“…some deeper area of the being.”

Alec Nevala-Lee shares a passage from Colin Wilson’s Mysteries (see Magic and the art of will). It elicits many thoughts, but I want to focus on the two main related aspects: the self and the will.

The main thing Wilson is talking about is hyper-individualism — the falseness and superficiality, constraint and limitation of anxiety-driven ‘consciousness’, the conscious personality of the ego-self. This is what denies the bundled self and the extended self, the vaster sense of being that challenges the socio-psychological structure of the modern mind. We defend our thick boundaries with great care for fear of what might get in, but this locks us in a prison cell of our own making. In not allowing ourselves to be affected, we make ourselves ineffective or at best only partly effective toward paltry ends. It’s not only a matter of doing “something really well” for we don’t really know what we want to do, as we’ve become disconnected from deeper impulses and broader experience.

For about as long as I can remember, the notion of ‘free will’ has never made sense to me. It isn’t a philosophical disagreement. Rather, in my own experience and in my observation of others, it simply offers no compelling explanation or valid meaning, much less deep insight. It intuitively makes no sense, which is to say it can only make sense if we never carefully think about it with probing awareness and open-minded inquiry. To the degree there is a ‘will’ is to the degree it is inseparable from the self. That is to say the self never wills anything for the self is and can only be known through the process of willing, which is simply to say through impulse and action. We are what we do, but we never know why we do what we do. We are who we are and we don’t know how to be otherwise.

There is no way to step back from the self in order to objectively see and act upon the self. That would require yet another self. The attempt to impose a will upon the self would lead to an infinite regress of selves. That would be a pointless preoccupation, although as entertainments go it is popular these days. A more worthy activity and maybe a greater achievement is stop trying to contain ourselves and instead to align with a greater sense of self. Will wills itself. And the only freedom that the will possesses is to be itself. That is what some might consider purpose or telos, one’s reason for being or rather one’s reason in being.

No freedom exists in isolation. To believe otherwise is a trap. The precise trap involved is addiction, which is the will driven by compulsion. After all, the addict is the ultimate individual, so disconnected within a repeating pattern of behavior as to be unable to affect or be affected. Complete autonomy is impotence. The only freedom is in relationship, both to the larger world and the larger sense of self. It is in the ‘other’ that we know ourselves. We can only be free in not trying to impose freedom, in not struggling to control and manipulate. True will, if we are to speak of such a thing, is the opposite of willfulness. We are only free to the extent we don’t think in the explicit terms of freedom. It is not a thought in the mind but a way of being in the world.

We know that the conscious will is connected to the narrow, conscious part of the personality. One of the paradoxes observed by [Pierre] Janet is that as the hysteric becomes increasingly obsessed with anxiety—and the need to exert his will—he also becomes increasingly ineffective. The narrower and more obsessive the consciousness, the weaker the will. Every one of us is familiar with the phenomenon. The more we become racked with anxiety to do something well, the more we are likely to botch it. It is [Viktor] Frankl’s “law of reversed effort.” If you want to do something really well, you have to get into the “right mood.” And the right mood involves a sense of relaxation, of feeling “wide open” instead of narrow and enclosed…

As William James remarked, we all have a lifelong habit of “inferiority to our full self.” We are all hysterics; it is the endemic disease of the human race, which clearly implies that, outside our “everyday personality,” there is a wider “self” that possesses greater powers than the everyday self. And this is not the Freudian subconscious. Like the “wider self” of Janet’s patients, it is as conscious as the “contracted self.” We are, in fact, partially aware of this “other self.” When a man “unwinds” by pouring himself a drink and kicking off his shoes, he is adopting an elementary method of relaxing into the other self. When an overworked housewife decides to buy herself a new hat, she is doing the same thing. But we seldom relax far enough; habit—and anxiety—are too strong…Magic is the art and science of using the will. Not the ordinary will of the contracted ego but the “true will” that seems to spring from some deeper area of the being.

Colin WilsonMysteries

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Trolling the Public Mind

Sometimes extremes can be a useful prod for one’s thinking. That has been the case with the troll I came across earlier this month. I can’t help but wonder what motivates such people. I could just dismiss them, not that it is likely once my curiosity gets going.

The question that comes to mind is: Does this troll actually believe in the position he promotes? I don’t have any reason to doubt it. He seems like a true believer who has become a committed activist to his cause, whether or not there is some kind of financial incentive behind that commitment. I doubt he is stupid and uneducated. In fact, he seems clever enough and that indicates some intelligence.

My suspicion is that he is like many people. He is probably a divided person, knowing and not knowing all kinds of things. Dissociation is a survival strategy in the complex modern world. It sometimes can be clear when someone goes to great effort to not know something that they are capable of knowing. Psychologists have studied this and shown how people can purposely not look at what they don’t want to see, while looking all around it.

The conflict isn’t between two sides of a debate, not fundamentally. The divide exists first and foremost within the human psyche. In trying to shut down debate and obfuscate the issue, the troll (or denialist or reactionary, whatever one wishes to call them) is trying to purge the feared content from their own mind. In order to undermine the science itself, these people have to understand the science, at least at a basic level. Their rhetoric is fairly often carefully structured in response to the known data. People know much of what they pretend to not know—as Cass R. Sunstein explained:

True, surveys reveal big differences. But if people are given economic rewards for giving the right answer, the partisan divisions start to become a lot smaller. Here’s the kicker: With respect to facts , there is a real difference between what people say they believe and what they actually believe. […]

When Democrats and Republicans claim to disagree, they might be reporting which side they are on, not what they really think. Whatever they say in response to survey questions, they know, in their heart of hearts, that while they are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts.

I definitely got the sense from that troll that he saw it as a game, a team sports competition. He was simply focused on getting his team to win. Still, I’m sure there is more going on than that. The competitiveness interpretation feels a bit superficial, even if it is an important factor.

This isn’t just about social behavior. It goes deep into human nature and collective reality. I had a bit of a strange thought, along these lines. What if there is something about public debate and social competition that easily elicits areas of non-rational thought that we would otherwise dismiss? I was specifically wondering about sympathetic magic. Let me explain.

Some people act like winning a debate and defeating an opponent, by fair means or not, is to prove they are right. Of course, for this mindset, defeating an opponent is winning a debate. In the ancient henotheistic worldview, when two societies went to war, it was perceived as a fight between the two ruling deities of those societies. So, it wasn’t just a people who won but a worldview that won, and it defined an entire reality. That worldview was reality, the reality of a particular culture and social order.

Those who deny the climatology science do so because they see the worldview it represents as a threat. It must be defeated, at any cost, because it isn’t just a threat but an existential threat. Naomi Klein understands this, and she argues that the denialists understand it as well. They realize that it goes way beyond mere science. If the climatologists are right, this very well may be the end of the world as we know it, collapse at worst and revolution at best. Either way, that means the end of the status quo and many people are heavily invested in the status quo.

Even most people on the political left feel wary about the challenge this forces upon us, and that is why so few on the political left put up much of a fight. Fighting for the reality of climate change is hardly inspiring. No one wants it to be true. Denial and dissociation is a normal human response to something so immense and overwhelming, something that is terrifying in its proportions and possibilities. We argue about it so that we won’t have to face the stark reality. This is a problem that our clever monkey minds can’t deal with. There is no positive outcome, no solution. No matter what we do, the world will change.

That is an uncomfortable truth for all of us, but it is most challenging to the political right. It simply doesn’t matter that they deny climate change, for it won’t stop climate change.

This got me thinking about Trump, the greatest troll America has ever produced. He is the king of trolls. He doesn’t even need the anonymity of the internet. He is pure arrogant bullying. It isn’t exactly anything new, just brought to its most extreme form. As Josh Marshall explained:

This is why Trump has so shaken up and so dominated the GOP primary cycle, at least thus far. As I’ve said, this kind of dominance symbolism is pervasive in GOP politics. It’s not new with Trump at all. Most successful Republican politicians speak this language

Trump will control, not be controlled. He will mock others ruthlessly. And he will destroy his enemies. One almost expects him to start thumping his chest.

He is just a variant of someone like Karl Rove. It’s a dominance mindset. These are powerful men who know they are powerful and aren’t afraid to use it. They have no shame because they consider no one else to be in a position to judge them. They are above it all. Take what Rove supposedly said back in the bad ol’ days of the Bush regime:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Power determines reality. Not the other way around. This is the attitude of someone who is used to getting their way and punishing those who get in their way. It is win at all costs. It matters not if this is an expression of Rove’s imperialism or Trump’s egotism—six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Rove’s comment connects back to my earlier point. There is something akin to sympathetic magic in this mindset. It is an almost magical belief in willpower. It is an assertion of one’s mastery.

This is seen in how religion relates to the political right. The rhetoric of dominance connects the tactics of apologetics to the behavior of reactionary trolls, bullies, egotists, and demagogues. To willfully assert one’s belief is to believe in the power of one’s will or simply in Will itself. Whether or not religion is directly involved, there is a god-like attitude in this.

It’s why apologists are so interested in history. And that is related to why right-wingers are so concerned about controlling what students are taught in history classes. Who controls the history books and textbooks will control the world. And, of course, it is the victors who get to write the history books, to determine what is taught.

The traditional Western worldview is built on a God of history. It doesn’t matter what the facts say but how the story is told and sold.

Reactionaries project their own mindset onto all of the world. They assume everyone is like them. As such, they can’t understand climatology as anything other than as a conspiracy of power and propaganda. In this worldview, there isn’t a clear distinction between the climate science and climate scientists. Reality has no independent existence and facts no objective validity. It makes one think of the relationship between postmodernism and fascism.

The sympathetic magic angle led me back to my ongoing thoughts about symbolic conflation. There is great power in this, and it continually amazes me.

Symbolic conflation requires issues that are visceral and emotional, socially relevant and politically potent, imaginatively compelling and symbolically multivalent. Simply put, what is needed is something that can’t be easily pinned down. This is the dark side of the mercurial spirit. The Trickster knows how to manipulate and con others, but he just as easily ends up fooling himself. The mercurial is about change, both transformation and destruction. But there are those who attempt to use this dark power for their own gain. Symbolic conflation is how this power gets bottled up. The con man gets taken in by his own con.

In this sense, I doubt the troll understands his own motivations. The greatest con of all is convincing yourself that you are more powerful than you are. But when one worships naked power, one becomes its servant, not its master. All attempts at social control are traps of the mind.

This isn’t about mere rhetoric. It touches deep into our psyche, far below the conscious mind. The stories we tell we eventually come to take as reality itself. And there is no more powerful force behind a story than that of fear.

I wonder if that is the Gordian knot of symbolic conflation, the cancerous lump on the collective imagination. It may seem like a lynch pin that could be easily removed, but what is interesting is that few people dare to tug at it to see if it will budge. Just because you can point to it doesn’t mean much. Fear of its undoing even makes the most radical of left-wingers reluctant to touch that raw nerve.

Whether climate change or war or abortion, such contentious issues open us up to a primal sense of fear. These are stark existential issues of life and death, of self and other. It’s not the ‘reality’ of these issues that matters. Sure, we can rationally discuss them, at least to some extent. Yet they remain political footballs thrown at the voter’s gut. They aren’t problems to be solved. They are psychological terrorism, their purpose being to enrage and divide… and ultimately to distract.

This is why Trump is no more interested in fair debate than is the internet troll and denialist. It is all spectacle, be it on the stage of mainstream media or the battleground of social media. It is ritualized drama, an emotional purging of our collective fears.

God & Freewill, Theists & Atheists

God and freewill, two things that will forever perplex me.

I see them as basically on the same level, theological concepts. God is the faith of the theists. And freewill is the faith of the atheists.

I don’t mean this in a necessarily dismissive way. I actually am affirming the notion of faith. We humans aren’t as rational as we think. Whether theist or atheist, most people are always looking to rationalize. It might not be as obvious with theism, but apologetics is just an attempt (typically a very bad attempt) at rationalizing theism and apologetics is big business these days. Atheists aren’t off the hook, though. It is atheists, more than theists, who usually find it difficult to admit the irrational/nonrational components of life.

I say this as an agnostic who is hard put to take sides in most theist vs atheist debates, although I tend to go with the atheists when it comes to respecting intellect and science. Despite my sharing certain values with many atheists, I can’t follow atheists all the way down the path of rationality. The world is too strange and humans too complex.

Consider freewill. I’ve come to see the atheist’s focus on freewill as a substitute for the theistic soul.

Anyone who has studied psychological research enough knows that most things humans do aren’t rational or often even conscious. We really don’t know why we are the way we are or why we do what we do, but through science we can observe correlations and make predictions. If you know enough about a person, they can be fairly predictable. If humans weren’t predictable, insurance companies wouldn’t be able to make profits. Still, prediction isn’t the same thing as insight and understanding.

There is no rational reason to believe in freewill and yet most people believe in it. It is our shared cultural bias. Even most theists accept freewill, albeit a human will subordinated to the Will of God and/or a human will limited to a morally weak human nature (depending on the theology in question). We believe in freewill because our entire culture is based on this belief and so confirms it and supports it. Still, it is just a belief, one that doesn’t perfectly conform to reality.

Here is where I’m coming from. I’m not religious, but I am spiritual… a statement that most atheists don’t understand, although one could be a spiritual atheist (such as a Buddhist)… a statement maybe that even most theists don’t understand. On the other hand, my not being religious doesn’t imply that I’m anti-religious. I’m simply non-religious, but informally I’m attracted to certain religious practices such as meditation and even prayer (not that I ever feel clear about what I may or may not be praying to). My faith is more Jungian than anything. So, theological ideas such as God and freewill are only meaningful to me in terms of possible underlying archetypes that hold sway deep within the human psyche, if not also in the world at large.

My experiences and observations, my understandings and intuitions have made it hard for me to find a place in any particular Western tradition. Beyond the Jungian, I suppose I could put myself in the very general category of radical skeptic (i.e., zetetic) which I’ve at times identified as agnostic gnosticism or else as Fortean. I’m defined by endless curiosity, greater than any belief or reason.

The religous and philosophical traditions that I have been most drawn to are those of the East, whether the Gnosticism born out of the Middle East or the Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism of the Far East. In this instance, I was thinking about Hinduism. I often contemplate Saraswati, the goddess of creativitiy and intellect, the ultimate artist’s muse. Do I believe in Saraswati? I don’t know. It seems like a silly question. I’m tempted to respond as Jung in saying I don’t believe, I know… but that still leaves such ‘knowing’ unexplained. There is an archetypal truth to Saraswati and I feel no need nor ability to further explain what that might be.

I was thinking about all of this in terms of vision and inspiration. In my own way, I have a visionary sense of Saraswati and this inspires me. But the name ‘Saraswati’ doesn’t matter nor does the religious accoutrements. I’m not a Hindu nor do I want to be. Saraswati is just a reference point for a deeper truth that is otherwise hard to articulate. I don’t believe in God and yet I have this intuitive sense of the divine, for lack of better words. I don’t believe in freewill and yet I have this intuitive sense of a creative ‘will’ that drives me and inspires me.

There was another aspect of Hinduism that was on my mind. The idea of willpower is symbolized and embodied by the god Ganesha. I feel no particular attraction to Ganesha, but I like the idea of willpower as a god rather than as a mere psychological attribute or mere personal expression. This seems to get closer to what willpower means on the archetypal level.

We each are diven and inspired by some vision of reality. This is our faith, typically unquestioned and often unconscious. We simply know it as our ‘reality’ and as such it forms our reality tunnel. There is a Hindu belief that a god resides in or is expressed through each person’s secret heart, the Hridaya chakra. I interpret this in Jungian terms. We each are ruled by some core truth or essence or pattern, whatever you want to call it, however you want to explain it.

We can have a vision of God or a god and we can be ruled by it. But if we explore it more deeply, we might discover a greater truth to why we are drawn to such a vision. We can have a vision of freewill and we can be ruled by it. But we can seek to make this faith conscious, thus seeing will as something greater than a personal possession, control for the sake of control (in the words of William S. Burroughs, “is control controlled by our need to control?”).

Whatever your god or vision, is what is ruling you worthy of your faith? If your faith is blind and your being ruled is unconscious, where does that leave you?

Puppets Worshipping Apollo

This post is in response to Will To Power by Monarc.

“Each god ‘is a manner of existence, an attitude towards existence and a set of ideas . . . A God forms our subjective vision so that we see the world according to its ideas.’ Thus it is not true that we have ideas – ideas have us. And it is as well to know what ideas, what gods, govern us lest they run our lives without our being aware of the fact.”
~ The Philosopher’s Secret Fire, Patrick Harpur

The ideas that have us:
self, identity, individuality, ego, mind…
perception, logic, association, projection…
‘because of’, reason, rationalization…
will, power, superiority…
ownership, control, dominion…
pride, arrogance, fear…

Such a confluence of ideas gives hint to a fundamental issue around which they revolve. Connect the dots and a picture might take form. But the dots shift and the connecting lines bend.

“Look to the man to your left, yes, the cripple. Watch closely as he rises from the seat, see his shoulders rise when the crutches go under there. Similarly, when your pride is upon something, that something is only a crutch, an accessory.”
~ Monarc

We speak of a ‘crutch’ because we see the shoulder rise. And, speaking of a crutch, the shoulder rising is surmised to be the shoulder of a cripple. But it’s always easier to see the shoulder rising in another. Within the view from our own eyes that are set in our head, our shoulders don’t appear to rise when we look at them for our head rises along with our shoulders. A ‘crutch’ can become a part of us, a part of our world… or was it always there? Is it a ‘crutch’ if there is no discernible point where the self ends and it begins?

It’s amusing to watch the mind of man trying to grapple with its own nature that can’t be seen because it is ever behind him. We try to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and tripping over ourselves we continually fall on our faces. We then lift up our heads from the dust and there is dust in our eyes. If we are crippled, it is by our own behavior. But what are we besides what we do and how we act? This doesn’t however answer the question of the source and direction of causality. Are credit and blame just ideas forced upon experience?

Self-ownership? Self-will? Self this, self that… people are funny. In seeking to possess, we are possessed. In seeking to control, we are controlled.

“Question: If control’s control is absolute, why does Control need to control?”
“Answer: control needs time.”
“Question: is control controlled by our need to control?”
“Answer: Yes.”
~ William S. Burroughs

The rational mind rationalizes, but the rationalization is just a story told. The psyche is a fire around which we sit swapping ghost stories and seeing the ghosts in the flickering shadows. The purpose of the ghost story is to induce fear in pretending that ghosts might really exist and in the laughter that follows we pretend that ghosts are just fictional characters. The soul is such a ghost. Call it the unconscious or call it the soul. Tell endless stories about it. Whatever it is or isn’t doesn’t change.

“The rational ego cannot finally cut itself off from soul: but its denial of soul’s myriad images leaves an empty voice which in turn, is mirrored – as soul is always mirrored – in the universe at large. The dark abyss of space punctuated by the tiny lights, like the gnostic soul-sparks, of dying suns is the image of the modern soul. Or, rather, soullessness – in the face of which the ego suffers that sense of alienation, rootlessness and lack of meaning which is the inevitable corollary of its inflationary belief in its own self-sufficient power.”
~ Patrick Harpur

The soul animates us by imagination. The soul imagines us for soul is imagination. We try to usurp the soul’s power by imagining we imagined the soul, the very source of imagination. In imagining our own power, we destroy the power of imagination. Soul becomes like an animal killed and with its heart removed placed in the glass case of the mind. Soul becomes mere will. Even ‘will to power’ is impotent in its seeming purity. The imaginal (the gods, angels, and demons; the shadow and trickster) has no place to reside. With the self willing away all that exists outside of its perceived control, the unknown ‘other’ is forced to take the form of psychological symptoms.

“within the affliction is a complex, within the complex an archetype, which in turn refers to a god”
~ James Hillman

This brings us to the issue of what is primal. Speaking of the cat, you wrote, “That could have always been there and passed down to man.” I know that for you the cat represents a primal image within your experience. As such, does the primal image of pride and power express a primal nature carried over into the modern experience of civilized human? Both cat and human have been domesticated, but how much has domestication actually changed us?

As for primal images of the feline persuasion, I’m reminded of a description I once read, although the exact words and source are now forgotten. Here is what I recall. The author was describing the behavior of a wild cat, specifically a mother defending her cubs. Even when facing a larger and stronger male, the mother will fearlessly confront the male. Her spine and neck will be straightened as if forming a channel of laser-like power which is focused outward from the eyes. It’s an absolute intensity that will shake the confidence of almost any aggressor.

It’s no abstract will, no ideal of self-ownership. It’s a tangible force. Human rationalizations of ‘will to power’ are irrelevant to its compelling reality. There is no possessor or possessed. The force and the cat are singular. As you said, “the cat’s attitude has no ‘because of’.”

Let me bring this back to the problem of the modern human. The Enlightenment Age brought forth a rationalized ego, a hyper-individualistic ideal of freedom and self-determination. Many conservatives, especially right-libertarians, have become the greatest defenders of the most extreme form of this: self-determination justified by self-ownership. A beguiling ideal in its declarative simplicity.

“Within the strictures of commonsense reality and personal ability, we can choose to do anything we like in this world . . . with one exception: We cannot chose what any of our choices will be. To do that, we would have to be capable of making ourselves into self-made individuals who can choose what they choose as opposed to being individuals who simply make choices.”
~ The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, Thomas Ligotti

The problem as I see it is that willpower is a theological construct. The individual will is just a modern version of the soul uprooted from religion and given a psychological facade. Ultimately, there is no reason to believe in freewill… or, rather, belief not reason (belief never needing a reason) is the only thing that gives meaning to freewill.

“Look at your body —
A painted puppet, a poor toy
Of jointed parts ready to collapse,
A diseased suffering thing
With a head full of false imaginings.
~ The Dhammapada

Yes, we intuitively experience a sense of causality with our self-consciousness at the center of the show… and yet we rationally know (those of us who rationally contemplate such issues) that humans are more complex than any simplified explanation of linear causation. Our will seems so obviously real for the very reason we can’t explain it.

The cat, on the other hand, doesn’t require intellectual rationalizations about her will being ‘free’… or even blind faith that a ‘will’ exists within. The cat doesn’t seek to be an individual self-possessed, an agent who acts upon her environment rather than instinctively responding to it. The cat simply acts with all of her being. She is one with the action she takes.

But somewhere along the way humans have lost contact with this primal nature…

“Despite his new eyes, man was still rooted in matter, his soul spun into it and subordinated to its blind laws. And yet he could see matter as a stranger, compare himself to all phenomena, see through and locate his vital processes. He comes to nature as an unbidden guest, in vain extending his arms to beg conciliation with his maker: Nature answers no more, it performed a miracle with man, but later did not know him. He has lost his right of residence in the universe, has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and has been expelled from Paradise. He is mighty in the near world, but curses his might as purchased with his harmony of soul, his innocence, his inner peace in life’s embrace.”
~ The Last Messiah, Peter Wessel Zapffe

Okay… so, what would human experience be like if it were still in close proximity to primal nature? Although I can’t claim to know, I can offer a real-world example that might offer some insight. The following is a video which I previously shared in another post (The Elephant That Wasn’t There):

These indigenous people have a language that doesn’t accommodate abstract speculations and ideological beliefs. Their language is limited to experiential and observational descriptions and claims directly based thereupon. This would make sense in terms of my thought that the religious soul and the philosophical will have a fundamental commonality. Neither the soul nor the will can be seen. Even Jesus a supposedly ‘real’ historical figure is meaningless to these indigenous people because likewise he hasn’t been seen by them or anyone they know.

Such a language seems to be made possible by the close connection these people have to nature itself. In a very tangible way, their surrounding environment is their world. Their conception of the world is limited to their perception of the world. And their perception of their world is formed by their intimately being a part of the natural world.

Metaphors of power such as ownership and self-ownership would probably have less meaning to these indigenous people. They would only speak of ownership in terms of tangible objects such as a knife or a shelter. Ownership would be defined by the person who uses the object. Such ownership is tangibly experienced by the individual and objectively observed by others. Even the idea of land ownership would likely be too abstract for their language.

Will’ is an abstraction of action. And all action is interaction. We are all part of the world. We see nature as primal, but the primal is simply what we have denied and repressed but not entirely forgotten. We are nature. Our own primal nature reminds us of this. Our conscious minds only give us an appearance of self-understanding and self-control.

From the Apollonian view, the Dionysian looks like tragedy. But from the view of the Dionysian, the Apollonian is an illusion. The seeming tragedy of the Dionysian is that it reminds us of this illusion.

Alchemy and Suffering

The Philosopher’s Secret Fire

by Patrick Harpur

Page 32:  “Besides, it is doubtful whether voluntary disciplines can ever do more than prepare the way for initiation – which, like the shaman’s call, is, finally, involuntary.  We cannot will to die to ourselves.”

Page 33:  “There are the experiences we must not seek to cure or get over, so that we can return to the persons we were.”

Page 34:  “Love is less reliable than loss as the generator of transformation because it is easily confused with attachment, wish, desire, and so may be unreal without our knowing it.  The reasons for our suffering in loss may be equally unreal or deluded, but at least the suffering itself is real.  ‘A cry of pain is always irreducible'”