The Amused Smirk of the INFP

I’ve occasionally written about personality types and traits. My main focus early on was Myers-Briggs. That interest began way before my blogging, but it did extend into my early blogging.

My most popular blog post of all time is about my INFP experience. It has taken on a life of its own and been reposted around the web. I find that amusing, as there are so many other posts are more worthy.

I was thinking about this again because a post by A.J. Drenth was sending people my way. He linked to one of my posts—in spite of it’s not being about typology, he used it as an example of how INFPs can become obsessed with truth, contrary to stereotype. His description, along with most descriptions of the INFP type, fit me perfectly. Yet I am of a less typical variety of the type, an intellectuality driven by my aspirational Extraverted Thinking (Te).

Jungian typological theory isn’t so important for my thoughts at the moment. My interest is to simply use the ideas to frame certain aspects of my experience that fit the pattern of the INFP type. I was specifically thinking about how others likely perceive me. That comes up a lot online, as self-expression is narrowed down to an extreme degree. But this is true in all of life.

My dad said something about me. He noticed how at times I’ll have a knowing smirk, as if I have a secret insight or am amused at something. I know exactly what he is talking about. It’s my attitude about life. The world seems like a strange place to me and humans are strange creatures. This attitude gives me a certain distance, a standing back and taking it all in.

Added to this, my dad pointed out that he can never capture my smirk. As soon as a camera comes out, my face goes blank. I despise smiling for pictures. I’m an extreme introvert, both in the common meaning of that word and in terms of Jungian typology. Guarded is my default mode. That might be hard to imagine for people who only know me online. Introverts are different online and also more common. An introvert can feel comfortable and even energized by online interactions for a number of reasons, such as it being a way of socializing from one’s own personal space at home.

What my dad observed of me is fairly standard for INFPs. Dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi) does induce a knowing sensibility, a probing and very human view of the world. Combined with auxiliary Extraverted iNtuition (Ne), amusement is just the way this gets translated in actually dealing with the world. INFPs can be such serious people, but there is always a layer of curiosity, wonder, and humor even to the point of silliness. I have to be seriously depressed before I stop being amused at life. Yet this side of me isn’t necessarily obvious to those who don’t know me well.

When blogging and such, I’m often in serious mode. The internet is where I do research, debate, think out loud, and test new ideas. It’s true that online my Ne can gorge on the buffet of knowledge and data. I can become downright obsessive, for there is nowhere for curiosity to end with web searches and link jumping that just goes on and on, until my mind simply collapses in exhaustion. But the most serious side of my personality, although rooted in Fi, turns aggressive and argumentative with my aspirational Te. Still, this is such a small part of my everyday experience. Looking upon the Te side of an INFP’s personality is to look upon the part of them that they know is the weakest and so it always involves conflict, Te being the polar opposite of dominant Fi.

One thing about INFPs is that they are known as being inscrutable. I’ve thought about this often. INFPs are obsessed with understanding others and looking beyond facades. And for that reason, they are talented at and prone to hiding themselves. But seemingly out of nowhere INFPs can be emotionally open and honest to an extreme. In the right mood and moment, they can let their guard down. There is always a lot going on behind the scenes.

As many have noted, Introverted Feeling can be the hardest function attitude to decipher. In explaining this, Drenth offers this quote of Jung (Psych. Types, Para. 640-641) :

“They are mostly silent, inaccessible, hard to understand; often they hide behind a childish or banal mask, and their temperament is inclined to melancholy…Their outward demeanor is harmonious, inconspicuous…with no desire to affect others, to impress, influence or change them in any way. If this is more pronounced, it arouses suspicion of indifference and coldness…Although there is a constant readiness for peaceful and harmonious co-existence, strangers are shown no touch of amiability, no gleam of responsive warmth…It might seem on a superficial view that they have no feelings at all.”

This is what makes the Feeling function so different depending on attitude, Introverted or Extraverted. In its Fi form, it may be deep and powerful, but it can go unnoticed by those who aren’t used to looking for it. To learn to sense it is similar to a river guide learning where the rocks are by keeping track of the water’s surface—the ripples and eddies, the currents and pools.

To a stranger, I probably seem quite open in certain ways, at least online. I don’t hide behind a username. It’s easy to figure out who I am, not to mention where I live and work. I’ll share personal details as if they don’t matter, because they don’t. And I throw out my opinions at a drop of a hat.

All of that apparent openness is deceiving. Those surface details will tell you little about who I really am. In my dominant Fi, I have no fear of anyone figuring me out. You won’t unlock that box. An INFP’s strength is the secrets they hold. With dominant Fi, there is an absolute sense of certainty that is everything. You could know an INFP for years or even decades and never figure out what is this core essence, the rock of their being.

There is a part of me that can’t be touched or changed. It is because of this that I can maintain a detached amusement, even amidst all kinds of events and emotions. Introverted Feeling is a still point, an anchor in an ocean. If nothing else, an INFP knows themselves, who they are and where they stand. So, INFPs have a way of exuding a sense of knowing, a personal truth that is at core of not just their sense of identity but also their sense of reality. From this vantage point, they look out across the world. And when under stress, it is where they retreat.

To Introverted Feeling, everything is personal. Reality itself is personal. It is to feel deeply, a mess of emotion, a vast field of experience. Amusement is a defense against being overwhelmed by it all. In that amused state, the INFP type is acknowledging they are a crazy person in a crazy world. It’s their way of expressing that they are in on the joke.

If you catch that slight smirk, just smirk in kind.

 

Darn Apologists!

Darn Apologists!

Posted on Dec 26th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
*begin rant*

I did a really silly thing.  I just made a brief comment on a Christian’s Youtube video.  I really didn’t want to discuss anything, but he responded and I responded.  I knew from the get-go that I desired not such a “discussion” (if an exchange with an apologist could be called that). 

I quickly disentangled myself from the pointless spiderweb of verbiage that apologists are so capable of tirelessly weaving.  I’ve dealt with enough of them to instantly realize when its not going anywhere.  I’m a person of curiosity and I find myself utterly bewildered by someone who has made up their mind before I even say anything.  They just know they’re right.

Shouldn’t apologists have better things to do on Christmas than argue about Jesus?  Shouldn’t they be spreading Christ’s Good message of Love or maybe ladling soup to the homeless while preaching to them about their sinful souls?

This particular apologist was one of the worst varieties.  I’ve come across this exact type many times before, and they’re all very predictable.  Its almost a personality type.  This type of apologist doesn’t tend to rant unless you really get them riled up.  They’re actually very intellectual with an aloof self-certainty.  They’re mostly harmless in that they’re not that annoying except if you’re ever experienced banging your head against their brickwall.  They have this intellectual inner certainty that reminds me of Introverted Intuition, but they have this outwardly congenial nature that doesn’t allow them to ruffle easily which makes me think of an INFJ Christian I know from another site… mostly a nice guy if a bit difficult to connect with.

If you’re feeling patient, you can sometimes have a good discussion with this type as they’ve tended to read a lot and they think very deeply.  The problem is that their thinking is somewhat narrow and plodding, and they have strong beliefs which at least tend to be somewhat interesting in their uniqueness.  They usually have some favorite obscure Christian philosopher, but it won’t bother them that you’ve never heard of the person.  They’re used to not being understood even by other Christians. 
They might secretly pride themselves on their idiosyncracies somewhat, but mostly they seem humble in a laid back way.  Its hard to unsettle them or change their minds.  If you try to have a debate with them, you’ll just go round and round.  In certain ways, they’re very conventional in that they just don’t see or don’t care about what exists outside of their narrow focus (definitely no sign of Extraverted Intuition).  You’re more likely to have an interesting conversation with them if you simply limit yourself to their interests. 

They can keep up an argument if necessary, but they don’t really care to get worked up.  Even though their beliefs are strong, they keep them mostly to themselves.  They’ll often talk about more peripheral issues because that which truly matters to them is such a deep and profound experience for them.

They’re very scholarly with a typical pedantic attitude.  Even though they like certain obscure writers, they put a fair amount of weight on tradition.  They’re the type that would make a great Catholic theologian who knows the entire history of the Church.  Their thinking is very abstract and they feel safest keeping theology away from practical affairs and thus keeping themselves away from getting mired in politics.  They’re very understanding people and capable of relating well, but they’re also wary of the risks of complex social dynamics.  They’re very good at reading others and also at hiding their own inner thoughts.

To be specific, this guy I was talking to on Youtube was quick to dismiss (dispute is the word he preferred) Robert M. Price.  I briefly defended Price as he is as about as respectable as you can get, but its true that he doesn’t toe the party line of Biblical scholarship (ie conventional belief of mainstream Christianity).  This guy definitely valued the theistic majority perspective of Biblical scholarship.  People in Biblical scholarship tend to be Christians and so its no great surprise that belief in the historical Jesus is just assumed.  One would have to be extremely naive to claim that this field was one of the more objective fields in academia.

Okay… so, I knew that if I tried to defend Price any further, this Christian would just nitpick and it would ultimately be just a battle of opinons.  This kind of person can be very willful in having great intellectual stamina in going over and over the same little detail.  I imagine that he would continually demand quotes and references all the while offering few of his own… or, anyways, that is a technique many apologists use… they just assume their position doesn’t need to be proved that its so obviously true.

In some ways, I prefer the ranting apologists more… the way an INFP apologist would act. lol  There is an honesty about in-your-face prosyletizing.  On the other hand, these more pedantic types lure you in with an appearance of being reasonable, but no amount of rationality will sway them.  They just enjoy discussing ideas even though they’ve stated the exact same ideas a million times before.  I’m fine with belief as long as someone is willing to admit that their views are beliefs.  However, this type has this intricate facade of rationalization that you can’t even pierce through to the actual person behind it all.

*end rant*

I suspect this is a conflict that I experience when my Ne confronts the Ni of another.  This might go back to my dad having auxiliary Ni.  Anyways, its a challenge for me.  The Ni is hiding away from the view of my Ne, but my Fi can sense it behind the social facade (especially in INFJs).  I want to force to the surface which is exactly where Ni doesn’t want to be, where it can’t be in fact.  My Ne gets bored with the narrow focus even though I can be momentarily impressed by the depth of insight that Ni sometimes proffers forth.  I just don’t have the patience waiting around for that inisight that may or may not show itself.  My Ne has thousand directions to go in and time is a’wasting.  Curiosity beckons.

I think this is particularly magnified when Ni is the dominant for the other person as my Ne is auxiliary.  I don’t identify with my thinking per se.  Its simply how I try to relate to the world.  My auxiliary Ne holds ideas very lightly.  I too have an inner certainty but it just ain’t involving ideas for sure.  Also, my inner certainty is less aloof as INFPs are more likely to get worked up than an INFJ.  The burning passion of an idealistic core (Fi) manifests through the ungrounded infinitude of wonder and possibility (Ne).  Simply put, Ne hates conventional thinking with a passion.  It chafes against more plodding thought processes, and it mistrusts the aloof congenial nature (or facade as Fi judges it) of an INFJ.

Don’t get me started about NTs.  🙂

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Tagged with: apologist, Christianity, debate, MBTI, Ni, Ne, Fi, Fe, INFP

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

14 minutes later

Marmalade said

I realize I was projecting to a great degree. I don’t really know that guy on Youtube beyond my very brief interaction. I just have this sore point when it comes to apologists… or really with anyone who has strong beliefs. The only thing I’m righteous about is in relation to the righteousness of others. I’m a millitant agnostic afterall.

This does go back to my dad and my recent interaction with him. I’ll be seeing him tomorrow. I hope it goes well. I’ll steer away from all serious discussion… oh, who am I kidding… I’ll have to not say anything at all if I try to avoid serious comments. Oh well, such is my fate.

There should be a rule against INFPs becoming intellectuals. We’re just too sensitive of souls. We should be kept ensconsed in walled gardens and distant mountain retreats far from the maddening crowd. Of course, we must be permitted a library but maybe only stock it with poetry and fiction… oh yeah, and be sure to give us plenty of art supplies.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 3 hours later

Marmalade said

Actually, there is a big difference between a Ni dominant person and a Ni auxiliary person like my dad. My dad really isn’t an aloof person at all, but he does have a bit of that quality in that he is so focused outward that he often hides his true opinions. He has this deep side that rarely shows, and when it does show its filtered through Te: principles, analysis, practical evaluation, etc. He is very capable of open-minded philosophizing fueled by a sense of wonder… amd he even lets others see this side of him when you catch him in a relaxed mood.

Its kind of funny how opinionated INFPs can be (or can appear to be), but you have to give us credit in that we change our opinions somewhat easily (except for our few cherished ideals). INFPs can have a way of stating things as if they were strong opinions (when feeling worked up or defensive), but it really has nothing to do with core values.

Dominant Fi can be hidden in the way its not easily verbilized. However, Fi is so blatantly obvious compared to Ni. Or even compare the Fi of an INFP with the Ti of an INTP. When an INFP gets there Fi panties in a bunch, they can be downright annoying… very messy emotions will be splattered all over the place.

Ni is very interesting. Ni talks around an idea, but does so in a very focused way. Its like knowing a blackhole exists by its gravity alone. Ni writing style can be very convoluted and meandering. Both Ni and Ne can lead to verbosity, but Ni comes off as more philosophical and abstract somehow… maybe because it exists solely in the inner world.

Ni, by definition, can never be directly expressed and so can only be known via an Extraverted function. OTOH Ne is just there trying to get your attention. Ne is also more playful in that it wants to interact, and if one is not careful Ne can lead to superficiality and flakiness (ie being a dilettante).

I sometimes have a bit of the dilettante in me jumping from one temporary interest to the next. I have a hard time committing myself fully to anything, but of course I idealize this tendency in order to put a positive spin on my Achilles’ Heel. People who actually have strong opinions and stick to them are just plain righteous idiots… whereas I am “flexible” and able to see multiple perspectives. rotfl

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

The interesting thing about the internet is that you get the opportunity to interact with more Introverts in a way you’d never do in everyday life.  Online interactions encourage Introverts to show the side of themselves they normally hide.  This is good and bad because its the side of them that is least socially adapted.

So, an Ni type might seem even more intellectual or detached.  And an Fi type might become even more passionate… or, yes, righteous.  An Fi type might go so far relying on their dominant that they feel they have people figured out… ahem… not that I’d ever fall into such low behavior.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

There is another blog of mine that has very similar subject matter.  Its about a specific archetypes that are related: Trickster, the Primal Man, the Titan/Giant, the Hero, and the Savior… also, the Divine Child and Shadow.  These archetypes are especially central to the Monomyth.

Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

How did it go with your Dad? I’ve been thinking about this for a while but haven’t discussed it yet with you, sorry.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

That is funny! I put that last comment in the wrong blog apparently. It really doesn’t fit here.

Hello Nicole. Enjoy the holidays?

You might be able to tell from my plethora of blogging that I spent a lot of time at home. I had 3 days off in a row, but because of weather conditions haven’t yet visited with any family. Hopefully, I’ll see my parents tomorrow. We’re planning to visit one of my brothers in a nearby town.

The roads have been very icy this week. Strange weather. There was thunder and lightning last night and rain all today which was of course supposed to freeze.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

thanks, I have been having a very relaxing holiday, just what I wanted!

we just had some very high winds but everything seems normal this time of year – snow, freezing rain, rain, sunny weather – we get a little of it all…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Relaxing holidays always are good for me. So, what was relaxing about your holidays. Did you stay at home?

I was thinking about some other things when I mentioned strange weather. There has been some very warm weather in the Midwest. Along with that, there have been some tornoado watches (not in my area), but I don’t know if any tornadoes have been spotted.

I finally spent some time with my parents today. It was nice to see them, but they’ll be gone tomorrow and so is a short visit. It was all the family together today which isn’t my favorite way of experiencing family. It wasn’t stressful though because everyone seemed in a good mood.

I guess everything went fine with my dad. I don’t think my dad understood why I was annoyed at him and I didn’t feel like explaining. I really didn’t see any advantage to having a discussion about it. I more or less kept conversation light.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

I’m glad things went well with your dad.

Yes, it was relaxing because of being at home, but especially because I didn’t answer the phone or spend time on the computer, and playing games like Munchkin and Carcassonne with my kids. Do you know of Munchkin? Seems like it would appeal to your sense of humour 🙂

It was wonderful to have my oldest daughter Julia home for a few days.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

Munchkin? No, I don’t believe I’ve heard of it. Nor does Carcassonne sound familiar. My niece doesn’t seem too excited about games. She is more into imaginative play-acting. She probably doesn’t enjoy games because she dislikes losing. She was an only child the first 4 yrs of her life and she is used to getting her own way.

Is Munchkin a board game? I used to play a lot of games growing up. My friends and I would play almost any kind of game… board games, card games, video games. I don’t play games as much anymore. Occasionally I play a video game with my friend. Until recent years, I used to love playing Rummy but I finally became annoyed with the luck factor which is the largest part of the game.

Its interesting, though, that many kids games have large luck factors. I wonder what that teaches kids. Historically-speaking, the luck factor of games relates to divinization. The connection is lost to most of us moderns, but games have a strong connection to religion. They’re a ritual of sorts. The ritual itself is more important than the outcome of the game.

I’ll have to blog about that sometime. I’ve come across some fascinating info when studying the symbolism of numbers as it relates to games.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

I used to play a lot of board games with my friends growing up, but we didn’t have many video games back them 🙂

Munchkin is a types of special card game – the other is a sort of card/board game… Munchkin is unfortunately very luck oriented (you’re right, that can get very annoying!) but Carcassonne is strategic.

That’s an interesting philosophical point about the large luck factors. You’re right this all could make a cool blog 🙂

The Story of INFP

The Story of INFP

Posted on Jul 7th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This blog is for Nicole.  This is a summary of a story I told to someone on the Globalchatter forum in trying to explain INFP in a different way.  The thread was titled Ne’s public face.

You could think of an INFP’s Ne as a loyal servant who walks the perimiter of the grounds carrying a lantern before it and with a guard dog by its side. Maybe the guard dog is Te. The Ne is the face that greets visitors at the door like a butler. Ne checks the gates and doors, and secures the windows. It ensures that its master isn’t disturbed in doing his important work in the study, and it dutifully brings the dominant what it needs whenever called.

Ne the servant sometimes takes his job so seriously that he wanders off the grounds following the tracks of an animal that might be dangerous and picks up scat to bring back to the master, but Ne gets easily distracted and follows another track that crossed the original track. This tracking goes on and on, and the servants backpack gets overloaded with specimens…but miraculously in what seems like aimless wandering it ends up back at its master house. Tired, Ne goes back inside satisfied at having done a good job, gives the specimens to the master and goes to the Ne’s sleeping quarters.

Si is the master’s personal secretary who never leaves the house, and with Ne tired out Si takes over some of the servant’s duties. When someone knocks at the door, Si responds in fear and uncertainty double-bolting the door. Si runs up to tell the master that their is a horrible monster lurking outside, and they try to decide whether to sic the Te dog on the potential intruder. They both cower huddled together in the study frozen in inaction.

Ne wakes up, goes downstairs and answers the door. It turns out it was just a girl scout selling cookies. Ne politely buys some cookies and brings them up to the master’s study with two glasses of milk. The Fi master says he wasn’t afraid and that he was just about to take care of the problem himself.

And here is from a discussion I had with some INFJs:

Fi wants to simply clear a path through the woods, but wants the woods to remain as is. Fi wants the woods b/c the trees enclose the path. Fe sees the woods as material to build a structure w/ in which people can live. Fi wants to build also, but wants it to be unobtrusive. Also, Fi is mostly considering the individual and so it is just making its own way through the brush. Others may follow, but that is secondary. Also, I’d say Fi is making a path into the woods rather than out of the woods. Fe enjoys the woods too, but wants it as a nature preserve that can be used for human needs. Both find value in the woods.

Fe is the missionary that comes to the stone-age tribe of Fis hidden deep w/in the ancient trees. Fe invites Fi out into the open. Fi has never seen the horizon before and runs screaming back into his protective home. The Fi tells this tale of adventure to the excited tribe who listens in awe to his great feats and becomes a hero in the telling. Meanwhile, the Fe is thinking what a strange fellow.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 10 hours later

Nicole said

delightful… it makes me think of daimons, of “the novel Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams, where daimones are computerized sub-personalities developed through a combination of mental exercise and embedded computers.” and of his dark materials which has actually inspired biometric-daemons

thanks dear Ben! the more i understand my friend the more i think of him as… just a friend. we had another non-conversation today while he was busy doing anything else. when i lightly mentioned it was difficult having a conversation with him, he didn’t even respond.

but i’m ok with it!

moving on, moving forward, beginning again to begin… again – but hopefully not so soon this time. you think i can give myself the rest of the summer off? maybe even the fall? God knows I have too much on my plate until the Japan December conference is over.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

Oh, Nicole, who knows what life has in store for you?  🙂

Julie : Waterbearer

about 16 hours later

Julie said

Well, she’s going to spend this weekend with yet another INFP ~ (moi).  I’ll try to rehearse light topics of conversation for the L O N G drive to LAX…. :)) !!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 24 hours later

Marmalade said

Howdy Julie!  I hope you two have fun.

Nicole,  Aristoi looks like a novel that I’d enjoy.  The video at the second link was amusing.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Well, Julie, I seem to be surrounded by delightful INFPs, and have no fears about the weekend with you :):) we will have so much fun. Ben’s another of my favourite INFPs, and there are at least a couple more Gaians who are too…

Ben, I think you would enjoy Aristoi. I gobbled it up, would love to read more about that universe… and yeah, I never know what each new day will bring so – help! or yay! or something lol

The Story of INFP

I just had the odd experience of coming across my own writing in another person’s blog.  This person was quoting something I wrote from a forum.  I can’t remember when I wrote it, but it probably was a couple years ago.

Ne (extraverted intuition) for INFPs

From an infp perspective (this is very good.. found myself laughing…and probably the most enlightening description that I found so far:):
http://infp.globalchatter.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=6153&
-what is Ne
You could think of an INFP’s Ne as a loyal servant who walks the perimeter of the grounds carrying a lantern before it and with a guard dog by its side. Maybe the guard dog is Te. The Ne is the face that greets visitors at the door like a butler. Ne checks the gates and doors, and secures the windows. It ensures that its master isn’t disturbed in doing his important work in the study, and it dutifully brings the dominant what it needs whenever called.

I’ll just add that Ne the servant sometimes takes his job so seriously that he wanders off the grounds following the tracks of an animal that might be dangerous and picks up scat to bring back to the master, but Ne gets easily distracted and follows another track that crossed the original track. This tracking goes on and on, and the servants backpack gets overloaded with specimens…but miraculously in what seems like aimless wandering it ends up back at its master house. Tired, Ne goes back inside satisfied at having done a good job, gives the specimens to the master and goes to the Ne’s sleeping quarters.

Si is the master’s personal secretary who never leaves the house, and with Ne tired out Si takes over some of the servant’s duties. When someone knocks at the door, Si responds in fear and uncertainty double-bolting the door. Si runs up to tell the master that their is a horrible monster lurking outside, and they try to decide whether to sic the Te dog on the potential intruder. They both cower huddled together in the study frozen in inaction.

Ne wakes up, goes downstairs and answers the door. It turns out it was just a girl scout selling cookies. Ne politely buys some cookies and brings them up to the master’s study with two glasses of milk. The Fi master says he wasn’t afraid and that he was just about to take care of the problem himself.

Here is another description I gave differentiating between INFJs and INFPs (I’ll share the link as well even though it doesn’t lead anywhere):

http://infp.globalchatter.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=5912&

Fi wants to simply clear a path through the woods, but wants the woods to remain as is. Fi wants the woods b/c the trees enclose the path. Fe sees the woods as material to build a structure w/ in which people can live. Fi wants to build also, but wants it to be unobtrusive. Also, Fi is mostly considering the individual and so it is just making its own way through the brush. Others may follow, but that is secondary. Also, I’d say Fi is making a path into the woods rather than out of the woods. Fe enjoys the woods too, but wants it as a nature preserve that can be used for human needs. Both find value in the woods.

Fe is the missionary that comes to the stone-age tribe of Fis hidden deep w/in the ancient trees. Fe invites Fi out into the open. Fi has never seen the horizon before and runs screaming back into his protective home. The Fi tells this tale of adventure to the excited tribe who listens in awe to his great feats and becomes a hero in the telling. Meanwhile, the Fe is thinking what a strange fellow.

All of that brings back some good memories.  The first place on the web that I spent time on was INFP Global Chatter.  It felt like my home on the web.  It was such an amazing feeling to meet a group of people who were so similar to me.  That is why it’s sad to see that the forum is presently down and nobody knows if it will ever be back up again.  I’m sad.  😦

Some INFPs from that forum have migrated to a new forum:

http://personalitycafe.com/infp-forum-idealists/

Horror and Typology

This post will just be a jotting down of connections.  I ordered some books recently and they came in the mail today.  New books mean new thoughts.  Yeah!

Okay.  Two of the books are Metaphysical Horrorby Leszek Kolakowski and The Thomas Ligotti Readeredited by Darrell Schweitzer.  They’re more or less related in their respecitve subjective matters.

Kolakowski writes about the problems of philosophy and the question of meaning.  Many philosophers have come to the conclusion that philosophy is at a dead-end.  Kolakowski calls this anti-philosophy.  It seems to me that the Pessimistic philosophy of Zappfe and Ligotti could be categorized as anti-philosophy.  So, Kolakowski’s analysis and response would be helpful in seeing Pessimism in the larger context of the development of Western thinking.  He writes about Descartes and horror which reminded me of Cartesian anxiety, but I don’t think he uses that specific terminology.  I first heard of Cartesian anxiety in discussions about the relationship of enactivism and integral theory (which are theories that speculate about the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity).  Kolakowski also writes about the phenomenologists (i.e., Husserl and Merleau-Ponty) who tried to respond to Descartes’ mind-body dualism.  Phenomenology was a major influence on enactivism and is of interest to integral theorists.  Also, in the volume of the Collapse journal that published Ligotti, there was an essay related to these ideas (“On the Horror of Phenomenology: Lovecraft and Husserl” by Graham Harman)… and Ligotti considers Lovecraft to be one of his most important influences.

The Thomas Ligotti Readerhas an essay by Ligotti: “The Dark Beauty of Unheard Horrors”.  In it, Ligotti references Lovecraft quite a bit and he uses a specific quote from Lovecraft that I’ve seen in a blog by Matt Cardin (Autumn Longing: H.P. Lovecraft).  This isn’t surprising as Cardin is a fan of Ligotti’s writing and he even has several essays in the Ligotti Reader.  Both Ligotti’s essay and Cardin’s blog cover a similar set of ideas.  This dark aesthetic appreciation of the world can be put into the context of phenomenology and enactivism (autumn longing is an experience that I’m sure many phenomenologists and enactivists would understand).  In the essay directly after Ligotti’s, Cardin discusses the topic of liminality in terms of Ligotti’s fiction.  The liminal is another concept that deals with the meeting of and mixing of categories such as subjectivity and objectivity and also the personal and the collective.

One further thought involves something Ligotti brings up in his essay.  He describes two tendencies in horror writing… that of making horror concretely specific and that of making horror emotionally evocative.  This relates to Ligotti’s desire to present the horrific directly which he acknowledges as ultimately being impossible.  He, in a sense, wants to decontextualize the experience of horror.  A horror that has no form is all the more horrific, but a horror story by its very nature needs form.  In the essay, he recognizes that “Of course, mystery actually requires a measure of the concrete if it is to be perceived at all: otherwise is only a void, the void.”  This sense of a hard to grasp truth that must be approached subtly also reminds me of his style in writing about Pessimism in the Collapse journal. 

There is a sense I get from Ligotti’s non-fiction writing (and his writing in general) that feels like he is circling around some singular insight.  Along with his desire to free this insight from the constraints of the concrete, what it makes me think of is my experience of dealing with a particular person who was a very good example of dominant Introverted Intuition (Jungian typology).  I use Extraverted Intuition (Ne) much more and there is a clear difference to the two styles of thinking.  When Extraverted, Intuition thinking style goes off in a million directions sometimes simultaneously.  It scatters and looks for connections, for context.  When Introverted, it’s the complete opposite.  It focuses in such an inward fashion that it attempts to leave the concrete entirely and so it’s hard to communicate.  The Introverted Intuition type (Ni) has a very convoluted communication style that is plodding and meandering, but there is a core insight around which it all revolves.  Going by Ligotti’s fiction and non-fiction and his interviews, that is the way his thinking seems to me (according to my Ne-biased view). 

Also, there is the aspect of pessimism in Ligotti’s writing (by which I’m not referring specifically to his ideas about philosophical Pessimism).  In that Introverted Intuition causes a desire for freedom from context, there can be a conflict with exterior reality, the concrete world (Extraverted Sensation).  Ligotti’s story “The Shadow, The Darkness” seems to be an expression of what I’m sensing.  The way Ligotti describes Grossvogel’stransformation feels like a dominant Ni type’s experience of an eruption of inferior Se (or something like that… anyways, not the way a dominant Se type would experience it).   Ne types are often just as detached from the concrete, but their abstract and imaginative thinking is focused outward.  The expansive nature of Ne can lend a quality of optimism as there is a sense of infinite possibilities (although this would also include negative possibilities as well).  For example, I’m a very depressed person with Ne (althought it’s secondary/auxiliary rather than dominant).  The expansiveness of Ne counteracts my depression all the while the abstractness of Ne exacerbates it, but no matter how dark my thinking when I consider possibilities I feel inspired and even a bit hopeful.  Ligotti’s thinking challenges me and I meet that challenge by seeking to give his ideas a larger context.

I could go on with my thoughts, but those are the basic ideas rumbling around in my brains.