Sleepwalking Through Our Dreams

…a sense that our memories and perceptions have been misplaced or replaced, that our lives are not our lives, that our minds are not our minds and that we are all part of some collective nightmare being played our on a stage not of the world but of some simulated shadow stage of which we know nothing.
~S.C. Hickman, The Telecratic Imperative

The notion of sleep has been used by poets and Gnostics alike throughout time as the leitmotif of ignorance, bliss, and innocence. Asleep in one’s ignorance goes the saying. To be asleep is to be so immersed in the normalization process of the worlds ubiquitous systems that one no longer has that critical acumen to be able to step away, step back, step out of one’s environment and see it for what it is: an artificial construct within which one is imprisoned. All the Zombie films from Romero’s classic to the latest edition have one theme: the mindless hunger and desire of the consumer for its next meal ticket, the endless feeding frenzy of a mindless horde in search of filling the emptiness of its depleted flesh, its desiring machininc life. Like sleeping zombies we move to the puppet strings of invisible codes and algorithms that supplement, decide, and program our lives within a 24/7 dreamworld constructed to fulfill our deepest desires.
~S.C. Hickman, The Governance of the World

Those words of S.C. Hickman captured a deeper aspect of my mood. That our minds are not our minds. That we don’t know what our minds are. It is almost a haunted feeling of the mind being something separate from us. The unconscious is the nameless name of something we never experience directly. The realm of mind that is not quite human, a demonic possession or mind parasite. We can sleepwalk through our entire lives.

Are we really disconnected, dissociated? Or is this simply our ‘normal’ state? We don’t know what we are or what makes us tick. We don’t know how to resolve our unknowing, because we can’t step outside of ourselves. And if we somehow dig down into the psyche, what do we hope to find? Is there anything below our delusions and fantasies? What ground might we stand upon?

When we speak of a social construct, what exactly is that? Social constructs are the seams that hold our minds together, the buttresses of our identity, the mortar of the social order. Take away that stuff of imagination and what seemed solid would fade away. We aren’t what we believe ourselves to be, but we can’t be anything at all without those beliefs. We aren’t the stories we tell, even as telling stories is at the heart of what we are.

Our secret identity is in the disjuncture or dislocation, the slippage or elision. It is the interstitial, the liminal, the threshold. Not what we are but what we are becoming, reality being out of alignment with perception, always slightly off, a fraction of delay. The ground shifts below us and we don’t notice, for we also shift at the same time, all the world shifting around us. And no matter how quickly we turn, we’ll never see what is behind us. The person who sees is not what is seen, but nothing can be seen that is separate from the person who sees. There is no objective standpoint, no outside vantage.

This is why we are so easily manipulated and misdirected.

My thoughts have been circling around a few issues, ever returning to my theory of symbolic conflation. It has to do with a symbolic ordering of the mind, as expressed through social order and social control, social construction and social identity. There is a mystery there that resists close inspection, and yet draws one’s attention elsewhere.

One of the best ways I’ve found to describe it is like a bird fluttering away from its nest, pretending to be injured. Or think of another example from nature. A deer can outrun a human, but only over short distances. Humans are awesome long distance runners and a deer will eventually tire out, maybe one of the earliest hunting techniques. Deer have a way of avoiding this fate. One deer will make itself seen to get the attention of the predator. That deer will slip out of sight to slow down and another deer will then take that position. It requires a highly observant predator to lock in on one deer and to not get deceived by the switch.

That is how symbolic conflation works. The symbolic issue acts as a framing. It draws the focus in a particular way, making it difficult to see what is being hidden by misdirection. It’s truly brilliant. The reason it works so well is that we tend to think without full consciousness and so act on autopilot. We see without really seeing and it rarely occurs to us what we aren’t seeing by the very nature of how we are looking or rather being made to look. This can create the illusion that we are acting under our own volition, completely oblivious to how we are being deceived and manipulated. The power of it is that framing becomes enculturated into the very fabric of our being and of our society. We see what is framed rather than seeing the frame.

So much of our lives are symbolic. No aspect of our identities is free from this: nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, class, etc. We are shaped to the core of our being. Yet there is a superficial quality to this. We feel forced to conform to an ideological worldview, but in a sense some part of us remains free of this. Such identities wouldn’t be necessary, if they weren’t hiding something.

The majority of Americans are symbolic conservatives, even as they are operational liberals, which is to say on specific issues the general public tends to support liberal positions, but the rhetoric of symbolic conservatism remains immensely powerful (such that, obscured and divided and isolated by false identities, the majority doesn’t realize it is a majority). The American Dream offers symbolic aspiration that remains unfulfilled for most, in that American kids dream big and yet have lower upward mobility than kids in many other Western countries who have a more realistic assessment of their future opportunities, which never manages to undermine the symbolic narrative. The political right loves to obsess over symbolic constitutionalism, having very little to do with the actual history of the U.S. Constitution beyond some cherry-picked quotes from founders, ignoring all contrary evidence. And to pick on the other side, there is symbolic rhetoric of democracy and liberalism, too rarely resulting anything that comes close to reality, as liberalism is simply the other side of the conservative symbolic conflation.

There are also symbolic family values based on the recent invention of the nuclear family detached from the long history of extended relationships of kinship and community. Along with that, there are other symbolic culture wars that rarely if ever amount to any actual politics nor have much to do with the issues themselves, such as how so-called pro-lifers won’t support policies that have been proven to decrease abortions. Similarly, there is symbolic religiosity and symbolic happiness. Conservatives report higher rates of religiosity than what matches the actual data on church attendance. And research shows that conservatives, although reporting higher happiness than liberals, smile less often than liberals. Symbolic identities have to do with how people perceive themselves and want to be perceived by others, according to social expectations and norms, the entire social order enfolding us in its embrace.

We also can’t forget all the symbolic wars on poverty, drugs, Terror, etc; inevitably ending up distracting from the real issues and problems, the most fundamental causes and contributing factors. And of course, there is the symbolic hyper-individuality of the autonomous self, the rational actor, the self-made man, the self-interested consumer-citizen.

These symbolic conflations and frames burrow into our psyche. They are memes, mind viruses and parasites. They don’t merely use our minds for their own purposes of self-replication, so as to infect others. They restructure our minds, causing us to come to identify with them. There is often no clear distinction between the behavior of parasites and symbionts. We can only know them by their results; but the nature of the relationship is that, in coming to identify with them, we rationalize their existence as part of who we are. The sense of self becomes splintered with our lives divided into different aspects, leading to dissociation along with the strange phenomenon of knowing and not knowing all kinds of things, and in some cases even leading to varying degrees of psychosis.

The modern self is not normal, by historical and evolutionary standards. Extremely unnatural and unhealthy conditions have developed, our minds having correspondingly grown malformed like the binding of feet. Our hyper-individuality is built on disconnection and, in place of human connection, we take on various addictions, not just to drugs and alcohol but also to work, consumerism, entertainment, social media, and on and on. The more we cling to an unchanging sense of bounded self, the more burdened we become trying to hold it all together, hunched over with the load we carry on our shoulders. We are possessed by the identities we possess.

This addiction angle interests me. Our addiction is the result of our isolated selves. Yet even as our addiction attempts to fill emptiness, to reach out beyond ourselves toward something, anything, a compulsive relationship devoid of the human, we isolate ourselves further. As Johann Hari explained in Chasing the Scream (Kindle Locations 3521-3544):

There were three questions I had never understood. Why did the drug war begin when it did, in the early twentieth century? Why were people so receptive to Harry Anslinger’s message? And once it was clear that it was having the opposite effect to the one that was intended— that it was increasing addiction and supercharging crime— why was it intensified, rather than abandoned?

I think Bruce Alexander’s breakthrough may hold the answer.

“Human beings only become addicted when they cannot find anything better to live for and when they desperately need to fill the emptiness that threatens to destroy them,” Bruce explained in a lecture in London31 in 2011. “The need to fill an inner void is not limited to people who become drug addicts, but afflicts the vast majority of people of the late modern era, to a greater or lesser degree.”

A sense of dislocation has been spreading through our societies like a bone cancer throughout the twentieth century. We all feel it: we have become richer, but less connected to one another. Countless studies prove this is more than a hunch, but here’s just one: the average number of close friends a person has has been steadily falling. We are increasingly alone, so we are increasingly addicted. “We’re talking about learning to live with the modern age,” Bruce believes. The modern world has many incredible benefits, but it also brings with it a source of deep stress that is unique: dislocation. “Being atomized and fragmented and all on [your] own— that’s no part of human evolution and it’s no part of the evolution of any society,” he told me.

And then there is another kicker. At the same time that our bonds with one another have been withering, we are told— incessantly, all day, every day, by a vast advertising-shopping machine— to invest our hopes and dreams in a very different direction: buying and consuming objects. Gabor tells me: “The whole economy is based around appealing to and heightening every false need and desire, for the purpose of selling products. So people are always trying to find satisfaction and fulfillment in products.” This is a key reason why, he says, “we live in a highly addicted society.” We have separated from one another and turned instead to things for happiness— but things can only ever offer us the thinnest of satisfactions.

This is where the drug war comes in. These processes began in the early twentieth century— and the drug war followed soon after. The drug war wasn’t just driven, then, by a race panic. It was driven by an addiction panic— and it had a real cause. But the cause wasn’t a growth in drugs. It was a growth in dislocation.

The drug war began when it did because we were afraid of our own addictive impulses, rising all around us because we were so alone. So, like an evangelical preacher who rages against gays because he is afraid of his own desire to have sex with men, are we raging against addicts because we are afraid of our own growing vulnerability to addiction?

In The Secret Life of Puppets, Victoria Nelson makes some useful observations of reading addiction, specifically in terms of formulaic genres. She discusses Sigmund Freud’s repetition compulsion and Lenore Terr’s post-traumatic games. She sees genre reading as a ritual-like enactment that can’t lead to resolution, and so the addictive behavior becomes entrenched. This would apply to many other forms of entertainment and consumption. And it fits into Derrick Jensen’s discussion of abuse, trauma, and the victimization cycle.

I would broaden her argument in another way. People have feared the written text ever since it was invented. In the 18th century, there took hold a moral panic about reading addiction in general and that was before any fiction genres had developed (Frank Furedi, The Media’s First Moral Panic). The written word is unchanging and so creates the conditions for repetition compulsion. Every time a text is read, it is the exact same text.

That is far different from oral societies. And it is quite telling that oral societies have a much more fluid sense of self. The Piraha, for example, don’t cling to their sense of self nor that of others. When a Piraha individual is possessed by a spirit or meets a spirit who gives them a new name, the self that was there is no longer there. When asked where is that person, the Piraha will say that he or she isn’t there, even if the same body of the individual is standing right there in front of them. They also don’t have a storytelling tradition or concern for the past.

Another thing that the Piraha apparently lack is mental illness, specifically depression along with suicidal tendencies. According to Barbara Ehrenreich from Dancing in the Streets, there wasn’t much written about depression even in the Western world until the suppression of religious and public festivities, such as Carnival. One of the most important aspects of Carnival and similar festivities was the masking, shifting, and reversal of social identities. Along with this, there was the losing of individuality within the group. And during the Middle Ages, an amazing number of days in the year were dedicated to communal celebrations. The ending of this era coincided with numerous societal changes, including the increase of literacy with the spread of the movable type printing press.

Another thing happened with suppression of festivities. Local community began to break down as power became centralized in far off places and the classes became divided, which Ehrenreich details. The aristocracy used to be inseparable from their feudal roles and this meant participating in local festivities where, as part of the celebration, a king might wrestle with a blacksmith. As the divides between people grew into vast chasms, the social identities held and social roles played became hardened into place. This went along with a growing inequality of wealth and power. And as research has shown, wherever there is inequality also there is found high rates of social problems and mental health issues.

It’s maybe unsurprising that what followed from this was colonial imperialism and a racialized social order, class conflict and revolution. A society formed that was simultaneously rigid in certain ways and destabilized in others. The individuals became increasingly atomized and isolated. With the loss of kinship and community, the cheap replacement we got is identity politics. The natural human bonds are lost or constrained. Social relations are narrowed down. Correspondingly, our imaginations are hobbled and we can’t envision society being any other way. Most tragic, we forget that human society used to be far different, a collective amnesia forcing us into a collective trance. Our entire sense of reality is held in the vice grip of historical moment we find ourselves in.

We are afraid of what we don’t know. And so in fear, we huddle closer. The darkness in our own minds becomes shadows enveloping us. Anything that was able to pierce through our defenses would feel like violence and, in response, our reactions are out of proportion. We never see anything for what it is, as the narratives playing in our heads never stop. Those stories are our comfort or so we believe and therefore those stories are our fate.

But what if even only for a moment we saw the flame that casts the shadow? What then?

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15 thoughts on “Sleepwalking Through Our Dreams

  1. we’re not as lost as you make it sound – I mean, sure, we’re lost, we’re in the blizzard or the whiteout and can’t see a thing – but really, we’re still only steps from the house. Things can’t really be as untethered as it seems, because we are not software entities, we have a hardware platform, flexible as it is, and things will be some sort of knowable from that, somehow. We just have to work through the layers of meme/social parasite with some view to keeping our physical reality in mind. I agree, it’s mostly projection so far, but the absoluteness of the relativity you reference here is a little too perfect to be real. It wouldn’t be a perfect existential trap unless there was a way out that we just couldn’t find, would it?

    • “we’re not as lost as you make it sound”

      I know I made it sound pretty dark and dispiriting. But I was doing so to make a rhetorical point. I honestly don’t know how lost we are. I’m not even sure thinking of it in terms of being lost is helpful. It’s simply that our minds are powerful, especially on the collective level of stories we tell.

      All of this can be simplified to an extent. My theory goes back to when I first read Robert Anton Wilson back in the mid-1990s. He discusses reality tunnels. That is what sent my mind down this path. The difference with my theory is that I’m attempting to specifically explain how reality tunnels operate, the mechanisms of how our minds operate, to bring it down to a very human level of experience.

      “I mean, sure, we’re lost, we’re in the blizzard or the whiteout and can’t see a thing – but really, we’re still only steps from the house.”

      That is part of the point I was trying to make. But it is extremely difficult to talk about such things. And no doubt I could always be more clear in what I’m trying to communicate.

      Here is a key issue. The misdirection makes even what is close at hand appear far away. Our attention is constantly drawn toward other things. That is by design. That is what makes symbolic conflation so powerful, such that reality tunnels form.

      Take the bird and its nest. It’s the fact that the bird is fluttering away and pretending to be hurt that you know you are close to its nest. The purpose of its behavior is to get your attention. You might be standing right next to the next. But you won’t know that as long as you are distracted by the bird. And if you allow yourself to be led away by the bird’s misdirection, you’ll get further and further away from the nest.

      If you are in a blizzard and can’t see the house, that is a dangerous situation to be in. Many people have died in blizzards when they only walked a short distance from their houses and then got lost. This is why people in the olden days used to sometimes tie a rope that went from the house to the outhouse or barn.

      So, if we are able to find the house. Let’s tie a rope to it. And hold onto the other end with great care.

      “Things can’t really be as untethered as it seems, because we are not software entities, we have a hardware platform, flexible as it is, and things will be some sort of knowable from that, somehow.”

      If I’m correct, nothing about any of this would be incompatible with the hardware. This is a core part of our inbuilt human nature. We are never untethered, even when lost in symbolic conflations, metaphorical frames, ideological narratives, and reality tunnels. All of this is fully part of our humanity and so inseparable from our genetic potential and biological functioning. It’s all of one piece.

      “We just have to work through the layers of meme/social parasite with some view to keeping our physical reality in mind.”

      We are still in the process of working through the layers of meme/social parasite. There is an implied hope in doing this work. That hope is that there is something more to what makes us human, the house that is a few steps away.

      “I agree, it’s mostly projection so far, but the absoluteness of the relativity you reference here is a little too perfect to be real. It wouldn’t be a perfect existential trap unless there was a way out that we just couldn’t find, would it?”

      I don’t think I’m arguing for an absoluteness of relativity. It’s more that we are social creatures, which is to say we exist within and are defined by our relationships. This is the whole issue of social order, social control, social constructions, and social identity. The basic element is the social. It’s just what we are

      You might want to use this paragraph as the core argument:

      “So much of our lives are symbolic. No aspect of our identities is free from this: nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, class, etc. We are shaped to the core of our being. Yet there is a superficial quality to this. We feel forced to conform to an ideological worldview, but in a sense some part of us remains free of this. Such identities wouldn’t be necessary, if they weren’t hiding something.”

      Focus specifically on what I say about the superficial quality. As I say, some part of us remains free. That is to say no matter how our minds are shaped the potential within us remains basically the same. But the danger is that we easily lose contact with this potential within our human nature.

      Still, the fact that something is hidden has a positive side to it, as it means there is something of possibly great value to be found. We just can’t entirely know what it it is before we find it and we are still in the middle of the search.

      • OK, yes, in one of the Pinkers, How the Mind Works or the one I’m not finished yet, the Stuff of Thought, he makes some points that the ‘concept’ mechanism is sort of infinite, that no matter the size of an idea, it can always be included in another, or as one small part of another, that some bot or daemon in our brain that conceptualizes can simply reconceptualize forever in a relatively simple but powerful process when it’s done more than in one isolated textbook instance, but all day long at every level of thought . . . that’s exactly what you mean by power on the impressive side, I guess, and . . . yeah, damn. Also, the same fractal principle for metaphor.

        just saw this bit: “If I’m correct, nothing about any of this would be incompatible with the hardware. This is a core part of our inbuilt human nature. We are never untethered, even when lost in symbolic conflations, metaphorical frames, ideological narratives, and reality tunnels. All of this is fully part of our humanity and so inseparable from our genetic potential and biological functioning. It’s all of one piece.”

        yes, I guess that’s it, although I’m typing this before I consider whether I want it to be. This meme I’m talking about, I did think and say that it guarantees the behaviour – the physical punishment of children – and the real results – antisocialized people – by giving ourselves another story that explains those things and ensures we don’t monitor the results and change our tactics. So yes, it would appear to be an evolved meme that serves an evolved purpose, keeping us on our toes and ready and able to fight. I am an irresponsible monster for being so ready to just toss it out the window, and that isn’t all funny or theoretical. I raised two girls with zero punishment at all, and now their tolerance for abuse is three levels below my need to express some frustration from time to time and I’ve had to move out. The house changed hands today, my beautiful house where I did so much work – and I hate work. Sorry to go personal, and especially so ’cause it wore me out. More later.

        • I understand that you have important stuff going on in your personal life. That can take up a lot of one’s attention and energy. I’m just curious to see where your mind is at in all of this. You’ve given much thought in your own blog to related issues. It does seem like you are coming to the root of a personal insight you’ve been working at for a long time. But there is no hurry. All of these ideas will still be around later on. Respond as you feel like it.

    • I had another thought. What is meant by the superficial? You speak of the hardware, which refers to a deeper level of human reality. Let’s use a metaphor.

      The hardware is the sand on the beach. Social reality, via symbolic conflation and such, is the shaping of that sand into sand castles and sand art. It can be shaped in many possible ways. The potential of sand in being shaped is immense. But it still is sand. And when the tide roles in, it will be dissolved. A society is forced to constantly shape and reshape that sand because there are larger forces that constantly erode it all away.

      This endless shaping and reshaping is the necessity of social control and social order. This is even more necessary in modern civilization, as the social system is so large and complex. Maintaining it all requires immense effort and that is immensely taxing. Maybe this is why modern people feel so stressed and tired all the time, and so related to why we seek escapism.

      We fear what would happen if we paused for a moment from our civilized and civilizing work. We fear a field allowed to go fallow will turn back into wilderness. And in the wilderness there are dangerous beasts. Humans must be controlled or else their beastly nature will emerge, or so that is a central story of modern civilization.

    • I really do like your speaking about “we’re still only steps from the house.” All of this hits close to home. That is the very reason it is hard to see, such as our inability to turn around to see what is behind us.

      There was a study done about eye gaze. The researchers took something that didn’t conform to a certain worldview, a certain set of values and beliefs. They placed that thing (it might have been a picture) in the room where the test subjects were in. The test subjects didn’t know what the study was about.

      The people who didn’t support that worldview would look at the thing in question. But the people who did support that worldview would look all around the offending thing. The fact that they were precisely looking all around it while not looking directly at it proved that they were seeing it in their peripheral vision and that some part of their mind recognized it for what it was. They were intentionally, even if unconsciously, not looking at it.

      That is how symbolic conflations operate. They are right in front of our faces. For someone outside of our society, they are the easiest thing in the world to see. They aren’t hidden in a simple sense or rather they are hidden out in the open. That is why misdirection is so important. Symbolic conflations are the center of our attention, even as we never look directly at them. In talking about the symbols conflated with the issues, we indirectly talk about the issues. We just can’t acknowledge what we’re talking about.

      In some ways, a symbolic conflation is the simplest thing in the world. It’s not hard to understand how it operates, in theory. But it’s hard to even see when one’s mind is under its influence. Even trying to make it conscious is a near impossible task. Let me give an example.

      Many people will acknowledge that human races have no scientific and objective validity, in terms of genetics, as scientific races refer to sub-species and so require greater genetic diversity than the human species possesses. Humans are unique, in fact, in our having some of the lowest amount of genetic diversity among comparable species. Even if were to use a racial frame, there is more genetic diversity in Africa than in all the rest of the world combined, and so it would make more rational sense to call all non-Africans a single race than to do so for all Africans.

      Yet that obvious knowledge doesn’t lessen the power of the racial social order, the systemic and institutionalized racism. Nor does it stop the debate about race realism, because the racial ideology is embedded deep within the psyche. No matter what we may rationally think, the ideology of race realism maintains great power over us. It frames our entire society, determining what data is kept and how, determining which debates we have and to what end.

      Symbolic conflations don’t operate rationally. And so they can’t be undone through rationality. Still, they are fairly easy to understand rationally. It’s just our rationality doesn’t go very deep.

    • I should have asked you this before. What do you think it means when you say that “we’re still only steps from the house”?

      It’s occurred to me that, assuming my explanation is correct, it is pointing to something that is quite simple and obvious. It is there for anyone to see, if they want to look at it. But we spend our entire lives not looking at it. Everything about our society leads us to not look at it.

      I can complicate it. There is a lot more that can always be brought in. But the essence of it isn’t even an original thought. Many others have made similar points. It keeps getting repeated in various ways and yet most of society keeps on not looking at it.

      I sense that is similar to what you’re getting at. I’m not sure, though. It seems in your recent post that you are also bringing it down to its most simplest form. You are making a different point or focusing on a different aspect. Still, these kinds of things come down to a basic point that people don’t want to acknowledge.

      Obviously, if our society really is built on abuse as you (and Derrick Jensen) argue, then there would be plenty of motivation for people not to acknowledge this. It’s not a happy thought. And it makes us all complicit.

      https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/16/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-seven-the-abuse-truth/

      “So. OK. I think I’ve spent enough time in theory, we get the idea, right? I know, I’ve been trying to play you all to some degree, trying to lure you in with cold language and talk about our distant past, I’ve been trying to get you to buy into the theory structure and hoping not to scare you off with the content. Where the rubber meets the road with this theory things get personal, because nothing can be more personal. Basically, AST is the theory that we are all child abusers, so it’s not going to be instantly popular, but here’s what it means: the whole world is upside-down and backwards.”

      • sorry, Benjamin, your responses temporarily overwhelmed me and then other distractions took over, real life issues right now. I’ll read the rest again and reply soon. This one, though. Blank Slate again, our minds and our social lives can’t be wide-open, structureless things, made up out of thin air. We have an evolved biological reality that must be discoverable, after all it’s still right here with us causing us all sorts of trouble, like our primal stress/fight/flight reaction being activated chronically and so ironically shortening our modern lives. Or the same response causing us to react to ideological disagreements as if they were immediate physical threats. Our biological reality is right here and it’s our wrong thinking that makes it unavailable to know, like creationism made natural selection hard to see, and I think I’ve tipped over one such knowledge blocker.

        But you’re right, not likely to catch on!

        Sorry, I’ll try not to be so short and stupid but I’m having a bad couple of days here.

        • My responses can overwhelm people at times. I tend to be wordy. It is how I think through what is on my mind, by first getting it out in words, often lots of words. LOL

          About the biological, the epigenetic seems to be a major way the body passes on info from one generation to the next.

          Epigenetics is useful because it can deal with relatively short term conditions, such that if an individual experiences something like starvation it is more probable that the immediate following generations will also experience starvation. There is a biological advantage for epigenetically preparing for starvation before it happens, such as setting the body for increased fat storage.

          This might also explain why communities that experienced enslavement, Jewish pogroms, etc still have problems with distrust and poverty generations or even centuries later. Something is passing on info from generation to generation and it is too short of a time frame for much change at a genetic level.

          It’s possible, though, that there might be a close relationship between epigenetics and evolution. If epigenetic changes last long enough, they might predispose populations to related genetic changes. But to lead to genetic changes, these epigenetic conditions might have to be maintained for very long periods of time, far beyond the historical record.

          When talking about trauma and the victimization cycle, we have to look for the biological changes that can happen at the level of individuals and across immediate generations. It’s obvious, according to research, that violence and stress have impact on our biology, not just our psychology.

          As I said in my last comment, respond as you feel like it. Your comments got at some of what I was wondering about.

          • yeah, that’s it alright, we tell ourselves this ‘consequences’ story despite that the success of our efforts in that paradigm are spotty as Hell so that we don’t change our behaviour, which operates epigenetic levers around pain, stress, and abuse, setting a baseline level of antisociability for life . . . (possibly to be considered in some sort of balance or inverse relation with the level of prococializing epigenetic operation . . . ) – which, in contrast to the ‘consequences story, the true and dependable effects’ consistent success are hidden from our view . . . like you say, despite trying so hard to see it.

    • I know of the debates about postmodernism. The types of things I read sometimes touch upon those debates. But I don’t pay much attention to it, unless it is directly relevant to what interests me which is rare.

      So, I can’t say I have a strong opinion. My basic attitude is that we are at a period of mass change, both in social systems and our knowledge systems. What will ultimately result from it is anyone’s guess.

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