Old School Libertarians?

I always wonder why libertarianism has been taken over by rightwingers. I have nothing against Ron Paul’s supporters. It just bewilders me the association between libertarianism and pro-capitalism, between libertarianism and fundamentalism… and what in the heck do pro-capitalism and fundamentalism have to do with each other?

I know it’s an exaggeration, but sometimes it feels like present libertarianism is a movement only for militant gun-lovers, religious fundamentalists, and big business owners. Libertarianism no longer seems like a movement for the average American. Instead, libertarianism has become a haven for those with extreme ideologies and those who could care less about the civil rights of those different from them (the poor, the minorities, the immigrants).

So…
What about the early libertarians who were working class populists?
What about the socialist and progressive libertarians?
What about the hippy live-off-the-land commune-dwelling libertarians?
What about the lovers-not-fighters live-and-let-live libertarians?
What about the drug-using freedom-loving libertarians?

Where are these wild and unruly liberals?
Where are the proletariat populists willing to fight the powers that be?
Where are the Gonzo journalists willing to challenge the status quo?

I’m thinking about people like Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs. This type of person lived life on their own terms and sometimes suffered for it. I’m also thinking about people like Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick. They were free thinkers who weren’t afraid to question the norm, the consensus opinion. All of these people were intelligent. They weren’t leaders of political or religious movements. They were just everyday intellectuals who lived by their ideas and influenced the world through those ideas. They lived in the real world outside of the academic ivory towers, outside of Washington politics.

Another example is Art Bell. He is definitely a live-and-let-live libertarian. He married a Wiccan and definitely had that old school libertarian vibe. He was (still is on a less regular basis) a radio host who would allow almost anyone to speak their opinion no matter how crazy it might sound. To Art Bell, seemingly no topic was off-bounds. He did support Ron Paul (I don’t know if he voted for him), but his views mostly seemed to be liberal.

All of these guys (I can’t offhand think of a female example) were/are of an older generation. I know this kind of person still exists, but they don’t seem to get the same public attention they once did. So, what has changed in society, in the media? Why aren’t these people being heard?

I guess Art Bell is still being heard, but his show is now hosted by someone who most definitely doesn’t share this liberal/libertarian attitude. There are plenty of liberal-leaning libertarians even if the media portrays libertarians as a rightwing movement. Even populism has been recently taken over by rightwingers and they’ve been astro-turfed by corporate interests. Where are the real libertarians, the real populists, the real freedom-lovers? I don’t care about the militia groups or the people who are obsessed about guns as a symbol of freedom and patriotic fervor.

There is too much politics and too much religion mixed in libertarianism these days. Opposite to this were William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson. Sure, they loved guns… but they also loved sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. They weren’t trying to start movements of any sort. They were true independents living their own lives. Maybe it was a different time. Maybe it’s harder to live that way now. They grew up in a time before conservatives started their culture wars, their tough on crime policies, their War on Drugs. Hunter S. Thompson chronicled the ending of that era.

The fundamentalists and the capitalists can take their faux libertarianism and stuff it.

Cronenberg, Burroughs, and Dick

Cronenberg, Burroughs, and Dick

Posted on Jan 1st, 2009 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

David Cronenberg is a director whose movies I often enjoy.  A favorite weird movie of mine is Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch which is loosely based on the novel by William S. Burroughs.  He definitely brought his own touch to that story and there are some common themes with his other movies: mixing of machine and biology, sexuality, the grotesque, etc. 

I’m not sure which movie he first developed these themes, but Videodrome was one of his early movies.  I was just watching eXistenZ which also uses these themes.  Its a decent movie if you’re into dark violent visions of artificial realities. 

What inspired me to write this blog is that there is a scene where the two main characters bought some fast food.  The name on the bag was Perky Pat’s which is a direct reference to the Philip K. Dick story.  The story is about how people get obsessed about the game that their lives revolve around it.  Cronenberg takes this idea in a different direction, but I’m sure PKD would’ve appreciated what he did with it.

Basically, I was just pointing out Cronenberg as one of the contemporary meeting points between WSB and PKD.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 20 hours later

Nicole said

that must be some movie!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

I watched eXistenZ again for a couple of reasons. Quentin S. Crisp mentioned it in his blog recently. Crisp thought it was the best alternative reality movie ever, but I’m not sure what he was comparing it to. After reading Crisp’s comment, I happened to be at the library where I noticed a copy and so checked it out.

I’m glad I did. I had more respect for it watching it again. Cronenberg does play with some fairly deep ideas. The first time I watched eXistenZ I thought of it as nothing but a novel SciFi action flick. I personally don’t agree with Crisp that its the best, but I disagree because I don’t feel that its directly comparable to other alternative reality movies such as The Matrix Trilogy or Dark City.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

right, how can you really compare these movies? so, worth watching then?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I doubt you’d like much that Cronenberg has made. He has made a lot of films though, and I haven’g watched most of them. I was reading the description of M. Butterfly and you might enjoy it.

Cronenberg is most famous for the movieThe Fly. That is more representative of his oeuvre. I find many of his movies fascinating, but the only one that I’ve watched repeatedly many times is Naked Lunch.

There is a couple reasons.

First, it felt a lot more polished than his earlier movies. He really was taking his favorite themes to a new level… maybe because he was using the work of another artist as the starting point.

Secondly, I’m also attracted to this movie because its a portrayal of Burroughs novel which itself is a fictional portrayal of part of his own life. Petter Weller plays the part of William Lee (Burroughs) perfectly. Both my friend and I are longtimefans of Borroughs, and so I’ve watched this movie with him numerous times.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

it’s great you have such a friend, Marm. It enriches these experiences.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

3 days later

Marmalade said

I’m sure I’d be a different person if not for him. If it weren’t for our friendship, I probably wouldn’t have the interest I have in fiction.

We have this odd pattern. Often, when one of us is reading fiction, the other is reading non-fiction. As I was wanting to get back into fiction, I was telling him he needs to stop reading fiction all of the time.

Also, you can entirely blamemy friend forall of my blogging about horror. He reads horror all of the time and tells me about the stories. I wouldn’t even know about Quentin S. Crisp if it wasn’t for him.

It is rather strange to have had a close friend since childhood. Its seems rather uncommon in these days of people moving around all of the time. It also helps that neither of us is marriednorhas acareer. Life is good! lol

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

LOL!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole – I’ve been noticing a new glitch in the system. All my recent posts show up as missing spaces between words. I can fix it by editing, but its seems an odd glitch. Have you noticed this happening to your comments?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

No. But I have noticed extra indents. We seem to be having the opposite problems 🙂

William S. Burroughs as a Character

William S. Burroughs as a Character

Posted on Dec 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
Burroughs is different from Philip K. Dick.  Whereas PKD was the first to use himself as a character, Burroughs had been made a character before he even was published himself. 

That would be a tough act to follow.  He had the shadow of someone else’s fame over him (Kerouac), and the popularity and mythos of the whole Beat movement.  Burroughs had to attempt to claim himself not only as a writer but also as his own person.  Fortunately, he wasn’t one to follow on the coattails of the fame of others.  He was certainly a way better writer than Kerouac, and he was quite distinct from all of the Beat writers.

Finding works that Burroughs is in is rather difficult.  I’m not sure how many books in which Kerouac placed a Burroughs character, and it wouldn’t surprise me if other Beats had also used him as a character.  Burroughs is much more a cultural icon than PKD.  I don’t know how to even begin to seek out fictional works that feature him, but I’ll offer what little I know at present.

As far as I can figure, William S. Burroughs first appeared as Bill Lee in Kerouac’s On the Road.  Burroughs used this name later in his own work.  He might of initially used it in Junky which he did intentionally to play off of Kerouac’s work.  He chose to continue this mythologizing.  He later used this name in other Works such as Naked Lunch which was supposedly a name given it by Kerouac.  I don’t know if there are any other names that Burroughs went by in his fiction or the fiction of others.

Novels:

The works of Jack Kerouac

Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas
(A recent novel that mixes the mythos of the Beats with the Mythos of Lovecraft’s Cthulu.)

Movies:

Drugstore Cowboy written and directed by Gus Van Sant
(Burroughs acts the character of a defrocked priest named Tom.  He is loosely playing a character that is a mix of himself and his own fictional characters.)

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Fiction and Non-fiction, Gnosticism and the Gothic

Fiction and Non-fiction, Gnosticism and the Gothic

Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
I have an equal interest in fiction and nonfiction.  They often feel in confict and they can have very different effect on me.  I tend to obsess on one or the other.  In recent years, I’ve been more focused on nonfiction, but I’m slowly switching back into a mood for fiction.

I don’t see them as fundamentally in conflict.  My favorite writers are those that combine fiction and nonfiction.  This is my interest in William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, but its also the reason for my more recent interest in “horror” writers such as Thomas Ligotti and Quentin S. Crisp.

There are various aspects in common.  As I said, they all combined fiction and nonfiction, but they also wrote them separately.  Besides all of this, the most obvious similaity is the Gothic.  The Gothic definitely applies to the horror writers, but the Gothic isn’t limited to the horror genre.  The other connection is Gnosticism.  PKD helped to popularize Gnosticism only to maybe a slightly lesser degree than Jung had.  Gnostic themes and references are found throughout the works of WSB, TL and QSP.

What has brought all of this together in my mind are several nonfiction books that have been occupying my mind particularly past year or so.  One book is The Secret Lives of Puppets by Victoria Nelson, and two books by Eric G. Wilson (The Melancholy Android, and Secret Cinema).  Wilson was influenced by Nelson and I always think of these authors together.  Both of these authors write about PKD, and Nelson mentions WSB a couple of times.  Both focus on the the fantastical and horrific in fiction.  Both write about Gnosticism and Wilson goes into great detail about the connection between Gnosticism, the Gothic and the genres.

I won’t go in more detail right now.  I just wanted to set down where my thoughts are at the moment.  This is a very personal nexus of my understanding of life.  Thinking about these authors is my way of contempating my place amidst a world of tremendous suffering.  I plan on blogging more about this soon as I clarify my ideas.

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Ponderings Fictional

Ponderings Fictional

Posted on Dec 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
(1) I’ve noticed a correlation between the length of stories and the type of fiction.  Genre fiction tends toward short fiction… or is it short fiction tends towards the genre?  One thing is for sure, the only way for an author to escape genre categorization is to write a novel.  The only genre writers allowed into the mainstream literature section are those who’ve written longer works.  I can’t think of any exceptions offhand.

Is my observation correct?  If there is a correlation, what might be the causation?

Some possible answers:

 – Suspension of disbelief is hard to sustain in longer works of genre fiction which necessitates both a talented writer and a willing reader.
 – In terms of fantasy and horror, maybe it has something to do with the human psyche.  It could be related to how we tend to only remember short snippets of dreams.  So, this mght imply that the imagination works most effectively when highly focused.
 – Maybe it has to do with technique.  The loose and limited narrative structure that a short story allows may give more freedom for the imagination.
 – It could be as simple as it being the tradition of the genres.  Each generation of writers take their inspiration from and thus emulate the writers that came before them.  The earliest imaginative stories were short and have been influential.
 – Another possbility has to do with the expectations of publishers and readers.  The genres have often had a special relationship with anthologies and magazines.  Partly, this is because the genres have never been big money-makers.  Short fiction is what sold, and publishing magazines is cheaper than publishing a book.  If an author wrote enough short stories, they might be able to eke out a living.  A short story has a quicker return in terms of making money than spending a long time writing a novel.

(2) Horror is somewhat unique amongst the genres.  In some ways its the most respectable of the genres and someways its the least.  The earliest horror writers such as Poe aren’t even kept in the genre section, and even many of the fantasy writers that make it into the mainstream are often of a darker persuasion.  Horror seems to attact more literary writers than many of the genres, but simultaneously horror is the least popular of the genres in that its almost always the smallest section.  Horror gets isolated by itself wheras Sci-Fi and Fantasy usually get mixed together.

Horror has always had a close relationship with philosophy, and it often seems that horror writers can be more loose with their narrative structure than the other genres.  In many horror stories, not much happens at all narrative-wise… it can be rather cerebral where your stuck in a characters head and everything is subjective.

(3) I enjoy authors that have distinctive personalities and voices.  The two examples that come to mind are William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, but to a lesser degree Kafka and Hesse fit in this category for me.  As for WSB and PKD, here ar some of the traits they share:

 – They both wrote fiction and nonfiction, and they often mixed the two together.
 – As such, they often mixed autobiography into their fiction even to the extent of creating characters that essentially represented themselves.
 – Along with this, because of their dstinctive personalities, they were both admired by other writers who also used them as characters in their stories.
 – They use repeating themes and chracter types across all of their work.

WSB and PKD are flawed writers (and flawed human beings), but still their writings compel me to a greater extent than do the writings of supposedly better writers.  Their is a humanity to their writing in that they both were interested in people and were great observers.  Also, you coud tell how much they simply enjoyed telling a good story.

Despite their similarities, they were very different in manyways.  For one, WSB travelled widely and PKD hated to travel.  One other thing is that WSB was way more cynical, but probably the better writer of the two.  PKD was a hopeless optimistic and more overtly spiritual.  For sure, they both had their own versions of despair even though they might’ve dealt with it differently.

I sense that they represent different sides of my own personality.  I don’t think they ever met even though they probably had some common acquaintances.  In my mind I try to imagine what they would be like if they had met eachother. 

I’m not sure if they’d even like eachother.  They’d both probaly think the other one was crazy.  WSB would be more confident and aloof, and PKD would be more nervous and talkative.  If they ever became relaxed enough around eachother, they would probably start swapping weird anecdotes, and neither of them would be sure if the other one was telling the truth or merely telling a good story.

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tuffy777 : Reality is not real

about 16 hours later

tuffy777 said

Interesting.  Burroughs, Kafka and Hesse were major influences on PKD.       
  ~~~

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

Burroughs, Kafka and Hesse were major influences on me. So there ya go. Come to think of it, Burroughs, Kakfka and Hesse influenced many people.

I don’t know all the authors PKD read, but I know he read widely. PKD was also influenced by Jung and so was Hesse… probably Burroughs too.

Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs

Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs

Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I was thinking about the relationship of drugs, emotions, and society.  I was thinking of several different fictional futures that give different takes on this.

The most classic example is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  The drug of choice in that novel was soma.

“Benighted fool!” shouted the man from The Fordian Science Monitor, “why don’t you take soma?””Get away!” The Savage shook his fist.

The other retreated a few steps then turned round again. “Evil’s an unreality if you take a couple of grammes.”

Kohakwa iyathtokyai!” The tone was menacingly derisive.

“Pain’s a delusion.”

“Oh, is it?” said the Savage and, picking up a thick hazel switch, strode forward.

The man from The Fordian Science Monitor made a dash for his helicopter.”

Later, Huxley experimented with psychedelics and saw their positive potential.  So, he wrote the utopian novel Island.  The people of the island use a mushroom called moksha medicine.

“Is there any connection,” Will asked, “between what you’ve been talking about and what I saw up there in the Shiva temple?”

“Of course there is,” she answered. “The moksha-medicine takes you to the same place as you get to in meditation.”

“So why bother to meditate?”

“You might as well ask, Why bother to eat your
      dinner?”

“But according to you, the moksha-medicine is dinner.”

“It’s a banquet,” she said emphatically. “And that’s precisely why there has to be meditation. You can’t have banquets everyday. They’re too rich and they last too long. Besides, banquets are provided by a caterer; you don’t have any part in the preparation of them. For your everyday diet you have to do your own cooking. The moksha-medicine comes as an occasional treat.”

Philip K. Dick wrote about the mood organ in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but the mood organ isn’t a physical drug.  It uses a Penfield Wave Transmitter and so can instantly alter one’s brainwaves.  By dialing different numbers one can create the desired state of mind: 
“well-disposed toward the world”

“businesslike, professional attitude”

“self-accusatory depression”

“awareness of the manifold possibilities open to me in the future”

“The desire to watch TV, no matter what is on it”

“ecstatic sexual bliss”

“pleased acknowledgement of husband’s superior wisdom in all matters”

“creative and fresh attitude toward one’s job”

Similarly, in Larry Niven’s Known Space novels, he introduced the Tasp.

The puppeteer addressed himself to Speaker-to-Animals.
“You understand that I will use the tasp every time you force me to.  I will use it if you attempt to use violence too often, or if you startle me too much; you will soon become dependent upon the tasp; if you kill me, you will still be ignobly bound by the tasp itself.”
“Very astute,” said Speaker.  “Brilliantly unorthodox tactics.  I will trouble you no more.”
“The puppeteer is right,” said Speaker.  “I would not risk the tasp again.  Too many jolts of pleasure would leave me his willing slave.  I, a kzin, enslaved to a herbivore!”

In George Lucas’ THX 1138, everyone is forced to take drugs that suppress emotions including sexual desire.

“Take four red capsules, In 10 minutes take two more. Help is on the way.”

The Matrix trilogy is a bit different.  The Matrix is an illusion, the ultimate dystopia.  In this case, the two pills are symbolic of choice, and the red pill is more of an anti-drug as it induces waking to reality.

Morpheus: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

In case you’re interested, there are many other fictional drugs.  I could describe the drugs in William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but that would be a complicated endeavor and it doesn’t quite fit in with these other fictional drug stories.

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` : `

about 2 hours later

` said

Burroughs did ask the question “what would you do?”
he described Drugs as something which acted as a surrogate, something which replaced a genuine need.
Any need could be partly fulfilled or obscured with some drug.
The question “what would you do if you were faced with absolute need,” puts the reader in a position of trying to have compassion for another .
“absolute Need,” becomes a kind of analog for faith and for biological impulse.
for Burroughs, we are all addicts in one way or another, and the cure is a painful look at what life really is. Burroughs artfully works his own experience of addiction into his fiction through introduction and tricking the reader into believing that the writers own addiction is equivalent to the experience that he writes about in the first person.

The Antidote for W.S.B, was a drug that plunged the patient into absolute hell, forcing him or her to experience all the pain of Absolute Need. once the crisis was over, the patient could easily recognise the shallow fakery of any addiction, and also have a brutal compassion for every desiring, addicted being.
“Naked Lunch” tries to reveal the Horrors of Samsara and Karma, without diving into direct engagement with Buddhist texts or sanscrit terms.

I think that in many ways a drug described in fiction is a fictional drug. One could watch “Reefer Madness,”  and understand the fear of insanity  and decadence while rcognizing that  the movie is not very accurate in describing  the way pot affects people.
It could be said that every character in a novel or story  functions as an agent for a part of the authors own mind or cosciousness. In that way the drugs which effect the characters are also agents of the authors own sense of reallity.
I am curious about the promotion of SSRI drugs and how they seemed to Prromise to remove all the unreal worries and anxieties. In reallity i have heard some success stories, but i’ve also seen at least one person go from writing a lot of poetry to writing in his or her own blood and threatening to “jump.” (after Prozac)
I know enough behavioral Psychologists and MIT Bio-chem majors to understand a little about why this can happen.

Another compelling and culturally signifigant Fiction with Lots of Drug Use is the “Teachings of Don Juan,” by Carlos Castenada. Actually the first four books are relevant. he wrote others, later but Journey to Ixtlan was the one which earned him a PhD. after wards he was did credited and later people came to believe that not only were the books fiction, but so was the author.
My adoptive mother, who was an anthropologist claimed that she had met him several times at conventions in the sixties, and that he was “evasive,”
The Red Pill Blue Pill  in the Matrix most resembles the promise and the reallity of mind bending drugs from the Sixties Seventies Drug culture.
peace.
bill

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

Bill, that’s very interesting… thanks, tremendously insightful.

Ben, do you mind my asking why you’re exploring this today? I’d know better how to respond if I understood your “take” on this.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 7 hours later

Marmalade said

Nicole,

Its been on my mind recently, but I don’t remember what started my contemplations in this direction.  I wanted to blog about something and actually was intending to blog about something else, and yet for some reason this topic was calling out to be written.  The fictional drugs were on my mind because I was thinking about our relationship to reality and emotions.  The fictional drugs are just metaphors.  I wasn’t thinking about real drugs.

I was wondering what do people truly want.  If it were a real choice, would be choose the red or the blue pill?  Would people want reality even if it was harsh?  Would people want truth even if it meant discontentment?  Personally, which pill would I take?  I don’t know.

I was also wondering about the realities we create.  If we idealize happiness above all else, what kind of society is built on that ideal?  If pain, suffering, and discontentment could be entirely eliminated from human experience, would a truly good world result?  Or is there a purpose served by these emotions our culture judges as negative and useless?  If people never struggled, would society lose a depth of insight?  If artists never became imbalanced, would great art no longer be made?  If people didn’t feel discontentment, would people no longer strive to make the world better?  If people felt no dissatisfied longing, would religion lose its inspiration?

I was feeling particularly compelled by the dystopian visions.  There is a connection between how we relate to our emotions and how we relate to people.  It seems to me that a society that encourages or demands emotions to be suppressed and controlled will engender a government that suppresses and controls the populace.  And then there is the world we live in where certain drugs are encouraged or even enforced in some cases and other drugs are harshly banned.  What does our present society’s relationship to drugs say about our relationship to eachother?  What future are we creating?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 8 hours later

Marmalade said

Bill, thanks for the nice long post!  And especially thanks for describing Burroughs’ take on drugs.  I didn’t emphasize it in this blog, but addiction is definitely an important issue.  Addiction isn’t just about drug use.  It represents an actual need.  How this all relates to faith and compassion is also very important.  The possibility of selflessness when faced with suffering comes to mind.  The Burroughs’ story I’m thinking about is  The Junky’s Christmas.  The main character’s suffering because of addiction allows him to recognize and respond to the true suffering in another.

You mentioned SSRIs.  I was reading something about psychiatric drugs.  I can’t remember which specific class of drugs the author referred to, but the author was mentioning how meds can sometimes interfere with the healing process.  I have some personal experience with psych meds, but this is an issue I don’t feel entirely sure about. 

I don’t know too much about Castenada.  I did read some of his books years ago.  Its writers such as him that helped create idealization around psychedelics.  Psychedelics are an entirely different kind of drug.  They are quite the opposite of many popular drugs in that they aren’t addictive.

Julie : Waterbearer

about 10 hours later

Julie said

Ben,

This topic really cuts me to the core.  It is so relevant, to me and to our society.  I was shocked when I read a couple of months ago that Risperdal (an antipsychotic) ranks 13 on a list of the top 20 most highly prescribed drugs in the United States.  I’m sure antidepressants were in the top five. 

What does this say about our society?  That we find life and living so damned painful that the only way we can cope is through pharmaceuticals? 

There was a time in my life that I needed antidepressant medication desperately, but the side effects were almost as bad as the illness.  I thank God I was able to get off them. 

Of course, for my son and millions like him, antipsychotic medication is the only way he is able to function somewhat normally at all. 

Still, there were times in the past several months when my son displayed psychic knowledge during his psychotic illnesses.  I would really like to find out if anyone else has known of such a thing and if there is any thought in the scientific world of studying whether psychosis is the result of any inability to integrate an actively functioning “Sixth Sense” – would we all go crazy if we could “see dead people”??  I’ve been meaning to post this on the Psychology thread, but so far haven’t had the guts to bring it up.  It’s just too close to home at the moment. 

Blessings,
Julie

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

I took Risperdal for a while a long time ago.  It was a powerful med.  I was taking it for what the psychiatrist diagnosed as borderline thought disorder.  I’ve since tried to research what borderline thought disorder even is, but haven’t figured out what I was precisely being diagnosed with.

I’m also curious about the possible relationship between ‘abnormal’ experiences and psychiatric illnesses.  I do feel that the purpose of concensus reality is to filter out most data.  I truly doubt most people could function if they saw reality unfiltered.  I can’t even imagine what society would be like if people regularly had paranormal experiences.

You’ve hit upon a central theme in my own thinking.  Do we want reality?  And, more importantly, can we handle reality?  If not, then maybe its wise that we don’t see reality clearly.  I’ve heard the theory that maybe repression is a healthy response to trauma.  Afterall, from societys perspective, the functional person is able to compartmentalize their lives.  I do have a sneaking suspicion that the seeking of happiness and the seeking of reality are somewhat at cross-purpose to eachother.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

excellent point, Ben, you put your finger on part of my uneasiness about the whole pursuit of happiness thing. One of my disciplines is to embrace the now, even aspects that I want to reject. This is hard for me at times and I admit that i still often switch off the news because I find it unbearably harsh. But a work in progress. Which pill would I choose, red or blue? Like you I am not sure. I’d like to think I’d go to Zion but the Matrix is so attractive…

I hear you too about borderline thought disorder. Sounds a little like borderline personality disorder, which seems to translate into “girls being themselves and not conforming to societal expectations” (have you  all seen  the movie Girl Interrupted?).

I don’t think most of us could handle reality unfiltered. We are easily overwhelmed.

Julie, I hear what you are saying. It is a risky business to put something out there on the God Pod when it gets very close to home. Jay used to do that a lot but I think that he had a very rough time with how the problem of evil thread went at some points, so I respect totally your reluctance to explore something so important and tender in this forum. As much as we try to keep things on an even keel, people are people, and are not always sensitive … Thank God for anti-psychotics, but that must be so difficult…

Anti-depressants… it scares me how many people are put on them and how difficult they can be to get off. I can totally understand using them to get you through a rough patch but we are really badly over-medicated as a society. Ritalin is another over-prescribed drug, against “boyness”, which I don’t think is a disease… schools are badly set up for boys, fix that and Ritalin would not be needed.

Ben, what do we truly want? You have heard me quote from Lao Tsu about knowing at the centre of our beings who we are and what we want. But you and I know so many who are cut off from that inner knowing, who live lives of “quiet desperation” and conflictedness.

I have mixed feelings about psychedelics. Some people, like one of my new Montreal Gaia friends, feel they have found so much insight and peace through using them regularly. But there have been quite a number of casualties of “bad trips” and people hoping to get  a short cut to enlightenment who instead come to a dead end. 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Drugs are just extreme forms of the human desire to both control experience and free it.  But obviously this isn’t limited to drugs.  Concensus reality is very powerful. 

This is my main interest in psychedelics.  Such drugs have a way of causing one never to look at concensus reality the same again.  There is a good reason that they’ve often been used in traditional religions.  And there is good reason that they were administered by shamans in rituals.  Psychedelics shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Psychedelics are a strange class of drugs.  DMT, for instance, is found throughout nature and exists within every human brain… its been used in traditional cultures probably for longer than any of the major world religions have existed, probably longer than civilization has existed… and, yet, the US government has illegalized it.  Psychedelics are non-addictive.  If you take LSD right after having taken it previously, it has little to no effect.  Some psychedelics potentially are antidotes to addiction.  Lives are destroyed everyday by the legal use of the drug alcohol when there are drugs that could help people be free from alcoholoism but which are illegal.

What is the problem with this situation?  It largely comes down to our inherited monotheistic worldview.  In traditional cultures, psychedelics (along with alcohol and tobacco) had a place within the community.  They were controlled by being used religiously.  The rules surrounding traditional drug use weren’t arbitrary laws but were based on an experential relationship with the plant spirit of that drug.  The shamanistic use of psychedelics isn’t just about freeing our perception from normal reality because its also about supporting an important tradition within the community itself.  As soon as direct contact with the spirits is lost, religion becomes lifeless and so too the community.  Monotheism which says drugs are bad or even evil is also the very institution that desroyed the shamanistic cultures and hence destroyed the shamanistic traditions that taught the safe use of drugs.  Our society has a problem with addiction because we’ve lost contact with the spiritual experience that is the heart of a community.

I’m not trying to be a proponent for drugs here.  What I’m trying to point out is the situation of our experience being controlled.  Does a boy have a right to act like a boy or should he have his maleness controlled with Ritalin because its not socially acceptable?  Do we have a right to spiritual experience or must alternative experiences be controlled and punished?  Who gets to control my emotions, my experience, my perception… me or the government?  Are these dystopian visions where everyone is forced to take specific drugs really that far off or just around the corner?  Will we even see it coming?  We are an addictive society that looks to drugs for the answers to our problems… why would we resist such a future?  And already technology is on the market that can control brain functioning without the clumsy use of actually having to ingest something.  If our reality was being controlled, how would we even know it?  Our brains become entrained to tv every time we watch it which is essentially a form of addiction, but do most people think of themselves as addicted while watching tv… why?

Why is concensus reality so powerful?  Why does it seem where not able to handle reality unfiltered?

I have a theory about this.  Every culture has its consensus reality including traditional cultures.  Even psychedelics can be integrated into a concensus reality and even used to support it.  The drive for concensus reality seems a natural impulse.  Afterall, we are social animals.  Evolutionarily speaking, objective truth has limited value.  In order to survive, a human doesn’t need to know much.  All that a human needs to know is some practical knowledge about his immediate environment and community.  A humans just needs to know two basic things… what their niche is in whatever eco-system they find themselves in… and what is their role in the community they are born into.  Even today, the same basic rules for survival apply.  The average person doesn’t need to know that much.

So, if this is the case, how did humans manage to create such a complex society and amass so much knowledge.  Its not entirely unnatural.  We are omnivores and primates that have a wide diet often also have curious natures.  We are survivors because we are explorers.  Even so, we’ve come a long way and this can’t explain the explosion of civilization that happened thousands of years ago.

I like Paul Shepard’s idea that civilization is contrary to human nature because we’re still “beings of the Paleolithic”.  He sees modern humans as psychologically stunted and I’d guess that this relates also to the lack of initiatory rites in our culture.  Maybe we project parental roles onto our governments because we’re not fully matured adults ourselves.  The desire for concensus reality is natural, but it becomes even more emphasized in a larger society where control of the masses becomes more difficult.

As I wasn’t trying to romanticize about drugs, neither do I want to romanticize about the past.  My basic point is that reality and truth are only of minor significance to humans, and this is no less true now that we’ve seemed to have taken control of our collective destiny through civilization. 

This is a dilemma for me personally.  I idealize truth and reality, and yet nature doesn’t idealize truth and reality.  Why does truth and reality matter?  Why not submit myself without resistance to the consensual reality of my culture?  Why not just pick some ideology and base my life upon it without question?

The thing is I know that, if I did, I’d probably be happier… more contented, more successful, etc.  Why should I resist my own human nature, my own upbringing?  There is only one reason.  And that is if I believe that I’m not limited by my human nature.  So, what is beyond the human desire for consensus reality?  What is reality?  And why are certain rare humans so drawn towards what is beyond that they’re willing to sacrifice everything else?

Julie : Waterbearer

1 day later

Julie said

Ben,

you’re asking so  many important questions, truly I’m in awe.  Gonna take a while to process it though, but wanted to let you know I appreciate what you have said here and will respond eventually once it filters through my seven layered brain … 1) reptile, 2) primate, 3) ego-centered infant, 4) depressed teenager, 5) adult survivor, 6) free thinker 7) seventh layer – hey, where’d it go?  I left it here a few minutes ago, I could’ve sworn I saw it last week …

nikki…..hey are you coming to LA on the 12th or not???  Can’t you wait and come in August for the Beach Party???? Pul-eeeze???

Julie : Waterbearer

1 day later

Julie said

Okay – found the seventh layer of my brain.  Here you go:

 

Drugs are just extreme forms of the human desire to both control experience and free it.  But obviously this isn’t limited to drugs.  I agree.  I was attracted to religious experience for the same reason – control (via aligning myself with the powers that be) and freedom (to be free from the confines of the material world.)  Concensus reality is very powerful. 
What is the problem with this situation?  It largely comes down to our inherited monotheistic worldview.  In traditional cultures, psychedelics (along with alcohol and tobacco) had a place within the community.  They were controlled by being used religiously.  The rules surrounding traditional drug use weren’t arbitrary laws but were based on an experential relationship with the plant spirit of that drug.  The shamanistic use of psychedelics isn’t just about freeing our perception from normal reality because its also about supporting an important tradition within the community itself.  As soon as direct contact with the spirits is lost, religion becomes lifeless and so too the community.  I agree.  Monotheism which says drugs are bad or even evil is also the very institution that desroyed the shamanistic cultures and hence destroyed the shamanistic traditions that taught the safe use of drugs.  I’m not sure what you mean, that monotheism says drugs are bad.  Drugs as we know them today are a relatively new invention, not known at the time of Christ, for instance.  I feel the social need to control people’s experiences relates more to the corporate need to control the work force and maintain us in a state of monotonous predictability.  Workers having epiphanies don’t show up and count beans from 9 to 5 very well.  Our society has a problem with addiction because we’ve lost contact with the spiritual experience that is the heart of a community.  Absolutely. 
I’m not trying to be a proponent for drugs here.  What I’m trying to point out is the situation of our experience being controlled.  Does a boy have a right to act like a boy absolutely! We have been emasculating our boys for years or should he have his maleness controlled with Ritalin because its not socially acceptable?  Although, I believe there are environmental factors causing structural changes in the our children’s brains resulting in autism and ADHD that make it impossible for some children to sit still, be quiet and focus enough to produce written work as is expected by the schools, and for which they are being medicated.  What is needed is to find the cause of this and eliminate it if possible.  Do we have a right to spiritual experience yes definitely or must alternative experiences be controlled and punished?  Who gets to control my emotions, my experience, my perception… me or the government?  You – unless you are a danger to yourself.  I know – there’s a very fine line there.  Civil liberties versus civil protection – seat belts, motorcycle helmets, vaccinations all fall in this category.  Are these dystopian visions where everyone is forced to take specific drugs really that far off or just around the corner?  Speaking from my own experience, we are actually erring on the side of caution at this point.  It is next to impossible to have someone involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness unless they have a gun in their hand.  I have heard of parents lying to police and saying their psychotic child threatened them, just to get them hospitalized on a 72 hour hold.  Otherwise the police can’t take them in.  Will we even see it coming?  We are an addictive society that looks to drugs for the answers to our problems… why would we resist such a future?  And already technology is on the market that can control brain functioning without the clumsy use of actually having to ingest something.  If our reality was being controlled, how would we even know it?  Our brains become entrained to tv every time we watch it which is essentially a form of addiction, but do most people think of themselves as addicted while watching tv… why?  True….I will never forget the line from “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” in which Jodie Foster says, “television is stultifying.”  I no longer watch tee-vee and I feel much more free and alive for it.  Even some of the gas pumps here have video feeds, it makes me sick.  They’re everywhere – the grocery checkout too – and this week I saw a dentists’ office that had t.v.’s next to the patient’s chairs – I guess to make them feel better?  No thanks. 
Why is concensus reality so powerful?  Why does it seem where not able to handle reality unfiltered? I would have to venture a guess that this is the way God created us, at least at this point in our evolution.  I have always sensed there is much more “behind the curtain” and felt quite frustrated that I couldn’t access it.  More comes through now, though, than in the past, so I’m pretty sure that if and when I’m ready, I will experience more input. 
I have a theory about this.  Every culture has its consensus reality including traditional cultures.  Even psychedelics can be integrated into a concensus reality and even used to support it.  The drive for concensus reality seems a natural impulse.  Afterall, we are social animals.  Evolutionarily speaking, objective truth has limited value.  In order to survive, a human doesn’t need to know much.  All that a human needs to know is some practical knowledge about his immediate environment and community.  A humans just needs to know two basic things… what their niche is in whatever eco-system they find themselves in… and what is their role in the community they are born into.  Even today, the same basic rules for survival apply.  The average person doesn’t need to know that much.  True.    
So, if this is the case, how did humans manage to create such a complex society and amass so much knowledge.  Is that what is known as Complexity theory?   That systems constantly evolve to more complex states as they go along?  I think that is part of our divine nature.  To expand out into more complex forms and then collapse again into primordial parts, then reassemble again….like LEGOS.  Its not entirely unnatural.  We are omnivores and primates that have a wide diet often also have curious natures.  We are survivors because we are explorers.  Even so, we’ve come a long way and this can’t explain the explosion of civilization that happened thousands of years ago.
This is a dilemma for me personally.  I idealize truth and reality, and yet nature doesn’t idealize truth and reality.  Oh, but it does.  Go camping alone in the wilderness and you will be thrust into NOTHING BUT total reality.  Survival.  Snowstorms.  Grizzly bears.  Whispering spirits of the mountain gods.  Woo-hoo!  Seriously, I would argue that the reason for our collective angst is that we are completely out of touch with reality, a la your comment about t.v.  What is less real that American television, American food, and American politics?   Why does truth and reality matter?  Because they are true and real.  Why not submit myself without resistance to the consensual reality of my culture?  Why not just pick some ideology and base my life upon it without question?  Because you are too smart for that, Grasshopper. 
The thing is I know that, if I did, I’d probably be happier… more contented, more successful, etc.  Why should I resist my own human nature, my own upbringing?  There is only one reason.  And that is if I believe that I’m not limited by my human nature.  Your human nature is to grow, create, and become.  It is society that tries to limit you.  So, what is beyond the human desire for consensus reality?  Because we can only process so much data before we blow our circuits.  What is reality?  What you perceive – even the things you think you can almost perceive, but not quite.  Even the things you WANT to perceive and can’t.  All those are real.  And why are certain rare humans so drawn towards what is beyond that they’re willing to sacrifice everything else?  Because, as my son says, we are THPE-THUL.  That’s why we’re in THPE-THUL Ed. 

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Hey Julie, yes, I need to come to LA from the 11th to the 13th, cause I have IAKF meetings to run in the area and have made promises to everyone in the association that I’d do it . Hope it still works for you – if not, I will make other arrangements . PM me your phone info and we’ll finalise everything directly one way or another ok?

I wish I could come to your beach party in August but besides my trip to Scotland which is already booked, all my trips this year revolve around work, and work gets too busy in Aug-Nov for any more travels…

Ok, now to respond to Ben’s and your responses…

Yes, there are definitely huge problems with the level of addiction in this society, to uppers and downers, Ritalin and prescription drugs of all kinds, cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, sex, TV, the music industry, compulsive consumerism, sports, politics … the list is depressingly long.

all of these take us away from reality and ourselves and God.

we do need to engage with spirit, engage with life, God, our true selves.

the noise is deafening. i too have stopped watching TV many years ago, and commercial radio. i have chosen not to medicate myself when depressed but to deal with it more directly.  (Note – this does not mean I think medication is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s the best way to heal or deal with whatever. Just not for me, so far)

we have lost our way as a culture. as individuals we need to find the way back.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Julie,

I’m not sure what you mean, that monotheism says drugs are bad.  Drugs as we know them today are a relatively new invention, not known at the time of Christ, for instance.

I was primarily thinking about psychedelics, but Muslims and certain Christians are even against imbibing alcohol.  Many of the religions that Christianity destroyed probably used various plant-based drugs.  The Greek mystery religions that Christianity replaced quite likely used psychoactive plants.  Some have theorized that the Gnostics partook of psychedelic mushrooms.  Anyways, certainly various drugs (recreational and religious) were known of at that time.   As for the shamanistic religions Christianity butted heads with along the way, a plant spirit that acts as a mediary to the otherworld is in direct competition with Christ’s role as a mediary to God.  Some of the ‘witches’ who were killed probably were knowledgable of plant-based drugs, maybe even psychedelics.

I feel the social need to control people’s experiences relates more to the corporate need to control the work force and maintain us in a state of monotonous predictability.  Workers having epiphanies don’t show up and count beans from 9 to 5 very well.

Yes, that too.

Although, I believe there are environmental factors causing structural changes in the our children’s brains resulting in autism and ADHD that make it impossible for some children to sit still, be quiet and focus enough to produce written work as is expected by the schools, and for which they are being medicated.

Have you heard of Dr. Leonard Sax?  He writes about this.

You – unless you are a danger to yourself.  I know – there’s a very fine line there.  Civil liberties versus civil protection – seat belts, motorcycle helmets, vaccinations all fall in this category.  

I agree there is a balance.  I’m neither arguing for or against drugs, nor for or against government involvement.  I’m just looking at the possibilities of where the world might be going.

Speaking from my own experience, we are actually erring on the side of caution at this point.  It is next to impossible to have someone involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness unless they have a gun in their hand.  I have heard of parents lying to police and saying their psychotic child threatened them, just to get them hospitalized on a 72 hour hold.  Otherwise the police can’t take them in.

You may be right.  That is outside of my personal experience.  But I understand where you’re coming from.  My mom just retired from working in the public schools, and she noticed a big difference in how kids are treated now as compared to the past.  Basically, a teacher can do very little to control a child.  Even if a kid who is larger than the teacher is hitting the teacher, the teacher can’t do anything but passive self-defense without possibly getting sued.  But passive self-defense is nearly impossible with a full-grown kid which means the teacher just has to let themselves be beat up until several other people can help to subdue the kid.

True….I will never forget the line from “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” in which Jodie Foster says, “television is stultifying.”  I no longer watch tee-vee and I feel much more free and alive for it.  Even some of the gas pumps here have video feeds, it makes me sick.  They’re everywhere – the grocery checkout too – and this week I saw a dentists’ office that had t.v.’s next to the patient’s chairs – I guess to make them feel better?  No thanks.

TV can be problematic, but its not without benefits to society.  Modern civilization wouldn’t be possible without it.  I try to keep it in context of all the challenges of our culture.  Despite its potential for addiction, its not our biggest problem and maybe not even inherently problematic.  I was just using it as an example of how pervasive and subtle addictive behavior is in our culture.

Is that what is known as Complexity theory?   That systems constantly evolve to more complex states as they go along?  I think that is part of our divine nature.  To expand out into more complex forms and then collapse again into primordial parts, then reassemble again….like LEGOS.

I don’t really know much of anything about complexity theory.  That complexity is an evolutionary impulse seems like a possiblity.  That is similar to an Integral view of development.  At the moment, I don’t know if this possibility makes sense to me or not.  There does seem to be some truth to it.

Oh, but it does.  Go camping alone in the wilderness and you will be thrust into NOTHING BUT total reality.  Survival.  Snowstorms.  Grizzly bears.  Whispering spirits of the mountain gods.  Woo-hoo! 

By nature, I was meaning our biological natures.  But nature as you’re meaning it is something else.  What I’m wondering about is the relationship between our biological natures and our ‘spiritual’ natures.  I feel there is something other than biological impulses, but I’m not sure exactly what that is. 

Seriously, I would argue that the reason for our collective angst is that we are completely out of touch with reality, a la your comment about t.v.  What is less real that American television, American food, and American politics?

Maybe so.  At this point, I start to wonder even what the word ‘reality’ means.  How is something more or less real?  And when we refer to spiritual reality as real reality, what are we referring to?

Because you are too smart for that, Grasshopper.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.  🙂

Your human nature is to grow, create, and become.  It is society that tries to limit you.

I’m curious as to what human nature means to you.  How do you see human nature as different from society?

Because, as my son says, we are THPE-THUL.  That’s why we’re in THPE-THUL Ed.

Well… that clears everything up.  :):)

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Thanks, Ben, I’m glad you brought that last up. What do you and your son mean by those enigmatic letters, Julie?

Ben, spiritual reality, and that includes the inner world of things like Love and Longing for beauty, is more real because it is eternal. The things we think of as real in this world are fleeting. Blink your eyes and that image on the screen is gone, turn around and that band that was so popular is villified and scorned, tomorrow the green leaves of the tree will be autumn glory and then they will be dead and blown away… but spirit and the things of spirit go on forever, and shine on beyond space time. Plato had a glimpse of this when he thought of the Real and Forms… you’re probably familiar with his thinking.

I don’t know how Julie differentiate human nature from society, but to me, the aggregate of society is a much lower common denominator than any individual human spirit –  our True  Selves are far beyond what we can imagine while societal “norms” try to shackle us and limit us to far, far less than we can think, do and be.

Yes, there is good in TV. Things are not good or bad in and of themselves, usually. But for many the minuses outweigh the pluses, in terms of not just all the garbage they consume through all the commercials and other kinds of dreck they watch, but the overwhelming passivity and anti-social nature of the thing. For all the important downsides of computer addiction, at least it is a far more interactive and social activity…. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole, this…
“Plato had a glimpse of this when he thought of the Real and Forms… you’re probably familiar with his thinking.”
…and this…
“our True  Selves are far beyond what we can imagine while societal “norms” try to shackle us and limit us to far, far less than we can think, do and be.”
…remind me of Jung.

Jung has influenced me to a great degree.  I love his view of archetypes which are often underappreciated and misunderstood.  I tend to think that archetypes are platonically more real than everyday perceived reality and especially more real than collective/consensual reality.  Jung was always wary of groups.  He was wary of his followers creating an institute in his name and he was wary of his typology being systematized for large-scale use.  Jung definitely believed that its best to trust in one’s own direct personal experience.  But I don’t know what Jung thought about tv.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

yes, yes, Ben, archetypes, it’s been so long I’m passionate about them too.  Jung too! He is so cool. I think he was very right to be wary of institutes and systematised thought. We see the problems with Wilber and the II, don’t we? Direct personal experience is in fact the only way we can really engage reality. i wonder what he would have thought about tv, good question…

Julie : Waterbearer

3 days later

Julie said

Ben & Nicole,

Awesome discussion ~ covers so much I can’t wrap my noodle around it yet, but in the meantime, I can at least decipher “THPE-SHUL” – it’s “SPECIAL” with a lisp…. :))

Love ~

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

LOL Julie! yes of course… I’m thpeshul too :):)

I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on Jung, archetypes etc

Death: PKD, WSB, & Derrick Jensen

Fred: D… Substance D. “D” is dumbness, and despair, desertion-desertion of you from your friends, your friends from you, everyone from everyone. Isolation and loneliness… and hating and suspecting each other, “D” is finally death. Slow death from the head down. Well… that’s it.

Why does Control need humans, as you call them?
Answer: Wait… wait! Time, a landing field. Death needs time like a junkie needs junk.
And what does Death need time for?
Answer: The answer is sooo simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in, for Ah Pook’s sake.

The conversion of the living to the dead has been converted from a moral, human, question into a technical problem to be solved, and, if at all possible, profited from.
 ~ Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe (p 568)

New-Path resident: Living and unliving things are exchanging properties.
Second New-Path resident: The drive of unliving things is stronger than the drive of living things.
Freck as New-Path resident: The living should never be used to serve the purposes of the dead. But the dead should, if possible… serve the purposes of the living.

Fred: I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field.

Psychology and Parapsychology, Politics and Place

In some recent posts, I’ve discussed personality types and other psychological factors that distinguish one person from another.

Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus

Horror and Typology

The Paranormal and Psychology

This subject is an interest of mine that goes back many years and my interest in psychology in general goes back even further.  I’ve always sought explanations for human experience and psychology is one of the best fields to look for helpful data and theory.  Psychology is also a good place to find connections between other fields: narratology and folklore studies, paranormal, religion, politics, etc.  I really became fascinated with psychology through Jungian typology and traits theory which connects to tons of fascinating research spanning the past century (and much from the last half century is cross-cultural research using large sample sizes).  Correlations and meta-analysis of varied research has offered clearer insight into many elusive factors of the human psyche and socio-cultural behavior. 

Psychology became even more interesting for me when I read George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal in which the author discusses experience and hermeneutics at the edge of mainstream science.  Along with discussing the trickster archetype, he details the relevance of Hartmann’s boundary types.  Upon further research, I learned that research on boundary types correlates with other research on personality types and traits, and of course Jung’s theory of personality types connects with his theory on archetypes.  Even further research has helped me to understand how central psychology is to the UFO field and paranormal in general.  Basically, this was an area that promised many further connections.

I’ve been recently focused on the connections between genre fiction (especially SF and Horror), philosophy (especially Pessimism), religion (especially Gnosticism) and the paranormal (especially UFO experiences).  There isn’t any grand reason my mind is focused on all of these subjects (besides general curiosity in all things weird and countercultural), but it does all fit together (more or less, in my mind that is).  To be specific, my friend has been reading a lot of Thomas Ligotti and other horror writers.  This has caused me to read more horror (and dark weird) fiction and discuss it with my friend… which has led me to read Ligotti’s philosophizing and the blog writing by related people (Quentin S. Crisp and Matt Cardin).  Because of Gnosticism and other reasons, Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs have been on my mind and the latter happened to be a favorite writer of Ligotti. 

 As you see, one thing leads to another and I at times can get obsessive in following certain leads.  My brain was being swamped by connections and so I wrote a post about it.

Just Some Related Ideas and Writers

I had initially noted in earlier posts some similarities and differences between William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick and between them and Thomas Ligotti.

PKD, ACIM, and Burroughs

Burroughs, PKD, and Ligotti

My interest in such things is very personal in many ways, but I think the socio-political angle is at least as interesting.  Psychological understanding is probably needed in poltical discussions more than anywhere simply for the reason that politics seems to attract many people who lack subtle understanding (if any at all) of the human mind and behavior.  I wrote about this in a post a while back.

Morality, Politics, and Psychology

In looking into psychological research in context of “abnormal” experiences, I came across one particularly interesting piece of data (which I believe can be found somewhere in one of the numerous links in my post The Paranormal and Psychology).  Someone mentioned that UFO experiences are more common along the coasts of the US than in the midwest.  I haven’t seen this data, but I have seen data that shows liberals are more concentrated on the coasts and in highly populated areas (i.e., urban areas) and that shows conservatives are more concentrated in the interior and in lowly populated areas (i.e., rural areas).  So, it would be logical that UFO experience would correlate with liberal politics.  Research has shown that liberals and conservatives tend to have different personalities.  One of the major factors is that liberals tend to have more “openness to experience” (a particular trait that has been well researched).  This Openness also correlates to MBTI’s (Jungian typology’s) Intuition function and Hartmann’s thin boundary types (amongst other correlations). 

Anyways, it’s not simply a matter of different ideological persuasions, but psychological tendencies that we often are born with (and which tend to remain stable throughout our lives).  Liberal types aren’t simply open to believing in the weird.  They’re actually open to experiencing them.  A liberal believes in the paranormal because they’ve experienced it, and the conservative disbelieves because they’re experiences don’t include the paranormal.  However, even if a conservative did have a paranormal experience, they’d be more likely to try to explain it away or make it conform to their cultural expectations (such as fitting it into the doctrine of the religion they belong to).  Because of psychological and other factors, I truly doubt that people hold their viewpoints for primarily rational reasons, but I have no doubt that humans are very talented at rationalizing.  Another thought I had was that people’s beliefs aren’t exactly disconnected from reality.  It’s just they’re limited to one perspective on reality.  The conservative and the liberal each explains in a perfectly valid way the data of their experience.  The problem is that it only applies to their own narrow experience, but from an evolutionary point of view this may be no problem at all.  Both views are helpful or maybe even necessary for the stability of society.  Either side is wrong in claiming their beliefs are absolutely true.  Nonetheless, the conservative belief about human behavior applies to conservative humans and ditto for liberal beliefs. 

However, accepting each as a valid viewpoint would be criticized as pluralism by many conservatives (in particular moral conservatives).  Does this mean that a liberal has a better chance of understanding the conservative position than the other way around?  Maybe… depending on what we’re focusing on.  This could be explained that we aren’t just dealing with types here, but also social development such as understood by spiral dynamics.  Liberal as a personality trait wouldn’t be helpful in understanding conservativism, but liberal pluralism as a stage of development could potentially give someone greater perspective to understand previous stages of development (which is where the majority of the population is still at).  I’m less interested in the latter for this post.  I just wanted to point it out because this a complex subject with many factors and I’d rather not make simplistic judgments.

It is important to point out that these distinctions aren’t absolute.  The average person isn’t at the extreme opposite ends, and our pscyological attitude can change depending on situation.  Even so, most people tend to spend most of their time in one mindset or another.  Furthermore, people tend to seek out others similar to them and careers that are conducive to their thinking style.  A liberal-leaning person living in a rural area is more likely to move to an urban area and so this is how genetics become concentrated.  Liberals will tend to marry liberals and tend to have liberal kids, and the same for conservatives.  This wasn’t possible in the past because people didn’t move as much, but modern society has created a situation where human genetics may be diverging into two type of people.  This reminds me of a species of rodent (or something like that) that I saw on a nature show once.  There were two genetically distinct variations of males.  One set of males mated for life with a female, but the females weren’t so loyal in their affections.  The other set of males would have sex with any female and the females of this species were willing (when their spouses were otherwise distracted).  The children of the loyal males grew up to be loyal and the opposite for the other type.  I’ve always suspected this might be the case for human males as well, but even if not the general principle might apply to humans in other ways.

It can’t be denied that humans do like trying to divide eachother up into categories.  I was reading an article titled “Burrough-sian Gnosticism In His Own Words” by Sven Davisson which can be found in the journal The Gnostic.  I was already familiar with Burrough’s ideas along these lines.  He considered himself a Manichaean and it was from this that he founded his own typology of people: the Johnsons and the Shits.  The Johnson Family was a designation that came from turn-of-the-century hobo culture.  A Johnson was someone who was a basically good and trustworthy person, someone who would help when such was needed but otherwise would mind his own business.  On the other hand (from the article): “A shit  is one who is obsessively sure of his own position at the cost of all other vantages.”  Upon reading that, I immediate thought that it sounded like an extreme version of a hedgehog type of person (who knows one big thing)… which is approximately an MBTI type with Sensation function (most notably represented by Kiersey’s SJ temperament), a thick boundary type, someone low on the trait ‘openness to experience’.  I was also reminded of a quote (by someone other than Burroughs) about a missionary (to paraphrase): “You could always tell the people she helped by the hunted look on their faces.”  My guess is that Burroughs was making an extreme distinction that could otherwise be stated with more psychological subtlety.  Taking as an extreme, it’s hard to disagree with Burroughs about the Shits of the world, but I’m sure he was intelligent enough to realize that not everyone exists at the extremes.

I also think the distinction between hedgehogs and foxes relates to the attitudes of universalism and pluralism.  I was thinking about  this latter category because of my reading another article in the journal The Gnostic.  The article is “Magic and Gnosticism” by  Will Parker.  I won’t say much about it right now as I haven’t finished the article yet, but I’ll point out that I’m thinking about his ideas in terms of George P. Hansen’s discussion of Max Weber’s theory of the process of increasing rationalization in Western society.  I plan on blogging more about this where I’ll also bring in how certain personality types are most likely to gain positions of power in certain types of organizations.

PKD, ACIM, and Burroughs

Philip K. Dick (PKD) had the idea of God as hidden and yet present in the world.  God invades the world and re-creates it, makes real that which lacks fundamental reality.  In light of this, I was thinking of another idea from A Course In Miracles (ACIM) which is that God doesn’t make real or even recognize our false creations.  Supposedly God sees us as we truly are no matter how we see ourselves.  Maybe, in a sense, both are right.  As God’s reality is hidden from us, our reality is hidden from God.  We can make this rationally coherent by proposing the Gnostic view that the divine can simultaneously be fallen and not fallen.  Also, from the Gnostic view, Jesus acts as mediary for he understands our predicament as God cannot.  Jesus, like all of us as separate individuals, is not ultimately real.  But Jesus reflects the light of the real, acts as a remembrance of the real.  If we can recognize that we are the fallen divine, then we can remember that the divine never really fell.

PKD had another idea borrowed from earlier Christians: the Ape of God.  The god of this world mimics the creative powers of the God of heaven, or if you prefer the emanating fullness of the pleroma.  The Ape of God, however, creates falsely.  In terms of ACIM, the Ape of God is the ego.  Even though ACIM posits no evil, ACIM does distinguish between the false and the real which would fit some definitions of evil and good.  Anyways, ACIM is clear that the false use of the creative power serves no useful end whatever terms one wishes to use.  PKD, on the other hand, theorized that the Ape of God may serve a positive purpose, may even be an artifact of the one true God.  Maybe God needs to remain hidden to accomplish his task and so we need to temporarily remain in this dream.  This attitude necessitates faith in God being in control and using that control to a benevolent end.  We will all awaken one day and the sufferings of the dream will be forgotten.  For PKD, that is our hope and consolation.

PKD had a further notion about these two ideas.  The hidden God and the Ape of God both operate in the world, one seemingly good and the other seemingly bad.  PKD felt that the two were inseparable.  The world could be seen as a game with two players, but still the game is being played out by a single God.  William S. Burroughs thought that evil often appeared as good and good as evil.  This is an aspect of the hidden God.  God isn’t where we expect him; or, as PKD stated it, God in the garbage.  Burroughs was more cynical than PKD and saw this world as one to be escaped.  PKD, on the other hand, believed escape was not necessary or maybe even possible.  Accordingly, we may “escape” our delusions and misunderstandings, but we can’t escape the world.  We need not seek out God because God will seek out us.  PKD went so far as to say God can’t be found.  God reveals himself for reasons that are a mystery to us, and God’s hand can’t be forced.

PKD started out much more of a dualist, and Burroughs seems to have remained a dualist.  For Burroughs, the god of this world and the God of the Western Lands are two entirely separate beings.  Burroughs said he always believed in God but, oddly for a writer, not the God of the Word.  He apparently took from Christianity that this world was created from the Word; but since this world didn’t seem good to him, he believed that neither was the God who created it.  Interestingly, PKD was influenced by Burroughs Gnostic thinking.  Both sought God in unlikely places, and PKD was interested in Burroughs cut-up technique.  The idea is that if language is broken up from its normal order, true information can be revealed (God in disorder similar to God in garbage).  So, language could be used to see beyond language as long as one realized that Truth existed beyond the Word.  PKD also sometimes seemed to equate the creative Word as part of the deceptiveness of this created world, but it was a deceptiveness serving a good purpose.  Burroughs, of course, saw no good in it (even though he saw goodness or the potential for goodness in people or at least some people).

The mixing of the seeming good and the seeming evil is the trick of PKD’s maneuvering past dualism.  PKD remained fascinated with dualities but felt they were contained in a larger whole.  PKD had begun to question what he saw as the dualism of Gnosticism, and later in life he questioned Christianity for the same reasons.  He was drawn to the Greek idea of pantheistic monism.  He saw in Greek philosophy a love of symmetry and beauty that he felt lacking in Christianity.  He once had a vision of a world beyond a golden door (i.e., Golden Rectangle).  It was utterly perfect and he saw a young woman within that world.  He somehow knew this woman was Aphrodite and that this world was the Greek otherworld rather than the Christian heaven.  Burroughs believed in the Egyptian idea of an otherworld which I don’t know if it at all resembled PKD’s vision of the Palm Tree Garden.  For certain, there is a clear distinction between Burrough’s vision of a perfect world only attainable in death and PKD’s vision of divine reality existing as part of this world.  The former, to the extent that I understand Burrough’s view, is entirely dualistic in that the worlds of good and evil shall never meet.

So, what conclusion can we come to about dualism?  My sense is that PKD is right that absolute dualism is false, but maybe dualism still portrays something true in our experience.  From PKD’s perspective, it’s necessary that we take the game seriously even though it is only a game.  Dualism, according to PKD, may serve a purpose of purification of the world.  The good needs to remain hidden so that the evil can be more apparent.  If good were to be obvious, then evil would mimic it and we wouldn’t be able to distinguish the two.  God must act as an undercover agent in enemy territory.  God may even forget himself in entering the human realm, but he leaves clues for himself (something like the Hymn of the Pearl).  In a sense, we are all God hidden in the form of the human for the spark of God exists within every person.

The hiddenness of God allows for the subtlety of faith.  Faith must be developed and that is what God encourages in remaining hidden (yet available).  This offers freedom to choose.  God is intimately close to everyone, but every person must choose what he sees.  Even though God can’t be found out through force, by a shift of perception we can open ourselves to the possibility of revelation.  A simple shift is all that is necessary (and an immensely humble patience is also helpful).  This fits in with the idea of willingness in ACIM.  However, unlike ACIM and Burroughs, PKDs evil can serve the purpose of good for the reason that God can and does use everything to his end.  Furthermore, there is nothing to fear because the Second Coming already happened… for those who have eyes to see.

In general, PKD was interested in dualities which is something he probably picked up from his studies of Gnosticism (and Jung).  He had many theories about dualities.  Along with the good and evil issue, he connected the views of a lower and higher world in which he saw this world as the meeting ground for the two.  He thought about this partly as a depth perception in time rather than space, the two worlds being two perspectives that create our perception of reality (the mind itself reflecting this split in reality).  This also relates to his idea of how the Holy Spirit flows backwards in time.  So, the backward flow with the “normal” experience of forward flow creates the present.  I could go on and on with PKD”s philosophizing about dualities, but I’ll only add one further aspect. 

PKD, in line with the Gnostics (and Jung), was very much interested in the duality of male and female and how this corresponds to spiritual truths.  For PKD, this was very personal.  He had a twin sister who died as an infant and this made him obsessed with this sense of a missing part of himself.  He was obsessed with the “dark-haired girl” both in his fiction and in his personal life.  More importantly, he had that vision of the divine feminine which stuck with him.  Burroughs, to the contrary, was more critical of the feminine to the point of being called a misogynist.  Going by an essay he wrote on the matter, I don’t think he was actually a misogynist but simply a pessimist about life in general.  He just had a negative view of life, of embodied existence.  He wasn’t trying to simply blame it all on women.  Still, he certainly wasn’t idealizing the feminine either.  Personally, my experience is more in line with PKD.  I fel a certain connection to the divine feminine.  Understanding the interplay, psychologically and spiritually, between the feminine and the masculine seems important to me.

Let me return to the views about the world of the good, of the true.  Burroughs believed the Western Lands was distant and the path arduous.  PKD believed (as did certain Gnostics, Kabbalists and Christian mystics) that the Kingdom is all around us and even within us, that the Kingdom is right here and now in this world (necessitating dual vision).  I must say both make sense to me in that both speak to that which feels true in my experience.  Oftentimes, the divine does feel infinitely distant and infinitely alien to this world.  God is so far beyond my comprehension that I’m left with nothing useful to say (which doesn’t stop me from trying)).  But I sense the reality of something that, although beyond me, does exist within or at least touches upon my experience and so is intimately close (there is some comfort this at least).  It’s right here, and yet always beyond my grasp.  Like Gnostic Valentinus, I suspect that all believers may be saved in some sense, but still gnosis is very much desirable.  What good does the hope (or even certainty) of being saved do when people are lost in delusion and ideology?  Seeing truly is of utmost importance in this world and such discernment is no easy task.  The kingdom may be all around us, but the trick is to truly understand what this means.  Belief isn’t enough.  We must know… or else we suffer (and cause suffering) in our unknowing. 

To quote PKD from his Exegesis (1978 entry, p. 143, In Pursuit of Valis):

The Valentinian ontological assessment of knowledge is not that it (the Gnosis) leads to salvation or is knowledge about salvation.  But that in the act (event, revelation, experience) of knowing in itself lies salvation.  Because in knowing, there is restoration of man’s lost state, & a reversal of his present state of ignorance.  Upon knowing, man is again what he originally was.

This knowing isn’t a conclusion.  From the conventional sense of reality, it’s an utter paradox (a dualistic view that allows for seemingly contradictory experiences).  We are saved and yet the world remains as it was.  We simply remember what always has been true.  The hidden is glimpsed, but even in its revelation it remains hidden from our intellect.  We can’t really understand it no matter how much we try.  PKD  accepted the failure of the intellect and saw in this very failure a hidden success.  This was part of the paradox.  Seeking God always fails, but only in our failing can we find God.  The seeking is necessary in its own way.

To quote PKD once more from his Exegesis (1979 entry, p. 91, In Pursuit of Valis):

I actually had to develop a love of the disordered & puzzling, viewing reality as a vast riddle to be joyfully tackled, not in fear but with tireless fascination.  What has been most needed is reality testing, & a willingness to face the possibility of self-negating experiences; ie., real contradictions, with something being true and not true.

The enigma is alive, aware of us, & changing.  It is partly created by our own minds; we alter it by perceiving it, since we are not outside it.  As our views shift, it shifts in a sense it is not there at all (acosmism).  In another sense it is a vast intelligence; in another sense it is total harmonia and structure (how logically can it be all three?  Well, it is).