The real reason for this post is an article I came across in the Wall Street Journal:
The Homeward Bound American
By Jennifer Graham
That article is about the data from recently published research:
Residential Mobility, Well-being, and Mortality
By Shigehiro Oishi and Ulrich Schimmack
The research is about moving and the impact it has on children (family being a topic that has been on my mind recently: Conservative & Liberal Families: Observations & Comparison). I guess it does relate to old media and to the world that once was. It may be hard to believe that there was a time when moving was uncommon. Once upon a time, every town probably had at least one if not several newspapers offering local perspectives on everything. Could you imagine reading the same newspaper your whole life which was reported by and which reported on the same local people you knew your entire life?
In the United States, though, the stable community has always been more of an ideal than a reality. We are, of course, the land of immigrants, the land of a people constantly moving Westward. At this point, it might be in our very genetics. All the people with homebody genetics stayed in their homelands while their restless family members ventured to the New World. Those who weren’t given a choice in making this ocean trip, such as slaves and refugees, often had their entire culture destroyed and their connection to their homeland lost. Americans are a rootless people, whether by choice or not (which I’ve written about before: Homelessness and Civilization; in that post, I point out the Christian theology of homelessness).
It took Americans to create something like the internet which has challenged old media and traditional communities. Even the media Americans create tend towards rootlessness. A lot of good things have come out of this American attitude of embracing innovation, of embracing the new. It’s easy for us to rationalize our national character as being a great thing. Americans idealize optimism, but optimism can’t deny reality. No matter how willing we are to move (with about half the population moving in their lifetime), the above linked research shows that it doesn’t necessarily lead to healthy results. I intuitively felt this to be true, but until now I haven’t had hard data to support my intuition.
My thoughts on the matter are influenced by my own personal experience. I’m an American and I think I’m a fairly typical American in many ways. I moved around some while growing up. By the 8th grade, I had lived in 4 states. The place I spent my high school years in was a large city and so it wasn’t conducive to developing a sense of home and community. I actually ended up longing for the previous town we had lived in because I had many friends there and it was a small town with more of a stable community. In the different schools I went to, there was always a core group of kids who had known each other their entire lives. I could see the immense difference between them and I. This may have been made even more clear because I spent my early years in the Midwest before having moved to South Carolina. Along with the sense of having loss my home and my friends, I experienced some major culture shock. The entire time I lived there, South Carolina never felt like home. My brothers and I moved back to the Midwest as soon as we had an opportunity. I suspect this somewhat transitory childhood has had long-term impact on myself and my brothers.
Let me first point out some of the results of the research. Here is from a Science Daily article about the same research:
Moving Repeatedly in Childhood Linked With Poorer Quality-of-Life Years Later, Study Finds
The researchers found that the more times people moved as children, the more likely they were to report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being at the time they were surveyed, even when controlling for age, gender and education level. The research also showed that those who moved frequently as children had fewer quality social relationships as adults.
The researchers also looked to see if different personality types — extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism — affected frequent movers’ well-being. Among introverts, the more moves participants reported as children, the worse off they were as adults. This was in direct contrast to the findings among extraverts. “Moving a lot makes it difficult for people to maintain long-term close relationships,” said Oishi. “This might not be a serious problem for outgoing people who can make friends quickly and easily. Less outgoing people have a harder time making new friends.”
The findings showed neurotic people who moved frequently reported less life satisfaction and poorer psychological well-being than people who did not move as much and people who were not neurotic. Neuroticism was defined for this study as being moody, nervous and high strung. However, the number and quality of neurotic people’s relationships had no effect on their well-being, no matter how often they had moved as children. In the article, Oishi speculates this may be because neurotic people have more negative reactions to stressful life events in general.
The researchers also looked at mortality rates among the participants and found that people who moved often as children were more likely to die before the second wave of the study. They controlled for age, gender and race. “We can speculate that moving often creates more stress and stress has been shown to have an ill effect on people’s health,” Oishi said. “But we need more research on this link before we can conclude that moving often in childhood can, in fact, be dangerous to your health in the long-term.”
My brothers and I all have some predispositions toward such things as introversion, depression and anxiety. I don’t think any of us deal with stress all that well. Of course, I can’t know how we would’ve turned out if we hadn’t moved around so much. The only comparison I can make is with my parents. Unlike their children, they had relatively stable childhoods at least in terms of growing up in a stable communities (I know my mom even lived in the same house while growing up, the house that her father built). The difference is that they chose to move after they had become adults and their relatively stable childhoods seemed to have provided an internal sense of stability that allowed them to adapt well to moving to new places. If they hadn’t wanted to move or decided they didn’t like their first move, they could’ve chosen not to move away from their home or they could’ve chosen to immediately move back to their home community. As children, my brothers and I had no such choice because our parents chose for us.
I’m of mixed opinion. I don’t know how much parents can be blamed, especially in the past. Much of this research is recent and so people didn’t used to know about it. On the other hand, my parents knew stability and have always stated a belief in family values. So, why didn’t it occur to them that a stable home and community might be an integral part of family values? To generalize beyond just my parents, why do conservatives (and other Americans as well) idealize the nuclear family as an isolated entity with extended family and community simply being nice things to have around if convenient? Part of me wants to pick on the conservatives because they particularly seem obsessed with the 1950s sitcom ideal of the suburban nuclear family. But to be honest I have to admit that this warped view of family cuts across ideological lines.
At the same time, Americans are obsessed with the idea of community maybe for the very reason we lack a traditional sense of community. I’ve heard Europeans note that Americans are very social in that we constantly like starting and joining groups. In the Midwest, there is even a popular type of group whose sole purpose is to welcome new people to the community. Over all, Midwesterners have more of a real sense of community because early farming communities were so isolated. Midwestern pioneers, quite differently than Southerners, were highly dependent on their neighbors for survival. My observation is that Southerners tend to base their sense of community on their sense of family rather than the other way around. As a general rule, beyond mere formalities, Southerners (in particular middle to upper class Southerners) aren’t very friendly with their neighbors. For example, when a Midwesterner invites you over for coffee they genuinely mean it, but when a Southerner invites you over for coffee it may just be a formality.
As for myself, I internalized from a young age the Midwestern sense of community and neighborliness. It’s not that I live up to it in my personal behavior, but it does form what feels normal to me. Because of this, my disjointed and rootless sense of the world somehow feels wrong. It seems to me the world shouldn’t be this way… and yet it’s the way my world feels. I’m not as close to my family as I wish I were, but I feel that a disconnection has formed in my family that can’t be bridged. One of my brothers became married and had kids. He ended moving away to a nearby town, but he is busy and is incapable of disentangling himself from his wife and children. My other brother has moved around following his career. He essentially has become like my dad in not settling down. Part of him values family and part of him likes the distance moving around provides. None of us in our family get along perfectly well and I think we all value distance to some extent, but I can’t help wondering if it could have been different. If our parents hadn’t sacrificed family and community for career (we were latchkey kids with both parents working), would our family have been much closer than it is now?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. It’s too late now. My parents made their decisions and the time lost can’t be made up. They had been down South for a couple of decades and only recently moved back to the Midwest. My brothers were at one time all living in the same town as I am now living in, but that hasn’t been the case for a number of years. The brother that has been moving around quite a bit did for a time move back to the area before moving away again just as my parents were moving into town. Even though my parents used to live here and used to have many friends here, they’ve been away too long and my dad in particular left behind the community he felt a part of in South Carolina. When you spend so much time apart in different communities and in entirely different regions of the world, you lose the basic daily experiences on which personal relationships are built. The people my parents know generally aren’t the same people I know. In chasing money and career, why didn’t my parents consider the clear possibility that it would undermine our entire family? People always think there is time later on to develop personal relationships, but then after retirement one realizes that some things once lost can’t be regained.
It pisses me off. I always wanted a family I could rely upon, but on an emotional level (which isn’t rational) I don’t have a sense of trust towards my parents. I don’t fundamentally believe they would necessarily be there for me if things ever went wrong. I understand it isn’t entirely rational. My parents do value family and they are caring people. It’s just that I have this very basic sense of disconnection. I’ve lived in this town longer than anywhere else and I love this town. It’s my home. Still, I don’t feel entirely connected to even this place, to the community that I’m surrounded by. My sense of place is always in the past, in the memories of my childhood in this place. It’s hard to explain. When I moved away after 7th grade, I spent years going over and over my memories of this place. Once I returned, everything had already begun to change. So, my sense of place is only loosely connected to the place itself. My suspicion is that it would be different for someone who lived in the same place their whole life because the place would have changed as they changed. One’s personal changes would be grounded in the changes in one’s sense of place. Once you move away, you can never come home again. So, it’s more than a desire for a stable sense of family. It’s a desire for a stable sense of community, a stable sense of place, a stable sense of personal reality. My whole life I’ve wanted to fit in, wanted to feel like I was accepted, like I belonged. Instead, I feel broken.
Of course, I’m not special. Everyone grows up and everyone loses their childhood, but it seems particularly traumatic for those who have moved around, most particularly if they have certain personality traits. Even so, this sense of malaise seems to be a common factor of modern civilization. From my studies, it’s my understanding that indigenous tribal people don’t share this sense of malaise… not until they’re introduced to modern civilization. We moderns are extremely disconnected from the world around us. Even the person who has never moved is unlikely to have a deep sense of place as was once common when all humans were indigenous.
I noticed the above research was mentioned in an article in The New York Times (Does Moving a Child Create Adult Baggage? By Pamela Paul) which led me to another article:
The Roots of White Anxiety
By Ross Douthat
Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.
The reason I mention this article is because rural areas represent the last communities that have maintained some semblance of stability, although it’s eroding quickly. These poor, rural whites maintain their communities and their poverty by not moving much. That is what the author of this article didn’t fully comprehend but which some readers made note of in the comments:
dc wrote: “The issue is class, not race, not political affiliation, and certainly not religion.”
Yes, class AND culture… the two being inseparable.
Poor rural people (of any race or religion) are less willing to sacrifice family and community for social advancement in terms of education and career. They’re less willing to play the moving game. But, in a society that doesn’t value the rural culture, such stable cultures aren’t likely to represent the best of society. Loss of family farms and the decline of small towns has caused rural communities to become impoverished and so they have tons of social problems, but these communities once were relatively good places to live and to raise a family… and they still are in some ways. The article does make a point that whites have reason to be worried, paranoid even, about the undermining of this traditional rural culture. Still, no one in particular is to blame. What America is becoming is an almost entirely inevitable result of how America began. It’s noble that these rural folk self-impose (consciously or not) an isolated sense of community. They choose to homeschool their kids and send them to state schools or community colleges. By doing this, they maintain their family ties.
My parents, on the other hand, were willing to make sacrifices that many rural people are unwilling to make and because of it my parents have been more successful in their careers. My parents apparently weren’t contented to just be working class or to otherwise limit their careers to one specific community.
It makes me wonder about the future, my personal future and the future of society. I don’t feel optimistic about my own family and community. My depression and introversion combine in such a way that I lead a fairly isolated life. What really saddens me is that I’m far from unusual. Are people like me merely a sign of what our society is becoming? What is the future of communities and families? As a society, will we ever again collectively value community more than career, family more than success? Will we ever stop building ugly, soul-destroying suburban neighborhoods? Will the warped ideal of the nuclear family ever be brought back into alignment with concrete realities of the world we live in? Is there any hope for modern people to regain the sense of place without which “home” becomes a mere abstraction?
12 thoughts on “Sense of Place, of Home, of Community… or lack thereof”
It seems to me that you have found and should stay in this space where you are right now – the political space. But, for you, it isn’t political, it is ethical like Camus would say. The same way it is for me. I say all this because of your bursting readership, the level at which Paine touched you, the passion and naturalness I sense in your posts that concern the political, like an identification. But, not an unsalutary one, rather, a true identification like a manifestation rather than a sublimation. It’s nice to see you healthy and happy once again cos I have seen that you’re in such good spirits ever since you got deeper and deeper into the ‘sociopolitical’…cheers to you, my man.
That part about your parents brought something to mind, a theory. I think the baby boomers (your parents are part?) adopted a very materialistic approach to the world, with very little introspection involved. The whole “do what you are” rhetoric was not received well, they divorced what was agreeable to their collective psychology from all the lot of thought that had been done till then and forged ahead with it. Today is the result – problems all over the place, emotional, political, economic. The sooner they are booted out, the better. What they did was to go forward and forward and forget what was behind.
I link this to the post-World War psyche. That psyche is a fractured one and does not deserve to be in power. They have held the fort for long enough and brought us this far which is good but they have to go. Their children are showing the signs of rebellion. They are not fit to rule. Their psychology is hyper-progressive so they can run away from the devastation of the World War, it is simply a reaction. Their epoch has been helpful – it has taught us valuable lessons and seems to round off the history of philosophy, a whole age, man. What we discussed about the millenials changing everything is bound to happen. Even my Revolution posts are in that direction, the seeming biblical referencing was just a representation of the eternal pattern of things, as Marx says, “throughout history is a history of class struggle”.
I get these thoughts from Jung, Nietzsche, Camus and our previous discussions. We haven’t yet dealt with the nihilism and pessimism that the history of our thought brought us and what we have done so far has just been an ad hoc thing, a sort of “we have to do something while we wait” and a valuable period of experimentation.
The Upheaval in the Modern Soul is kicking in strong and might just pour out soon enough. We built a lie for a reason and then fell in love with it – this is the price. I know kit isn’t just a projection of what I have learned from the thinkers because it is something I have known way before I met the thinkers. As well, it registers in a very felt way, as you would say “a tangible sense of truth”. I have tried to tell ‘why’ intellectually as above but it doesn’t satisfy my felt ‘truth’.
We have enough existential problems to be bothered by politico-economic ones.
By the way, the end part of your post – all questions I also ask often.
I’ve been interacting with you almost entirely on facebook recently. It’s been a while since we’ve had a discussion in our blogs. You were blogging like a madman for a period of time… well you always blog like a madman, but what I meant was that you were blogging a lot, so much that I couldn’t keep up with it. Recently, you’ve started blogging again.
In response to your comments here, I would have to agree with what you say in your first paragraph. I’m in a fairly good place right now.
Some important things have shifted a bit recently. I’ve reconciled with my parents a bit more after some conflict I was having with them. The divisiveness of American politics was driving me crazy and adding to the conflict with my parents. I was feeling stressed out. I realized I needed to change something. I stopped visiting youtube for the most part and I removed myself from various email lists for news sites. I’ve even stopped listening to NPR and now listen to music instead while at work.
I’m feeling much better, thank you very much.
There is one specific thing that has helped me shift out of my funk. I’ve been doing genealogy research with my parents. This has allowed me to bond with my parents on a non-divisive issue.
Plus, genealogy refocuses my mind on family in a larger sense, reconnects me to a deeper sense of self. It is allowing me to combine many of my interests in a more grounded way. Genealogy combines family history, regional history, and cultural history; combines politics and culture; combines sense of place and sense of family (two things that make up the sense of home). It even taps into my interest in psychology as it relates to the sociology of culture but also in terms of thinking about the traits I’ve inherited.
I’ve returned to my interest in regionalism but with fresh new insight. I found a tender place in the collective psyche to put my hooks in.
Let me now respond to the next part of your comments.
My parents are on the cusp of the Baby Boom, but they identify more with the Silent Generation. The two generations, though, are dealing with the same dynamics of post-war prosperity and materialism. Even the oldest of the Silent Generation would barely remember WWII from their childhood.
It was actually the Silents who made many of the changes we’ve experienced over the past half century. Most of the prsidents during that time, such as Reagan, were of the Silent generation. It was the Silents who were the leaders of the various social movements during the 60s. It was the Silents who did the most to bust the unions and deregulate capitalism. It was the Silents who created our permanent debt. Baby Boomers gave the Silents much support in their efforts, but the Boomers didn’t start it. They just carried it forward with their large numbers (hence their name).
I await the Upheaval in the Modern Soul. I await with my questions. The next generation can attempt to offer answers.
I was amused that you mentioned my “bursting readership”. lol
I suppose its bursting to some extent. Still, only two of my posts get regular large numbers of hits: my post about the US vs German and my post about the North vs the South in the US (the latter also being about Germany in an indirect way; I guess my German heritage keys me into this German cultural issue).
It’s actually rather easy to ‘burst’ one’s readership if one so desires. You just have to go around to comments sections in different places on the web and add links to your own posts when you comment. I do this on occasion. I’ll add a link to my blog just to point to some lengthy analysis I’ve previously done, but I don’t do it often. I did recently post some links on an article from a major website and it brought in a bunch of hits.
I’m not sure that my regular readership has grown, though. Readers come and go. There are very few people who regularly comment (even most of my internet friends who I’ve known for years don’t usually comment on my blog much). I have slowly increased the number of people subscribed to my blog, but that number isn’t really all that high (maybe a couple dozen).
I actually am aware of that. I used to do it but quit it for two reasons: I can be someone who wants people to like me and will use some tactics to do so so to quell this I stopped posting such links, something like self-flagellation – and it is related to my general life, it’s like a therapy of sorts. Secondly, people seem not to like my metaphorical style – I can hardly communicate without my metaphors. As you know, I have word recall problems so I use synonymy which magnifies my metaphorical style of expression. It’s frustrating so I don’t even visit people’s sites. Westerners seem over-exact and I believe in nothing like that.
In addition, my style shifts according to what is ‘allowed’. For instance, if somebody appreciates the personal feel to things, I adapt in that way but it seems some people have particular contexts in which some things are acceptable and unacceptable. For me, you only have to tell me if something is possible to be done and I’m okay. It seems to me that I’m too irreverent. I’m rarely satisfied in conversation besides you and my friend who I discussed those mathematical concepts with the last time. Sometimes, it’s depressing because it seems they are closing their doors – they seem expressively or literarily conservative. They want you to talk in their way without the thought that you try to enter their field to understand them. I ask “why don’t you do the same for me? what injustice is this?”. I come to you, you come to me. It’s one thing that frustrates me about the prenormative guy. Their catchphrase is “why don’t you talk like everyone else?”. I am simply making it easier for you by alluding to examples in everyday life or some common experiences while keeping the thought in its normal state as exactness tends to look like oversimplification and dampening to me. Usually, when such people have some boss like that, they never mind that “he talks different”. I even try and try to make them understand but they just shut up their minds as if I am some demon from the other side of hell :-D. It’s depressing but I have to laugh.
I have been getting ‘likes’ with my dialogue style recently though. Just a method of question and answer and further questioning – it seems to be simpler to understand. People see the development of the thought along with all my lateral thoughts or questions which tend to complicate my communication quite a bit.
It seems a lot of these guys learned and maintained the accepted style of writing from school basically. I abandoned that style long ago preferring to learn writing from authors. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so irreverent of customs.
Few people appreciate my style while reaching to what I am saying and these are iconoclastic or unconventional people themselves or people with high literary taste. When I simplify, I don’t get these guys approval which I respect. When I don’t, the others just write me off. I’ve been trying to blend the two though.
People think I’m saying nothing and that I’m just trying to be complicated because of my metaphors. They don’t understand the metaphor – which I’m perfectly willing to change or explain humbly and aware of its remoteness – but they just jump and say “I’m just trying to hide my ignorance with political or florid talk”. Metaphors and images or examples allow me to think faster, I’m a visual person, bland logical talk is frustrating to me. It’s happened too many times and it’s annoying.
I’ve had so many different things on my mind lately that I had forgotten about this comment you left. So. let me respond now before I forget again.
It took me a while to get into your style, but I was willing to do so. I don’t mind putting some effort into grasping the worldview or thought process of another, depending on the person of course. You seemed like someone with interesting ideas and interesting ways of connecting and expressing them. I like interesting even if it is challenging.
I’m like you in that I wish more people were willing to put in the effort in this manner toward my own writing and thinking. It’s no fun trying to interact with someone who feels no desire to reach out in their own understanding. For some people, the internet can breed narcissism. I have enough readers of my blog to feel that I’m not just talking to emptiness, but partly I get readers because I read others a lot. I like to read which has drawn certain people to read my own blog, a most recent example being skepoet.
Your situation is a little different than mine. I’m a Westerner with mostly a Western audience. Also, my writings are often more specific in what I focus on and so I attract a specific readership, often American topics tending to attract American readers. Even the writers I focus on tend to be American such as PKD or Burroughs or even many of the political writers I like. My style of writing as well is very American I suppose. I think my style is relatively easy to read, although I can at times be overly verbose and possibly turn some people away from reading my lengthy diatribes.
You, on the other hand, have a much more unique style than my own. You experiment more with your style. I would experiment more, but I have a naturally lazy personality. I just express myself as my mind operates. That which can’t easily be communicated too often gets left uncommunicated. I do play around a little bit. I would like to expand my repertoire of writing styles just for the sake of getting at the fuller spectrum of my experience and thought. However, I also like to keep my writing on a level that feels natural rather than trying too hard to be original.
I’m fine with more experimental styles, but many people aren’t. Your recent experiment with a dialogue style does seem more successful, though, in terms of general and casual readability. I could almost imagine your dialogues being like those existentialist plays where there are just people on a stage with no scenery and no action, just dialogue. Actually, I can imagine you playing around with that style in many different ways. I see the potential in it.
Oh yeah! I have even thought of theatre with a totally dark stage but with the actor(s) on stage so that only the voices are heard. For me, it brings out all the working parts and takes out the extraneous. The actors make some sounds on stage so you know they’re there and there’s this thing my mom reports, she says she can sense it when there’s another person in the room with her even when asleep – I have tested it but I think it’s lessened with age. Some other people have reported similar and I hypothesize that they are so sensitive that they feel the gravitational pull of another body. So, for my idea, I’m figuring these guys experience into the performance – I think that this coupled with a total darkness will allow them to ‘feel’ the actors on stage like the darkness increasing their sensitivity.
It’s interesting. I agree, there’s a lot to be done with it.
I was going to do a post just a few days ago in reply to this one – some theoretical perspective like that :-). I actually had several ideas around the same time as this and following on those others led to a forgetting of this one and now, I can’t remember what I wanted to say. The constellation is still there, something will nudge it into consciousness sometime.
I’m guessing you do remember my “reclamation of my youth” I mentioned to you? To recover “sense of place”, I had to uncover a lot of my past, my childhood, even the tribe I belong to, to provide me a sense of myself which is inextricably linked to my sense of self.
Recently, I’ve discovered that my sexuality is another that has suffered but it is one I had always determined to leave behind, castrate myself. It is another that can limit my progress.
In relation to sense of home, I have been collecting stuff from my childhood for about two years now, movies, books and people, even restarted watching TV again. After my mystical experience I’ve mentioned many times, there was also this involuntary memory thing where I’d remember scenes from my past in response to certain cues from the environment – atmosphere, tone, certain objects, certain scenes, even tv shows. This has given me an anchor I was missing before with my forward-looking way of life. The past has become such an important place for me and I’ve returned to the attitude or disposition of youth that society, esp through school, took away from me. You see it in my About page named ‘Monarc’, http://monarc7.wordpress.com/monarc/. It has been so hard, man.
Two particular occurrences took me back: meeting that girl, Cara and another innocuous one that will even amaze you in the intensity of it’s impact. I was ironing one night when my mother said “when he was small, he’d come to you doing so many things, he was such an interesting child but now, oh, he’s just spoiled..” and that was when I remembered everything – how I used to love role-playing, my experimental attitude, my enthusiasm for exploration, my controversial or idiosyncratic views or ways and a number of very important others. They weren’t stuff I didn’t remember but they were just memories, not a part of me. The effect of that comment by my mom has the appearance of a man whose spirit or ghost had been re-joined to him. Something I lost just came back and gave me an assurance of my ways, that this was me, and I should no longer be unsure of myself. A certain certainty of self that has become untouchable and self I’m proud of, what others say is already known, I am my own critic and I laugh at my ways but so what? this is my way, you can only kill me, you can’t take it away from me. It’s as I say in the metaphor, a ship roaming all over the ocean, far and wide, but an anchor is fixed into the core of the earth.
Do I remember your reclamation of your youth? I recall you talking a bit about your past here and there, but I don’t specifically recall the word ‘reclamation’.
I was thinking about this in terms of my own life. I’m not sure I’ve ever done exactly what you are doing. I’ve always had an attachment, sometimes unhealthy, to my past. It comes from moving around in my youth. If there was a reclamation of my youth, it happened in my youth after my family’s last major move following elementary school and prior to high school.
I went to your About page. Philosophical Art. I dig it. I can see your blog writings in that light.
I’m oddly reminded of some books I have that have essays that might best be described as fictional non-fiction. The authors take fictional topics, such as a superhero or a town from a novel, and they write a detailed history connecting it to the real world and connecting it to other fictional people and places. They superimpose fiction onto non-fiction, but do so in a way that makes perfect sense. It’s seems like a method that can be used to explore deep cultural pathways of experiencing the human world. After all, fiction and non-fiction are all part of the same world.
Yeah, I do like your description of your soul retrieval. Certainty of self is a good thing. You have to remember to know and know to be certain. Could you imagine yourself now if your mother had never said those words and that certainty of self remained just memories in your unconscious? How do you think you would have turned out instead? Or do you think that one way or another those memories would have returned?
I was just watching the most recent episode of Misfits (Season 3, Episode 3):
There is a comic book artist in the episode who can control reality by the stories he creates. It isn’t an original idea for a plot. Heroes had something similar. Even so, I think Misfits does take such ideas in original directions. Have you watched Misfits?
This episode made me think of you. The connection between art, imagination and reality is always fascinating. I’m sure you can think how it might relate to your Philosophical Art.
“How do you think you would have turned out instead? Or do you think that one way or another those memories would have returned?”
That is something I can’t say. More probably, they’d have remained memories. There is an unwillingness to change in adulthood – I dislike it. Even those who are always changing refuse to change from this life philosophy. One thing I don’t like is intransigence and adulthood seems to have it as one of its features, you just meet it soon as you walk on that road.
An unwillingness to change in adulthood. Really? I hadn’t noticed. lol
My tendency isn’t to think of it that way. I see many kinds of unwillingness in people, both young and old. This aspect of human nature can be annoying, and can become more entrenched with age.
However, I sense that isn’t the primary problem. It’s hard to know even what willingness means. People seem willing about all kinds of things, but there is something beyond mere willingness. Change is a mystery that is beyond my comprehension. Willingness or not, change either happens or it doesn’t. All the willingness in the world doesn’t guarantee change, especially not change that you consciously would prefer.
I was thinking about the greatest change of all the other day: death. For most people, death just happens without any need for willingess. Even when someone wants to die, killing yourself is one of the hardest things in the world to do. It seems like such a simple thing and yet is so hard. Many people attempt it and most don’t succeed. It takes many attempts on average before someone succeeds and each of those attempts is a struggle against the body’s impulse toward survival.
We are creatures of instinct. We like to think we are in control, but we aren’t. None of us ultimately knows why we do what we do or why we don’t do what we don’t do. We just have no fucking clue. To me, blaming ‘unwillingness’ is to acknowledge how weak is human will, assuming it even exists.
Anyway, I don’t know that young people are any more ‘willing’. It’s just young people are more ignorant of the world and less experienced about the limitations of will. There is this sense of possibility that may just be naivette. I’m all for naive possibility-mindedness, but still it is what it is. Believe while you can for death is coming for you. 🙂