I will seek out and watch more different movies that leave an impression in my psyche and make me think about the world in ways I might not have before.
I will continue to gravitate to movies where BIG ideas are explored rather than BIG action but increasingly hallow characters dance across the screen.
I want something that satisfies my imagination and feeds my psyche, because feeling alive and not like small cog in a BIG machine is important to me, and only I can change my perspective and the way I feel about things.
Stories and movies feed my imagination so I can feed and grow my soul.
Stay tuned for this series because I am going to go deeper into the effects and impacts of living in our super consumerism society on man’s mind.
For now, maybe the Oppenheimer-Barbie movies will provide a reprieve from the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
I made all images with Genolve using AI generated images, specifically Midjourney, this time. So I am just listing the songs used in the above animations.
Feature Archetypal Animation: Nowhere but Up |  Break the Chain 4:53
Recently, I found out that I really hate the word hierarchy. I came to this conclusion after arguing with an old, ex-Facebook friend about “functional hierarchy“.
I fundamentally don’t believe any human hierarchy can withstand the corruption of thought. It is thinking too much that has gotten the world into the predicaments it is in, thinking is not the God it once was, and it is not going to get us out of our messes.
We are like 10 billion baby birds clustered in nests of endless thought and thinking, and we are terrified to fly. This will make sense if you keep reading! But before dropping into the underworld, you better watch this Mother video!!!
This whole convoluted conversation happened because of a very simple question I asked about a diagram this particular man made about Transformational Change.
In the graphic he posted, I noticed there is no pathway for what to do if people don’t agree on the type of Transformational Change needed or on how to implement it.
So, I made the following comment:
On the outer circle of Discuss & Agree... what happens when you Discuss & Disagree or even further have Conflict?
Without this other very real possibility included in a realistic way, this is a closed-circle of "Liked-minded" thinkers who will grow smaller and smaller in their shared beliefs and ideas of Transformation, which they may conclude: "Needs to Be Imposed on Everyone Else for the Good of the World."
So much trauma and cycles of destruction, reprisals, vendettas have emerged out of Closed-Systems of Thinking ending in "Do Gooder" agendas.
What do you think?
Well, maybe I was alittle too provocative and Alan Wattsy in my comment when I ask about Do-Gooder agendas. He probably has no idea what I mean. But, as you will see, he assumes he knows what I mean… but he has no clue.
What I am referring to is explained simply in this video:
His response to my comment is as follows:
true. Which is why this model aims to 'transcend to THEN include'... the ethical commitment to acton behalf of the whole.
Can you show me a model where informed democracy is addressing Overshoot? No... there is, unfortunately, a functional hierarchy which needs to honour those who CAN see more, sense more, grok more, on behalf of the whole system/social field. This is only part of the process
If interested you might find more here (it's a link to his website...)
GULP! Now, I have a whole bunch more questions!
Really, he has made a mental model thatCAN identify people who have transcended and these people get admitted into some governing body who will make decisions and act on behalf of the whole?
Does this mean, the whole world?
Does it mean all the misfortunate survivors of the coming catastrophe that is going to destroy most of mankind …pick your catastrophe:climate change, nuclear war, AIs take over the world; they do this because they were given instructions by a Do-Gooder programmer desperately trying tomake the world safe for all life, so the AIs decide that humans have to go to make the world safe for more lifeforms.
You think I am exaggerating?! Then, you better listen to the Godfather of A.I.s as we know them today. He cracked the code for how the human mind works and implemented his understandings to machine learning. And did you know machines hallucinate? Well, the intelligent ones do! I think this is utterly fascinating!
I also know that this guy (and many others in his circle of friends on Facebook) fervently believe the world is going to collapse, and it is going to be God awful, so we better have a plan.
Knowing this, and assuming I survive the collapse, what if I don’t like this transcended group of people who are going to jump into action with their plan to save us and ensure only actions that benefit the good of us all are implemented?
And Grok?!! Really, is this like Mork (where is Mindy?). Or is Grok more like super Geeky?
Whatever it is, I don’t think I want anyone grokking for me.
I should have given up the ghost at this point, but I was stupid and engaged further saying:
Ah yes, functional hierarchy like what we see in the Good’Old USA or Russia sure is showing the world how much more they see than the rest of us can see on how to make the world Great again!
I say this tongue and cheek but without allowing for conflict even on the highest levels of hierarchy, I just don’t see how the human race is going to be doing much transforming any time soon, except maybe some fizzy bubbles on the sides of spaceship Earth
By the way, I could have also brought up China’s ambitions, North Korea’s ambitions, India’s ambitions, Saudi Arabia’s ambitions, and the newly incorporated states of mind and ambitions of Trump & Company, Elon Musk & Companies, Zhong Shanshan & Companies, Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault & Companies, and the list of corporations who make more money than most countries GDP is endless. But, I didn’t want to overwhelm him.
He responded with gusto! Writing the following response:
At this moment I've just watched a program on Al Jazeera on Black Lives Matter, and seeing (one of) the deep dysfunctional divisions in the US - the US is in collapse (see Umair Haque or Chris Hedges) [OH?!! Thank God this guy knows something I didn't know! Thank God We're going to die!], and will continue to split apart along these and other fault lines as biophysical reality gets harder to cope with (with climate change and ecological collapse and resultant economic collapse - which is already happening).
These divisions are caused by competing for identity (and survival) at a level less than that needed for the higher-level collective identity - in the words of one commentator the 'more viable future' would be 'a multiracial society that can live in harmony'.
I need to interrupt here. This guy has just made a huge pivot and is lecturing me about my own country! I live in the United States of America. In fact, I live less than 5 miles from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.
Now, I’m not putting Al Jazeera down, but since I live here and I must navigate these competing “identity issues” every day, I think I know a little bit more about them than he does or a single documentary can cover.
In fact, I’ve made a few documentaries myself about these very divisions and dysfunctions.
Here are just a few of them:
Whew! I bet you thought I’d never stop listing them!
Back to ex-FakeBook friend’s comments.
When I refer to 'functional hierarchy' I mean the sort of hierarchy that every natural ecosystem has - nested, holonic, and operating on behalf of the whole AND with diverse individual yet interdependent autonomous beings. In nature this animate intelligence expresses itself through co-evolution and within the higher 'goal' of 'life'.
AH!!! The baby birds! I bet you read this far to see what the 10 billion baby birds in nests is all about! It’s about this comment.
First of all, I bet this ex-friend doesn’t know that being a baby bird in a nest is the most dangerous time of a bird’s life. It is a time of flightlessness that make baby birds vulnerable to all kinds of threats--crows, squirrels, snakes, cats, even wind.
The best thing for a baby bird to do is grow up fast and get the heck out of the nest!!! And have you ever looked at a nest after all the baby birds have left? I have! It’s full of poop!!!
I am not very impressed with his responses so far and started to do my own research on how to run a country or run a bunch of survivors after a great BIG disaster.
I quickly find based on his reference to nests,which I think he wants it to sound NATURAL, that he really doesn’t mean ‘functional hierarchy‘ at all — if he is really talking about a natural system where there is lots and lots of diversity and autonomous living beingswalking about and doing their thing, then he is talking heterarchy; full stop: NOT hierarchy.
I found an article rather quickly in Forbe’s about all of this and this article led me to Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles. I will talk more about this later. But clearly my ex-friend has never heard of Philip or his book.
Also, before moving on to the rest of his comments, let’s dig into this word holonic:
It is also a fundamental theory of machine learning. So, we are back to the end of the world by A.I.s!
Who knows, he might even be the Do-Gooder programmer who writes a well intention code to save as much diversity of life as possible that ends the human race because the AIs determine we are killing life faster than we are preserving it.
And the last thing I want to know: has he talked to this animate intelligence himself?!
How the HELL does he know that this thing or being has a higher goal and that the goal is life?
First of all, I know he doesn’t believe in God, but this is sounding a lot like a God with goals who is going to Make Something Happen!
This an important clue to his thinking, and it provides a glimpse into the Mega Myth he fervently believes runs the universe.
This myth is The Fully Automative Model. This short Alan Watts tells it best!
Alright, I’ve digressed enough, so back to his comments:
In Human systems we most often have structural hierarchies, with power-over dynamics. We DO need ways of inviting (creative) conflict across difference to discuss the options in front of us; and a functional Democracy is meant to assist that process. And, it can... but often at a level that is removed from the emerging future realities of biophysical collapse.
Wow — I’m so glad he pointed this out to me. I would still be thinking humans who live in great BIG civilized systems still gather around one GREAT BIG camp fire singing Kumbaya to solve conflicts!
Is he possibly admitting that there should be an arrow in his diagram for conflict?!!
We could have ended this entire conversation right here!
But wait! He goes on!
If democratic representatives were aware of the biophysical realities within which all their ideas and creative options are nested (functional hierarchy) then perhaps they might make collective decisions in mutual interest at levels required for what's coming. Unfortunately most people are ecologically illiterate and removed from nature so they don't realize that their current comfort levels and assumptions of entitlement, and fear of others taking them from them, are threatened by bigger, more encompassing forces (that will affect everyone) that will cause massive suffering as whole systems collapse.
Fine, these are overly broad generalizations that basically paint a picture that pretty much every human being living in a civilization on Earth is an illiterate, fearful, comfort-seeking coward with entitlement issues. If he wants to define nearly 10 billion people on Earth in this way, he’s not all wrong, but neither is he all right.
In making all my documentaries, I met and talked with so many motivated, well-informed, highly intelligent people who had profound ecological awareness and were not sitting home eating Cheetos! Rather, they were getting on a buses at 3 a.m. to get to marches happening in Washington, DC on Climate Change, Science, Gun Violence, Trump, Lies, and Black Lives Matter.
Perhaps he’s simply mansplaining again. But he still has more to say:
My point about 'transcend' is that only people that understand this can see which futures are no longer viable. That does not mean they 'know everything' - but it does mean they have a different worldview. They cannot guarantee 'the way' to go - there is no single direction. They can however point to many of the non-ways to go, because of Universal Harms that would and do threaten Universal Interests - not just the vested interests of any particular group that sees 'others' as the biggest threat to their identity and wellbeing.
Oh goodie! Transcendence! Yes, I really want to know more about what he means by transcend!
But, Hmmmmm… there are ONLY a select group of people who can understand this? My father was a pastor. My grandfathers were pastors. My great grandfathers were pastors as were many of my uncles and cousins… and you get the picture… I have been steeped in the language and imagery of transcendence.
What he describes is not transcendence. It’s intellectual arrogance, which is super creepy. At least he recognizes he and other transcended individuals might not get it right and cannot guarantee “the way to go“.
I remain highly concern about how power and authority is being ranked and sorted in his System of Transformation.
How is this really complicated human issue of governing itself in ever bigger and bigger systems of humans going to decide and select people to serve on this “functional hierarchy“? How in the HELL are they even going to recognize Transcended individuals?!
First of all, I don’t think you can recognize transcended people. In fact, for thousands of years, human beings typically tend to kill people who have transcended, in other words people who have become Holy.
Why do humans kill Holy people? Because Holy people scare the crap out of us regular, run of the mill human beings.
And why is this? Because Holy people are Whole people–they have fully integrated their Light and Dark sides, their Good Side and their Evil Side, the Savior and the Devil. This is not my idea. This is a very ancient idea as expressed by Alan Watts.
So, if you think you are a bunch of highly intelligent Transcendedpeople, you probably aren’t. But if you take the reins of ruling a great big bunch of humans, and you believe you are a transcended bunch of bloʊks, then you are eventually going to have to decide who lives and who dies.
Running huge human systems is not for sissies or for people who are squeamish because Nature makes LIFE and DEATH decisions every day, and if you think you are a bunch of Transcended humans running things like NATURE does, then guess what!?? You are going to have to make these kind of decisions too.
If you don’t,Kaboom! Another disaster! Overpopulation, perhaps like The Mote in God’s Eye, which is a science fiction novel by American writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, first published in 1974.
This story is about human beings first contact with an intelligent alien race. How exciting, except these aliens are more intelligent than humans and they keep something concealed from the humans who are trying to decide if they are friends or foes. The thing they are hiding is population issues…really, really serious population issues that have caused this ancient race of intelligent beings to rise to spectacular heights only to crash back down into primitive savagery again and again and again… something they call Cycles.
Such big and complex decisions required to run an advanced, intelligent civilization (regardless of whether they are human or aliens) depends entirely on what is being valued by the group and by who wants to do the running of things.
How is this any different than what is happening in the USA, in Russia, or in any hierarchical system on Earth? In fact, how is it different than how corporations, cities, towns, non-profits, and pretty much every modern, technology-using human system (and perhaps even intelligent alien system) are deciding how to run things?
If an intelligent group of beings decides to run things by a hierarchy, then they have to decide first on what they value. Based on these values, a ranking is created that determines how the hierarchy will be structured.
In other words, the values selected determine who will be placed on top of the pyramid to give to the orders and who will be placed in the middle and bottom of the pyramid to listen to and follow the orders. Another way of seeing this, is that the people in the middle and on the bottom (everyone who are below the ruling class) are the ones doing the work to hold up the agreed uponvalues.
Everyone–this includes rulers, managers, middle managers, bosses, workers, and through much of human history, slaves–assumes the mold of the Functional Hierarchy. Another way of saying this is that every person assume a role that holds the mold, which operates constantly in the background of everybody’s mind who lives in the system. This operating system provides unconscious instructions sort of like an algorithm, which are a set of rules to be followed or calculations to be made to solve problems encountered as the system operates through time.
The mental model of a pyramid is a powerful system of thinking. Indeed it is machine-like. It can be cold, calculating, and extremely brutal, perhaps this is why humans are so found on hierarchies, regardless of if they are functional or dysfunctional.
However, whenever (wherever) humans create hierarchies to run things, lots of people and things don’t make it to the top of the pyramid because they simply don’t fit into the desired values of the “functional hierarchy” (something humans created based on arbitrary ideas and values). The people and things(living beings) that get left outside of the ideal are automatically de-valued. Clearly, something important is being left out, being ig-nored, by the very ideas necessary to create a Functional Hierarchy.
Let’s see if he answers or addresses any of these concerns because so far he has not. But he’s also not done explaining (or should I say mansplaing):
In our approach we don't create 'safe-spaces' where everybody stays in their comfort zone. We create 'safe-enough spaces' where people are challenged. From our website Glossary: (his website again and another diagram)
“Safety is not the absence of threat—it is the presence of connection.”
– Gabor Maté
We use the term to describe spaces where we can have challenging Courageous Conversations about difficult topics, involving rigorous inquiry from multiple perspectives, and still hold space for “respectful belonging” where we can appreciate one another as we live the questions together.
Part of our approach is to hold people 'safe-enough' while challenging them not to collude at levels less than the biophysical system dictates is needed - ie. face reality and live the questions, together, in Universal Interests... and, yes, you are right to be cynical, for it is virtually impossible from this starting point... especially in the US at present.
Hmmm… I don’t really have a problem with all this mulling about safety and safe enough and challenging people. But he is not providing a tangible way of doing anything differently than what we are already doing in the world with all our hierarchies, functional or not!
And, WOW, he is really putting the USA down! I never knew he hated Americans so much!!!
So, once again I press on when I should have stopped writing this:
So how do you select people: "that understand this can see which futures are no longer viable."
How do you ensure all peoples, the ones still asleep in the safety of civilization and the people awaken to the the coming collapse, are represented in the decision-making of the 'functional hierarchy' (I don't think you used functional previously, but that is beside the point)... who gets to decide what is functional and belongs in a human hierarchy?
Might it not be our very own overthinking of every problem and solution digging us all deeper into the pit of collapse?
And who is "our" in approach? Is this the synthesize of your years of deep thinking and consideration, which is considerable and done with empathic intent, or are there others involved in the "our"?
And, you did not mention Russia or Putin? How does this transcendent approach handle this situation? Or is this Western propaganda at work blowing up the situation in Ukraine?
One quick side note on overthinking and/or clinging to an idea or a thought when clearly one should have let go of it long ago. When a person does this, the idea or thought tends to grow smaller and smaller.
This is because the process of thinking presses the LIFE FORCE right out of an idea or a thought. The more the LIFE FORCE is removed, the less and less alive the IDEA is inside ones mind, or should I say the MORE DEAD the IDEA BECOMES.
Every single person who is born into Western Civilization is trained to do this from the day they are born. It is essential they learn how to do this and to do this all the time so that they stay in the social order, the social hierarchy, regardless of it is a functional one or not.
Alan Watts and many of great sages of Buddhism speak a lot about the need to let go of our ideas and patterns of thought and beliefs. They encourage us to fly, not to cling to dead and dying thoughts that make us do ignorant and increasingly crazy things. Once we outgrow our ideas or learn something new, we need to let go of them and move on with the flow of all things living in time and are alive.
Now, back to his thoughts and thinking:
...thanks for engaging. First, re 'functional hierarchy' I did mention it
I don’t think until this point he knew who I was, and I hit a nerve for sure: a functional nerve! In his original invitation for Transformational Change anyone, he does not mention functional. That is what I was commenting about. The first time he mentions functional and hierarchy is in his first comment to my original question. And his answer to that question is what made more questions in my mind.
But, he goes on:
"Can you show me a model where informed democracy is addressing Overshoot? No... there is, unfortunately, a functional hierarchy which needs to honour those who CAN see more, sense more, grok more, on behalf of the whole system/social field. This is only part of the process "
There’s the Geeky Grokking again. And the inference that some human beings are better than and more advanced than others, in what precisely?!
If you read it as hierarchy then you probably didn't see my point... it is a naturalfunctional hierarchy - which many debate, but which does exist, based on maturity, capability, consciousness levels and activation (or not) of human development potentials - NOT a constructed human hierarchy (like an imposed boss/ servant relationship - with power over).
OH WOW! He says it again, it is a natural functioning hierarchy! Which apparently should make all the difference something like what Simba discovered, right?
But, no, my ex-friend is not talking about a Natural System because he is dividing and cutting it up into all sorts of categorizes by using labels such as maturity, capability, consciousness levels and activation. This is what the thinking mind does; it cuts up reality into little tiny bits then messes them up, so we can never put it back together again…just like Humpty Dumpty or at least not as long as our selfish, self-center, fearful, greedy human minds are in control of the narrative.
And, he’s still not done mansplaining. So maybe there is still something in his explanation that won’t make the hairs stand on my arm.
Here he goes! Hold onto your steering wheel:
That said, people are, despite their best wishes and hopesNOT equal [I don't disagree with this, but please...] every parent knows this... you don't force a kid who can only crawl to walk before they are ready (or at all);[Well... duh!] yet you can assume they have the potential, and, if they see others doing it, will one day also do so - where does the leadership example come from...? Another younger kid? An older kid? An adult? [Ah, perhaps here's the natural functional hierarchy...you age into it? Is this what he's implying? Well, I take issue.] Hence we need to be careful NOT to assume people don't have 'potential' while also recognising that not everyone has actualised it yet - that's why we generally don't let kids drive trucks. [Haha -- he hasn't been to the USA! Here, we can do anything at any age!]
OK!!! Full Stop!!! We’ve got to explore this explanation a little bit more!
Hmmm… maybe babies can drive trucks!
And what if the evolution of mind runs in reverse to the evolution to the physical body?
I’m a MOM! I’ve raised a baby! Yes, my baby crawled, then she walked, and now she drives a truck!!! It all happened exactly as he says…LOL!
But, I don’t think WISDOM grows that way. I think on the Mental-Spiritual realm (this gooey, sticky place inside the human mind where we feel this utterly strange sensation of sentience, something we all simply refer to as consciousness) that growth rather runs in reverse to the body.
As we grow up, we get narrower and narrower in our thinking and focus. We are forced to shut out more and more of the world from our MIND so we can carry out the tasks of daily living (or survival in a manmade world). Eventually, we all get to an incredibly small world views with an incredibly small selection of thoughts, ideas, values that we think explain everything. What we fail to see is we have become a SINGULARITY and we are COLLAPSING in on ourselves!
This sounds terrible, but this is the mental world… not the physical world. This moment of COLLAPSE is the most exciting opportunity ever! It the MOMENT of Transformation.
The thing you got to do when you get to this MOMENT is KEEP MOVING… go man go!!!
Whatever crisis you hit, it’s there for a reason. It is your DOING, your HAPPENING because you want to GROW and TRANSFORM is what consciousness does... it is flowing, it is dancing, it is constantly making new patterns and experiences.
I can’t tell you what your moment of crisis will be or when you will hit it. But if you are human, you’re going to have a chance to thread the eye of your MOMENT IN TIME.
Each of us is born into this world with utterly unique capabilities and potential. Each of us is trying to master innate abilities we have always had, but we forget we have them because of all the training we get into HOW TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN.
Don’t get me wrong! There is tremendous value in this. Going around and hitting other kids over the head is not a NICE way to move through the WORLD (Trump and Putin obviously never moved passed this stage in mental development).
We all want civility in this world. That is how we all live in peace and plenty, but we cannot master our innate abilities without really digesting and integrating ALL the knowledge trained into us on how to be a GOOD CITIZEN and RECKON that with WHO WE REALLY are (and have always been since the day we were born).
Without this reckoning that is really going to feel like a constriction, a tightening and reduction of consciousness, you won’t get to other side of your Self.
If you are paying attention, there is going to a point of crisis in your life that is going to make you question everything. And this is ALL RIGHT! In fact, it is essential.
But, if you are not paying attention (Ron DeSantis, I’m talking AT you), and you don’t want to WAKE UP, then you are not going to WAKE UP. And this is ALL RIGHT too!
The only thing I can tell you if you do hit this point of constriction is:
But wait, my ex-friend is not done mansplaining:
Unfortunately many in politics (such as your infamous ex-Pres) reach arrested development at a level less than what is required to provide systems-ethical leadership for our times. Bully boy narcissism (pick any number of exemplars, globally) is not what's called for when the potential extinction of humanityis the writing on the wall.
[What did I tell you? He is totally into total collapse of our global system...and human extinction. But maybe we deserve to go extinct and resistance is futile, so why suffer the inevitable? It's a collective gamble that we all clearly lost...right?!!]
But this also pissed me off. Not the Bully Boy Narcissism comment, that just made it very obvious he is not paying attention to me or my work (as he pretended to do for years).
If he had been paying attention, he might have learned something NEW because I’ve been writing and posting about all this stuff (some stuff very humorously, some very critical of our ex-President) for a long time.
Basically, my take away from his comment is that he is implying this functional hierarchy is most probably going to consist of a lot of grumpy old men and a few token women who refuse to grow up.
I know this guy from lots of previous engagements, and I can read between the lines, and this is exactly what he is saying.
He is also implying HE is the one who can see further, run faster, and out thinkall the rest of us to lead this NEW functional hierarchy that will save the world from collapse (or after collapse)!
It leads me to wonder just which direction is he and his new functional leaders going towards? Is it truly the “right” direction to be looking or is it just more of the same tangled web of endless bureaucracies we are already stuck in up over our eyeballs already?
So these are some of the reasons this comment really pisses me off.
And also, some of the wisest, kindness, most inclusive people I know are young people. I would totally choose a younger people over jagged jerks like my ex-friend is being here as he defends his fictional “functional hierarchy.“
But, maybe I should still be patient and read keep reading:
As for "who are we when I say 'our'" - I provided a link to 'our' website - And Now What - and this is the About Us page - https://andnowwhat.be/about/ - and, yes, it is the result of "years of deep thinking and consideration, which is considerable and done with empathic intent" by each of us alone, and for several years collectively.
YEAH! Finally! He is addressing the Putin bastard and dysfunctional Russia!
As for Russia or Putin - what can I say... he would not be included in the 'transcendent' because he is, by definition, not aiming to transcend and include (partly my point) but to take-over by force... which, incidentally, also happens to be the way the US generally behaves - and it will continue to do so, for it fears losing the dominance its inhabitants take for granted, and fears what would happen if others behaved toward it as it has toward them.
But, hey wait! That is a huge BIG pivot! WOW, he really hates us. He didn’t even finish his thought about Russia.
I was REALLY hoping to learn something about his thinking on Putin.
Several years ago, back when we conversed all the time, I told him that the most evil character in my book is based on Putin. This was before Putin invaded Ukraine and Trump was cozying up to him like a pussy cat to a snake or is it a snake to a pussy cat or are they really both SNAKE CATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe Putin and Trump mated and mutated!!!!!!!!!!!
He immediately put me down by lecturing me on how Putin is a pussy cat, really he isn’t a bad guy at all, he’s just watching out for his country like any good ruler would do. And, it’s a BIG country he has to take care of and the world isn’t very nice place, especially the WEST. He told me that I was simply indoctrinated by Western media and didn’t understand things accurately.
He kind of sounded like Trump (?!!)in that moment! I have never forgotten his put down. And, it’s probably the real reason I needled him.
But, I have digressed again! Let’s get back to his mighty man-splaination!
So, to be clear - I think you have just pointed to why there needs to be distinction between those who CANthink transformationally, on behalf of the whole system, and those who can only think of their own vested interests or for a smaller subset of the whole (individual, in-group, corporation, nation)...
So, if you had to try to create transformative change that might get the US out of the mess it has created for itself, who would you select? Who would you not select? And why?
I’m fine with leaving Putin out of the hierarchy too… DUH!
But HERE again he pivots and attacks my country lumping the USA in the same dusty coal bin as Putin and his goons.
We are having this conversation, by the way, over the United States Memorial Weekend, which is a time we reflect on the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, especially the ones who died or were injured.
I have 2 Great Uncles who served in WWI, an Uncle who served in Korea, and a brother who served in the Army Reserves. He’s really pissed me off NOW!
And Now What would have happened to the world if the US had not gotten involved in these great wars?
Would he really want a Kim Jong Un ruling over the whole Korean Peninsula? Does he know Winston Churchill begged the US to get involved in WWII? What if the US had just sat on its hands mumbling: “We don’t want to get involved in that war,” as it sang Kumbaya to itself as it pretended nothing’s going on over there?
Yes, the USA has made some really bad foreign affairs decisions. The US has sent troops into places they should not have sent them. The US has pulled troops out of places we have been when they should not done this: Afghanistan!!
What happened in Afghanistan is complicated. How do you define exactly when all the trouble began and how do you define when it has all ended? Was it 1219 to 1332 when the Mongol Empire ruled Afghanistan? Was it 1370 to 1405 when Timur (sometimes referred to as Tamerlane) ruled the land that would become Afghanistan plus a whole lot more of middle Asia? Both Empires are remembered for the barbarity of their conquests.
But that is ancient history, right? What does that have to do with the barbarity of our modern age? Well, have you seen Flee? If not, you should!
If you watch Flee, you may ask Why did the US fund the mujahideen?
Well that’s a long, sordid, complicated story that “began decades earlier, after the Soviet Union invaded that country in 1979. The U.S. wanted to do everything it could to counter the Russians during the Cold War. And so, at that time, the U.S. worked with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to arm Afghan Islamist fighters known as the mujahideen.” — Read or listen to PBS NewsHour and the Former head of Saudi intelligence recounts America’s longstanding ties to Afghanistan
This colossal battle between the two Titans of the Modern Western World, because if you’re going to be a Good Titan you’re going to need a Bad Titan. It has been this way in the human made world for 5,000 years. If you’re wondering why I pick this number, you are just going to have to wait and read my book.
Since WWII, the USA and USSR (now Russia) made so many Nukes if they went to war with each other, the world would descend into a nuclear winter so profound, life as we know it would cease. Something like Midnight Sky depicted:
So instead, the US and Russia poke each other through proxy wars that create a different sort of consequence: Blowback. I am not as stupid as my mansplaining friend wants to pretend that I am, nor are countless Americans like me.
US support of mujahideen created Osama bin Laden who would train Saudi men to fly planes into buildings pulling off one of the worst terrorist event on US soil 9/11. Leading to the US invasion of Afghanistan and hunt for bin Laden.
The Pakistan government has repeatedly denied that it provides any military support to the Taliban in its diplomacy regarding its extensive operations in Afghanistan.82 Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting, Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support. -- Human Rights Watch
Pakistan did this because it served their interests. US stayed for 20 years to encourage democracy because that served our interests. Then, the US pulled out due to a deal negotiated by the Orange turkey himself, Trump, and implemented by Biden, letting everything all come crashing down again, just like what happened to Amin and his family on April 28, 1992, and the USA played a role in this collapse too!
If we are really honest with what is happening in the world right now, it has so much more to do with ordinary, everyday men and women and their individual and collective beliefs, values, and biases than it has to do with a big bad Russia or a big bad USA.
Oh yes, humans know how to cluster together into great, big, bad armies and nations. We know how to build pyramids—Functional Hierarchies–structures that live inside our minds and operate endlessly like algorithmic codes transported seamlessly into our very souls on endless streams of thoughts (conscious thoughts or unconscious thoughts) and also the things we are told we must do or else!
We’ve been doing this for over 5,000 years. Creating human pyramids to get our way in this world; it is a very human thing to do. And it’s worked way too well!
Wherever Amin and his family fled, they had to fear the RULES and CUSTOMS of every country and nation where they had FLED desperately seeking safety… seeking a HOME.
How we treat the least of us is a global issue! Is there any place on Earth where humans have settled that can claim to be completely angelic and benevolent? Is there any nation, state, or city in the world from any time that has always made the right decisions at the right time, always and always and always… like a GOD or an angel?
I think my friend is a bit jealous of the USA’s status in the world because he knows his Functional Hierarchy is just a wish-dream. It is his performance; his great show in the world of men and their endless games of one-upmanships. Yes, indeed these are ships made out of thoughts built like pyramids. These Functional Vessels sail every day to the twin continents of Doom and Disaster.
This mansplayer knows very well where he’s going, and he also knows that he will never captain a ship as BIG as the Good’Old USA. But who cares?! He knows if he crows loud enough, long enough that we all just cry out: Hip, Hip Hooray–for that’s just what we say when another ship sets sail to the Land of Doom or Disaster!
Now, being pretty beyond pissed, I pressed him again:
I don't think you are really talking about hierarchies as how you explain it in the above comment.
Rather you are describing a Heterarchy, but this is your thinking and work, so you are absolutely free to name it whatever you like.
And, the And Now What? team looks exceptional
As for who would I select? There is absolutely no one I would select to form a team to transform the Good'Old USA. There is no way I am in a position to see, understand, or hear all the voices and ideas that would be necessary to do such a thing... this country will either survive or it will die, as things in this world have always done.
And to be clear... I am of the USA... but I am not of the fraction in the USA who are dead set... "to take-over by force" (as you put it) ...the rest of the world. Nor do I "fear losing the dominance" in the world, nor do I "take for granted" that the USA has dominance or that my Whiteness gives me privilege in the world as we know it. And, I am not alone in knowing this... and in the face of the pressure to conform to the Mold, I resist it, as do many others here in USA and as reports come on in Russia, despite the threat of death there, while here, it harassment, lost opportunities, and hate.
I must surmise your opinion of the United States is as low as your opinion is of Russia. I suspect you are implying that the US flows in the very same vein and mindset of World Domination and Control as Russia, China, North Korea, the unincorporated state of Trump, the unincorporated state of Elon Musk, and anyone else with power, authority, or money who can make others submit to them.
But be careful of over generalizing systems. They are always so much more complicated than you can fully see and comprehend. This is why I remain highly suspicious of hierarchies, even highly evolved, functional hierarchies, because when it comes down to it... it is only made up of men (and a few token women).
I might suggest that I am like a very small cell like an antibody reacting and responding to an overwhelming spiritual-psychological-psychic Viral Infection that seeks devastation and to do harm to pretty much anyone who is not on the "inside" of the infection.
And this infection is everywhere, not just Russia-USA, it is inside every human being on the planet, including myself... one can only acknowledge the infection is real, it is deadly, and it will not stop until human life is brought to its ultimate demise (self-inflicted and totally avoidable)...
I find by the way, the youngest humans among us are the wisest and healthiest. If I had to depend on someone to carry me to a safe spot because I ran out of energy (due to fighting against the overwhelming infection that I know is inside of me and everyone else and an infection that I know I cannot by myself overcome) I would choose the youngest among us in the infected country formerly known as the USA.
He responds with the infamous:
When people do this on FakeBook when there clearly is not a sickness, death, despair, or trauma, it means: “Fuck off” … with a smile.
By the way, Alan Watts says the best leaders are the most Selfish! What he means by this are individuals who have thought about what being Selfish means. Alan Watts says it so much better!
Anticipating Mansplayer would not be able to explain to me why I should trust a functional hierarchy to save the world, I did my own research. This is what I found.
Heterarchyvs Hierarchy vs Anarchy
In a hierarchy, if A is over B, and B is over C, then A is over C — your basic pecking order. In a heterarchy, though, you can have A over B, B over C, and C over A. Think of the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Paper covers rock; rock crushes scissors; scissors cut paper. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
“A heterarchy of values determined by the topology of nervous nets.” — Warren McCulloch’s 1945 essay
A HETERARCHICAL SYSTEM In a heterarchy, as opposed to a hierarchy, there is no “top” or “bottom” ranking. However, unlike in an anarchy, there is superiority and inferiority as each element is activated in some circumstances and inhibited in others. McCulloch calls these circular configurations of neurons: “dromes of diallels.”
Copyright Strat for 2016 www.stratfor.com
This is a fascinating article in Forbes: Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time. You need to read the whole thing yourself, if you are interested in this idea, but here are a few parts that really capture my excitement in discovering this word I did not know existed.
Interestingly enough -- and here's where both problems and possibilities start popping up -- this circular logic is identical to what Nobel economist Kenneth Arrow described as the "Voter's Paradox." The problem goes all the way back to the late 18th century when it was identified by Marquis de Condorcet. Consider the case in which one faction prefers candidate A over B and candidate B over C; a second, equal faction prefers B over C and C over A; and a third faction prefers, you guessed it, C over A and A over B. The choice that eventually gets made will not be a reflection of the real preference of the whole society, but will instead result from "irrational" and arbitrary issues like who voted first and who voted last. And over time and subsequent elections, the decision may cycle from one choice to another with no apparent reason. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
Why the quotation marks around "irrational"? Because in the analysis of the relationship between hierarchy and heterarchy, it is precisely the definition of what counts as rational that is at stake. As McCulloch explained:
“Circularities in preference instead of indicating inconsistencies, actually demonstrate consistency of a higher order than had been dreamed of in our philosophy. An organism possessed of this nervous system — six neurons — is sufficiently endowed to be unpredictable from any theory founded on a scale of values. It has a heterarchy of values, and is thus internectively too rich to submit to a summum bonum [highest good].”
Now there is a phrase to conjure with: "internectively too rich to submit to a summum bonum." This sounds like the Middle East. Or the geopolitical, global problematique. Or the Republican primaries in the United States. Or the problems of the European Union.
The problem with heterarchy, and the challenge to making it work, is not the lack of hierarchy, but too many competing hierarchies. And that's the reality we live in. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
"Heterarchy" is an unwieldy word. Our ongoing discussion group on making heterarchy work eventually abandoned the word when one of our members looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and found the definition to be "rule by aliens." That's not what we meant at all. Despite its unwieldiness, and shadows of aliens, though, the term recommends itself for the way it mediates the dialectic between hierarchy and anarchy. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
As Francis Fukuyama showed in The Origins of Political Order, the first hierarchies were imposed by "strongmen" and then later justified by ancestor worship and a priestly caste. From all we can determine, primitive hunter-gatherer bands were heterarchical. Teamwork joining different skills was necessary to bag a woolly bison. But no one leader called for deference to a summum bonum.
With the transition from nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers to larger settlements with agricultural surpluses, patriarchy and hierarchy were required to maintain some degree of order. As my colleague in this space, Ian Morris, argues in his several books, the bargain we humans made with hierarchies might strike a visiting Martian as odd once it compares the life of the unencumbered hunter-gatherer with the lives of later citizens suborned under often onerous hierarchies. But once you start down that road toward hierarchy, from the point of view of defense and security, bigger is almost always better. So there is a natural logic of larger, more powerful hierarchies conquering and subsuming smaller, less powerful hierarchies.
Next thing you know, people are talking about "the American Century," or "the Chinese Century," as if it is perfectly natural that some nation must be number one. I recall an invitation to give a talk at Rand a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The concern at Rand was how to manage a "unipolar world" now that the bipolar order of the Cold War had come to an end. I tried to tell the researchers at Rand about heterarchy ... but they were not interested. There was a mindset there, a hierarchical mindset, that insisted that somebody must be "number one," and it better be us.
You see this mindset at play in the well-worn epithet of the lion as "king of the jungle." Who says that the jungle has to have a king? The jungle is not a political order, however many alpha male gorillas may roam its paths. The jungle is an ecology -- an incredibly complex web of metabolisms, relationships and interactions, some of which may be hierarchical. But there is no summum bonum in the jungle. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
Three Types of Hierarchies
Chapter 25 of Philip Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles. In those 60 pages, Bobbitt develops three scenarios:
As you will not be surprised to hear, these scenarios and their names can be associated with certain geopolitical avatars, namely, North America for the wide open Meadow, Europe for the publicly managed Park, and East Asia for the ethnocentric Garden. "In a meadow all is profusion, randomness, variety. A park is for the most part publicly maintained, highly regulated with different sectors for different uses. A garden is smaller, more inwardly turned -- it aims for the sublime, not the efficient or the just."
Bobbitt then explores a range of drivers and trends, possible events and challenging decisions prior to the articulation of the three scenarios in which all of these elements play out in different ways. In my humble opinion, the truly remarkable climax of Bobbitt's very long book is the elegant construction of the heterarchy of choices playing out in the global geopolitical dynamic involving the United States, Europe and East Asia. -- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes -- 2/4/16
If you read this far, you should go to the full article: Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time by Jay Ogilvy | Forbes — 2/4/16 and read carefully all the possible scenarios of the three different ways the 3 different ways of organizing hierarchies interact and lead to global outcomes. . No wonder my ex-friend is terrified, but then again, he is trying to solve an impending cataclysm with yet another type of hierarchy.
Hmmm… yeah… like that is going to work after more than 5,000 years of increasingly dysfunctional myopic hierarchies!
For five centuries, the State has evolved according to epoch-making cycles of war and peace. But now our world has changed irrevocably. What faces us in this era of fear and uncertainty? How do we protect ourselves against war machines that can penetrate the defenses of any state? Visionary and prophetic, The Shield of Achilles looks back at history, at the “Long War” of 1914-1990, and at the future: the death of the nation-state and the birth of a new kind of conflict without precedent.
Mythos and Melodrama in the Philippines
Another thing about hierarchies is that they can go sideways fast. Big ones can. Little ones can. Corporate ones can. Non-profit ones can. Peace-loving ones can. Bottom line, if humans build a hierarchy to run something, it seems too tempting for humans not to take advantage of it.
Also, governments of any kind are dealing with a lot of information, pushes and pulls, demands, crises, polls, budgets, public opinion (that is by definition pretty variable depending on the day) and so many more things. So to take a country like Russia or the USA and make the comments my ex-fakebook friend said is a pretty naive and ignorant thing to say.
This episode on Throughline is very compelling. If you want to see how easy it is for a hierarchy to go sideways, listen to this one.
Corruption. Wealth. Authoritarianism. Torture. These are the words many people associate with Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, and his wife, Imelda. But in 1965, on the day of his presidential inauguration, clad in bright white traditional Filipino clothing, Ferdinand and Imelda were the picture of hope and progress: the Camelot of the Philippines. They styled themselves as mythical figures with a divine right to rule, even as their democratic ascent reached a dictatorial peak.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled for two decades. And then, in 2022, more than thirty years after his death, the Philippines elected a new president: Ferdinand's son, Bongbong. Both in his campaign and since taking office, Bongbong has evoked the Marcos era as a golden age — effectively, rewriting history.
Welcome to the "Epic of Marcos." In this tale of a family that's larger than life, Ferdinand Marcos is at the center. But the figures that surround him are just as important: Imelda, his muse; Bongbong, his heir; and the United States, his faithful sidekick. The story of the Marcos family is a blueprint for authoritarianism, laying out clearly how melodrama, paranoia, love, betrayal and a hunger for power collide to create a myth capable of propelling a nation.
Today on the show, the rise, fall, and resurrection of a dynasty — and what that means for democracy worldwide.
The Freedom of Speech
Another thing about hierarchies is that they need to select and enforce the values that matter. But just as I was needling my ex-friend, how are these values selected? Are we conscious of them or not?
This episode of THROUGHLINE goes through the history and conscious and unconscious biases of the USA selecting and enforcing just one value: Freedom of Speech. If you are interested in this process, take a listen. It is worth your while!!
Book bans, disinformation, the wild world of the internet. Free speech debates are all around us.What were the Founding Fathers thinking when they created the First Amendment, and how have the words they wrote in the 18th century been stretched and shaped to fit a world they never could have imagined? It's a story that travels through world wars and culture wars. Through the highest courts and the Ku Klux Klan. What exactly is free speech, and how has the answer to that question changed in the history of the U.S.?
Most anarchists are disappointed hierarchists. From Mikhail Bakunin to Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, anarchists have taken potshots at the failings of hierarchy: They shoot holes in the purported legitimacy of exercises of authority, whether by the divine right of kings or the use of violence to impose subordination.
As Francis Fukuyama showed in The Origins of Political Order, the first hierarchies were imposed by "strongmen" and then later justified by ancestor worship and a priestly caste. From all we can determine, primitive hunter-gatherer bands were heterarchical. Teamwork joining different skills was necessary to bag a woolly bison. But no one leader called for deference to a summum bonum[the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system].
-- Heterarchy: An Idea Finally Ripe for Its Time
So in summary of the Forbe’s article and Throughline episode, hierarchies can be concluded understood as:
Organic vs Mechanical World View — More From Alan Watts
Throughout this series I have been trying to explain two fundamentally different ways of looking at our world, one characteristic predominantly of the West and the other of the East. And these might be called, respectively, the way of description as opposed to the way of seeing. The way, in other words, of understanding things in words or in terms contrasted with the way of understanding through looking and seeing a field or a subject totally all at once. Or you might call these the linear view (strung out in a line) or the total view (seeing all at once), or the serial view on the one hand as contrasted with the simultaneous view on the other. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, in classical Western science we have depended largely on this serial or analytic view, which understands the world by translating it into ideas, into words, or into, say, even series of numbers. The basic feature of it being that things are understood in a step-by-step way in sequence. And insofar as we constantly look at nature in that way, we tend to think of nature as something constructed—something, in other words, made or put together as we ourselves make and put things together through a series of steps. And perhaps this gives us the feeling that if we understood nature sufficiently, if we understood in full detail all the steps which go to the making of our universe, we could ourselves make it. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, it’s here, you see, that we get a very fundamental contrast between East and West, and especially through Chinese and Japanese ideas of the formation of nature. Because for them it seems extremely odd to think of nature as being constructed or made by a sort of step-by-step procedure.Their feeling is rather that the world and its forms are not so much constructed as grown. And one of the most important keys to an understanding of Far Eastern thought is to see the difference between a view of a constructed world and a grown world. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, to give a sort of crazy illustration of this: supposing I construct something—for example, an artificial flower—and you know, when you get instructions, how to do this, and you buy a book of do-it-yourself artificial flowers, you get a step-by-step procedure which tells you what to do. Step one: take a piece of wire with a black button and fix it to the end. Step two: take the stamens previously cut out and affix it to the button. Next step: insert a disk of sticky material, push the wire through the middle, and then affix the petals. Here they go. And notice that, as I put them on, I take them from outside and around me—things that are bits—and I bring these bits together to make the flower a construction, or whatever form it is that I’m intending to create. And so from going around to the center, from getting something that was previously pieces and bringing it all together, I get my flower. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
But now watch how an actual flower grows; how it starts, as it were, from the center. And it unfolds itself not bit by bit, but all the parts of the flower exfoliating together from the center outwards, in contrast to the making process, which goes from the outside inwards. From a situation where the parts are originally all apart (all in bits) and then assembled, contrasting with a situation where you have some simple beginning (like a seed or a bud), and as it expands it constellates or forms its own parts from within itself. And this is the fundamental process of natural growth. It’s in the same way that the human baby is formed within the womb. It’s in the same way that, if you watch crystals under a microscope forming a solution, you will notice the whole area of the crystal, the whole structure of the crystal, coming into being all together at once, and you will not see a kind of bit-by-bit assemblage which we use when we make machines or make houses or make tools. Even when we carve a block of wood—although the block of wood is not originally a lot of distinct parts, nevertheless we work upon it from the outside towards the inside, whereas all processes of growth go from the inside to the outside. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
Now, in our current scientific way of thinking in the West, this kind of growth, this kind of formation, is always talked about in terms of what we call field theory; fields of force. And I suppose one of the most striking exhibitions of what a field is can be seen in looking at the formation of magnetic lines of force in iron filings—as when we take filings that are not magnetized, just thrown chaotically over an area, and then, with the magnets underneath, notice that all the filings form together into a pattern, the whole area moving together, every single part of it simultaneously into its shape. And that shows us the whole nature of a field of force. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
(Blab, blab, blab…I skipped a lot of important stuff from his talk to get to the part that links up to my inquiry about hierarchies vs heterarchies, but what Watts says here is exactly what Jay Ogilvy is sharing in the article in Forbes)
And then, in turn, in the field there is a structure, and the structure of the field is thought of as governing the formation of the universe. And you may remember that, in the last program, I gave you a particular Chinese world which meant the basic pattern or order of the world. Do you remember this word, which is pronounced lǐ, and which had as its original meaning “the markings in jade,” “the fiber in muscle,” or “the grain in wood.” This word, then, designates the basic structure within the tao, within the fundamental field of the world, and thus its order—which can be, as it were, understood by looking at it, but is too complex, too much happening so fast all together at once, for us ever to be able to analyze it in the relatively clumsy language of words. Now thus, you see, it seems to us that that order is enormously complex. The order of nature, the order of beauty, the order of ethics—all these kinds of orders baffle us when we try to think about them bit by bit. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
But actually this order is only a complicated order when we try to think about it. I mean, it’s very simple, isn’t it, to drink water if you put it in a cup or a glass and toss it down. But it would be extraordinarily complex if one tried to drink water with a fork. And in the same way, the world and the order of the world, the activity within the field, seems incredibly complicated to us when we try to translate it into thinking and into words. But this, then, is the fundamental Chinese Taoist and Indian Buddhist view of how the formations of the world arise. Not by a step-by-step process which can be put down in a line like the instructions for making the flower, but by something which happens spontaneously all together at once. -- Alan Watts | Organism Earth
For more on Mansplaining and Other cruel things people to on FAKEBOOK and other social media outlets, see:
All this writing about Transformation has made me remember that I wrote a blog about this very idea 6 years ago, way back when I started this blogging business (which is a pretty useless one at that).
One of my very early posts was titled Is Collective Transformation Possible? It was sandwich between my Girl With Dragon and Divine Dodo series. Also, I had just finished my Women’s March Documentary documenting why thousands (millions) of women and men around the world gathered to march against Trump and after doing all that work, well, yes, I was hoping some people would watch it…at least some of it…and commune with me about some of the really important issues people were bringing up. We all felt what TRUMP stood for and it was revolting. But no one really watched my documentary and NO ONE communed (communicated) with me about any of the issues explored in my Women’s March Documentary, except my REAL friends in Germany.
I joined hundreds of Facebook groups to meet liked-minded people who might care. It was so exciting and so hopefully for a minute, then my time of constriction came.
I knew it was coming. I could feel it. It had been building up for quite some time. But no one I was talking to then understood what I was talking about. I told this one group that felt itself to be an extremely rare group of enlightened beings, that I needed to go through a very small hole or to make a very difficult journey. They just smiled politely and said: “Oh, maybe you’re already on the other side? Maybe you’re already HERE!!”
And when my time of constriction gripped me with such despair that death sounded more pleasant that life and thoughts of violent murder and suicide floated continuously through my mind… all these NEW, hopeful, FAKE friends vanished like THE NOTHING. Many of my physical friends did too.
I was left to navigate my inner DARKNESS where a good part of my inner collective wanted me dead. I was drawing my journey. I was documenting my descent. But you know what Mansplanyer said to me at a point of crisis, a time when I simply needed a compassionate listener and occasional cheerleader? He told me he didn’t think the Dodo was a good look for me and I shouldn’t continue… people might get the wrong impressions!
Well…DUH, Duh, duh! Do you see what is happening to Dodo? He’s being crucified for GOD’s sakes! Don’t you think I know DEAD is not a GOOD look?
As my inner collective divided into fighting factions–some aspects of myself wanted to help me, other aspects not so much, my exterior collective crumbled as well. These were the real life people who said they were my friends but they dried up like the Great Salt Lake, leaving nothing to help me during a very difficult time–a kind word, likes of my blog posts, regular comments on my Facebook page–would have meant so much to me at this time.
The System of Facebook is not set up to operate with kindness and compassion. Rather it is set up for Performers to Perform.
I would soon learn all these “NEW” friends were FAKEFRIENDS. They were happy to court my attention IF (and only IF) I FOLLOWED THEM. The more blindly I followed, the more FAKE ATTENTION they might throw my way, and even that was ify. Most just had to be constantly admired!
This behavior is called Bread Crumbing or Baiting. It is an aspect of a significant psychological disorder called Narcissism. And FAKEBOOK is especially calculated up to cater to Narcissists and for people suffering from the opposite imbalance of this disorder: the ECHO Personality.
I was an echo that nobody missed when my voice began to fail and fade.
I chose to surround myself and to trust people who were nesting, in hollow holonic circular thoughts that spun round and round shrinking, sinking, shrieking point of consciousness that was cut off from true human understanding.
I pulled the Cloak of Darknessand Doubt over my own head and descended into HELL.
To be a genuine human being requires self-sacrifice. It requires suspension of thinking and judgement. It requires listening, sometimes for hours and hours and hours, as someone else wails in grief and despair due to the circumstance of their life. To be alive, to be a real authentic human being requires give and take… not just take, take, take… and abandoning others when they become a burden to you.
To be a trustworthy person, you have to be a person that another person can TRUST to be there when TIMES are TOUGH. This might require sitting for hours and hours in complete silence just being with another human being who is being crushed by their circumstances. It is only people who are capable of doing this who can be TRUSTED with AUTHORITY. Only people who other people can depend on to BE THERE when YOU NEED THEM can be trusted with the Authority to make decisions for the Greater Good, which might very well require the Sacrifice of Self.
Just like what is going on in Ukraine right now… hundreds of thousands of men and women are STANDING UP, STANDING AGAIST BRUTALITY… TO HELL with my MANSPLAYER ex friend who equates the USA with Russia! I STAND WITH UKRAINE! I stand with every person doing creative acts of resistance as well as every person fighting, killing other people to defeat Russia NOW!
This is the stuff my father did. He was never called to serve in a war. He was a listener. He provided compassionate assistance to anyone for as long as they needed it! He was a healer. He gave his time, his money, his life for others. This is how the world is saved… not by abandoning each other when we need each other the most because it takes too much TIME! Time is all we have… and how we value our time decides the type of world we live inside.
Saving the World is not the stuff being hocked on FakeBook or pretty much anywhere you look or turn for security and comfort (not comfortable but for solace and support) in our modern, overly complicated, pyramid-based world.
We made this world out of thoughts! It is a world that forces every civilized person to Hold the Mold of their cult–ture, of their caste, of their race (because the Modern World is extremely racists), of their economic situation, and of their place in the social order (all the hierarchies in which they live and must navigate to work, to play, to live).
The Modern World was built by narcissists to lift up narcissists that is why narcissist are rising to the Top of Likes like frothy bubbles on FakeBook, this is why they rise and hold the highest levels of power in almost every modern human civilization on Earth–each one built out of pyramid schemes. That is why everybody wants to be a narcissist in our world or at least they need to learn to play with narcissistic people and like it. Because that is how you wield POWER in the physical world NOW.
If you aspire to be a narcissist,FakeBook is the place for you! There are so many narcissists playing and sparring with each other on FakeBook. And there are so many echoes (like ME) attracted to all the glittery, sparkly thoughts, ideas, wishes, and dreamsthe narcissists spin. But, they are simply spinning hollow holonic nests of dead and dying thoughts. And the spinning of these expiring, nesting thoughts creates a vortex that has a suck. And if you get sucked into one of these vortex (most often it is one of your own making), you are heading straight down to HELL.
I knew what was happening to me, inside and outside of me, 6 years ago. And, The Dodo knew that I had pulled the Cloak of Darkness and Dark over my head. The Dodo knew I did this to myself, but the Dodo did not judge… he was just there providing glimmering specks of creative imagination, LIGHT—sparks of light (but not thinking light), that were guiding me through HELL.
And the Dodo was the one thing that Mansplayer didn’t want me to have. He told me to give up the Dodo, to stop drawing him!!! And, I did stop drawing him, but I also stopped following the Mansplayer. But I was still in HELL; however now, without my guide, the dumb, stupid Dodo! HELL is a place of our own making... HELL is where you doubt yourself! Doubt is the Dark Force!
In this old post where I wonder if Collective Transformation is possible, I provide a list and links to all the wonderful people I was meeting on Facebook 6 years ago. I cannot recommend any of these people today. Not the artists, musicians, or writers who are listed, but the people who made me DOUBT myself. These people I cannot recommend.
These people know who they are. They are the ones playing at DOING something to SAVE the WORLD. But they can’t even SAVE THEMSELVES much less take a MOMENT in their very busy days to HELP anyone else who is drowning.
“OH NO!” You’ll hear them yell. “I can’t stop. You’ll slow me down! You’re too much of a burden in this state of despair. I’m the only one who can SEE more, RUN faster, TRAVEL farther than ALL the REST!! I’m the only one who can SAVE the WORLD!!!!”
All of them yell this. Mansplayers and Womansplayers, there are hundreds of thousands of them all yelling different version of this chant night and day…telling you (begging you) to follow them! But the only place you are going to go if you follow them is down because without the super powers of kindness, compassion, love… these people, all of them, are just hypoallergenichollow holonic nesters spinning around and around a vortex of their own making, drilling deeper and deeper into the darkest parts of themselves on streams of endless thoughts.
You are MONSTERS…you people who pretended to care about me and then abandoned me when I really needed a helping hand. You, the ones who treated me as if I were the contagion, while in reality it is you suffering from the most prolific pandemic of our MODERN time: Narcissism and Supreme Ignorance created by OVERTHINKING. This is the Greatest EVIL of our TIME. We are all vulnerable to it but some fight it off better than others.
I don’t know how I survived this time. It lasted for more than 6 years! But the story that my very dear friend from college told me about her suicide attempt somehow stopped me from mine. Today, I don’t think Collective Transformation is possible, even though this is what my story is about. The one I have been writing since 2012.
Have a GREAT DAY! And, remember, GO FOR IT! Follow your passion and whatever you do, keep moving, don’t stop!
It is she who said monsters are made. Think Frankenstein, definitely constructed by a human.
And we do this all the time…in our heads simply repeating the stories we tell ourselves that create indelible images, which we then project onto the world we live in. Or better said, the world we wish we lived in.
The Planet We Made
Olafur Eliasson is an Icelandic–Danishartist known for sculptured and large-scale installation art that employ elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience. He designed the cover of Time this month to highlight our collective climate crisis that will affect and impact everyone on Earth. Rich or poor, everyone will pay a huge price for further dithering and delaying on taking immediate action Now.
Olafur tells Time to create the effect on TIME’s cover, he employed a technique called after imaging. By following the instructions on the cover, when the page changes, your eyes re-imagine our overheated planet in the healthy vibrant greens and blues we, the human race, were born into and began our journey as a species through time.
The Monsters We Make
This same elusive after imaging takes place inside our minds. The images that get stored inside our minds are created by the stories we tell ourselves and the images we consume as ordinary citizens.
These images, let’s call them cultural images, are stored in our minds as belief systems. Beliefs are vastly more complicated images than the one created by Olafur Eliasson for the cover of TIME. However, compared to reality, beliefs are pathetic and paltry.
Belief systems tend to leave far more outside (the evil other) than inside (the person who sees the the world like you do). All of us adopt and cultivate belief systems. They help us know who we can trust. And, they help us survive by acting as short cuts to reality.
By popping your beliefs into a situation, you can just get down to action. Or really reaction to a situation because beliefs allow you to skip the work of hard thinking, critical analysis, and feeling into what you are actually experiencing.
Systems of belief are informed by the families we grow up in, the cultures we live in, and the religions we participate in (or do not participate in). Systems of belief are further evolved and informed by friends, peers, teachers, clubs, politics, and media, among many other sources.
Whether you accept the stories and images imparted to you through these systems, whether you believe them or you don’t believe them, beliefs about how the world is or isn’t are formed and held in the mind very much like the phantom image Olafur Eliasson created on the cover of TIME.
Each and every belief are things you have choose to accept, to believe, and to store in your head. You choose to believe the things you think are true or what you don’t believe or believe to be not true, regardless of whether they are empirically true or not true.
Once you commit to a belief (in other words you swallow an idea hook, line, and sinker), it creates an indelible image of how the world is, which gets overlay onto everything you do and everyone around you. Very much like the elusive image Olafur Eliasson made for the November 2022 cover of TIME. You put them there, and then you project them on the world.
Beliefs are more likes wishes, fears, and desires. They accord with more how we want the world to be rather than how it really is. Our wish/fear/wants live inside our minds and are projected on the world every moment of our lives. They hoover and cling to everything and everyone we come into contact with like a ghostly aura. Depending on what our projected system of beliefs tells us we should believe about a person or a thing that comes into our narrow bandwidth of focused conscious attention, aligns our actions and behavior in the world.
This rather simple ability has oversized implications–some good, some bad. It is an ability that we take for granted as human beings. Our ability to create systems of beliefs is a form of ignorance (ig–nor–ance, what we choose not to see) and it has gotten the better of us. It is what allows us to turn ordinary human beings into monsters or our world into a wasteland.
Kendra R. Parker explains our creation of and fascination with monsters this way:
When Dracula appeared in the 19th century, there was all of this fear, the English were preoccupied with borders, boundaries and nationalism. Between like 1881 and 1900 there was an increase in the number of non-English Jewish people. There was this xenophobia, this fear of Jewish people, this sort of threat of external colonization. And so these fears about the threatening outsider, who is going to come in and disturb the national pure body, finds its way into Bram Stoker's Dracula.
And if we come to the United States in 1898, we have newspaper images popping up out of North Carolina that depict Black men as vampires because there was this fear of Black men. There's this fear of black men being in politics and so that if you got black political power, then they're going to take over and destroy white women and all of that. And so you've got all of this propaganda.
And there are two images in particular. One is called "The Vampire that Hovers Over North Carolina." It appears in 1898, and it's a Black male vampire coming out of a ballot box. And there's another image that same time period in North Carolina where you got vampires coming out of the grave to vote and they're Black. And so there's this fear that if you let these monsters vote, they will take over and destroy our way of life.
The Monsters We Are
When we use our system of beliefs to turn other human beings into monsters, it is ourselves who become the monster. When hate becomes our fuel, then the transformation is complete. The monster has been made.
It is a way of being in the world that leads to Hell. It is the path of destruction, of mayhem, and of death.
It is a way of being in the world that may begin by being suspicious, distrustful, and skeptical. But it can quickly eclipse who you think you are and make you into a person who takes pleasure in being cynical, ghoulish, grisly, and grotesque.
Such a journey is often summed up by the popular phrase —Take The Red Pill. This means a person that falls down a rabbit hole. They start out innocently following juicy breadcrumbs of gossip and plausibly outrageous happens that grow ever more implausible. But once you get hooked on these toxic breadcrumbs carefully left behind by Master Manipulators who are experts in making the implausible sound plausible. Indeed, the Truth that you are willing to die for.
How To Make of a Monster
Step 1) Chop the world into absolutely good and absolutely evil, then choose a role to play in this absolute drama (it goes without saying that whatever side you play on… that is the righteous side, the good guys, the side that is going to slay absolute evil)
Step 2) Select a Mask for the role you will play in the absolute drama to rid the world of absolute evil (make sure you are the Super Hero of your story and everyone else is the bad guy)
Step 3) Strap Your Mask Tightly To Your Face So It Doesn’t Slip or Fall Off (you don’t want anyone to see you are merely human like the people and other living beings you are dehumanizing)
Step 4) Cut Up Bits and Pieces from the World and Other Stories, Then Mash Them Into Your Mask So You Become Unrecognizable Like Camouflage (it doesn’t matter if the bits and pieces make sense anymore, you are creating your super hero version of yourself!)
Step 5) Add Lots of Layers to Your Mask, Be Sure to Use Lots of Devilish Deceit and Deception, More Camouflage to Help You Better Play Your Role (God forbid anyone recognize that you’re really human behind your Fake Persona)
Step 6) Distort, Deform, and Mangle Your Mask to Create Fantastic New Levels of Distractions and Illusions, Even More Camouflage… Fighting Evil Isn’t for Sissies (this will draw others to you — your followers, your zombie army)
Step 7) Forget You Are Wearing A Mask: Now You Are A Monster
I have not read this book, Metaflesh. But, the image of the cover is captivating. To me, it perfectly captures how we can turn ourselves into monsters using any system of belief, any one at all. In the land of make believe, nothing is sacred. Once we slip down a rabbit holes inside our minds, the inner Hellish landscape allows us to endlessly violently project onto others what we cannot admit to ourselves that we are.
This is a book review of Metaflesh from where I got the image:
Metaflesh is written by Evan J. Peterson, author of The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir and DragStar!, the world’s first drag performer role-playing game. Metaflesh is a book of verse and prose from the point of view of Frankenstein’s Monster. The reflections are inspired not only by Mary Shelley’s seminal work (double entendre fully intended) but also by the pop culture descendants of her novel. Sources include a wide variety of Frankenstein/mad scientist movies and song lyrics. The book also contains themes of Jewish folklore, queer culture, camp, and a lot of David Cronenberg-style body horror. The book covers the gamut of the Monster’s experiences through over a century of movies and songs, and portrays the Monster as both gender-fluid and a sort of chimerical film critic, reviewing portrayals of their self through lyric poetry and flash fiction.
This is an ingenious book of metafiction. Just as Dr. Frankenstein cut up different people and stitched the bits together, Peterson cut up and reassembled his sources, turning them into something greater than the sum of their parts. Borrowing from William S. Burroughs cut-up technique, he splices together Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with F.T. Marinetti’s Manifesto del Futurismo (Futurist Manifesto) and with J. G. Ballard’s essay, “Why I want to F*ck Ronald Reagan.” He apostrophizes the sexually explicit films of avant-garde queer Canadian creator Bruce LaBruce and doesn’t forget to include General Mills’ Frankenberry breakfast cereal or select lines from Mommy Dearest and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The combined imagery of classical Greek mythology, white supremacy, drag queens, Judaism, and zombie erotica do not merge into a hot mess but meld together into a deliciously readable book.
This literary retrospective is sad, funny, quirky, surgically precise, and captivating. I was never bored and didn’t skip through parts. I tore through my first reading at speed and have been taking my time through subsequent readings. The only spot which slows me down, pulling me to a frowning halt, is a simile in the poem, “His Name is In Me”: “gross as the tallest savage.” Although I’m aware that white supremacist imagery is intentionally used throughout the book—punching up, not down—the use of the word “savage” feels out of place here. It is a racial slur used against Black and Indigenous peoples and stands out awkwardly in a poem strongly based in Judaic imagery. If it is a slur used against Jews, I am unaware, but this is my only quibble with the entire book. -- Book Review: Metaflesh by Evan J. Peterson
Someone OnceTold Me
Someone once told me that my blog The StoryTelling Species Series was just a story. He really just wanted to put it down and elevate himself because we were having a very strong disagreement about COVID. I knew he was wrong, but could not explain to him why he was so wrong then.
Now I can. I knew it is the stories we tell ourselves that make us into heroes or villains, good or evil, saints or monsters. Now I know how it happens inside our minds.
Given how susceptible we are to believe our own stories and lies about ourselves, it is best to give all other people the benefit of the doubt and trust they are not the monster you are afraid of… the one that lives inside of you. It is best just be human and to recognize that we have a little bit of good and a little bit of bad inside of us.
It is when we hang onto the evil inside of us and refuse to let go of it that we make ourselves into monsters and turn Earth into Hell. Trust that reality is far more interesting than the stories we tell ourselves about our selves and others.
Trust that you belong here and now with everyone else and that together we can heal ourselves. This is something we can only do together. And if we heal, Earth heals and our burning hot planet may once again shine in its brilliant, beautiful, life sustaining blues and greens!
This show originally aired on Mar 24, 2017 on Snap Judgment. A description of it appears below. I have chosen to highlight this story here for two reasons: 1) schizophrenia runs in my family and because of this understanding another person’s experience of reality is essential, and 2) what is real anyways?
Western culture’s understanding of reality is severely (even fatally) lopsided. To successfully navigate the collective challenges our world faces in the coming decades (e.g., climate change, political upheavals, economic reversals and hardships, pandemic, water shortages, food insecurity due to climate change and unfair economic conditions, etc., etc.), we need to reconnect to our inner worlds, to who we really are deep, deep down beyond the fading illumination of our fragile ego’s consciousness rays of knowing.
Description of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti: In 1959, psychiatrist Milton Rokeach brought together three schizophrenic men who believed they were Jesus Christ, hoping to cure them of their delusions. But over time, his methods became dangerously amoral.
Thanks to Richard Bonier and Ronald Hoppe for their help. Additional thanks to Peter Shyppert as the voice of Milton Rokeach.
You can buy The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, Rokeach’s book, right here.
Before The Three Christs Of Ypsilantiaired on Snap Judgement, a tragic and compelling story about a mother’s quest to find her disappeared son aired. Glynn Washington introduced this story with a quote everyone likes to say when they are trying to one up someone else’s reality. The infamous quote is:
“The truth! You can’t handle the truth!”
But no one remembers where this saying was first said. Glynn tells us where it was first said and that what was said after this notorious saying was said, the more important idea followed and this is what we have forgotten… what everyone has forgotten when we get into arguments over The Truth.
The Map to the Disappeared is essential listening if you are at all interested in understanding truth at the deepest levels of being.
Carol Anthony touches on the samerelativeness to reality as the psychiatrist Milton Rokeach came to realize in his misguided experiment devised to cure the three schizophrenic men of their delusions that they were each Jesus Christ (The Three Christs of Ypsilanti ). In her book The Philosophy of the I Ching, Anthony writes:
"The entire business of the I Ching is to re-affirm our knowledge of God as the higher power, not only as a vague, intuitive knowledge, but as a conscious, practical, intimate, everyday knowledge. This means that we materialize the reality of God out of the mists of our unconscious into the full reality of consciousness. We may know intuitively that someone we love is unfaithful to us, but when this knowledge surfaces by evidence into consciousness, it produces such a shock that it is hard to understand the difference between these two sorts of knowing. We may know someone is dying of cancer for a long time, but the fact of their death produces an unexpectedly strong emotional response. How do we explain this? When the ego leads our personality, the conscious mind disbelieves what we intuitively know; moreover, the ego insists that conscious reality is the only reality--in this case it does not want to believe that death exists. When death, the objective fact happens, the conscious mind is unprepared, and the ego disappears in the ensuing shock. One's knowledge of God is similar. In the beginning of self-development, we know about God intuitively and theoretically; we may have occasionally experienced the higher power, but afterwards we gave rationalized the experience as some quirk of our imagination; soon, it seems it never happened at all. Our intuition of God, through this process has become dimmed. Through self-development, however, we come to experience the reality of God as an everyday fact of life. We experience God directly, not only in small ways, but in big ways, so that even the smallest errors of perception are swept away. This daily relating to the higher power gradually erases every particle of doubt." -- p. 60-61
Drilling even deeper down on the relativeness of reality that we experience as human beings, Alan Watts beautifully illuminates just how profound relative reality is between human beings in his Tribute to Carl Jung, who had just died on June 6, 1961. Watts and Jung knew each other and were friends. Despite pursuing very different vocations, both men shared profound understandings of deeper truths hidden inside the heart and soul of all men and women, regardless of when in time they existed or where they existed in the world. These deeper, darker truths are a result of man becoming conscious in the sense that he knows when he is happy or sad enabling him to focus this self-reflective form of consciousness like a spot light or a laser to do things in the world and to take very focused, specific action to achieve narrowly focused goals.
In his tribute to Jung, Watts focuses on a speech Carl Jung gave to clergy men. While Carl Jung was not a pastor, his father had been, and so he knew the doctrines of the Christian faith and religion in a very cognizant, conscious, heedful, mindful, sensible, and sentient way. In a gentle but enigmatic way, Jung challenges the pastors to think beyond the bible stories and Christian doctrines they preach about every day.
He invited the clergy men to step beyond the pale of their Christian beliefs and traditions and onto a new bridge of understanding he had helped to build in the Western world as one of the early pioneers of psychoanalysis (Freud) and analytic psychology (Jung). Carl Jung understood that Western mind needed this new science of psychology to understand things that the Eastern mind had understood for centuries.
Watts understood this too. This is why he focused on this speech Jung gave to the clergy men. Watts reads most of this speech in the video below and explains why it was probably the most important work Jung left behind for his fellow human beings. Watts understood how important it was (and continues to be) to challenge the percepts and premises upon which the modern Western world is based upon. The Western mind remains incredibly focused and fixated on its abilities to perceive, apprehend, learn, discover, and figure out how the outer world works, and this is a powerful ability that has enabled Western culture to gain dominance in the world and emboldened its belief that Western man was meant to reign supreme over all living beings and things. However, this is an exceedingly lopsided system of belief that will end in disaster for all living beings on Earth as the whole world stands on the precipice of existential threats capable of producing mass extinction events that could take out the human race forever.
The Eastern mind holds the key to our global existential predicament. This is what Jung came to know through his work as a psychologist and was confirmed when he came to know Richard Wilhelm who was the West’s foremost translator of the I Ching. And this is what Alan Watts emphasized in countless lectures. And it is the meaning behind the title of this blog The Three Christs of Ypsilanti and the Buddha. We need each other to survive in the coming century that is going to require great outer knowledge of the world (which the Western mind has excelled) as well as require great inner knowledge of the world and human nature (which the Eastern mind has excelled).
The world today needs skilled consciousness astronauts just as much as it needs astronauts of the cosmos. The challenges inside (especially for the Western mind) are just as great, if not far greater and unpredictable as the challenges of exploring and understanding outer space.
Carl Jung Quotes | Just What Is Consciousness
“God is a force that acts inside you.” — Carl Jung
“Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness? Do you not want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a friendly manner? You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too. Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you. Madness is not to be despised and not to be feared, but instead you should give it life…If you want to find paths, you should also not spurn madness, since it makes up such a great part of your nature…Be glad that you can recognize it, for you will thus avoid becoming its victim. Madness is a special form of the spirit and clings to all teachings and philosophies, but even more to daily life, since life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical. Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.” ― C.G. Jung, The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition
“Nobody can fall so low unless he has a great depth. If such a thing can happen to a man, it challenges his best and highest on the other side; that is to say, this depth corresponds to a potential height, and the blackest darkness to a hidden light.” ― C.G. Jung
“The erotic instinct is something questionable, and will always be so whatever a future set of laws may have to say on the matter. It belongs, on the one hand, to the original animal nature of man, which will exist as long as man has an animal body. On the other hand, it is connected with the highest forms of the spirit. But it blooms only when the spirit and instinct are in true harmony. If one or the other aspect is missing, then an injury occurs, or at least there is a one-sided lack of balance which easily slips into the pathological. Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being, too much culture makes a sick animal.” ― C.G. Jung
“…the mind that is collectively orientated is quite incapable of thinking and feeling in any other way than by projection.” ― C.G. Jung
Carl Jung never said: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” What Dr. Jung said in two separate and unrelated statements was: “Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain.” ~Carl Jung, Contributions to Analytical Psychology, P. 193
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Page 99.
“It is not I who create myself, rather I happen to myself.” ~Carl Jung, CW11, Para 391
“Only that which acts upon me do I recognize as real and actual. But that which has no effect upon me might as well not exist.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 757.
“Here each of us must ask: ‘Have I any religious experience and immediate relation to God, and hence that certainty which will keep me, as an individual, from dissolving in the crowd?'” — Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 564
“For when the soul vanished at death, it was not lost; in that other world it formed the living counter pole to the state of death in this world.” ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 493
“Behind a man’s actions there stands neither public opinion nor the moral code, but the personality of which he is still unconscious.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 390
When Nietzsche said “God is dead,” he uttered a truth which is valid for the greater part of Europe. People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 145.
Yet it [Nietzche’s “God is Dead”] has, for some ears, the same eerie sound as that ancient cry which came echoing over the sea to mark the end of the nature gods: “Great Pan is dead.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 145.
“All opposites are of God, therefore man must bend to this burden; and in so doing he finds that God in his “oppositeness” has taken possession of him, incarnated himself in him.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“It is quite right, therefore, that fear of God should be considered the beginning of all wisdom.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“Both are justified, the fear of God as well as the love of God.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“The East bases itself upon psychic reality, that is, upon the psyche as the main and unique condition of existence.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 770.
Sometime last fall, while biking, the word Sisyphus popped into my mind. I did not know what it meant. I knew it was familiar, but I could not remember why. It’s a weird word. Not a word you hear on a daily basis, not even a word you hear on a decade basis, unless perhaps you are a scholar. But, it kept popping into my mind randomly at least a dozen times or more into the beginning of 2021.
I Was Just Looking for Something Good to Watch
I was looking for a new series to watch on Netflix. I’d finished a score of good series, and then hit a patch of bad ones. I wanted something good…something I could sink into and get lost inside. I was looking for something like the shows I had recently finished watching such as:
Outlander: I never read Diana Gabaldon‘s books, but once I started watching this series, I was hooked. I was trying to find a replacement for Masterpiece’s Poldarkseries based on Winston Graham’s books, which is absolutely amazing. And when I saw Ronald D. Moore was producing this series, I was intrigued because his last big hit series was the updated Battlestar Galacticaseries, a TV drama I loved immensely in the 70s, and Caprica(this tells the tale of how that fictional human civilization fell by showing how the Cylon androids took over their worlds, but then it got abruptly and cruelly canceled before the whole story could be told).
Outlander does not disappoint from the very first episode onward. Its characters are complexed, nuanced, and compelling. The series does not rush the story, reveals each character honestly and humanely, and tells the tale in a captivating, mysterious way. Each season builds upon the last one. The characters grow as the times change around them. The difficulties and battles feel real and vital. Each character has layers of complexities that influence their choices and actions, just like real people do, making the story relatable; indeed, a symbol that transforms the complexities encountered in novel and unexpected ways. And isn’t that what you are really hungry for when you sit down to watch a story?
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials: I never read Pullman’s novels but I loved the Golden Compass, which was made for the big screen in 2007. However, due to the financial crisis of 2008/2009, the next parts of this series never materialized. Then in 2019, HBO teamed up with BBC to reimagine this fantastic tale for the smaller screen/TV. They did an amazing job translating a complicated story to the screen. I found it believable, compelling, and thrilling. The characters are complicated. You think you’ve pegged one as evil and then realize later critical nuances that force you to reconsider your views. They mystery of the story is revealed slowly and unevenly, so you have to guess or imagine for yourself why this or that happened. Each new character has something new to offer in understanding the whole story. The special effects add to the story rather than overly dominate it.
I love this scene where the researcher and scholar Mary talks to Dust, then she realizes the Dust itself are the Angels. (From His Dark Materials | Season 2, episode 4. The Tower of Angels).
She asks: “Angels are creatures made up of shadow matter of dust?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary further inquires: “And shadow matter is what we call spirit?”
The Mysterious Something replies: “From what we are, spirit, from what we do, matter. Matter and spirit are one.”
Mary asks: “You’ve always been there?”
The Mysterious Something says: “Making, stimulating, guiding.”
Mary queries: “So does that mean angels have intervened in human evolution?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary asks: “But why?”
The Mysterious Something says plainly: “Vengeance.”
Now, I wonder what that means? I didn’t find out in Season 2, so waiting for Season 3. But after that exchange, Mary starts working with the I Ching–which is our world’s equivalent to the Golden Compass from Lyra’s world. Because of Mary, I got the I Ching for my birthday and learned to read the yarrow straws. I supposed that now I too am talking to the angels.
I use good TV drama like a support system, especially during this year of COVID where social distancing has put so many of us into isolation to extremes. My own Indra’s Network was already partially destroyed and broken. The connections I still maintained with friends and family were sorely stretched by time and distance. They were incredibly nourishing when time and attention permitted, but these moments were punctuated by long bouts of silence and little to no meaningful interactions with people who care.
Good stories, powerful dramas are ways I have found that soothe and nourish my soul, especially during times when kindness and caring human contact is in short supply.
As I was working on this blog, Liz Cheney spoke before Congress on the eve before the impending vote tomorrow (5/12/21) to remove her from her leadership position as the 3rd most powerful Republican Leader in the House. Republicans are doing this to her because she took a stand not to support Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She named Trump as the chief sower of doubt in the hearts and minds of Americans.
The Dark Force
By the way, the I Ching says doubt is the Dark Force. Now, who is being a superhero here in the United States on this very day of May 12, 2021? Who is growing the fabric of time and space rather than ripping it to tiny shards of broken light?
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Tibetan Book of the Dead warns the soul of a dying individual not to follow the illusionary images and lights they have created inside of themselves and then projected into the world around them. They did this because they did not understood their true Self in life. They did not descend and understand their true identity as a space-time being. They did not understand the meaning and purpose of life. Death is a time thats unravels the net of confused pain each individual becomes entangled within throughout the course of their life on Earth. To not do so, condemns the eternal soul to return again and again and again–sometimes (perhaps often) as a lesser being in order to learn the lessons not mastered in the life before. This returning can occur again and again for the world of rock and buildings and money and power is like water–it continually flows, dissolving everything in time.
Those who use the power of the Dark Force may indeed achieve tremendous riches, success, and power on Earth. However, all this will turn to dust and scatter into nothingness at the time of death. Nothing here is permanent. At death, we lose everything. Nothing that we thought is real is real. If we don’t let go of everything we have clung to in life, the tiny light of consciousness every human being is born into at the beginning of their life will be born into another painful life, again and again and again.
Those who peddle in doubt and fear can live 10 billion, million lives, each one diminishing his/her original source of light until there is nothing left of that light.
Leonard Cohen narrated a beautiful documentary about the practices and wisdom contained and known within the Buddhist tradition. It is elegant knowledge, beautiful knowledge. It shows how we can grow as space-time beings, as we are suppose to grow, rather than collapsing into smaller and smaller living beings.
“People make hell realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passions, out of envy or complacency. We project our emotional states, and then believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to be awake. So the best thing is to develop genuine compassion for all living beings and for ourselves too. And our compassion should extend beyond our friends and family and the people we like. It must extend to all people and to all living beings.” — From Documentary about The Tibetan Book of the Dead
This is how to wake up as a living conscious being.
The OA: This series is a mind-bending SyFy fantasy that often leaves viewers with more questions than answers. Word has it this is one of the reasons this show was cancelled after season 2 when 5 seasons were planned. Apparently the average viewer does not have the attention span or interests to dabble in complexity–perhaps this is the inevitable end to Carmel Marvel storytelling–everything has to be blunt, not complex, and nothing left to the imagination, much less to dabble with moral ambiguity. I loved this series. I guess I drank the Kool-aide and became part of its cult following late. And I agree with 110% with Brit Marling that storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
When the show was cancelled, one viewer went outside of Netflix’s headquarters and held an 8 day hunger strike. Refinery29 interviewed her and wrote a compelling article about why she did this.
“We are living in a time where it seems that things are going to go very badly,” explains Young in front of the Netflix building in Hollywood, where she has been protesting since August 15 and hunger striking since August 19. “The response to that has been ‘Okay, we’re going to make darker, grittier television.’ But in times of darkness, light is most important, and The OA is filled with light. We need something to let us know, ‘Yes, we can do something,’ because all the media around us is telling us that these are dark, grim times and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Created by Brit Marling and creative partner Zal Batmanglij, The OA tells the story of Prairie (Marling), a blind woman who returns after years in captivity with her sight restored. Season 1 of the series mostly exists within the narrative that Prairie tells a group of soon-to-be friends about her time in captivity and before it, in which she transcended time and space and found herself in alternate dimensions. Along the way, the show tackles themes of trauma, and of the importance of a human connection amongst it. Young isn’t wrong about The OA being different: There’s a hopefulness to The OA that is unmatched by more gritty prestige TV offerings like The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, even Game of Thrones.
Learning about this woman, Brit Marling and Zal Batmangli came and brought her water. Afterward, Brit posted this about her reaction to OA’s cancellation and how storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
This is no small thing that Emperial Young and Brit Marling are drawing our attention to in this protest and post, particularly this part: “… the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.” This is a post about Sisyphus: Is Late Capitalism and its push towards consolidation and economies of scale perhaps not the rock Sisyphus not pushing up the mountain getting it to the top after great effort only to have it fall back down to the bottom again and again and again.
Invisible City (Brazil): This is a new Brazilian fantasy that is streaming on Netflik television series created by Carlos Saldanha that is based on a story co-developed by the screenwriters and best-selling authors Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz. It is in Portuguese, so you have to read subtitles if you are only an English speaker. I was born in Brazil and once knew Portuguese, but have forgotten all of it. I loved listening to the characters speaking in Portuguese. It felt familiar and lovely. It is a musical language and the music in this series is alive and vibrant. I soon forgot I was reading subtitles and got lost in the rich and depth of storytelling unfolding through this complex, invigorating story. The characters are treated with dignity and respect. The puzzle of the drama unfolds in surprising reveals that add depth to the story and bring this mysterious world into vivid view.
Glitch (Australian): This is an older series that begins with a bang when a police officer and a doctor face an emotionally charged mystery as seven local residents inexplicably return from the dead. It is three seasons long, and the first two open up so many innovative ideas and possibilities, but season 3 falls flat on its face and destroys all the wonder and the miracle being explored, in my opinion. I am glad I watched it because I learned what I do not want to do as I write my tale.
I was so bothered by how they ended this series, I went on online to see if others were too and found this great blog: Old Ain’t Dead | Reviews of movies and TV focused on women … specifically Season 3 (so if you intend to watch Glitch, save this site for later because there are definitely spoilers, including my comment there).
Carmel Marvel Syndrome
When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, I have come to realize I am picky, and not all are the same. In fact in the United States, we are suffering from what I have come to term the Carmel Marvel Syndrome. It is a widespread a syndrome that is dumbing down how stories are being told in books and reimagined on screens. The good-bad divide in Carmel Marvel stories is stark, uncreative, and boring. Nothing is left in-between–you are either the good guy or girl or you’re the bad one. The bad ones almost always lose in the end, but you get there in terribly unimaginative, brutal, evil ways…as the good guy or gal finally finds a morsel of moral or spiritual strength and prevails. Romance is reduced to uninspiring sex scenes that clearly come from basal fantasies of pale males.
What bothers me most is Carmel Marvel storytelling is that they are not honest to the characters. They tend to stripe away their complexity and humanity and force them to do things against their character’s moral underpinnings. Yes, imagined characters have moral underpinnings, they are real and must strive for meaning, purpose and dignity too. I am not going to explain this now, but Carmel Marvel stories like to put their characters into highly contrived situations that they would never do unless forced to by their bored and uninspired creators. They are put into these situations purely for entertainment reasons, which really translates to money. Because Carmel Marvel producers and creators hope for billions and billions of viewers–and they think only highly fantasized modern gladiators well do this. After watching such a sickly story, nothing sticks or stays in the psyche or soul from the story. That is because there is nothing real there. There is nothing nearing the human experience of meaning, truth, reality, or wonder. Everyone knows these types of stories are junk food for the soul. They are cheap imitation of images meant to trick, deceive, and fill you up with a whole lot of nothing, just like if you ate only Carmel candy for all your daily nutrient requirements.
So let’s get back to that word Sisyphus that kept popping into my mind.
After being disappointed by another Carmel Marvel HBO series, I switched back to Netflix to hunt for a new series to watch. That’s when a 2021 Netflix out of South Korea caught my eye. It was called Sisyphus! Normally, I would have put it on my To Watch Later list since it required reading subtitles again. But because of the synchronicity, I thought what the heck, go for it!
I loved it! And I discovered that I love the Korean way of telling stories!!!!
The fabric of this story is rich woven with little bits of gold and silver throughout the 16 episodes. Each one takes the viewer on a journey, revealing a little bit more in surprising ways that adds depth to each character, even the evil ones. The villains have backstories that are as complex as the heroes. Villains and heroes alike are treated honestly and no high tech short cuts are used to substitute good storytelling. Throughout the 16 episodes, the viewer enters a journey (a world) that grows more and more complex as you go: you grow as the characters grow.
Sisyphus masters the art of subtle storytelling. This is a subject I briefly touched upon early in my blogging efforts in a blog questioning if Collective Transformation Possible. In it I talk about the Black Magician and the White Magician and their roles in our human psyche. I drew them while listening to a Chinese business-financial scholar talk about Trump’s power play back in 2018 with China on trade. (It’s didn’t end well by the way… this power play Trump tried… for Americans or for Trump who placed the livelihood of hundreds of small soybean and other farmers in jeopardy.)
Dr. Peter Chen pointed out Western ideas of negotiation are quite different from Eastern ideas. He said in Chinese, the most similar word they have to negotiation is tánpàn, which means talking and judging. For the Chinese, it is considered the dark side of economics with the East preferring to focus on conversation when working out deals. However, there are huge differences in how conversation is conducted by a Western diplomat versus an Eastern diplomat. By Eastern standards, Westerners are considered low-context communicators (i.e., direct and forceful, which can be considered very rude by Eastern standards). Eastern culture dictates a much more high-context style of communication, which is reserved, relies more on body language, and is based on relationships.
This why I loved Sisyphus. They tell this story using a much more high-context style of storytelling. I also love listening to the actors speak Korean. Every word they utter is full of meaning, purpose, and emotion. The tone and way a word is said is more important than the word itself. You understand a song by how the singer sings it, so too with Eastern languages. They are full of images, meaning, context, and emotion. And isn’t that what we are really craving in watching or reading a story? Deep meaning and purpose? Sure, lots of people will say they just want to escape into something entertaining… but if you discover something about yourself and others while doing so, isn’t that a whole lot better. Stuff that stick to you and makes you a better individual… helps you grow as a conscious living being?!
Even though we deny how powerful and essential good storytelling is in Western culture, we are starving for good, wholesome, spirituous stories that fed our souls as well as our fractured, confused minds. Stories that awaken sleeping spirits needed to defeat doubt: the force that splinters our psyche and traps us in endless delusions and illusions that only make us smaller, meaner, and contribute to the demise of all life on Earth.
A new friend I’ve made during runs with Pumper (another mom of dogs and kids) recommended another Korean Netflix show called Crash Landing on You. I didn’t think I would like it better than Sisyphus, but I love it even more. The depth of each character grows and spills out in unexpected ways in each episode. And don’t miss the little peaks at the very end after you think the episode has concluded. Not always, but often, they show you something not shown earlier. It is often something that fills in a gap and fills out the depth of the character–how they are thinking, perceiving, and acting in the world. How they are transforming through time and space.
My friend Fabian Navin has just posted something very insightful about why I loved this show. The Facebook embedding is not working, so I am copying below what Fabian has posted (go to his site above to see more of his posts):
*Warriorhood in Marriage and Relationship* Conscious fighting is a great help in relationships between men and women. Jung said, “American marriages are the saddest in the whole world, because the man does all his fighting at the office.”
When a man and a woman are standing toe-to-toe arguing, what is it that the man wants? Often he does not know. He wants the conflict to end because he is afraid, because he doesn’t know how to fight, because he “doesn’t believe in fighting,” because he never saw his mother and father fight in a fruitful way, because his boundaries are so poorly maintained that every sword thrust penetrates to the very center of his chest, which is tender and fearful. When shouts of rage come out of the man, it means that his warriors have not been able to protect his chest; the lances have already entered, and it is too late.
Michael Meade has suggested that both marital partners begin by identifying the weapons that have come down through their family lines. Perhaps the woman has inherited the short dagger, used unexpectedly, and the spiked mace, which she swings down late in the argument onto the foot soldier’s head. The husband may have inherited a broad sword, which he swings when frightened in large indiscriminate circles; it says “never” and “always.” “You always talk like your mother.” He might add the slender witticism spear to that.
Some people also use the “doorway lance.” When the argument is over, and the woman, let’s say, is about to go to work, the man says: “By the way,” and the lance pins her to the doorframe.
Man and wife might say which weapons he or she plans to use in the particular fight coming up. During such preliminary conversations the man’s warrior and woman’s warrior are welcomed in the house and honored. A good fight gets things clear, and I think women long to fight and be with men who know how to fight well.
When both use their weapons unconsciously or without naming them, both man and woman stumble into the battle, and when it is over the two interior children can be badly wounded. The adult warrior inside both men and women, when trained, can receive a blow without sulking or collapsing, knows how to fight for limited goals, keeps the rules of combat in mind, and in general is able to keep the fighting clean and to establish limits.
Marie-Louise von Franz once told a story about a woman friend. “This woman had gone through several marriages. Each marriage would go well until an argument came. Then she would throw a fit, and say damaging things. The terrible quarrels would continue, and finally the man would leave. One day we heard she had found a new husband, and we said, ‘Oh-oh, here it goes again.’ But something else happened. A few weeks after the honeymoon, the same old quarrel arrived and she brought out her poison and said terrible things. The husband turned pale, but to her surprise, said nothing, and left the room. She found him upstairs packing his bags. ‘What are you doing?’ she said. I know,’ he said, ‘that I am supposed to act like a man now and shout and hit you, but I am not that sort of man. I will not allow anyone to talk to me in the way you have, and I am leaving.’ She was astounded. She asked him not to leave, and he didn’t. The marriage is still going on.”
This story is not perfect. If a woman has a fair argument, it is not right for the man to leave; he should stay and fight. But von Franz’s use of the word fit implies that her friend had a habit of going over the line into possession. Her fits belonged metaphorically to Kali’s realm, rather than to the human realm. Men cross that line often as well. The inner warrior can tell a person when the partner is on this side of the human line, and when on the other side.
Marion Woodman remarks in The Ravaged Bridegroom, “Anger comes from the personal level, rage from an archetypal core. . . . The rage in both sexes comes out of centuries of abuse.
If it is taken into relationships, it destroys. Attacking each other in a state of possession has nothing to do with liberation.” The interior warrior in both men and women can help them to fight on the human plane. If men and women have only soldiers or shamed children inside, they will have to settle for damaging battles constantly. ~Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
I am totally hooked now on the Korean way of telling stories!!
The stories we tell can liberate us or chain us to the rock we must push up the mountain of life only to watch it fall back down, again and again and again, like poor old Sisyphus. Who do you want to be in life? How are you going to become the best version of yourself, a better person than you have been so far? How will you grow you fragile light of consciousness and help others do the same?
— Myths of Fear, Marks of the Beast, and the End of the World
Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 5 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
Oh How We Love Scary Tales & Stories Skirting the Edge of Being Bad
We play with reality. We do this with our minds. The world is not a perfect place and a lot of bad things happen in it. When we don’t understand something, it is in our nature to make sense of it, and we do this most often by telling each other stories. Collective stories provide a critical glue that hold people together in a common understanding of reality. But that is not all collective stories do. Collective stories activate our inner worlds. They energize them and inspire action in the world. They are powerful and people who seek power know this and they know how to manipulate stories to benefit themselves or a small few.
Recently, the idea of alternative facts and reality has entered the mainstream Western lexicon with a vengeance. It’s been confounding to watch common, ordinary facts get twisted and ripped apart, then thrown in the air like confetti. Today, pretty much anyone can be a Magician of Reality; pretty much anyone can concoct elaborate myths and illusions of reality, and then peddle their piddle as truth. People do this for lots of reasons: to entertain, to distract from something bad they’ve done, and to manipulate and misguide others to make a lot of money.
Profit & the News (or Should I Say Altered News Meant to Tantalize, Titillate, and Terrorize)
People profit from misinformation. People like Alex Jones. It is so very tempting, in fact, it is irresistible to become a Master of Illusions. If you have not heard This American’s Life episode titled: Beware the Jabberwock, now it a good time to stop reading and listen to this episode.
There are two acts in this episode. The first is one is called: Down the Rabbit Hole where producer Miki Meeks picks up the story of Lenny Pozner, whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook. In the years after Noah’s death, Lenny and his family were harassed by people who believed the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened – that it was all a conspiracy. Until one day, Lenny decided to fight back. (24 minutes)
The second one is called: Alex in Wonderland. It is narrative by Jon Ronson who travels to Alex Jones’ hometown to validate the Alex Jones myth. He finds many, many holes in Alex’s recollection of his own past.
This act’s description is: Alex Jones spread the idea that Sandy Hook was a hoax, on his radio show and website for years after the shooting. He’s probably the country’s most famous conspiracy theorist. He’s even had Donald Trump on his show. Reporter Jon Ronson travels to Jones’ hometown in Texas, to investigate the story Jones tells about himself, and how he became who he is. Jon Ronson and his producer Lina Misitzis originally created a version of this story for Audible. They also produced Jon’s latest series, a longform Original “The Last Days of August,” the never-before-told story of what caused the untimely death of 23-year-old porn star August Ames. It’s available exclusively on Audible.com. (27 minutes)
Fake News, Fake News — EverywhereYou Look — Get Your Fake News HitToday, Just Click Here
Much has been written about misinformation, but it was not until after the election results of 2016 that more people started paying attention to the real life effects that misinformation can have on ordinary, every day, real people. the AmericanPress Institute published a very good article: Factually: How misinformation makes money in 2019. Just a little teaser from this article:
“There has been much written about how fake news websites and other sources make money from spreading misinformation. During the 2016 election in the United States, it even became a cottage industry.
Now a new study quantifies just how much misinformers are profiting from online advertising. Spoiler: It’s a lot.“
Because There Is Billions and Billions of Dollars Out There
An article in GWToday reports on a virtual forum hosted by GW’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics that explored the harm being caused by online disinformation related to COVID-19 and social media regulation (or lack there of it). This article reports that Facebook netted $17.4 billion in advertising in its most recent quarter (back in 2020).
“Fear mongering, fraudulent groups are using social media to scam users with false rumors and fake claims about COVID-19,”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “Foreign actors including Russia, but not exclusively there, are flooding platforms with conspiracy theories and lies to sow national dissent as America protests racial injustice. Even our own president is using social media to fan the flames of intolerance and hatred during this precarious time in the nation’s history.”
So,Let’s Hurry Up and Make a PageThat Misleads, Misguides, and Makes Lot’s of Money TOO!
Insider reported in October of 2020 about 40 Facebook pages identified as ‘super-spreaders’ of election misinformation that were reaching million of users.
The Bigger the Lie — The More We Will Make!!
Sadly, we know how this misinformation cumulated into the Big Lie touted by Trump and his diehard cronies in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. In a letter to the editor of Lehigh Valley Live, one person summarizes the danger this type of information presents to us all.
The Big Lie headlines once again. Joe Biden and political commentators reference “the big election lie” to describe President Trump’s narrative regarding the election results. With repetition, the big lie takes on a life of its own. It becomes the truth to many and empowers its believers to think and act according to itself. Trump, his big lie and the believers of the big lie are cited by non-believing white people as the destroyers of democracy and the bearers of death.
Trump’s lie may be the modern Big Lie, but what is the biggest lie, the lie that has endured years, decades and centuries … the lie that shelters itself in our hearts … the lie that is passed from generation to generation?
If we white people of good will refuse to see ourselves reflected in the white supremacy that rose up on Jan. 6, then we choose to reject the truth that will free all of us. The truth will enable us to destroy our protective wall of white privilege and co-create with all our fellow human beings a society that respects the worth and dignity of each of us.
The biggest lie is the lie we choose to live. Choose truth.
In May 2020, Open Secrets explored how dark money networks hide political agendas behind fake news sites. One of the most super successful Master of Illusions to rise in recent history is Donald Trump (who Alex Jones counts as a close friend).
“Tax records analyzed by OpenSecrets reveal ACRONYM’s most recent financial information and shine light on its cozy relationship with affiliated entities.”
“ACRONYM raised $9.4 million from secret donors during its second year of operation through April 2019, more than seven times the prior year according to its tax returns. Three anonymous donors giving more than $1 million each made up more than half of that, with the top donor giving more than $2 million.”
Terrorizing people and misleading them is BIG Business!
And still, here we are reporting on the costs and consequences of misinformation in the world. For instance, this article about the very real dangers of COVID-19 misinformation was published on Jan 6, 2021. Ironically, the day the U.S. Capitol was ransacked by people who had ingested, believed, and acted on another myth filled with misinformation fed to them by the Big Lie.
Anti-Semitism, Evil Powers, the End of the World— Oh, and Don’t Forget How Eve Messed Everything Up
Michael Blume, a political scientist who serves as anti-Semitism commissioner for the government of Baden-Württemberg against anti-Semitism since 2018, has explored theories of religion and the effects in the brain (“neurotheologies”). In a recent interview, he says:
“Supporters of conspiracy myths believe that evil powers rule the world, says Michael Blume, who has just written a book on the subject. It is not a question of education: “You can have an engineering degree, a PhD or a professor’s degree and use all your intelligence to sink all the deeper into conspiracy myths. With regard to the QAnon conspiracy myth, Blume predicts that the movement will disintegrate after the US presidential election. The remaining followers will, however, become more radical, he fears. ‘It cannot be ruled out that further violence will result from this conspiracy movement.‘”
In another interview, he was asked about Querdenken 711 and explains:
So you’re not surprised about some of the statements being spread in these demonstrations? [i.e., Germany’s anti-lockdown movement “Querdenken 711”]
“Yes, it’s always been like that. Whenever a pandemic has occurred in history, we have had two possibilities. Either we face the fear and uncertainty and inform ourselves, while living with the fact that we don’t have any ready answers. For example, we do not know when the vaccine will be available. And the other option is simply to block it out: I don’t accept the fear, I look for a group to blame. All I have to do is shout at them and go out into the street. And then everything is supposed to be fine.“
“Many of these conspiracy myths already existed in the 15th to 19th centuries. Sometimes it even gets a bit boring, because they are always the same building pieces. People demonstrate together, whether they are left, center, or right, but what connects them is their image of the common enemy. And that is the important thing: People are so fixated in their fears that it is not even creative. They never come up with a Brazilian world conspiracy or a world conspiracy of Quakers or the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s always, always, always Jews and women behind it.“
In another clip from another interview, Jitarth Jadeja explains how he found QAnon in 2017, and then spent two years entrenched in this virtual cult. His biggest regret he tells is sharing the conspiracy theory with his father.
And Good Morning America explored how QAnon is tearing families apart.
But Let’s Return to thePlandemic Myth & Dig A Little Deeper
The myth that COVID-19 was planned follows the classic pathways of myth creations humans have been using since we began telling stories about ourselves and what has happened to us as we journeyed through time and space. It uses pseudo sources of trusted sources of information about the coronavirus. One such pseudo experts is the radiologist that Trump appointed to the U.S. Corona Task Force. Trump appointed this idiot because he preaches about the benefits of herd immunity–something Trump was preaching in his vain effort to get re-elected. To Trump, the Coronavirus was an unwelcome reality check that pulled the covers off his levees of lies and levers of deception he was using to hoodwink his supporters into believing he was looking out for them. But, he wasn’t. He doesn’t look out for anyone but himself. Every moment of his life is a transaction he must win. So, Anthony Fauci’s science-based knowledge about what was happening to us was inconvenient to Trump’s failed narrative of how he would Make America Great again. Thus, enter the pseudo expert, a radiologist with no knowledge or understanding of infectious diseases spouting off the lies Trump wanted you to believe.
Or the doctor Trump retweeted promoting hydroxychloroquine as a legitimate treatment for Coronavirus despite overwhelming evidence this immunosuppressive drug normally used as an anti-parasitical treatment for malaria had significant risks of triggering a heart attack in Coronavirus patients. In this same video the Trump greatly amplified through his mindless retweet, this pseudo doctor blames America’s current health problems on demon sperm. I’m not exaggerating…I really, really wish I was, but Trump really retweeted this doctor.
Trevor Noah explains it much more plainly.
As you know, this sort of crazy thinking is not contained only to the United States. It is spreading globally like a goopy goo crisscrossing the glove through social media channels–being spread through anonymous document like the one I got hoodwinked into editing. It is absolutely a mind virus spreading and has many names; the most popular being “Plandemic“.
Let’s Make A Myth & Make It Stick (Like Really Sticky Goopy Goop)
One story line of the Plandemic (there are many out theredepending on who you want the enemy to be) goes something like this: There is a group of global elites who created the virus and unleashed it on the world to make more money (as if global elites don’t have anything better to do with their lives than commit mass murder, well…maybe some, but this narrative is hiding something lacking in the person drawn to it).
There is something incredibly glittery about pinning all the ills of the world on some super elites (and I agree they do share a bigger burden for perpetuating many of our current problems), but it’s too glittery, too black-and-white, too clean and neat… and reality is not clean and neat, it is messy and confusing, and confounding most of the time. But that is the appeal of myths, they make sense out of ignorance, mindlessness, folly, foolishness, idiocy, imbecility, incapacity, senselessness, and stupidity.
Now, Back to QAnon & the Shaman!!
Now, let’s dig deeper into another glittery conspiracy myth: Q (or better known as QAnon).
This article labels Angeli as Inter-dimensionally Stupid, but is he, really? Is he not rather tapping into something deep living inside all of us that is trying desperately to navigate its way through intensely troubling tremendously stressful, fully anxiety riddled, and sometimes quite terrifying times?
Everyone is looking for answers to really scary, complicated stuff that leaves even the best and brightest of us feeling incompetent and with no personal control of what is happening to us, to the ones we love, to the world. It is during times like this when myths are more powerful and important.
So Who Is Q?
No, Q is not the beloved, mischievous character from Star Trek. Although one might just consider this for a minute. I bet the Star Trek Q is exactly who the Russian Special Disinformation Agent known as Sergei was thinking of when he scribbled out a scrappy story for his Internet disinformation campaign he had been assigned to back in 2016.
Sergei just happened to hit gold dust when he scribbled down and spewed out his fictional character Q onto the social media channels he had been assigned to pollute. Oh how the angry Americans he was interacting with gobbled Q up in the lead up to the 2016 election. Sergei crafted his mysterious Q to have mysterious access to all the dirt on Hillary Clinton. Since then, Q has evolved into the great peculiar leader of QAnon, a conspiracy theory/myth alleging there is a battle between good and evil in which the Republican Mr. Trump is allied with the former.
Good Bubble | Bad Bubble
It should be. It is the classical story arch all great stories and myths follow. Returning to our good friend Mr. Trump, it is as if he found and is guarding the good bubble of reality for all of us to step into and be safe just like Glinda the Good Witch of the South who arrived just in the nick of time to help Dorothy survive the land of Oz.
But if you have a good bubble and a good witch, there must be a bad bubble and a bad witch, right?
AndThis Guy Named Q
The Wall Street Journalreported on this newest (and pretty strange story) about this guy named Q saying: “QAnon followers are awaiting two major events: the Storm and the Great Awakening. The Storm is the mass arrest of people in high-power positions who will face a long-awaited reckoning. The Great Awakening involves a single event in which everyone will attain the epiphany that QAnon theory was accurate the whole time. This realization will allow society to enter an age of utopia.”
So, Sergei still sits in his sod hut somewhere on the Siberian Tundra typing out tangy new details about Q while chomping on Spicy Cheetos and shooting down shots of vodka. Sergei is particularly proud about how QAnon has inspired enthusiastic new believers to carry out a despicable vandalizing attack on 3 galleries in Berlin. These vandals used some oily substance, which they threw on ancient artifacts such as Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th-century paintings held at the Pergamon Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Neues Museum sustained visible damage during the attack on 3 October, as reported by The Guardian. Reportedly, they did this because these museums were thought to be one of the centre of ‘global satanism’.
This is crazy stuff, right? But it is happening now in 2020 landing it right up there with the man who drove up from North Carolina, entered a beloved family pizza place called Comet Ping Pong, and shot off rounds from his rifle. Terrified families threw themselves and their children under tables while he babbled about freeing the fictional children enslaved in the basement of the pizza joint by Hillary Clinton and other Democrats elites. It is a very sad moment now known as Pizzagate.
Splitting— The Magic Ingredient of Conspiracy Myths — A Kind of Mind BubbleThat Tend to Pop Pretty Fast When It Hits the Rock of Reality (Mother Earth… the ground upon which all life must stand upon)
To spin his illusions Sergei counts on our human fallibilities that get heighten during times of highly charged social unrest such as current American politics or the pressures of globalism or the looming calamities Climate Change promises to rain down on us. Sergei knows when humans feel stressed and not in control of their stress, he can prey upon the looming hopeless and despair threatening to crush them. When people feel like this, it is easy to lure them back into an immature and destructive psychological defense mechanisms called splitting.
Splitting allows humans to make just about anyone or anything into an instant enemy. Sergei knows this and makes his mysterious Q just vague enough so people project whatever they want into his fantasy character. Once frighten desperate people have their leader, it is very simple to create an enemy out of just about anyone or anything in 4 easy steps: Step 1) Take ordinary reality and cut it into good and bad parts, Step 2) Walk inside the good bubble created by splitting reality into polar opposites, Step 3) Inhabit your good bubble and invite your friends, then zip up your bubble, Step 4) Everything remaining outside of your good bubble is the enemy, this is the bad bubble that must be popped.
Anyone can do this. In fact, we have all done this because it is a normal psychological defense mechanism all children pass through on their way to becoming adults. It becomes a maladaptive psychological defense mechanism when adults continue to do it long into their adult years. When it becomes the only thing they do to deal with the unpleasant aspects of reality it can be pathological. One of the best write ups I have read describing psychological defense mechanisms (i.e., they range from the most highly evolved and mature mechanisms to the most neurotic, immature, and pathological mechanisms) is this excellent blog simply titled: Defence Mechanisms.
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Next Post in Storytelling Species: Part 6: Individual Storytelling — The Magic Ingredient
— Myths Are Passages Channeling Energies That Can Hold Us Together or Tear Us Apart
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 4 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The truth of any civilization is that it is not a monolithic, inanimate thing. Human civilizations live. They are complex living entities that are fed and sustained by each individual living within it. Because of this, civilizations can die when they become sick or too rigid to flow with the pressurizing forces of time.
Many years ago, long before humans where considered human, the motivation to live together in groups was pretty straight forward—survive. Lots of species on Earth live in groups or herds or packs or flocks because it is beneficial to individual survival. Of course, individual sacrifices are required to live harmoniously in groups. For example, there always seems to be many more low status individuals than high status individuals in a group. However, overall the enhanced survival benefit of being in the group rather than outside of it tends to be a powerful motivator.
The structure of groups and how they operate is determined primarily by instincts. There are lots of similarities in instinctual responses between species because all life has had to adapt to common environmental challenges on Earth, making lots of similarities of group life between species. But, there are plenty of examples of uniquely tuned instincts species have evolved to equip them to thrive in very specific niches, making very unique group structures–consider what it would be like to live inside a beehive.
What Are Instincts?
I will let Dr. Robert Sapolsky tell you about instincts and how human beings are exactly the same in these fixed action patterns as any other mammal on Earth, but also utterly unique in how we use fixed action patterns to do things as individuals and groups. He is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He has possesses an impressive body of field research and artfully combines his mastery of his field with a charismatic ability to communicate with others, allowing him to make complicated concepts understandable to just about anyone.
This is one of his shorter talks that it is well worth listening to if you have ever wondered about human behavior and why we do the things we do. In this talk, Dr. Sapolsky dispels every myth of how humans are unique and different than animals; however, in each instance where we act exactly the same as everyone else here on Earth, he also points out how we do it bigger, more extravagantly, and ostentatiously than any other animal on Earth, and that makes us utterly unique.
Living in groups is one of the things we do as humans that is utterly different than other animals on Earth. When we live in groups, we do it with pizzazz and with style. We like our groups to proceed in a manner and approach that generates vast, complicated, and intricate social systems that operate more like ecosystems, allowing the humans existing within them to seemingly live outside of or beyond the constraints of nature. No other animal lives quite like humans do in groups–that is for sure. Our precocious ingenuity has allowed us to occupy just about every livable niche on the planet. And when we encounter a non-livable niche, we can change it so we can live there too!
Stories of Hermits
It is possible to live utterly alone as a human being and still survive. There are many stories of hermits and monks who have lived alone for years, decades, their entire adult lives. Many are fabled to do this in order to overcome and master their most primal fixed action patterns. But some simply do not want human interaction or the entanglements that human relationships entail. These are important stories. However, our current collective story is not one about a world populated by 7.8 billion hermits. I doubt Earth could even sustain 7.8 billion human beings living utterly alone and unconnected to each other.
For a modern true tale of a man living utterly alone, Snap Judgement tells a riveting tale titled The North Pond Hermit.
Snap Judgment Description:
There was a legend in central Maine, about a hermit who had lived in the woods, unseen, for 30 years. Then, in 2013, the police arrested a man named Christopher Knight.
Produced by Joe Rosenberg, original score by Renzo Gorrio & Andrew Vickers
Why Do We Need to Care About Instincts?
To me, this is simple. If we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our daily lives, we are destine to act based on fixed action patterns (e.g., deeply encoded urges, impulses, and instincts). When we live in an unconscious manner, we do not feel and thus cannot fulfill our full potential as a human being. We live rather as our parents, forebears, and ancestors lived seldom taking a moment to consider if what we are doing now, what we have been taught to do and think and believe, is right for the moment we are living in.
When we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our constantly changing circumstances, our preprogramming is bound to kick in and run wild. Acting in this way stagnates our spark of consciousness as individuals and as a species. It can even make us lose consciousness, going backwards as an individual or a group (devolving rather than evolving).
In addition to instincts, human beings (being so darn clever and unique in how we live in groups) also bring cultural precepts, religious doctrines, community rules, and all the decrees, commandments, and directives deemed necessary to live in big, complicated societies and civilizations. We willingly agree to abide by these rules whenever we join a new group or alliance or club or clique. It’s the price we pay as human beings to belong to things we think benefit us in some way or another. In highly technological, modern societies, this can add up to be a lot of groups to which an individual must belong. If a person is not careful, this sort of belongingness can end up sabotaging the amount of and quality of consciousness that can be brought to bear, without fear or favor, to our situations, circumstances, struggles, and challenges encountered in life.
When we act unconsciously to our circumstances, we often fail to apprehend, understand, and act in ways that are needed to maintain harmony in our life and in the lives of those around us. Instead, we often end up acting no better than a troop of baboons. However, because we are human, we tend to put highly creative and imaginative spins on making our lives more miserable and difficult than they need to be, if only we would have brought a little more attention and consciousness to the situation, which would have allowed us to see the bigger picture and understand the interconnections present in all events transpiring here on Earth.
Stories Act Like Glue Holding Complicated Groups Together
So what keeps us from tearing each others faces off (like baboons can do when their status is provokedby a young upstart or lower status member)? What allows us to work together in more or less harmonious ways within our massive social conglomerations?
Religions have long served a fundamental role in creating and maintaining cooperative groups. Sports can unify and unite groups, even pull different groups together in friendly competition. Food is a great unifier too, so is music. And so are stories, especially mythical stories that activate numinous content in our psyche (I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
Here are some of the foundational stories that have helped create and define Western Civilization. It is a list put together by the BBC of the top 10 stories of Western Civilization. Let’s look at a few:
1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
Bethanne Patrick, Contributing Editor of Lit Hub, says, “I believe the journey of Odysseus defined a streak of individualism particular to Western culture that has led to much change in the world – good and bad.”
Kenneth W Warren, Professor of English at University of Chicago, agrees. “The Odyssey has provided the architecture for the quest narrative and template for characterising male and female virtue in ways that shape, enable, and limit our storytelling habits into the present.”
Novelist Beverley Naidoo hones in on: “The multiple stories within Odysseus’ 10-year journey home after the Trojan war, while faithful Penelope waits for him and son Telemachus seeks him, have seeped deep into our cultural consciousness. The human elements within this myriad of stories continue to resonate down the centuries, allowing endless reinterpretation.”
Jenny Bhatt, writer and Contributing Editor at PopMatters calls it “the first widely-read political novel in the US” and “the first work of fiction that openly addressed the cruelty of slavery, human exploitation, the lopsided legal system, the entrenched patriarchy, the need for feminism, and more.” It became one of the most popular books of the century – in the US and abroad – and is credited with radically altering the perception of slavery, with many voters noting its influence on the abolition movement. Its human focus and call for empathy struck a chord among readers.
Author and novelist Roxana Robinson says it “told the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved, and was one of the first novels to show black characters as fathers and mothers, parents and children – human beings, who were living under inhuman conditions.”
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
Nilanjana S Roy, novelist and Financial Times columnist, points out: “Frankenstein influenced scientists as well as writers… [and] speaks to the modern fear of the creations that spin out of our control”;
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, is “the quintessential story of the modern world” says Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern-Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck College, London.
The compelling story of the scientist who brings a creature to life has become one of the most enduring images in modern literature and beyond, and the monster serves as the “ultimate metaphor”, says Lena Wånggren, Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
There is an “uncanny accuracy” says Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at Westminster University, in the book’s definition of modern tyranny: “Now more than ever, we seem to live in the framework it identified… Even the author’s name – ‘Orwellian’ – conjures up a world of thought control. Its precision about the mechanisms of propaganda and the machinery of oppression has got it banned by every authoritarian regime: they are scared of its power to name horror. It is a handbook for those who want to resist.”
All those who chose Orwell’s masterpiece seem to agree on one thing – the novel’s scary prescience. “Big Brother gets all the attention,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana S Roy. “But it’s the rest, the eagerness to join mobs, to obey, to hurt, that he caught so unforgettably.”
Or, as BBC Culture Editor Rebecca Laurence succinctly puts it: “The ultimate 20th-Century novel becomes the ultimate 21st-Century novel. Terrifying.”
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
Telling the story of the colonisation of a Nigerian tribe from the point of view of an African, Things Fall Apart explodes stereotypes about Africa and brought to life the true impact of cross-cultural misunderstandings. Achebe said that “this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people, or as Conrad would say, ‘rudimentary souls’”.
The European colonial narrative could never be the same after this was published. “It’s an empowering African novel: it brought African experience to the world like no other African fiction has”, according to Dominica Dipio, Associate Professor of Literature at Makerere University in Uganda.
By changing the filter through which the continent was seen, “The novel showed readers what an African world looked like when it was not being reduced to canned images animated by racist assumptions,” says Ainehi Edoro-Glines, a Nigerian academic. “Achebe’s innovation was to change the conventions of modern storytelling so that instead of seeing darkness any time readers looked at Africa, they’d see what every novel was designed to show – a complex representation of life.”
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
“It gets at the primordial human desire for the story that never ends – which can very easily stand for life that never comes to an end.” Ahdaf Soueif, novelist, writer and commentator, points out: “Many characters, motifs and quotations (‘Open Sesame!’) from this set of stories within stories have become common parlance across the world.”
“It’s the deepest of wells,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana Roy. “In medieval & modern times, from writers to singers and film-makers, we never stopped drawing from it.”
Critic Muneeza Shamsie admires “Sheherazade’s courage, intelligence and confidence and fact she succeeds, asserts the power of storytelling and imagination over tyranny and terror – a concept which has strongly influenced the ideals and ideas of our world.”
Lena Merhej, a comic artist from Lebanon, picked the book “because it gives a subversive voice to a woman that uses it as a weapon for her survival.”
To see the rest and read all of the reasons why these stories were selected, go to the BBC Culture page (note book images come from this page as well).
We Are An Unfolding Story
One could even say the United States’ Declaration of Independence is a collective story of the highest order and complexity that all its citizens (and even its non-citizens for no country or civilization operates in a vacuum no matter how powerful they have grown) play out every day. And so as it is played out, it is written–an unfolding story through time in space.
Manoush Zomorodi introduces him this way: “And it has been a year of thinking how our actions affect our neighbors, a year of realizing that many of our systems do little for the most vulnerable among us and here in the U.S., a year when the population further splintered over what it means to be an American. And so how do we talk about all this stuff without alienating each other? How do we move forward collectively? And what is our civic duty in the 21st century? These are big questions. And so on the show today, we’re going to explore ideas about How To Citizen with Baratunde Thurston. He’s been working on and thinking about this topic for years. And he recently came out with a new podcast series appropriately called How To Citizen.“
Through this episode Manoush and Baratunde explore some of his notable podcasts and TedTalks. The first individuals he brings up is the lawyer and civil rights activist Valarie Kaur and what she calls Revolutionary Love. He tells Manoush, “I picked Valarie as the opening voice in the podcast series, the How To Citizen podcast. I wanted her to offer a spiritual invocation to the whole idea of what it means to citizen as a verb. And that means to commit to each other.”
Thurston highlights something Valarie talks about, which is “In order to love others, see no stranger. We can train our eyes to look upon strangers on the street, on the subway, on the screen and say in our minds, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. When we say this, what we are saying is, you are a part of me I do not yet know. I choose to wonder about you. Number three, in order to love our opponents, tend the wound. Tending to the wound is not healing them. Only they can do that. Just tending to it allows us to see our opponents, the terrorists, the fanatic, the demagogue. They’ve been radicalized by cultures and policies that we together can change.“
Another person they highlight is
Thurston says, “So yeah. So to empathize and identify with the idea of hurt and pain and to acknowledge that I have played a role in probably someone else’s life where I was the opponent – to extend that to others, that’s when it makes sense to me, and it’s not just this masochistic endeavor.”
The next person Thurston brings up is Eric Liu (who he likes to call Mr. Democracy).
Thurston tells Manoush, “Yeah, I had been talking about this project of How To Citizen for years in some form, and I saw his talk at TED about making civics sexy again and these Civic Saturdays events and sermons, all this kind of religious faith language. But the faith was not in an all-seeing, all-knowing deity. It was in very fallible human beings and our institutions.“
There is much more to this talk and all of it is well worth your time to listen to in full or to read the transcript if you are interested in a healthy, diverse, thriving, democratic system. But this is why I am zeroing in on language and storytelling. We tell the stories through our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions (or non-actions). We are writing our living systems as we live it.
It is hard to keep a democratic nation. It is hard to balance differences (e.g., different perspectives, needs, desires, beliefs) as expressed and lived by lots and lots of different people from all over the world who have come to live in the United States. In the TedTalk mentioned above, Liu says: ” Democracy works only when enough of us believe democracy works.”
It takes work to keep a democracy. One of the most memorable points Liu made was out democracy does not automatically spring from constitutional rules but from the inner workings of civic spirit–that is us. We all contribute to the quality of this spirit and whether it is healthy or not.
I know it is hard to stay informed and to pay attention to all the things a complicated society like the United States of America requires its citizens know, but this sort of knowledge is important for the system to continually sustain and renew itself. It is tempting to clamp down and claim that one’s own personal set of principles or beliefs are the only ones to follow to move forward. It is hard to compromise and walk another’s path.
Moments of Illumination& Seeing More of the Story
One of things I think the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated is weakness in our existing systems of being around the world. Many of these weakness can be traced back to individuals living unconsciously; people choosing to live in narrow channels and closing themselves off to points of views that are not in alignment to their preconceived ideas and beliefs; people who refuse and are unwilling to see the world from someone else’s perspective–to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
An interview with Kai Ryssal of MarketPlace demonstrates vividly what is happening to millions of people who have lost jobs and feel like they have been forgotten, even thrown away by our current system of being in the world. A brief clip from this interview that drills down on the fissures in our system and collective way of doing things that is doing us in as a collective is the following:
Ryssdal: When we talked last time, I don’t even remember what I said, but you in essence said you felt you had been forgotten and overlooked. And just to break the fourth wall a little bit here, we kept in touch and you sent us a text in January that said, and this is you now, “I feel so astonishingly betrayed by the systems responsible for protecting and providing for our nation.” Do you as a guy on the lower rungs of the income ladder in this country, do you feel any hope that it’s going to get better post-virus?
Cairns: You know, I really don’t see a lot of silver lining. We are so eager to get back to normal that we’re probably going to ignore a lot of the lessons learned from this pandemic. You know, restaurants and bars are already trying to go back to business as usual. Customers, people in general, definitely want to just go right back to normal. And without some sort of structure, some sort of system in place to help facilitate people taking things easier, I don’t see how this is going to get much better in the future.
Ryssdal: But Neil, if a bar or restaurant opened up around the corner from you and said, “Hey, we can give you 25 hours a week,” would you do it?
Cairns: Probably. Yeah. I don’t think I’d have a whole lot of choice, and that’s exactly the problem — we should. You know, providing for people in situations like mine, like those who are in worse positions than mine, to be able to stay home, to choose when to go back to work in a way that is best for them, I think is really important, and I don’t see any indication that we’re gonna make any attempt to do that.
How toTell Better Stories
To tell better stories, we need to see each other–everyone. The PBS NewsHour explores this idea in the rising occurrence of hate crimes against Asian Americans. In large part, Trump ignited and inspired this collective hate to be acted out in cruel and brutal ways. He gave a green light to let this hate rip through the delicate fabric that holds us together as an utterly unique collective–something that has never existed on this Earth below at this level, but only if we can keep it, as Thurston so beautifully expresses in the TedTalk above.
In the PBS piece, it is said:
“The absence of knowledge is a way of keeping people fighting each other.” Missing in History – The void of knowledge of Asian Americans has and is being replaced by garbage – caricatures of Asians being animals, disease infested, monsters.”
“The problem is invisibility. Justice is not a zero sum game. Justice is a fabric that extends across all communities.”
To tell better stories, we need to see more of ourself by embracing moments of illumination (often triggered by a crisis, a setback, a disaster) to boldly go where we have not yet ventured inside ourself, the realms where our invisible self dwells. Sometimes to tell better stories means we need to see the biases we harbor, the prejudices we protect, and the injustices we perpetuate. Other times it means seeing the power we have lost because we have projected onto someone else. But when we see it exists inside of us too, we grow stronger, we heal, we become more whole inside–we grow as a conscious being. When we finally see we are the thing we hate, we can even transform.
HiddenBrain did a beautiful piece on the power of stories in transforming ourself.
Description: The Story of Your Life: “We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? In the second part of our series on storytelling, we look at how interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever.”
The Power of Myth
This is the power of myths and storytelling. They show us ways to channel the intense energies that surge inside of us when we are provoked by our circumstances. These energies begin as instincts but what consciousness allows us to do is to sees these energies rising before we act on them. This ability gives us a moment to choose an action different than what our innate instincts would otherwise dictate that we do.
In the heat of the moment, many of us may well act on the instinct triggered. However, when we do bring our conscious attention to these moments, we can alter our instincts in a great variety of ways. This is what Jung calls archetypes. They are mirror images of instincts but altered by consciousness. This allows the energy to flow forward in any number of different ways different from how they would have otherwise contained in nature. The number of variations of rising instinctual responses are as vast as the number of human beings who have chosen something differently.
These are the stories of Gods and Goddesses from every culture around the world. These stories tell about what befell a God or Goddess after choosing an altered instinctual response to a situation encountered. Each God and Goddess embodies qualities and energies of our most primal, basic instincts. Together, instincts and archetypes make up the building blocks of the human psyche.
Jung came to believe archetypes are empty templates that we fill anew each time we alter our instinctual responses triggered by circumstances we encounter. They are fluid, flexible, and powerful like water. When we meet our situations and circumstances consciously, we live mythic lives.
A Few Modern Stories Offering Strong Modern Mythic Images to Ponder
A new Netflix series I have loved watching is Invisible City. The trailer says, “What if the legends of your childhood are living in plain sight?” Which of course, they are. This is a beautiful drama that weaves in the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and its people and animals with Brazilian Folklore entities and deities. Season 1 explores what happens if one of these vital entities gives up.
Previous Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 3: Death of the Father
Next Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 5: Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti-Vaxxers All About?!!
— Are We Lost in the Garden of Eden or Trapped in an Endless Fairytale
Conflict–what a terrible and yet beautiful word. Conflict is something all human beings must learn how to do from the moment they realize they are a different entity from their parents, primarily of course the mother. In psychology, this moment is known as thePrimal Split. In Judeo-Christian doctrines, it is known as Original Sin as epitomized in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis telling how God created the world and all life in it and then created Adam and Eve to live in it and enjoy it.
But like any children, Adam and Eve inevitably disobey God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge; the one capable of inspiring inside of them the knowledge of good and evil. The conventional story tells that it is Eve who picked the tempting fruit after being deceived by a sneaky snake. But did you know Eve was Adam’s second wife?
Eve was Adam’s second wife. Adam had a secret first wife whom God created at the same time and in the same way as Adam. She was his equal and opposite in every way. Her name was Lilith. History mostly remembers her only as a demonic figure. One must look to medieval Jewish tradition to find where Lilith is remembered as Adam’s first wife, before Eve. However, when Adam insisted, she play a subservient role, Lilith grew wings and flew away.
I suspect what really happened in the Garden of Eden was entirely all too human. Upon getting his new beautiful, obedient but docile wife–certainly not his equal–Adam carried on an affair with Lilith. Eve never caught on, but God did. The only snake in this story is Adam’s manhood, and God was mad for his transgression for he created Eve for Adam on one condition to be faithful to her and Adam disobeyed. So, he had no choice but to throw Adam and Eve out of Eden. Lilith having transformed into a different sort of being, simply flew away.
The First Mortal Conflict
So here we are: humans of the world left to find our way forward after the dramatic fall from Eden due to the first conflict of the world! A parent-child conflict, of course, just as the Primal Split is a primal parent-child conflict awakening the psyche to consciousness, but that is another story.
For this piece, I am sticking with the supernatural conflict between God the Father and his children, us. So super charged was this first mighty conflict, discord and strife remain the default mode of knowing in the world.
When conflict is done in an open, fluid, inquiring way, it can illuminate the world between us and inside of us, at least for a moment like a flicker from a spark caused by conflict. These sparks help us see more of what we don’t know about the world, about each other, or about ourselves. When we see the unknown, we can begin to know it. When we know it, we can integrate it into our Field of Consciousness (the part of ourselves illuminated by consciousness–i.e., what we know). This is how we grow our consciousness by seeing and learning more about the world around us and inside of us–most often through conflict.
But conflict can also cause us to get stuck within static, standing patterns of disagreement, disaccord, disharmony, and dissension. These patterns grow instead of consciousness. Over time, these patterns become rigid, unyielding, taut, stressed, tight, solid, and harden objects tend to collapse under pressure, trapping the individual’s desperately trying to sustain and defend them from attack. This becomes a crushing process, a dying process because locked into a standing pattern of permanent defensive conflict, the psyche does not grow and what does not grow in this realm, dies.
I will illuminate two talks I heard recently that were inspiring. I believe they offer opportunities of learning better ways to engage in conflict. This is important to learn because conflict is not going away anytime soon in the human world. So we might as well get better at doing it. I have imagined two common standing conflict patterns that all of us get caught in at one time or another. The first, I call getting Lost in the Garden of Eden. The second, I call getting Trapped in a Fairytale.
Lost in the Garden of Eden
When we come together in relationships, we recreate a little bit of the Garden of Eden inside ourselves and inside of others. This little bit of Eden is a safe place to grow and learn about the world and ourselves. Of course learning means conflict because we are human now, but in relationship, we are in a place where we can be safely seen and heard for who we are–the good and the bad. This is love. Love is capable of holding the opposites of who we are in dynamic balance as we learn and grow through conflict and mistakes.
There is nothing bad about making mistakes or having conflict, except we can get stuck in bad patterns of conflict that hold us down in inferior patterns of behavior, second class beliefs, mediocre ideas, average/commonplace/uninspired ways of being in the world. This is how we get lost in Eden. We let our inferior self lead.
This leads me to the first talk I want to highlight. It is given by Esther Perel about how we can develop resilience in our relationships. I heard it on the Ted Radio Hour.
Esther Perel begins her talk saying, “People want to feel alive in their relationships. And they want it in their friendships, they want it at work, they want it in their romantic relationships. It’s essential.” Esther says this feeling of aliveness is what inspires us as human beings to build trust with each other, to collaborate or compete with each other, to build intimacy and maintain it through time.
One of the most powerful things about relationships is that they can help us weather uncertainty and survive against the odds. Esther says any “prolonged uncertainty …is accompanied with a sense of grief and loss, not because we lose people only but because we have lost the world that we knew.” She explains that she focused her work on working with couples because the couple inside the family really transformed. When marriage was a no-exit enterprise, then it didn’t really matter if the couple did that well or not. I mean, it mattered a great deal, but it didn’t matter for the survival of the family. People stayed together miserable if they had to. Once people could leave, the expectations and the demands from their intimate relationships completely changed. And I found that transition really fascinating.
Here are fascinating moments from Esther’s talk:
There’s Energy In the Room
“I realized that there was an energy in the room with a couple. You could actually see the change happening in front of you if you helped people to connect or to open up or to be vulnerable with each other or to speak truth to each other or to apologize to each other.”
We Think We Can Be Happier: But Really, We’re Just Walking Deeper & Getting More Lost in the Garden of Eden Inside Our Soul
“Today, we don’t leave because we are unhappy necessarily, but we also leave because we think we could be happier. And that is how consumerism has entered modern marriage.”
The Crisis of Desire is A Crisis of Imagination: We Need Each Other to Get Unlost in Eden
“I stumbled upon sexuality. It was absolutely not planned. And I stumbled about it, actually, around the Clinton scandal because what interested me was how sexuality in every society, in every culture becomes the place where the most archaic, traditional, rooted aspects of that culture are lodged or, on the other end, where the most progressive, radical, transformative changes take place.”
“So, we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging. Give me identity. Give me continuity. But give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort. Give me edge. Give me novelty. Give me familiarity. Give me predictability. Give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that.”
“…the crisis of desire is often a crisis of the imagination.”
“When I say that we cannot have one person give us what once an entire village used to provide, what I’m saying is that there is a kind of individualization in romantic love that I think is problematic. Look. At this moment, I’m not just even meeting a partner. We are meeting a soul mate. A soul mate used to be God; you know. But at this moment, people are talking about ecstasy, transcendence, meaning, wholeness, you know, things that we used to look for in the realm of the divine that have now been transcended into romantic love. It was meant to be. It’s almost a divine intervention. It fell from the heavens in front of me.”
“What I will say is that people need community, and they need other friends. They need other people to talk to. They need other people to share activities that their partner isn’t interested in. To ask one person to do all of that – to give me belonging, to give me meaning, to give me community, to give me transcendence, to give me – and then all the other stuff of everyday life – succession, children, family life, money, etc. – that is…”
“Relationships are undergoing massive transformation on all levels. But especially couples have gone through an extreme makeover. There is no other relationship that has gone through so much change.”
The following comment comes at the end of a segment where Esther and Manoush listen to part of a piece that aired on “Where Should We Begin?” dealing with infidelity… the most difficult type of conflict a couple can attempt to grapple with, especially because of the shame and failure our culture tends to attach to it. What Ester zeros in on is something I think all conflicts hold in common and that is coming to a better understanding of each person’s humanity and their individual journey that has brought them into the current conflict.
“And interestingly, when you reach the end of the session and you hear his – you know, his challenges around his feelings about masculinity, about the fact that he could not have a genetic connection to his children, about the way that, you know, he became the way he is not out of nothing. He becomes humanized. You may not like him, but you begin to understand him.”
For anyone playing at being an armchair therapist or just genuinely trying to be a friend and advise someone in a difficult conflict, what Ester says next is very important to remember.
“And that is the role of the therapist. The wife has to decide what she wants to do. And nobody lives with the consequences of her decisions but her. So, it’s very easy to tell people do this, do that. We are not in their seat. We help people gain clarity. We help people there to do the things that they are afraid to do if that’s what they say they want to do. But we also understand that this is a couple that has two decades together almost, that they have a rich life, that they actually often get along quite well and that…”
The Wonderful World Work & How the Bottom Line Accelerated Our Disorientation that Dumped Us on the Sea of Unconsciousness (Now We’re Really Lost in Eden)
Another fraught and difficult realm to navigate conflict is the workplace. Ester says, “When people go to work, you interview them about their official resume – what schools did they go to, what experience of work have they had? And nobody’s asking you about your unofficial resume, and your unofficial resume is your relationship history, and that relationship history does not stop at the door when you go into the office; it travels with you, and it is going to influence how you work with your colleagues or with your father or with your co-founder, etc.”
In a character from the Netflix miniseries OA, the young woman playing OA talks about the invisible self. It is the part of ourselves that we hide from others…sometimes hide even ourselves. But this invisible self is a reservoir holding all our potential selves. It holds our values, virtues, principles, ideals, and ethos–what the I Ching calls an individual’s superior qualities/Superior Self. It also holds our deceitful, empty, fruitless, idle, inconstant, ineffectual, nugatory, null, profitless, shadowy qualities/Inferior Self/Selves. It is hard to underscore just how important it is to illuminate more and become acquainted with all of who we are. It is the only way to truthfully, justly, compassionately navigate our fate, which is all those parts of ourselves still hidden in the darkness of the invisible self. We create Eden in relationship to each other. We get lost in Eden when we break our relationship to each other by letting the Inferior Self take control of our thoughts, decisions, and actions in the world we share together–this is how we create Hell.
Esther discusses how for years; it was very hard to get invited to companies to talk about relationships because it was considered a soft skill. It wasn’t part of the bottom line. And soft skills were often considered feminine skills, and feminine skills were often idealized in principle and disregarded in reality. She goes on to say this changed as transformations in workplaces changed and then suddenly, relationships become the new bottom line because no amount of free food or money…Compensation, benefits is going to compensate for a poisonous relationship. And then I began to think, you know, I would love to go and show how these relational dynamics that I have been exploring, they don’t just take place with your partner, your romantic partner; they actually are part of your relational life.”
A Bad Business Breakup
“I ask everybody, how many of you and your businesses have bad breakups? And to what extent do those breakups and in what way do these breakups influence the way you start to work with the next person and even who you hire? Often, we tend to hire the person whose strengths match the weaknesses of the one before you. I think work is a very rich ecology to explore the overt and the covert, the seen and the unseen relationship dynamics that people bring. We expected more in our personal relationships, but it happens no less at work.”
On a Time of Working from Home Using Too Much Zoom
“So, I would say I don’t think we are working from home, Manoush. I think we are working with home. I am with my family, my children for some of us, my partner for some of us, my parents, my siblings, my roommates. I am inhabiting all the roles at the same time. I am the parent, the teacher, the lover, the friend, the child of the colleague, the boss, the CEO, you name it. And it’s all happening often on the same chair in the kitchen.”
“So, we have all these disembodied experiences. And people talk about exhaustion for a reason – because even the phone is much better, you know, where we actually are in synchronized time and not in a delay constantly. And we’re not trying to look at people with whom we actually never make eye contact. So, I think it’s a very different reality.”
On Losing A Job
“And when I lose my job, I lose a fundamental part of my identity. I thought I mattered because a younger generation has been raised with a deep sense that they are important and that they matter. And I can – I am totally dispensable and nobody actually really feels responsible for making sure that I will have something to eat. I think what a pandemic does for work and for personal is it rearranges your priorities. It makes – you know, a pandemic is an accelerator. Every disaster is an accelerator of relationships. It’s an accelerator because it brings mortality to the forefront or loss – loss of job as well. And at that moment, you basically say, what am I waiting for? I’m going to go do what’s really important.”
Relationships rest at the center of who we are, who we want to be, how we become what we want to be, unless we get trapped in a standing pattern of conflict that can get us lost inside ourselves and in relationship with each other. Ask yourself what relationships are you in and what is their quality, vitality, fluidity, and spirit? Are they growing? Are you growing? If not, why not?
Trapped in a Fairytale
Conflicts can rear up into ugly, unexpected things that tear relationships apart or trap them in stagnant, unchanging patterns that don’t allow for true growth. The trap may be beautiful where every wish is granted—a fairytale. Or the trap can be frightening and disorientating—another sort of fairytale. Both are dangerous because both end up separating you more and more from the hard work any real relationship requires to stay strong, supple, and grow through time.
If the separation grows too wide, too deep, a rupture of reality occurs. We do this all the time when we fail to heal the cracks caused by conflict, but rather focus on the cracks in another person’s story, ideas, beliefs. When we dissect and vivisect each other through constant unresolved conflict. When we fail to take responsibility for our part of the conflict. When we fail to hold the other in compassion and love and trust both people want to know the truth of who they are, who they are in relationship to each other, who they are in relationship to the world and universe. This is how we break reality into a million, billion, trillion pieces that just keep shattering more and more. This is how we create alternative realities, fairytales, where we may have control, but we don’t have knowledge… we don’t know anymore who we are, what we have become, or that we are trapped in a fairytale where we are the author, the characters, the victims, and the victor.
Whole groups of people can become locked inside fairytales, the boundaries of which are defined by one-sided arguments and lopsided beliefs. This is how human conflict becomes polarized. This is how radicalization forms and grows into a monstrous thing like a horrible fairytale.
Our modern lives are very complicated. Because of this, there are lots of conflicts… many, many of which go unresolved and fester. This is what I am calling getting trapped in a fairytale. The trap is inside our own mind and it causes us to lose sight of who we really are turning us into characters like the big bad wolf or Mary with her little lamb and making us ignorant of if we are eat the nourishing apple of the Tree of Knowledge or the poisonous apple brewed by the Evil Queen. The I Ching would say when this happens, one’s inferior selves have gained control are are trying to get rid of one’s superior self… the war is inside.
I really found Adam Grant’s talk with Shankar Vedantam on The Hidden Brain illuminating. I particularly found how Adam talked about two common types of human conflict:
Relational conflicts are inherently much more difficult to see clearly and navigate smoothly. I think every adult human being on Earth can cite a relational conflict that never was resolved and remains an open wound between both individuals involved. This is a tragedy always when a conflict cannot be resolved for it leaves an open wounded inside each individual’s mind that becomes inscribed within the growing consciousness—potentially causing it to grow lopsidedly, which will recreate the unresolved conflict over and over again with new individuals in desperate attempts to heal and continue conscious growth.
Task conflicts are very different actually essential for groups of people who have come together to solve a problem or to implement a collective effort. Task conflicts are how collectives grow the collective consciousness. However, if we are individuals who have not mastered relational conflicts, task conflicts are easily co-opted by an individual’s psyche and turned into a relational conflict, which serves to inhibit and sink the efforts of a group to grow and solve challenging problems.
Hidden Brain with Adam Grant – The Nice Guy –author of The Fool’s Journey
Shankar Vedantam introduces Adam Grant by saying, “Grant is an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School. He’s the author of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. He’s interested in the question of obstinacy. Why do so many of us find it difficult to question our own beliefs and challenge our own views?”
Adam begins his talk by recounting a conflict where he refused to admit he was wrong
“I think I was 12. My friend Khan was on the phone with me. It was a commercial during Seinfeld and we got into an argument. I don’t remember what it was about. And I just refused to give in, even though he had really good proof and eventually he hung up on me and I called him back and I said, did the power go out?”
On Competing Powers of Self
“And as long as I can remember, I’ve been agreeable. And it’s weird because on the one hand, I hated admitting I was wrong, and I was extremely stubborn. (…) But on the other hand, I really liked Harmony and I wanted to get along with other people.”
The Downside of Always Being Agreeable and Wanting Harmony
“Yeah, I think like everything else in life, it has tradeoffs. So, on the one hand, agreeable people create a lot of harmony. They tend to get along with other people. They’re constantly encouraging. But if you look at the data on leadership effectiveness, one of the things you see is highly agreeable people tend to be worse at leading organizations and teams than people who are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. (…) They say yes to everything and they don’t challenge people enough.”
“…agreeable people are really prone to what’s called agreement bias.” Adam tells how this can be bad: “Cleverly. Where you come to the table, somebody offers you a terrible deal, but you hate the idea of saying no. And so, you say yes to something that’s not in your best interests.”
The Problem of Always Going with Your Gut
“I remember my mom telling me if you’re unsure of an answer on a test, go with your gut. Go with your first instinct. And yet, if you look at the research, if you do go with your gut versus your second guess your first instinct, which is better, and on average, the vast majority of students who reject their gut, they actually improve their scores on average.”
“And so, there’s a fallacy that your first thoughts are your best thoughts. A lot of times, intuition is just a subconscious pattern recognition. And the patterns that you’re recognizing from the past may not be relevant to the problem you’re solving right now in the present.”
I want to jump in here because we have lost so much knowledge of our inner realities our language and shared understanding about it has become muddled too. The confusion between instincts and intuition is one of these things. Instincts are short cuts to reality that help the individual survive dangerous and challenging circumstances. They are indeed triggered by pattern recognition that are recognized as dangerous, life threatening, or life promoting circumstances. Intuition is the ability gained by becoming a conscious being. It allows a conscious person to glimpse into the darkness of their unconsciousness and know something that would otherwise not be apparent or knowable. Repeated glimpses into the unconsciousness might recognizes patterns, but it takes conscious effort to unpack it and truly understand it. So, I would reword Adam’s second paragraph as instinct trying to navigate a world in which it never was evolved to live within… no wonder it gets multiple choice questions wrong!
Test Your Gut
“And so, you don’t want to trust your gut. You want to test your gut. And even when you tell people about this evidence, they are still reluctant to rethink their first answer…” like what happened with Blackberry “I think we can both remember a time when basically everyone you knew had a BlackBerry and they just dominated the market. And then BlackBerry fell apart because – Mike and his colleagues were unwilling to rethink the very things that had made BlackBerry great.” “And they just got locked into this set of assumptions that what people wanted out of a BlackBerry was a device for basically work e-mail, as opposed to essentially a computer in your pocket for home entertainment.”
Big Stakes Can Led to Big Mistake: The Importance of Rethinking What We Know
“Our reluctance to think again can have even bigger stakes in the 1980s, NASA downplayed a brewing problem in the spacecraft Challenger. Since the spacecraft had completed many missions, officials assumed it was safe. But in January 1986, the spacecraft exploded moments after liftoff, killing seven astronauts on board. […] Or take the U.S. war in Iraq, where President George W. Bush and his colleagues failed to rethink their views after their initial rosy expectations of the war.“
The Soup Nazi & the Drivers of Obstinacy
Shankar says, “Adam, I want to talk about some of the drivers of obstinacy in our lives. I know that you’re a fan of the TV show Seinfeld. And there’s a famous scene which features a restaurant owner who is called the Soup Nazi.”
Adam laughs as he explains what drives the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, “He makes great soup, but he cannot tolerate the slightest criticism or deviation from the script. I want to play you a short clip where the character Elaine visits the Soup Nazi.”
Task vs Relationship Conflicts
Shankar recaps, “So the Soup Nazi illustrates something that you talk about at home, the difference between relationship, conflict and Task conflict.”
Adam replies, “Most of us, especially those of us who are agreeable, when we think about conflict, we are thinking about Relationship conflict. That’s the personal, emotional, of us, especially those of us who are agreeable, when we think about conflict, we are thinking about Relationship conflict. That’s the personal, emotional, I think you’re a terrible person. And my life would be better if I never had to interact with you.”
“There’s another kind of conflict, though, that an organizational psychologist named Eddie Jan and her colleagues have studied. Task conflict, and it’s the idea of debating about different opinions and perspectives. It’s potentially constructive because it’s actually about trying to get to the truth. It’s not personal. It’s not emotional. We’re not trying to beat up the other person. We’re not feeling like we’re being attacked.”
How the Soup Nazi Inside Us All Turns Task Conflicts into Relationship Conflicts
“We’re trying to hash out or sought out different views through what might be a feisty conversation. But it’s intellectual. And I think one of the biggest problems that the Soup Nazi had is he could not have a task conflict without it becoming a relationship conflict.”
How the Soup Nazi Inside Us All Turns Task Conflicts into Relationship Conflicts
“We’re trying to hash out or sought out different views through what might be a feisty conversation. But it’s intellectual. And I think one of the biggest problems that the Soup Nazi had is he could not have a task conflict without it becoming a relationship conflict.”
“The moment that you object to his line, that you don’t follow his rules, he takes it very personally and bans you from his soup oasis.”
Less Conflict is Better: A Critical Mistake
“I think the mistake that a lot of people make is they assume that less conflict is better. That if you want to build a successful collaboration or a great team, then you want to minimize the amount of tension you have. But as some researchers have argued, based on a lot of evidence, the absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy.”
How We Create Collectives of Apathy: Fairytales That Don’t End Happily Ever After
“If you’re in a group where people never disagree. The only way that could really happen is if people don’t care enough to speak their minds.[…] in order to get to wise decisions, creative solutions, we need to hear a variety of perspectives. We need diversity of thought. And task conflict is one of the ways that we get there by saying, you know what, I think we actually don’t agree on what the vision for our company should be or what our strategy should be or how to design this product.”
Adam’s Study on Groups
“I tracked team performance over a number of months, and I surveyed people in teams on how often they were having relationship conflict as well as task conflicts. In one group, even if they agreed on nothing else, they agreed on what kind of conflict they were having and how much of it.”
“It turned out in the failed groups, they tended to have a lot more relationship conflicts than task conflicts, especially early on, they were so busy disliking each other that they didn’t really have substantive debates until about halfway through the life cycle of their project.”
“And by then it was almost too late to change course, whereas in the high performing groups, they started out with very little relationship conflict and plenty of task conflict, saying, look, before we design a product, we really want to get all the ideas on the table about how we might do it or what it might be for. […] …once they sorted those out, they were able to really focus and align around what their common mission was.”
Where and How Things Go Wrong in Groups: Enter the Poison Apple or the Dragon
Adam says most often in a group, “Someone raises an issue with something that the group is doing, and people behave like the soup Nazi. They react and take things personally.” When this shift happens in a group, then “Everything that gets raised by the other person is interpreted in the most negative light possible. And then I think the other problem is people sometimes just they don’t even hear the substance of the idea because they’re so invested in defending their ego or in proving the other person wrong.”
But Wait… There’s More: Sometimes Conflict Arising Due to Confusion Over Beliefs & Values
Shankar says, “There’s a related idea to this distinction between task conflict and relationship conflict that you explore in your book. Adam, you say that one reason it’s hard to admit we are wrong is that we sometimes confuse our beliefs with our values.”
Belief or Value & the Dragon Scale
Adam says, “When I think about a belief, I would say that’s something that you take as true. A value is something you think is important. And yeah, I think a lot of us make a mistake of taking our beliefs and opinions and making them our identity. And since I spent a lot of time studying the workplace, I really enjoy thinking about how dangerous the world would be if people in the professions that we rely on every day did that.”
Conflicts That Clarify Rather Than Confuse
“There are examples of leaders who basically model what it’s like to have task conflict without relationship conflict. I was thinking of something that President Obama said some years ago when he invited someone, he disagreed with to play a prominent role in his administration.“
“We’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.“
“To disagree without being disagreeable.”
On Correcting Others
Shankar recaps, “I think many of us forget this lesson at and we think that if someone else is wrong, our job is just to correct them. How we correct them is unimportant.”
Adam replies, “Yeah I think that’s such a common mistake in communication. We think it’s the message that matters. But so often whether somebody is willing to hear a message depends on who’s saying it, why it’s being said and how it’s being delivered.”
On Trust, Dignity & Respect
“I cannot tell you, Shankar, the number of times that I have rejected useful criticism because I didn’t trust the person who was giving it to me. Or they delivered it in a way that I found disrespectful or offensive.”
On Threats to the Ego: The Big Bad Wolf or Poison Apple Problem
“Not all of us listento useful feedback even when it’s presented clearly and without rancor. That’s because we confuse challenges to our views with threats to our ego.”
Or Maybe It’s Just a Case of the Totalitarian Ego
“There’s a term that I love for this which comes out of psychology originally Tony Greenwald’s term. It’s the totalitarian ego. The idea is that all of us have an inner dictator policing our thoughts. The dictator’s job is to keep out threatening information, much like Kim Jong Un would control the press in North Korea.”
Inner Dictator to the Rescue!
“When your core beliefs are attacked, the inner dictator comes in and rescues you with mental armor and, you know, activates confirmation bias where you only see what you expected to see all along, triggers desirability bias, where you only see what you wanted to see all along.”
Corner Stones of the Totalitarian Ego Are Obstinacy and Stubbornness
“You can see the totalitarian ego at work in a study conducted some years ago by researchers in Australia. They asked volunteers to think of a time when they did something wrong and apologized for it, and to also think about a time when they did something wrong and did not apologize for it. Researcher Tyler Okimoto explains what they found.”
Adam:When you refuse to apologize it actually makes you feel more empowered. That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth. [00:24:41]
Shanker:And in some ways, the sounds like the inner dictator when we when we apologize, in some ways we are disarming ourselves. And when we refuse to apologize, in some ways we are mounting a form of emotional self-defense. [00:24:50]
Adam:Yeah sadly, staying attached to wrong convictions makes us feel strong. And psychologists have also found for decades that the act of resisting influence only further fortifies our convictions. Because we can we basically get inoculated against future attacks. We have all of our defenses ready and we end up sealing our beliefs in an ever more impenetrable fortress. [00:25:04]
Edges of Convictions, Beliefs, and Conflict: Maybe This Really Isn’t Your Fight… Your Just A Scale in the Armor of Your Group Who’s in Conflict with Another Group
“So, I have a brilliant colleague, Phil Tetlock, who wrote a paper about how almost every decision you’ve ever made, almost every opinion you’ve ever formed, is influenced by your relationship to the people around you and by the groups that your part of and the identities that you hold about who you are in the social world.”
Preacher, Prosecutor or Politician – Do You Know What Your Conflict Mode Is?
“What Phil observed is we often spend time thinking like preachers, prosecutors and politicians.”
“Preaching is basically defending a set of sacred beliefs and saying, look, I found the truth. My job is to proselytize.”
“Prosecuting is the reverse. This stance in a conflict is to prove you wrong and win my case with the best argument.”
“Any time an individual or group has strong beliefs. It’s pretty unlikely they are going to rethink any opinions or decisions if they slip into preacher or prosecutor mode, because we already know.”
“We’re a little more flexible when we shift into politician mode. […] when you’re thinking like a politician, what you’re trying to do is get the approval of an audience that you care about.”
“And so, you might be campaigning and lobbying. And sometimes that means adjusting and flexing at least what you say you believe in order to fit in and win them over. The problem is that we’re doing it because we want to prove our allegiance to a tribe, not because we’re trying to get closer to the truth.”
Strategies that Help People Reconsider Cherished Opinions
Shanker asks Adam to tell the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who invented the first successful airplane. Adam describes:
“Of all the moments in history that I would love to witness, I think watching the Wright brothers argue would be pretty high on my list. So, if you look at the history of what the Wright brothers created together, it seemed like they were constantly in sync. They created their own printing press together. They ran their own bicycle shop. They made their own bikes together. They launched a newspaper together. And of course, we all know they invented the first at least successful airplane together. And I always assumed that they were just lucky to have such harmony.”
“And if you read any of the biographies that have been written about them, if you read their own letters and personal communications, if you read the stories and the anecdotes from people who knew them well, it was very clear that arguing was their default mode and it was almost the family business. What I think is fascinating about the Wright brothers is they mastered the ability to have productive task conflicts without it spilling into relationship conflict.”
It was typical for them when they were trying to invent their airplane to argue for weeks about questions like how do you design a propeller?
They would sometimes even shoot for hours back and forth.
At one point, their sister threatened to leave the house because she just couldn’t take it anymore.”
The Power of Scrapping
“But they seem to get a kick out of it. They called it scrapping and they said, look, the whole point of an argument is it helps both people see more clearly if you do it well.“
“They never saw an argument as personal that their mechanic used a phrase that I think about almost every day. He said, I don’t think they really got mad, but they sure got awfully hot. […] “That to me, captures the passion, the energy, the feistiness that goes into, you know, duking out a set of ideas that’s really important to you, but not leaving that interaction angry.”
Even Brilliant Visionaries Need a Team to Scrap With
“You tell the story of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, obviously a brilliant visionary, but he was also famously stubborn.“
The Problem with Highly Agreeable People
“When you think about your network, we all have a support network that’s usually the highly agreeable people who we know are going to have our back and, you know, really lift us up or pick us up when we’re down. I think what we overlook is that we also need a challenge network, which is a group of people that we trust to question us to point out the holes in our thinking, the flaws in our logic, the ways that our decisions might be leading us astray from our goals.“
Creating a Great Challenge Network
“It’s not clear to me that Steve Jobs did this intentionally, but he was very lucky to be surrounded with a group of people who played that role of a challenge at work for him. […] He was dead set against making a phone. He complained for years about how smartphones were for the pocket protector crowd. And Apple makes cool products. We don’t want to touch that. He could rant for hours at a time about how, you know, everybody was beholden to the cell phone carriers and they didn’t know how to make an elegant product. And sometimes he would even throw his own phone against the wall and shatter it because he was so frustrated with how bad the technology was.”
Cultivating a Fertile Idea Field & Planting Idea Seeds that Grow
“Luckily, Jobs surrounded himself with brilliant engineers and designers who knew how to get him to think again. You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. A lot of the things they did as part of his Challenge Network are things that we’ve seen people do every day. They would plant seeds.
They would say, ‘Hey, I hear Microsoft is talking about making a phone. How ugly do you think that’s going to be? And if we ever made one of those, what would that look like?’”
They would ask questions like, you know, hey, we did the iPod. We’ve already put 20000 songs in your pocket.
What if we put everything in your pocket? And what they were doing was they were activating his curiosity.”
Taming the Inner Prosecutor: The Sneaky Little Gremlin in Any Good Fairytale
“If you told him he was wrong, he would immediately go into prosecutor mode and tear your argument apart.”
Taming the Inner Preacher: Every Terrible Fairytale Needs a Sinister Minister
“If you told him about your idea, he would preach about his idea”
Inspiring the Curious Seeker
“But if you could ask a question that intrigued and led him to realize that he didn’t know some things, he might then go out and try to discover them or give you the green light to go and discover them. And those kinds of conversations finally got him to reverse course and make a phone.”
Beware the Logic Bullies: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall — Enter Evil Spock
Adam tells how he got the nickname logic bully: “I had a former student named Jamie [who came to me] for some career advice. It was clear in the first minute or so of our conversation that she was already locked into the plan she had made. I was worried she might be making a decision that she would regret. So, I told her all the reasons why I think [she was] making a potentially big mistake. She listened patiently for two or three minutes, then said, ‘You’re a logical.’ She [told me] that I overwhelmed her with rational arguments and data, and she didn’t agree [with], but she didn’t feel like she could fight back.”
The Real Magic Happens Inside
“The curiosity we show in trying to understand more about [our] own views and motivation to change [this type of] thinking. That’s where real thought happens.“
Habits of Highly Effective Thinkers
“There’s a classic study by Neil R. and colleagues [that examines] experts versus average negotiators where they compare what their habits are.
One is [average negotiators] spend a lot more time both in their planning and in their actual negotiations, thinking about common ground and talking about common ground, saying we want to build areas of consensus before we find out where we’re opposed.
They asked a lot more questions (e.g., OK here are two or three possible proposals. What are your reactions to this? What do you like? What do you dislike and what are your thoughts? And that allow them to both learn more and again, signal more flexibility as well.)“
Getting to the Great Ideas – Is It A War or A Dance?
Shanker summarizes: “We often think of trying to change someone’s opinion with the metaphor of, you know, a tug of war, that the harder I pull, the more I can get you off balance, the more likely I am to win. And the model that you’re suggesting here is a very different model, you know, model where you’re asking a lot of questions, where you’re seeking common ground, where you’re willing to make concessions, where you’re open to figuring out how you yourself might be wrong.”
Adam adds: “There are some psychologists who have said we should think about disagreements, less wars and more as a dance. And I can’t dance at all. […] But what I like about the dance metaphor is, you know, that in a dance your job is to get in sync with your partner.”
You Can’t Lead All the Time to Save the Planet!
“That means if you’ve both shown up to the dance with an idea about what steps you’re going to take; you can’t lead all the time and expect your partner to do all of the adjusting.“
“You actually have to be willing to step back and let your partner lead from time to time. And that’s what expert negotiators seem to do, its what great debaters seem to do, and I think it’s what all of us could do more when we have polarized conversations.”
I’ve taken you 40 minutes into this very beautiful and important talk, but there is more. You can read or listen for yourself if you have found any of this helpful. Adam and Shanker discuss how to frame multiple versions of an idea, setting up effective challenge networks, creating psychological safety to get to more and better creative ideas (idea places where people aren’t punished or penalized for offering opposite ideas), and creating group cultures based on trust and respect (critical part of psychological safety). Psychological safety does not mean sloppy:
[00:44:38] — Amy Edmondson is quick to point out that psychological safety is not about being nice or having low standards. We actually need psychological safety with accountability. We can have high expectations for people, but also give them the freedom and permission to rethink some of even what we might have called best practices.
They discuss creating environment where people are rewarded for being nuanced rather than punished. They talk about how to avoid becoming a group that is solution averse like what is happening with Climate Change.
[00:45:55] — “So, let’s say with climate change, for example, if you say, well, we need a whole bunch of companies to reduce their emissions and you’re talking to somebody who’s a staunch free market conservative, they’re not necessarily going to like that idea. And so, their motivation then is to deny the existence of the climate problem in the first place. And I think we should be really cautious about jumping to solutions. We would be better off saying, hey, I’m aware that there are some problems when it comes to climate change.”
[00:46:30] — “We shouldn’t spend all this time talking about why my solution is right or why your view that climate change isn’t an issue is wrong. Instead, I should say, well, given your views about what we should do on climate policy, how would your proposed solutions work and how would you implement them? And when you ask those questions, something really intriguing happens.
They talk about the invisible balance between idea flexibility and inflexibility (e.g., [00:48:15]
Winston Churchill facing down, you know, Adolf Hitler, even think of, you know, people like Mahatma Gandhi, you know, very singular, focused in terms of what they were doing, very unwilling to reconsider sort of the rightness of their views.)
They talk about explanatory depth, which is the idea that we think we understand complex systems much better than we actually do. They talk about the importance and benefits of being a little bit more intellectually humble, curious, nuanced, more doubting, and less dogmatic. These are the behaviors and habits that help people moderate their own views, become more patient with others, and become less extreme. In a time of extreme polarization on almost every conflict of existential crisis to human existence, isn’t learning how to become less extreme inside yourself a beautiful idea?!!!
Are you ready to rethink your cherished ideals and ideas today?
This tells about two women you stood in conflict against oppressive, lopsided, racists beliefs, behaviors, and practices. Because of their sacrifice and courage, our shared reality has been changed.
Description: When Billie Holiday was harassed by U.S. government agents and told to stop singing ‘Strange Fruit,’ she refused. When Shirley Chisholm ran for president and was ridiculed and told she shouldn’t aim that high politically, she refused. On this episode of Throughline, two pioneering Black women, Billie Holiday and Shirley Chisholm, who set their own sights and never backed down from a fight.
This piece talks about personal transformation through work and struggle.
Women Take The Lead In Fighting ISIS In ‘Daughters Of Kobani’
Sometimes conflict is essential to change the world and bend it back into balance.
“So much of the news from Syria consists of sad stories of chaos, of brutality, of war. But a new book — while a story about Syria and about war — brings us a refreshing story of hope, of female courage, and of heroes.“
Quantum Mechanics, Free Will and the Game of Life
Excerpt: “Before I get to the serious stuff, a quick story about John Conway, a.k.a. the “mathematical magician.” I met him in 1993 in Princeton while working on “The Death of Proof.” When I poked my head into his office, Conway was sitting with his back to me staring at a computer. Hair tumbled down his back, his sagging pants exposed his ass-cleft. His office overflowed with books, journals, food wrappers and paper polyhedrons, many dangling from the ceiling. When I tentatively announced myself, he yelled without turning, What’s your birthday! Uh, June 23, I said. Year! Conway shouted. Year! 1953, I replied. After a split second he blurted out, Tuesday! He tapped his keyboard, stared at the screen and exulted, Yes! Finally facing me, Conway explained that he belongs to a group of people who calculate the day of the week of any date, past or present, as quickly as possible. He, Conway informed me with a manic grin, is one of the world’s fastest day-of-the-week calculators.”
There is so much we don’t know. An open, fluid, flexible mind able to navigate complexity and conflict with curiosity, passion, and compassion is beautiful. They world needs more beauty now. Are you ready?
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” — Abraham Lincoln
Part 3 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The Death of a Father is a devastating event regardless of if it occurs to a family or a civilization. Fathers represent half the sacred act of creation. In Buddhist philosophy, “Yang represents Heaven, the Father, and the Creative…while yin represents Earth, the Mother, and the Receptive. Yin and yang are dependent upon one another…” To read more about the symbolism of Yin & Yang, see this beautiful blog: Yin & Yang Symbol: Between Heaven and Earth.
TheCollective Death of the Father
Why am I comparing the Death of a Father as experienced by an individual or a civilization as a similar event? Because civilizations are nothing more than of millions of individuals who have agreed to come together as a collective to achieve a greater good. Part of what they do to accomplish this greater good is contribute some of their individual consciousness to the collective pool of consciousness needed to do this. Note when I refer to consciousness, I mean illuminated consciousness, the part we are awareness of that tells us who we are, where we are, what we can do, and allows us to do and accomplish things in the world.
Collectives of any size draw upon this greater pool of consciousness to do things a single individual could not do alone. In ancient times, this larger pool of knowing and ability helped people synchronize and organize themselves to bring about the greater goal. Back then, the great goal was surviving, but our ancestors recognized how a well synchronized group of people could afford to divide up critical survival tasks such as hunting (protein), gathering (critical vitamins, minerals, and other trace nutrients), building (shelter), and safety (fighting off beasts or other humans who want to steal your resources or creating/sustaining fire) to overcome the challenges that probably would kill an individual acting alone.
Imagine for a minute that you are an ancient human trying to live alone in a world due to circumstances beyond your control. To do this, you must hunt, gather, build your own shelter, and protect yourself from all sorts of danger and challenges. You must also know how to heal yourself if you get hurt or become ill. Necessity will allow you to use your great mind to overcome some of the obstacles to survival. But, pretty much all your time and energy will be dedicated to surviving, leaving little time to imagine, much less build, a new and better way of living in the world.
But thankfully you are a modern human who is living in a modern world, so surviving is much easier. But it is also vastly more complicated. That is because our modern luxuries comes with a price, which necessitates that you put more of your individual consciousness into the ever-evolving more complicated collectives. There are many ways individual’s contribute their individual consciousness to the collective. One obvious way is by internalizing and abiding by the rules of the systems sustaining the collective (e.g., go to work, make money, spend money to employ other people who must go to work). Collective concentrations of consciousness are supposed to sustain the good of all people living inside of them. However, just as an individual can choose to use their consciousness for evil, so too can a collective.
It does not take many individuals who have bended and been broken by the lure of the Corruption to pollute a collective’s pool of consciousness. All human beings need to navigate the lure and pull of corrupting impulses, desires, yearnings, longings, and fancies that live inside our psyche. In Western civilization, these Corrupting forces are immortalized as the 7 Deadly Sins: pride (modern day manifestations is narcissism), greed, lust, envy, gluttony (hoarding more than you need, thus taking away things other people need to survive), wrath (a corruption of anger that turns it into an obsession to get even and punish anyone who wrongs you, even if the wrong you perceive is fantasy).
The United States of America right now is watching such forces play out in the second Impeachment of Trump. Here a prideful, wrath-filled, vengeful man along with his complicit and powerful, imaginative cronies (e.g., Steve Bannon, the Mercers, Rupert Murdoch, Stephen Miller, etc.) corrupted an entire political party. They managed to warp reality and get millions to believe it is real. It is a process of radicalization that has been going on for a long time. Donald Trump’s win of the 2016 election was a huge payoff for this steady and persistent warping of reality. Once he took power, an intense period of stepped-up deep radicalization transpired. It is a period that has played upon deep-seated fears mainly residing white people who fear losing their long-standing position of privilege.
Trump uses fear like a subtle knife (a reference to His Dark Materials) to cut an opening into the hearts and minds of ordinary men and women. He cuts deep with it going back to the rage and division of the 1850s, even further to the primitive foreboding fear of ‘the other’ who could be a raiding party coming to kill you. The House Impeachment Managers have laid out a damning case for how the former President seeded, cultivated, and grew an alternative reality resulting in a raging mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It was a moment of pure madness that caused the deaths of 7 people, injured 140 police officers (e.g., losing 3 fingers, the tip of his index finger, crushed discs, brain injuries, eye gouged out, one officer run through with a metal fence post, another suffering a heart attack after being stunned with his own stun gun), and damaged the Capitol building itself.
I suggest we are struggling through as a collective the Death of the Father. In this case, it is the Death of the Founding Fathers. All civilizations must grow their collective pool of consciousness through time just as individuals must grow their sphere of consciousness. Eventually, every civilization will grow beyond the boundaries of what their founding fathers envisioned. It is utterly natural to grow beyond the boundaries defined by the founding fathers. What set of humans being can see beyond their time, much less 200, 500, or 1,000 years into the future. A father wants his child to grow, just as the founding fathers want their nation to grow physically and psychologically.
As a civilization grows, it must redefine itself and reorganize according to what new knowledge has been learned. To do this well requires new men and women of great imagination and vision. People who can help the collective see far upon the horizon of time and help it adapt and change to new challenges coming at it that could crush it if it doesn’t evolve. When a civilization fails to grow and adapt, it begins to split and fracture because the Corrupting forces live inside all men and all women and it will seize control of the rudder of a civilization that is drifting due to the death of its founding fathers—a natural death because the collective (the civilization) has flourished under their vision and grown beyond it.
What Cain and Able Teaches Us about the Death of the Father in a Collective
The Cain and Abel is a story about the Death of the Father (in this case, it is an immortal father what has retired to the immortal realms of heaven). When a father leaves, a void is left behind that must be filled by a new leader (a new father).
“After God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, they joined together and Eve gave birth to Cain, who became a worker of the soil. And then to Abel, who grew up to be a shepherd of the flocks.
In time, Cain made an offering to the Lord of fruit from the ground. And Abel brought the firstborn of his flock with its fullness and fat. The Lord respected Abel’s gift, but had no regard for Cain’s. And Cain was angry, and his face fell. And the Lord said, “Why are you so upset? If you do well you will be accepted, but if you don’t do right, sin is waiting for you by your door. And sin will want you. But you can conquer it.”
One day, when the brothers were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel and killed him.”
We are indeed hearing about the first murder committed by the first mortals of the world after God banished his children from Eden for disobeying him. But we also are witnessing the rise of the new father of Western Civilization. Charles Johnson explains further:
“When he kills Abel, to me it’s not really about Abel. It’s about striking back at God. And think, for just a moment, because I think this is very interesting for a novelist, about the phenomenological, if you will, experience of envy. You know, what is that- who do you envy, really? It’s someone who must be enough like you with just a little bit of difference, right? You don’t envy somebody who’s totally different. You- you’re related. You have a relationship. Maybe you’re in the same profession? Right? I’m not going to envy a doctor. I’m gonna envy Oscar Hijuelos (LAUGHTER), as a novelist or John Barth. And the question is, why? Why is their offering, which is their self, received so fully and mine not? So, the envy’s gonna be really tremendous. Because there’s this relationship, I really think, between self and other. It’s almost like a doubling. Almost like a twin.”
And yet, your- equality is not in the world. It’s something that we have to accept, you know, whether we like it or not. So that the only thing he can do is eliminate him. But by eliminating him, he gets rid of his better possibilities.”
It occurred to me after publishing this post there is a modern retelling of the succession aspect of the Cain and Able tale. It is an HBO mini series titled Succession, which is a brilliant retelling of the somewhat good son and the somewhat foolish and ruined son lining up to succeed their aging dad who has amassed an international corporate empire. This modern tale adds an important upgrade by throwing in the beautiful, accomplished, and somewhat dangerous daughter who is also standing in line to take over this modern empire that has the power to amass an army to sow ignorance, division, and confusion around the world–which of course benefits the empire. It is a brilliant telling of how these ancient archetypes have evolved in the human mind and an insightful telling of how power is wielded in the modern world.
Splitting the Father in Half & the Fight for Control
Circling back to what Charles Johnson said above about Cain and Able, this sounds strikingly similar to what is going on in the United States of America presently, doesn’t it? In this case, Trump was getting rid of his better possibility by demonizing it, denying it, and creating an alternative reality that he served to this followers to drink to the dregs. The drink was spiked with the Big Lie he had carefully concocted and designed to pick at and incite his followers deepest fears, darkest biases (among them a deep belief that white people deserve all the power), and worst impulses as human beings.
I believe worldwide we are fighting over our founding fathers. We have been splitting them in half. This splitting was done by the people the fathers once ruled with wisdom, truth, compassion, and justice. Once the fathers have been split, the people war between themselves for which father will rule—the Benevolent Father or the Malevolent Father? Both father images have powerful appeal to the people. However, the choice is an illusion because the one Father consist of both benevolent and malevolent potentials. A wise father knows this and knows how to balance these forces inside himself. A foolish, stupid father has no such awareness and lets his basal instincts (i.e., primeval, animalistic, self-serving, or ignoble motivations) rule him (like Trump has done and has managed to skillfully impart these same unconscious impulses to his base of followers).
The Human World Struggles to Grow Consciously As Collectives
The US is not alone in this struggle between the good and gentle brother (who stands in line to replace the father) and the dirty and angry brother (who also stands in line to replace the retiring father). Note the dirty, angry brother is only so because he works in the field, he grows the food from the soil. Perhaps God himself played on this brother’s feeling of inadequacy by having no regard for his gifts from the land that he, Cain, had brought as an offering. Perhaps that was a test. If it was, it was a cruel test showing God’s potential to be both good and bad at the same time.
There are many examples around world of cultures, nations struggling through this succession according to their own cultural and historical origins. Where a splitting of the father has occurred within the collective body of the people, an eruption of chaos is unfolding with deadly consequences. I heard Adam Curtis interviewed on the BBC yesterday. He has been tracing these struggles and how they have been playing out around world in a provocative new series entitled: I Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World.
Adam is right to embark on this journey and to bring this knowledge back to us through this novel series embedded with deep insights needed now for we are in an existential crisis for for which father will rule. Lincoln said as much 150+ years ago in his House Divided speech: “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” (…) “It will become all one thing or all the other.” In other words, either Cain will prevail or Able will prevail, but one will kill the other. CNN is about to air a new series Divided We Stand about Lincoln and this time of crisis.
Individual Death of a Father
My own experience of losing my father was devasting. It flung me into an existential crisis that set me on a journey I scarcely understood. As I tried to survive this crisis, it felt like I was floating on an endless sea. Most of the time, I was utterly alone.
I was still on this endless sea when 2020 arrived, but I knew how to float and I actually felt more understood and less alone. But floating in uncertainty and limbo is exhausting and my last routines of relief had taken away with the arrival of COVID-19. So, I had to find new ways to hold onto hope. I began making documentaries of moments of beauty encountered during bike rides in 2020.
Moments of Insight & Healing in the Wake of Death
In Blue So Deep— Pulling Back My Power, I document a day when I understood how I have been losing essential inner energy by projecting parts of myself onto others. The previous year, I recognized the bad parts of myself I was projecting onto others and because of this, I was losing energy. I pulled them back. I began to heal. By making these videos I started recognizing how I was projecting good parts of myself onto other (e.g., the deep thinker, the doer, the seer, the dreamer, the successful one, the popular one). I realized I needed these parts back in order to survive on the sea that I still am adrift on more than 2 years later after losing my father.
I also saw this picture and a contest to caption it.
To my great surprise I won the contest!
Through this picture, I realized how my father had protected me from the brutal barbs of reality. I realized how he was my shield against the steady bards of what have become cruel systems and ways of being in the world. In the wake of his death, I was left completely exposed to the brutality of all the barbs being sent my way. I had not realized how dad protected me simply by being there to listen to my woes and understand me without judgement and offering only love and compassion. There are many reasons why we are cruel to each other, we envy what another has, we lust to have more than we deserve, but the most common reason is fear.
Why Fear Can Incite Us to be Cruel to Each Other
We fear each other because we have lost part of ourselves to “the other”. We do this by projecting some part of ourselves that is remains in the darkness of our unconsciousness. People do this all the time. It is a natural psychological process that helps us see, know, understand more of who we are in the moment of recognition: “Oh – that is me!”
In that moment of recognition, we grow as a conscious being because we are empowered to pull back the projection temporarily lost to the other. This natural psychology process becomes pathological when we fail to recognize our projections and pull them back, thereby failing to grow. We can only become whole by knowing more about who we are and what we are capable of doing—both good and bad.
A psyche trapped within chunky, inflexible, lopsided belief systems can become quite grumpy. It is also very vulnerable to demigods and other master manipulators who want to co-opt their consciousness and their bodies to do bad things in the world. Trapped psyches can quite easily blow up into a terrifying one-eyed psychic monster capable of getting the people co-opted into the beast to do savage, ferocious, barbaric acts of destruction. It is bad enough when this happens inside an individual. When a bunch of people have been synchronized to such a beast, it is a catastrophe.
I will tell more in upcoming blogs how I managed to recognize and pull back my projections as I floated on my Sea of Sorrow. I tell my story in case it offers hope to anyone else finding themselves on such a sea of misery and misfortune.
Bell: Who are we unifying with? We are not unifying with Black and Brown people who cannot get away with anything in this system. Black and Brown people get beaten and killed for doing Nothing. They get executed by the state for Nothing. Today we have 2 Senators who participated and helped to incite the insurrection, and all we are talking about is Unity. Democracy is not about Unity; it is about who has more votes! The White Privilege is mad about its slipping power and privilege. Bell tells about a real estate woman who went to the Insurrection like it was a Super Bowel Game and while attacking the Capitol promoted her real estate business, then back in Texas, asked Trump for a pardon. If it had been Black and Brown people descending on the Capitol, it would have been a massacre.
Kondabolu: Voting should be about values not team. I have a baby and I have to have hope because I have a baby who hasn’t even had ice cream yet… I’m not ready to go down with the ship.
My friend Fabian Navin shared this post the other day that is very appropriate to how an individual participates in the collective consciousness of his or her society and the toll it can take on the individual psyche… there is an invisible price of belonging to collectives:
“The spontaneous painting I began to do helped me not only to discover my personal story, but also to free myself from the intellectual constraints and concepts of my upbringing and my professional training, which I now recognized to be false, deceptive, and disastrous in its impact. The more I learned to follow my impulses in a playful way with colors and forms, the weaker became my allegiance to conventions of an aesthetic or any other nature. I did not want to paint beautiful pictures; it was not even my goal to paint good pictures. All I wanted was to help the truth to break through. In this way, when I finally confronted my own truth and was strengthened by it, I found the courage to see with ever-growing clarity how the conventional methods of psychoanalysis block the creativity of patients as well as analysts.” ~Alice Miller (in the Preface to the 1990 edition of “The Drama of the Gifted Child”)
See this previous post on moving through moments of adversity with wisdom.
See also it Feeds on Fear and Sadness for the psychological complex known as Death of the Father.
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“Breath Is Too Precious for Hate” — Rev. William Barber
In a time of Great Grief, one must find a thread of Great Belief to hang onto. Not just any thread, but one grown and spun from the center of your heart… the core of who you are as a living being traveling through space and time with other living beings all struggling to survive the setbacks and challenges inherent in being a space-time being. It must be a thread spun with compassion, understanding, truth (at least a willingness to sink into and see truth as it is revealed through time), kindness, patience, and love. This is an elusive thread to find because so many of our systems of being are based and reward the opposites of all these precious qualities of being human. But to survive Great Grief, this is the only way that will lead you and everyone you love to a better place in space and time.
But how do you do this? How does one find this rare and precious thread inside oneself to hang onto as the waves of lost, injustice, disease, death, isolation, exploitation, cruelty, ill treatment, and so many other things that happen to us as we try to survive through time…things that wash away at our very soul?
Just breathe… breath is powerful.
In a Scientific American article that I link to below (Vision and Breathing May Be the Secrets to Surviving 2020), the Stanford neurobiologist Andrew Huberman discusses two things all of us can do to control our response to distress, trauma, pain, and suffering, even during a high-stress time such as this past year has been with an extremely divisive election, racial disparities spotlighted in brutal, traumatic ways in the killing of George Floyd (and so many more individuals unjustly) and unequal access to wealth and healthcare causing black and brown people to suffer the highest death tolls from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world.
Breathe has never been more forefront and center than it has been this past year with the tragic events leading to chants across the country, indeed the world, of “I can’t breathe” combined with COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe as the novel coronavirus robs them of their ability to do so.
In the article mentioned, Andrew Huberman says, “Breathing represents a bridge between the conscious and unconscious control of the body.” Since I’ve been writing about consciousness and unconsciousness in my story Sapience, drawing much from Carl Jung’s work, I wondered what is the equivalent to breath for the psyche. Then, I remembered this song Breathe by Télépopmusik.
I brought you something close to me Left for something you see though you’re here You haunt my dreams There’s nothing to do but believe Just believe Just breathe
Another day, just believe Another day, just breathe Another day, just believe Another day, just breathe
Breath has long been a symbol for spirit–that invisible force powering all living beings. As human beings, we are aware of this spirit that is powering us and flowing throughout our life on Earth. Jung talks of the importance of this thing that is aware, he calls it Self or psyche. He explains that this small part of self that is aware must swim between that which is conscious inside oneself and that which is unconscious inside oneself to generate the energy necessary to maintain consciousness. This is what gives us the ability as human beings to choose actions different than what our instincts would otherwise dictate. It requires us to ascend up and down within the parts of ourselves that we know about because they exist within our sphere of consciousness and the parts of ourself that we do not know about because they exist within the sphere of our unconsciousness (the bigger sphere). Belief might be like a psychic vessel (a ship, a submarine, or maybe a fish) that we create inside ourselves (in our mind space) in order to make our epic journey through space and time.
However, belief is not omniscient (all-knowing, all-wise, all-seeing) in and of itself. Belief is a part of the immortal body that exists somewhere in the realm of mind, but it is also very mortal and because of that imperfect. For belief to exist through time, just as the body exists through time, beliefs must be refreshed and refined with new knowledge (hopefully even wisdom) all the time, just like the lungs must be refreshed all the time with new air, fresh air so the corporeal body may live.
So how does one hold on during a time of Great Grief, Great Sadness, Great Stress, and Great Lost--like now? It is breath. It is belief. But one must take care to keep the immortal and mortal air breathed clean and refreshing for beliefs can lead individuals into very dark places as well as into illuminated places. It is up to you to choose which place you journey through space and time.
Following is a collection of stories percolating through me since I heard them that have inspired these thoughts. Or perhaps, I should say immortal breaths…and so, another day, just believe, another day, just breathe…
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: And finally today, it’s been less than two weeks since the Biden administration took office, and it has already been a whirlwind. The president has signed more than two dozen executive orders addressing everything from immigration to climate change, as well as one of the issues he says propelled him to run for the presidency for this third time, racial justice.
So we thought this would be a good time to check in with civil rights activist, the Reverend William Barber II. He was invited to offer the homily at the inaugural prayer service. The text came from the prophet Isaiah.
SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING of the Rev. WILLIAM BARBER II:
“And so the prophet gives the nation God’s clear guidance out of the jam it is in. Choose first to repent of the policy sin, and then repair the breach. The breach, according to the imagery of Isaiah, is when there is a gap in the nation between what is and how God wants things to be.”
MARTIN: It was both an affirming message but also a call to action, so we wanted to hear Reverend Barber’s take on what that should look like. To remind, he is the president of an organization called Repairers of the Breach, which is based in Goldsboro, N.C. He’s a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius grant, and the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. And he is with us once again.
Reverend Barber, welcome back to the program. Thanks for joining us.
BARBER: Thank you so much for having me on today.
MARTIN: What gave you the inspiration for the sermon?
BARBER: Well, I was asked to deliver it, and that was quite a humbling request. And then they asked me, did I know much about Isaiah 58? And, of course, that is one of the major passages of scripture recognized by Jews, Muslims and Christians especially. It is a scripture specifically speaking to the nation about how to repair itself after it has been through lying leadership, extreme leadership, mean-spirited leadership, oppressive leadership. And it really gives a step-by-step what has to be done.
MARTIN: Well, to — you know, to that point, I mean, the president in – President Biden in running for office and certainly at his inaugural message has been stressing a message of unity. And during your homily, you spoke of unity. I mean, you said the breach would be knowing the only way to ensure domestic tranquility is to establish justice, but pretending we can address the nation’s wounds with simplistic calls for unity. Can you expand on what you’re saying here?
BARBER: Well, surely. You know, one of the things I think more than just being a civil rights activist, I’m trying my best with others to be, you know, a moral leader, one who looks at things through the lens of moral analysis, moral articulation and moral activism. And you can’t have a simplistic view that all we need is “Kumbaya.” All we need to do is slap back — is pat each other on the back. No, no, no, no. There are real forces — and we have seen them — forces that we saw that would rather put a person on the Supreme Court than protect people from dying in caskets from COVID, forces that would rather give trillions of dollars — trillions — to corporations during COVID while billionaires make almost a trillion dollars and then fight to just give a few trillion to poor and low-wealth people and those who are hurting. These are real battles. And some people are not going to unite with justice. But if enough of us can unite with justice and love, we can move this country forward.
MARTIN: But I am interested in how you feel that happens when some have made it abundantly clear that they do not agree with this agenda. I mean, for example, I mean, your first, as I – you announced on Twitter that beginning tomorrow, the Poor People’s Campaign will be holding special Moral Mondays events. Your first event will center on increasing the minimum wage. Your group is calling for some very ambitious things like universal health care, limiting defense spending. I mean, the fact is that a significant number of people in this country don’t agree with that. So how does he reconcile both the desire that some people clearly have for a more sort of temperate, more moderate, more constructive tone and yet people like yourself who say, no, there are ambitious things that need to happen? How does he resolve that?
BARBER: Now, yes, 70 million people voted for Trump, but over 80 million people voted for Biden and Harris. They knew they were going to pass – they were going to fight for living wages, addressing systemic racism and to address health care. Biden won 55% of all poor and low-wealth people voting under – that made under $50,000 a year. In Georgia and other places, poor and low-wealth people voted for Biden and Harris at a rate 14% higher.
We’re talking about, how do we heal the soul of the South Side? And it’s only by healing the sickness in the body. And so what we’re talking about is a must – is a must. These things must happen, and when you have the power, even if you only have one vote – Republicans showed us something. They did it for the wrong reason, but they didn’t care if they had just one vote. They did what was wrong. So people who have one vote now must do what is right.
MARTIN: I can’t tell from listening to you whether you feel encouraged or you still feel frustrated.
BARBER: So I’m encouraged because the movement is encouraged. I’m encouraged because more people turned out to vote in the midst of COVID than ever turned out in the history of this country. I’m encouraged because 6 million more poor and low-wealth people turned out in this election than they did in 2016. I’m encouraged because this country has shown us that if you run on a progressive agenda, if you talk about health care, living wages and dealing with racism, you can win in California. You can win in Georgia. You can win in Pennsylvania. You can win all over this country if you give people a vision of progress for which they can vote.
I am discouraged on one thing, and it’s — but it’s going to come — that we still don’t hear enough about poverty. We hear Democrats talking about the middle class and workers. But if 43% of this country was poor and low-wealth before COVID, and 8 million more have been thrust into poverty since May of last year, and if only 39% of this country can afford a thousand-dollar emergency, we must use the word poverty. We must talk about poor and low-wage people. We must say their name and say their condition. And we must say we’re not going to lift from the middle up. We’re not going to trickle down. We’re going to lift from the bottom up.
MARTIN: So before we let you go, I want to acknowledge that, as you have acknowledged, that many people are still struggling because of the pandemic, because of the downturn. Obviously, some people – many people were struggling before that, but a lot of people are suffering right now. And this is something that you brought up in your homily. And I just wondered if you had some words of encouragement for people who are struggling.
BARBER: You know, as a pastor, I will tell you, in this season, sometimes I have not had words. I’ll just be honest. All we’ve had is presence, even if it was distant presence. All we’ve had is love. All we’ve had is sometimes just getting on a video and crying together when people couldn’t go visit their loved one. Sometimes that’s all we’ve had.
You know, one of the things some of us have done is ask the question real seriously, why are we still alive? I mean, in this moment when any of us could be gone in seven days, seven minutes – you know, we could contract COVID. We could be breathing fine one minute, and it could all shut down – why is it that we’re still alive? Or more importantly, wha