Kafka On Parables And Metaphors, Writing And Language

I was contemplating the difficulties of communication and the attendant frustrations of the media and methods through which we seek to express. Or, to put it simply, I was annoyed at goddamn words, the slippery little devils that won’t say what I want them to say. And so I was reminded of Franz Kafka.

Instead of offering an analysis and personal reflection (which would be boring), I’ll just let Kafka speak in his many voices.

* * * *

PARABLE:

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: “Go over,” he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

Parables and paradoxes by Franz Kafka, tr. by Clement Greenberg and als., Schocken Books, 1961, p. 11. Available online.

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FRAGMENT:

How many words there are in the book! They are meant to be reminders! As though words could ever be reminders!

For words are poor mountaineers and miners. They collect treasures neither from the mountain heights nor from the mountain depths.

But there is a living remembrance that gently brushed across everything memorable as if with a coaxing hand. And when the blaze arises from these ashes, glowing and hot, massive and strong, and you stare into it as though under a magic spell, then–

But into this chaste remembrance, one cannot inscribe oneself with a clumsy hand and blunt implement; one can do it only in these white, unassuming pages.

Kafka, Franz (2013-09-11). Abandoned Fragments: Unedited Works 1897-1917 (Kindle Locations 36-41). . Kindle Edition.

* * * *

DIARIES:

Metaphors are one among many things which make me despair of writing . Writing’s lack of independence of the world, its dependence on the maid who tends the fire, on the cat warming itself by the stove; it is even dependent on the poor old human being warming himself by the stove. All these are independent activities ruled by their own laws; only writing is helpless, cannot live in itself, is a joke and a despair.

Kafka, Franz (2009-01-16). Diaries, 1910-1923 (Schocken Classics Series) (Kindle Locations 6607-6610). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Diary entry, December 6, 1921

Have never understood how it is possible for almost everyone who writes to objectify his sufferings in the very midst of undergoing them; thus I, for example, in the midst of my unhappiness, in all likelihood with my head still smarting from unhappiness, sit down and write to someone: I am unhappy. Yes , I can even go beyond that and with as many flourishes as I have the talent for, all of which seem to have nothing to do with my unhappiness, ring simple, or contrapuntal, or a whole orchestration of changes on my theme. And it is not a lie, and it does not still my pain; it is simply a merciful surplus of strength at a moment when suffering has raked me to the bottom of my being and plainly exhausted all my strength. But then what kind of surplus is it?

Kafka, Franz (2009-01-16). Diaries, 1910-1923 (Schocken Classics Series) (p. 384). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Diary entry, September 19, 1920(?)

I don’t even have the desire to keep a diary, perhaps because there is already too much lacking in it, perhaps because I should perpetually have to describe incomplete— by all appearances necessarily incomplete— actions, perhaps because writing itself adds to my sadness.

I would gladly write fairy tales (why do I hate the word so?) that could please W. and that she might sometimes keep under the table at meals, read between courses and blush fearfully when she noticed that the sanatorium doctor has been standing behind her for a little while now and watching her. Her excitement sometimes— or really all of the time— when she hears stories.

I notice that I am afraid of the almost physical strain of the effort to remember, afraid of the pain beneath which the floor of the thoughtless vacuum of the mind slowly opens up, or even merely heaves up a little in preparation. All things resist being written down.

Brod, Max (2013-04-16). The Diaries Of Franz Kafka 1910-1913 (Kindle Locations 3829-3836). Read Books Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
Diary entry, October 20, 1913(?)

If one patiently submits to a book of letters or memoirs, no matter by whom, in this case it is Karl Stauffer-Bern, one doesn’t make him one’s own by main strength, for to do this one has to employ art, and art is its own reward; but rather one suffers oneself to be drawn away— this is easily done, if one doesn’t resist— by the concentrated otherness of the person writing and lets oneself be made into his counterpart. Thus it is no longer remarkable, when one is brought back to one’s self by the closing of the book, that one feels the better for this excursion and this recreation, and, with a clearer head, remains behind in one’s own being, which has been newly discovered, newly shaken up and seen for a moment from the distance. Only later are we surprised that these experiences of another person’s life, in spite of their vividness, are faithfully described in the book—our own experience inclines us to think that nothing in the world is further removed from an experience (sorrow over the death of a friend, for instance) than its description. But what is right for us is not right for the other person. If our letters cannot match our own feelings— naturally, there are varying degrees of this, passing imperceptibly into one another in both directions—if even at our best, expressions like “indescribable,”“inexpressible,” or “so sad,” or “so beautiful,” followed by a rapidly collapsing “that”-clause, must perpetually come to our assistance , then as if in compensation we have been given the ability to comprehend what another person has written with at least the same degree of calm exactitude which we lack when we confront our own letter-writing. Our ignorance of those feelings which alternately make us crumple up and pull open again the letter in front of us, this very ignorance becomes knowledge the moment we are compelled to limit ourselves to this letter, to believe only what it says, and thus to find it perfectly expressed and perfect in expression, as is only right, if we are to see a clear road into what is most human. So Karl Stauffer’s letters contain only an account of the short life of an artist——

Brod, Max (2013-04-16). The Diaries Of Franz Kafka 1910-1913 (Kindle Locations 2171-2186). Read Books Ltd.. Kindle Edition.
Diary entry, December 9, (?)

* * * *

LETTERS:

But it’s good when your conscience receives big wounds, because that makes it more sensitive to every twinge. I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for ? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Friends, Family and Editors (Kindle Locations 380-385). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904

Despite all this, writing really is a good thing; I am now calmer than I was 2 hours ago outside on the balcony with your letter. While I was lying there a beetle had fallen on its back one step away and was desperately trying to right itself; I would have gladly helped —it was so easy, so obvious, all that was required was a step and a small shove— but I forgot about it because of your letter; I was just as incapable of getting up. Only a lizard again made me aware of the life around me, its path led over the beetle, which was already so completely still that I said to myself, this was not an accident but death throes, the rarely witnessed drama of an animal’s natural death; but when the lizard slid off the beetle, the beetle was righted although it did lie there a little longer as if dead, but then ran up the wall of the house as if nothing had happened. Somehow this probably gave me, too, a little courage; I got up, drank some milk and wrote to you.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Milena (Works) (Kindle Locations 333-340). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Leter to Milena, Meran, 1920

Now I have expanded my life to accommodate my thoughts about you, and there is hardly a quarter of an hour of my waking time when I haven’t thought about you, and many quarter-hours when I do nothing else . But even this is related to my writing, my life is determined by nothing but the ups and downs of writing, and certainly during a barren period I should never have had the courage to turn to you. This is just as true as it is true that since that evening I have felt as though I had an opening in my chest through which there was an unrestrained drawing-in and drawing-out until one evening in bed, when, by calling to mind a story from the Bible, the necessity of this sensation, as well as the truth of the Bible story, were simultaneously confirmed.

Lately I have found to my amazement how intimately you have now become associated with my writing, although until recently I believed that the only time I did not think about you at all was while I was writing. In one short paragraph I had written, there were, among others, the following references to you and your letters : Someone was given a bar of chocolate. There was talk of small diversions someone had during working hours. Then there was a telephone call. And finally somebody urged someone to go to bed, and threatened to take him straight to his room if he did not obey, which was certainly prompted by the recollection of your mother’s annoyance when you stayed so late at the office. 26 —Such passages are especially dear to me; in them I take hold of you , without your feeling it, and therefore without your having to resist. And even if you were to read some of my writings, these little details would surely escape you. But believe me, probably nowhere in the world could you let yourself be caught with greater unconcern than here.

My mode of life is devised solely for writing, and if there are any changes, then only for the sake of perhaps fitting in better with my writing; for time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror , the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers. The satisfaction gained by maneuvering one’s timetable successfully cannot be compared to the permanent misery of knowing that fatigue of any kind shows itself better and more clearly in writing than anything one is really trying to say.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 800-817). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Fraulein Felice, November 1, 1912

Poor, poor dearest, may you never feel compelled to read this miserable novel I keep writing away at so dismally. It is terrible how it can change its appearance; once the load (the ardor I write with! How the inkspots fly!) is on the cart, I am all right; I delight in cracking the whip and am a man of importance; but once it falls off the cart (which cannot be foreseen, prevented, or concealed), as it did yesterday and today, then it feels excessively heavy for my pitiful shoulders; all I want to do then is abandon everything and dig my grave on the spot. After all, there can be no more beautiful spot to die in , no spot more worthy of total despair, than one’s own novel.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 3346-3351). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Felice, January 5 to 6, 1913

How is it possible to write at all if one has so much to say and knows that the pen can only trace an uncertain and random trail through the mass of what has to be said?

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 3398-3399). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Felice, January 6 to 7, 1913

Help me, dearest, I beg you, to put right the damage I have done in the last few days. Perhaps in fact nothing whatever has happened, and you wouldn’t have noticed anything if I hadn’t shouted about it, but I am driven by this feeling of anxiety in the midst of my lethargy, and I write, or fear I may at any moment write, irresponsible things. The wrong sentences lie in wait about my pen, twine themselves around its point, and are dragged along into the letters. I am not of the opinion that one can ever lack the power to express perfectly what one wants to write or say. Observations on the weakness of language, and comparisons between the limitations of words and the infinity of feelings, are quite fallacious. The infinite feeling continues to be as infinite in words as it was in the heart. What is clear within is bound to become so in words as well. This is why one need never worry about language, but at sight of words may often worry about oneself. 57 After all, who knows within himself how things really are with him? This tempestuous or floundering or morasslike inner self is what we really are, but by the secret process by which words are forced out of us, our self-knowledge is brought to light, and though it may still be veiled, yet it is there before us, wonderful or terrible to behold.

So protect me, dearest, from these horrible words of which I have recently been delivering myself. Tell me that you understand it all, and yet go on loving me. The other day I wrote some offensive things about Lasker -Schüler and Schnitzler. How very right I was! And yet they both soar like angels over the abyss in which I lie prostrate. And Max’s praise! He doesn’t actually praise my book; after all, the book exists, and his judgment could be examined, should anyone feel so inclined; but it is me he praises, and this is the most ridiculous of all. For where am I? Who can examine me? I wish I had a strong hand for the sole purpose of thrusting it into this incoherent construction that I am. And yet what I am saying here is not even precisely my opinion , not even precisely my opinion at this moment. When I look into myself I see so much that is obscure and still in flux that I cannot even properly explain or fully accept the dislike I feel for myself.

Dearest, what do you say when you come face to face with such chaos? Is it not sadder and more repellent for the observer than for him who experiences it? Certainly, incomparably sadder and more repellent. I can imagine the strength it must take not to run away from it. While I, as I freely admit, write it all down quite calmly.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 4524-4542). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Leter to Felice, February 18 to 19, 1913

You are right, Felice; recently I have sometimes had to force myself to write to you ; but writing to you and living have drawn very near to each other, and I also have to force myself to live. Shouldn’t I?

Moreover, hardly a word comes to me from the fundamental source, but is seized upon fortuitously and with great difficulty somewhere along the way. When I was in the swing of writing and living, I once wrote to you that no true feeling need search for corresponding words, but is confronted or even impelled by them. Perhaps this is not quite true, after all. 68

But how could my writing to you, however firm my hand, achieve everything I want to achieve: To convince you that my two requests are equally serious: “Go on loving me” and “Hate me!”

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 5080-5086). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Felice, March 17 to 18, 1913

Writing does make things clearer, yet at the same time worse.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Location 6214). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Leter to Felice, June 27, 1913

I did not say that writing ought to make everything clearer, but instead makes everything worse; what I said was that writing makes everything clearer and worse.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 6458-6459). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Felice, July [presumably August] 1, 1913

Each of us has his own way of emerging from the underworld, mine is by writing. That’s why the only way I can keep going, if at all , is by writing, not through rest and sleep. I am far more likely to achieve peace of mind through writing than the capacity to write through peace.

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Felice (Kindle Locations 9113-9115). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Letter to Grete Bloch, June 6, 1914

Last night as I lay sleepless and let everything continually veer back and forth between my aching temples, what I had almost forgotten during the last relatively quiet time became clear to me: namely, on what frail ground or rather altogether nonexistent ground I live, over a darkness from which the dark power emerges when it wills and, heedless of my stammering, destroys my life. Writing sustains me, but is it not more accurate to say that it sustains this kind of life? By this I don’t mean, of course, that my life is better when I don’t write. Rather it is much worse then and wholly unbearable and has to end in madness. But that, granted, only follows from the postulate that I am a writer, which is actually true even when I am not writing, and a nonwriting writer is a monster inviting madness. But what about being a writer itself? Writing is a sweet and wonderful reward, but for what? In the night it became clear to me, as clear as a child’s lesson book, that it is the reward for serving the devil. This descent to the dark powers , this unshackling of spirits bound by nature, these dubious embraces and whatever else may take place in the nether parts which the higher parts no longer know, when one writes one’s stories in the sunshine. Perhaps there are other forms of writing, but I know only this kind; at night, when fear keeps me from sleeping, I know only this kind. And the diabolic element in it seems very clear to me. It is vanity and sensuality which continually buzz about one’s own or even another’s form— and feast on him. The movement multiplies itself— it is a regular solar system of vanity. Sometimes a naïve person will wish, “I would like to be dead and see how everyone mourns me.” Such a writer is continually staging such a scene: He dies (or rather he does not live ) and continually mourns himself. From this springs a terrible fear of death, which need not reveal itself as fear of death but may also appear as fear of change, as fear of Georgental. The reasons for this fear of death may be divided into two main categories. First he has a terrible fear of dying because he has not yet lived . By this I do not mean that wife and child, fields and cattle are essential to living. What is essential to life is only to forgo complacency, to move into the house instead of admiring it and hanging garlands around it. In reply to this, one might say that this is a matter of fate and is not given into anyone’s hand. But then why this sense of repining, this repining that never ceases? To make oneself finer and more savory? That is a part of it. But why do such nights leave one always with the refrain: I could live and I do not live . The second reason— perhaps it is all really one, the two do not want to stay apart for me now— is the belief: “What I have playacted is really going to happen. I have not bought myself off by my writing. I died my whole life long and now I will really die. My life was sweeter than other peoples’ and my death will be more terrible by the same degree. Of course the writer in me will die right away, since such a figure has no base, no substance, is less than dust. He is only barely possible in the broil of earthly life, is only a construct of sensuality. That is your writer for you. But I myself cannot go on living because I have not lived , I have remained clay, I have not blown the spark into fire, but only used it to light up my corpse .” It will be a strange burial: the writer, insubstantial as he is, consigning the old corpse, the longtime corpse, to the grave. I am enough of a writer to appreciate the scene with all my senses, or— and it is the same thing— to want to describe it with total self-forgetfulness— not alertness, but self-forgetfulness is the writer’s first prerequisite. But there will be no more of such describing. But why am I talking of actual dying? It is just the same in life. I sit here in the comfortable posture of the writer, ready for all sorts of fine things, and must idly look on—for what can I do but write?— as my true ego, this wretched, defenseless ego, is nipped by the devil’s pincers, cudgeled, and almost ground to pieces on a random pretext—a little trip to Georgental. […] The existence of a writer is an argument against the existence of the soul, for the soul has obviously taken flight from the real ego, but not improved itself, only become a writer .

Kafka, Franz (2013-06-26). Letters to Friends, Family and Editors . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

* * * *

ARTICLE:

Franz Kafka on Writing – Whistling Shade
By Bob Blaisdell

Faith in the Power of Knowledge

I was continuing to think more about knowledge, learning and communication.

I’m always reading and researching. One thing I love about my Kindle is that it allows me to do a search of terms across all of my books, excluding the physical books on my shelves. I have enough ebooks now that doing searches is more fun activity.

That is how I was wasting my time recently. I was doing various searches just to see what would come up. I was looking up terms like “Anti-Federalism” and “Articles of Confederation”, but also terms such as “eligible” combined with “vote”. Doing this kind of activity reminds me of how much there is to know and how little I know in comparison.

With those last search terms, I found my way to Liberty in America’s Founding by Howard Schwartz. I always have so many books I’m meaning to start reading or finish that it is nice to have books brought back to my attention. This particular book I had almost entirely forgotten about. My search first brought me to a section on Jefferson and Locke, and then looking at the table of contents I noticed the author had a section on John Dickinson. Oh, what a lovely find/rediscovery.

Just reading a few short sections really did get me excited. The author was presenting a very original perspective. The guy is obviously well informed and he brings so much together. It is books like this that demonstrate the power of knowledge to shift one’s perspective. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if knowledge were to shift the perspective of our entire society, a shift to a new understanding, maybe even an entirely new paradigm.

That is why I so often return to the Axial Age, the Enlightenment, and the Revolutionary Era. Those were fulcrum points in history when entire worldviews shifted like plate tectonics. At the heart of those shifts were new understandings and perspectives. Beginning with the Axial Age in particular, books were what much of that hinged upon, books as a technology to transfer knowledge and insight from one mind to another, across boundaries of nations, religions and ethnicities.

I read and write so much because I have this genuine faith in the power of knowledge. I wish I had endless amounts of time to do nothing but read and write.

 

Trinity In Mind: Rhetoric & Metaphor, Imaginal & Archetypal

Story. Culture. Knowledge.

Two elements: pattern and communication. What are the patterns of our communications along with the patterns of cognition and experience underlying them? How do we communicate these patterns when our very attempt is enmeshed in them?

It’s not just an issue of rhetoric and metaphor. It’s a stepping back and looking for a pathway to higher ground. A meta-language maybe is needed, but not meta in a way of making language abstract and detached. Death can’t speak for life.

I’ve never been in love with language. This could be seen as a flaw of mine as a self-identified writer. Admittedly, language is sort of important to writing. What I appreciate is communication, the essence and the impetus thereof, the desire to express, to be heard and possibly understood.

I have nothing against language. It just is what it is. My lack of love isn’t a hate; it’s a wariness. I’ve often found too superficial writers who’ve fallen in love with language. There can be a trap in linguistic narcissism. Even great writers can get caught up in their own cleverness. In these cases, it’s not always clear they’ve fallen in love with language itself or just the sound of their own voices.

Compelling language takes more than catchy phrasing and aesthetic sensibility. A writer or any other user of language has to first and foremost have something worthy of being shared and to be given voice. Language, however rarely, can touch something deeper. Then language isn’t just language.

It’s not the writer that matters, but the Other that is speaking through the writer. This deeper level is the imaginal and archetypal, the creative source.

Along with my lack of verbal romance, I have other ‘failings’ as well.

I’m prone to anti-climactic conclusions. This is because most of life feels anticlimactic to me. What can I say, I write what I know. The anti-climactic relates to another ‘failing’.

I’m also prone to a passive voice. Every writing manual I’ve read warns against this, but good advice never stopped me. It seems to me that a passive voice communicates something an active voice can’t, and that something obviously isn’t readily accepted by modern mainstream society or at least the English-speaking portions.

An active voice requires someone or something that takes action, but as I see it not all or even most of life involves action that is willed, directed or otherwise caused by actors. Still, the active voice is rooted in traditional storytelling. The question is: Are there other stories to tell and/or other ways to tell stories?

Our language determines our reality. So, what consensus reality is being reinforced by writing manuals? I’m not arguing against standard English writing. Certainly, I’m not arguing against compelling language and the active voice is more compelling; rather, I’m considering what we are being compelled by and toward.

The standard of compelling shouldn’t be its own justification. A soap opera is compelling. In fact, the average soap opera is more compelling to the average person than the greatest of art. Most people are compelled, usually mindlessly, by ideas and beliefs, metaphors and narratives that aren’t necessarily of much worthiness.

How do we judge worthiness? What is good writing versus what is great art? Does ‘good’ writing imply communication that is moral and true, whatever that might mean? What exactly is good and bad about the active versus the passive voices?

The most dangerous part about rhetoric is that we forget it’s rhetoric and mistake it for reality.

What if everything you knew was wrong?

What if everything you knew was wrong?

Posted on Sep 17th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I noticed an interesting thread question in the QaR group.

What if everything you knew was wrong?

I must admit I didn’t resonate with many of the answers.  That is a very profound question, but many of the answers seemed to take it lightly.  I don’t get how people can answer with confident certainty to a question that asks about the possibility of the complete disappearance of the very foundation of all certainty in your life, in your very sense of reality.  Its quite obvious that I have a very different read on that question.

I can only guess that anyone who answers with confidence is someone who has never had the type of experience implied by the question.  I have had experiences that undermined my sense of reality and my sense of self, and my experience is that there is no answer to this question.  Any answer would be a further claim of knowledge which according to the scenario would be wrong.  My sense is that most respondants in that thread weren’t interpeting that questioning in its deepest meaning.  Some even seemed to just take it as a linguistic game rather than as a soul-wrenching inquiry.

I’m not surprised by the responses.  As this is Gaia, it was unsurprising that they largely were typical New Agey viewpoints.  This makes me think of the research on optimism.  From my understanding, an optimist (almost by definition) can’t take such a question seriously.  The question presents a non-optimistic scenario, and so the optimistic response to it is how to reinterpret the question.  The research I’ve looked at concludes that optimists tend to not accurately see reality as it is but instead as it might be.  There is a correlation between optimism and extraversion, and so an optimist generally desires to turn outward.  This question, on the other hand, offers us to turn within to the very ground (or rather groundlessness) of our being.

I’m not saying that the answers in that thread are wrong, but they are quite different than my own view.  The main point of my writing all of this is about how much our experience determines our responses.  Experience comes first and the responses we give based on that experience come after.  In that sense, our verbal explanations always carry an element of rationalization.  We feel such a strong need to explain and justify our experiences to ourselves and to others, but ultimately our experiences are non-rational.  Our experiences can’t really be explained or even communicated.  Our experiences seem to be at best their own justification, but the tricky part of the question is to consider that maybe our experiences aren’t justified.

I have felt frustrated by this recently.  The most deeply genuine experiences I’ve had in my life seem impossible to communicate.  In fact, they bewilder me to the point I hardly understand them.  As implied by the question, they undermine my very sense of being able to know anything at all.  I partly get annoyed at others’ confident certainty because I lack it.  Then again, I’m grateful for my lack of confident certainty because it allows me to more easily see multiple perspectives.

The real frustration comes because I do want to communicate.  I identify as a writer… and, yet, the most important experiences of my whole existence can’t even be touched upon by words.  So, I spend a lot of time talking around in circles never coming to any satisfactory conclusion.  The reason I write so often about ideas is that I can write about ideas.  That is relatively easy.  However, related to the question, that which exists beyond all ideas forever nags at my awareness.

I’ve been feeling a desire to instead turn to fiction.  In some ways, fiction can get at these non-rational experiences better than other modes of verbal expression.  But I don’t know if even fiction can capture or satisfactorily allude to my confused sense of reality.  The challenge as I see it isn’t how to answer the question.  What I want is to find a way to get beyond the question itself.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

did you also read John’s answer near the end of the thread? I thought that he had really got it, as you describe – that really if everything we knew was wrong, we would literally be nowhere.

But I’m more interested in your dilemma. I agree that fiction is probably the better way for you to approach explorations of what is beyond ideas and questions. I’m wondering what some of the fictional approaches you have at the moment in mind might be.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 10 hours later

Marmalade said

I did like some of the answers in that thread. 

John’s answer was pointing out the philosophical difficulties of dualistic language, but all language is dualistic.  I was looking past such problems of language which are mostly surface problems.  I don’t agree with simple dualistic value judgments either. 

However, I was looking past this surface level to the deeper implications of the scenario and the experience that such a scenario would incur.  The term ‘wrong’ may not be the best term, but its adequate for conveying a certain kind of experience.  As I mentioned, I have had experiences where everything I knew felt ‘wrong’ and not in a dualistic sense but rather in an absolute sense.

I’ve been slowly reading A Scanner Darkly in bits and pieces.  I just came across a favorite section which is also conveyed well in the movie.  Its showing the degeneration of his mind really kicking in.  In a single scene, he switches between several cognitive perspectives talking about himself the whole time as if he were someone else.  PKD does it so smoothly which is extremely impressive. 

I can feel confused at times, but this goes to a whole other level.  PKD shows from the inside what it might feel like as your psyche disitegrated.  At the same time, the tone becomes evermore philosophical as the charcter not only tries to figure out what is going on but also what it means.

Subjective experience is difficult to convey in all its complexity.  Most writers stick to more normal characters because the challenge of writing well is already difficult enough.  I want to read more good examples of the type of writing that PKD does in certain of his books.  I’m thinking over the many novels and stories I’ve read over the years, but offhand its hard for me to remember which authors might’ve done this well.  I would definitely point out Kafka for he is good at deeply conveying a subjective mood.  I like Hesse’s writings, but I’m not sure that he exactly fits into what I’m thinking about here.

I’ve been very specifically thinking of fiction this past month.  I even have a story I want to write.  My motivation for the story is to convey this feeling I’ve been having lately and so the whole story hinges on how well I could convey it.  I don’t know that I could convey it, but I’m willing to try.  An aspect of the story is also about the sense of connection that one can feel with others at times and the utter disconnection at other times.  The disconnection part fits in with the difficulties of communication.

The story I’m thinking of has a different type of narrative than a typical PKD story.  I’m thinking of a very short story that happens in a single location with very little action.  The story will be as much about the past as its about the present which is another challenge.

We’ll see what I come up with.  I’ll keep you apprised.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 13 hours later

Marmalade said

There are 3 elements to storytelling that I’m considering:
 – Conveying multiple perspectives within a single character and smoothly transitioning between those perspectives.
 – Creating an atmosphere, a mood, a subjective sense of reality that permeates all aspects of a story.
 – Using imagery and themes that are potent and subtle, that bridge between ephemeral inner experiences and concrete outer descriptions.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

you’re getting me lathered up in a fervour of anticipation! really, i can hardly wait to see what you come up with, Ben. It sounds absolutely fascinating.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

Boy do I ever resonate with the experiences and challenges. Plus, as spiritual discussions try to get ever more precise about what is “experienced” even the word “experience” drops out of the running, and we are left with elusive stuff like “the suchness of Beingness” or “the ground of Beingness” or “Being.” Blech.

I was in a spiritually-oriented discussion group last night, and oddly enough was talking about one of your points: I have written and blogged about many of my inner illuminations and experiences and insights and transformations but the most profound ones – and even many of the less profound ones! – I have felt a disinclination to even TRY to write about.

So I am very frustrated, in a way, as a teacher-via-writing because the stuff I write is not the really IMPORTANT stuff, which part of me thinks I not only COULD write about but MUST be writing about, yet I cannot bring myself to do it. That’s all related to letting go of lots of my “Should’s” but it also means I end up feeling as if I am simply presenting surface stuff, misleading folks into thinking that’s all that’s going on, or the most important stuff going on. So I am breaking my identity of Rescuer, but not without the good fight, haha.

I once made a stab at trying to describe what it’s like to break through the sound barrier of “knowing” and live at the speed of “the living Truth” but it didn’t seem a particularly effective stab.

I don’t have the ability to write fiction, but I do have some poetry skills, but they don’t seem to have aligned yet with any of the kinds of purposes-of-writing we are talking about here. Perhaps they will.

In face to face life – and actually even via print and computer words – there are ways to transcend worded communication/influence. Sometimes I just give up on words, even though most of the time I live in them, as my personal arena of Divine Expression.

It was sooooooo wonderful to read your thoughts, so wonderfully expressed. Thank you for sharing, and for being in my world, kindred spirit.
Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Hey OM!

Writing is difficult no doubt.  I gave up on words for a period of time some years ago.  I stopped reading and writing not for ideological reasons but because language just didn’t fit my experience at that time.  This is impressive considering how much of my life has revolved around words.  Of course, my love of (or addiction to) language won out.

I don’t see language as the enemy as some spiritual people do.  Like you, I usually see it as my personal arena of Divine Expression or something like that.  I’d like to find a different way of using language.  Fiction is what I know and so I plan on focusing on that, but poetry definitely works for many people.

I’ve decided to focus more on my own writing and less time on pods.  I think I’ll only keep the God Pod and Community Film Picks on notification.  I did finish a very rough draft of the story I’ve been thinking of, but it will probably be a while before I’m satisfied enough with it to share it.  I plan on trying multiple different ways of telling the story before even getting much into the editing process.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

that sounds like an excellent plan. The more I try to keep pods under control the more they proliferate – I’m back up to 31 Lol fortunately not all of them active. Time to trim some of the inactive ones again!

starlight : StarLight Dancing

13 days later

starlight said

Ben, have you just tried to do some honest journaling…not really anything specific to begin with…just honest feelings about experiencing?  this helps, and it also helps to always write what you know…so, if you ‘don’t know’, write about the ways you know you don’t know…this will open up areas that are blocked in your psyche…also, you mentioned feeling connected…then feeling disconnected…write about these experiences honestly…putting these honest feelings down on paper, then looking at them, opens up other areas of awareness…

will look forward to reading you…when we can honestly speak from our hearts…the experience resonates…and touches all that are listening with their heart…

much love and joy…star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

13 days later

Marmalade said

Yeah, for years I used to do lots of that kind of honest journalling.  I still do it some, but not as much as I used to because it ultimately felt unsatisfying.  It was useful for a period of my life.

Part of my frustration lately is not just that I ‘don’t know’, but also that I ‘don’t know’ what to do with what I ‘do know’.  Specifically, my present frustration relates to being on Gaia because my frustrations are amplified.  There are three overlapping types on Gaia.  There are the rationalists which are mostly represented by the integralists here.  There are the spiritual believers who are heavily weighted towards the new age.  And there are the activists who are extremely politically-oriented specifically liberal and progressive.  I find these three types interesting, but I don’t really fit into any of them. 

All three of these types (and this entire community) is dominated by optimists.  I’m not an optimist… far from it.  I have certain ideals that occasionally inspire me, but I’m not that idealistic.  If anything, my view of life is tragic.

So, in many ways I ‘don’t know’ about my own experience.  More importantly, I feel most people ‘don’t know’ my experience.  I realize this is a common experience of feeling not understood, but I think this feeling is more accurate for some people than for others.  In our society, statistics show that pessimists are an extreme minority.  This probably has always been true because optimism has more of an evolutionary advantage.  My pessimism is out of sync with society (especially in the US) and maybe with the human race in general.  Furthermore, Gaia has an even higher concentration of optimists than probably anywhere else on the web.

The obvious question… so why am I here?  I don’t know. I was raised with the New Age and I’m apparently drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  How tragic.  🙂

When you read my writing on gaia, you are reading a highly censored version of me.  I partly don’t speak about certain experiences because I don’t fully understand them, but I also don’t speak about certain experiences because I doubt most others here would fully understand them.  So, what is the point?!  No one on Gaia has ever seen my darker side and probably no one here cares to see it.  And I don’t care to hear all the optimism I’d get in response to it.

The reason I’m here is similar to an explanation of the universe that I find humorous.  Some people claim that this universe is the best of all possible worlds.  Now that is a depressing thought.  This is the best God could do?  Anyways, it seems ironically funny to me because its usually stated as a way of countering pessimism.  My point being is I’m on Gaia because its the best of all possible blogging communities which can simultaneously be seen as praise for Gaia and criticism of blogging communities in general. 

I’m a dissatisfied person and that is the way it is.  The problem isn’t anything in particular.  The problem is everything.  Our inability to understand and to communicate.  Our inability to do anything actually significant about all of the suffering in the world.  Our inability to see outside of our limited perspectives.  I don’t think we can honestly speak from our hearts or at least I have yet to either personally experience it or observe it in others.  The only ‘honest’ experiences of the heart I’ve had brought on silence and a sense of existential ignorance… which isn’t a bad thing… in fact, I suspect the world might be a better (or more intereting) place if more people had such humbling experiences.

The difficulty I have with a place like Gaia is that too many people here have agendas and are too certain about their agendas.  This isn’t a bad thing per se.  The purpose of Zaadz was to be a place for people who want to change the world.  But I don’t want to change the world and I don’t resonate with people who do.  Its not a judgment of them.  I’m glad some people feel compelled towards change… whatever inspires you or whatever is your nature.  My attitude is just different because my experience is different.  My attitude is how to let the world deeply and profoundly change me.  One of my highest ideals is to let go of all ideals, but that is of course an impossible ideal.  lol

starlight : StarLight Dancing

13 days later

starlight said

Ben…again, i encourage you in honesty…how do you know that other’s will not resonate with your experiences of the darker side until you put it out there?  and, relatively speaking…is that not in and of itself your purpose for being here?  i write about horrible experiences that i have had in reality…smoking crack…prostitution…sexual abuse…and yet, i also write about the real inner peace and joy that i experience…

imho, and b/c of my real life experiencing of my own dark nights of my soul…i was not able to get past them until i saw them for what they were…and got honest with me about it…seems like, you are doing that, but your frustration just might be, your lack of expression…iow, your creative ability to express in words what you have experienced or are experiencing now…and the way to solve that is just to do it…write what you feel…be honest…to hell with the optimist…fuck em…lol…like Adam said…

FEEL TO HEAL AND KEEP IT REAL…

how do you know that other’s don’t ‘feel’ the same ways?  by speaking your truths no matter how dark they may be, you release that frustration, and you give other’s the right to be who and what they are…and feel what they feel…

these are just suggestions, but b/c i deal with the ‘dark side’ of life every day…i no longer deny this in myself, in other’s, or in the world at large…

much love and joy…and if you don’t want me to say that…tell me to ‘fuck off!’  LOL…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

13 days later

Marmalade said

I hear ya.  I’m sure some would resonate with experiences I could communicate.  I’m not saying I won’t try to write about these more difficult issues.  I’m not sure what my purpose is for being here other than writing.  I do want to try to express something of my viewpoint as far as I feel capable.

My frustrations go beyond difficulties of communication.  I’m just frustrated, but I don’t see my frustration as something to be solved.  I feel the world is inherently dissatisfying.  For me, frustration is the seed of my spiritual experiences.  Suffering and longing go hand in hand.  I can put this into personal terms, but I don’t have the time at the moment.  I’ve spoken about my depression in various places on Gaia.  This might sound strange to some people but part of me doesn’t want my depression to go away.  I don’t want to forget the world’s suffering.  I don’t want to distract myself not even by ideals of love and compassion.  I don’t know what this means, but I do know that suffering is the most real experience I know of.

All of this means little.  Either you’ve had experiences similar to mine and agree with my perspective, or you’ve had different experiences and thus have different perspectives.  Another thing is that I don’t have the belief that you seem to have that expressing something will change it.  I have no expectations that my frustration will ever be released or rather not until I’m released from this mortal coil.

I don’t know what the point of any of it is.  I’m just a writer.  Its what I do and so here I am.

One last thing about this frustration is that I feel immense shame.  I’m far from being successful by most standards of society.  My only level of success is that I hold down a job, pay the bills, and haven’t killed myself.  I pretty much live my life day by day.  I have no excuses for myself or my life.  I’ve had more opportunities than most people ever have.  Most people would see my failure as being completely personal.  My parents worked themselves through college and into professional careers.  Both of them started off fairly poor and are now upper middleclass.  I, on the other hand, have slowly worked myself back down to working class.  My parents are accomplished and have intense work ethics.  I can’t even get the motivation to do the dishes. 

I live my life in fear.  I’m afraid of everything.  Life will only get worse.  My depression will only increase with age.  Pain and suffering will only increase with age.  Loneliness will only become more intense as people I know and love die over the years.  To be completely honest,  I’ll be ‘lucky’ if I don’t either end up killing myself, becoming institutionalized or else homeless.  That is my darker side.

I’m not seeking pity.  And I’m definitely not looking for good advice or optimistic outlooks.  I very well may say ‘fuck off!’ to anyone who does offer any of this.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

13 days later

starlight said

LOL…there ya go!  rotf…least you made me laugh…which is something i love to do…

i spent my life trying to kill myself with drugs and alcohol….today i am thankful for another way to live and enjoy  my life…i am really a very simple person…and i don’t have a belief system anymore, cause i had an experience where all my conceptual beliefs, including the religious ones crumbled…i cannot think conceptually now…i don’t know why i am here…fuck it…don’t care…just going to try and enjoy my life as much as possible…cause that is what i want to do…lol…if you like your depression…happy depressing…lol…i don’t see much point to all the suffering…but i, like you, am not willing to look the other way concerning it,  or pretend that it does not really exist…even if it is just temporary…but, unlike you…i fucking love my life now…i love nature…i love to write…i love to feel joy…i love to cry…i love music…i love to sing…my songs…i love to play guitar…my keyboard…congas…i love to dance…in the rain…play with kids…i love…rainbows…sunsets…stars…i love to fuck…and i love to say the word fuck…i love food…i love the internet…i love movies…books…i love to learn…and sometimes i love just being lazy…well, i love that a lot…mostly…i just stay honest and real with me…cause that makes me happy…

anyways…this has been a very enlightening discussion…for me anyways…always, *

Marmalade : Gaia Child

13 days later

Marmalade said

Your attitude is fine by me. 

My theory is that I am what I am and I experience what I experience… and as far as I can tell this theory applies to everyone.  I’m happy when I’m happy and I enjoy life when I enjoy it.  Conversely, I’m depressed when I’m depressed and I gladly curse God almighty when I’m in a bad mood.

For happy people, I say more power to them.  Overall, I’m not a happy person myself.  But who wouldn’t choose to be a happy person if such things were actually choices.  I’ve tried to be one of those happy people.  It just didn’t work out.  We all have our fates.  Some people just have easier fates than others.  I can hear people responding with the opinion that nothing is fated, and all I can say is that such a person believes this way because
their nature and life experience has led them to do so.

Freewill is a sacred cow for optimists, but it doesn’t mean much to me.  I’ve spent much of my life trying to choose something other than this life I have.  Nevertheless, here I am as I am.  I’ve tried to just love life and enjoy the simple things.  I have found some basic sense of contentment, but depression always returns and my periods of depression last way longer than my brief moments of carefree happiness.

I suspect that everyone tries and enjoy their lives as much as possible, but what is possible is not the same for everyone.  That reminds me of what my Grandmother used to say: “Everyone is doing the best for where they’re at.”  Not much more can be said than that.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

13 days later

1Vector3 said

Your position is coming through loud and clear, Ben, and I believe I’m hearing it. As someone who values you, I had to at first be sure that, re your depression, you had covered all the possible avenues of change that I am aware of, and since you seem to have done that, it does appear that “not much more can be said.” Until and unless something changes……

I don’t identify with any of the three groups here you mentioned. Do you consider me a New Ager and optimist? Both labels would be just about the opposite of the truth of me !!!! I am a heretic on at least 40 points wrt New Age, and as a perfectionist down to my cells and in every second of my consciousness, I am a card-carrying pessimist, always focusing first and foremost and at length on what is wrong and what could go wrong. For example I have had a long hard struggle for decades to even begin to entertain the notion that “Things could turn out the best way I could imagine, not the worst way.”  Give me anything and I will tell you all the downsides of it, past, present, and future. But I also see ways it could be improved, and ways the improvements could be accomplished. That is part of the gifts in the garbage, as one of my friends calls it.

So I am an optimist in believing everything CAN be improved, it’s just a matter of willingness and resources. And I am an optimist in believing that there ARE gifts in every garbage. In fact, that’s why the garbage exists, to call attention to the gifts.

Then again, I am usually hopeless about things actually improving……

Free will ain’t a sacred cow for me. I have a heretical view of that notion, which most people would (sloppily and inaccurately) interpret as no free will. One of my New Age heresies, a very severe one. Very severe, as it impacts how we approach changing the world.
I don’t feel like a happy person, overall either. Too much guilt, too much hopelessness, too much anger at God and blaming of God. But I have my moments not of optimism but of “knowing” [not accurate word]  the Bigger Picture, in which all that fades to less than nothing. Less. Like it never existed.

That somehow feels like a deeper and more authentic Me than the rest. And, fortunately, those moments are expanding in number and length, which I desire, but which I am only cooperating with; it’s a happening, not a doing….

Anyway, what I value most is honesty/authenticity, which is a version of Truth I treasure in self and others, and you reek of that !!!!!

Namaste, OM

Marmalade : Gaia Child

14 days later

Marmalade said

re my depression, maybe it’ll change but I’d be surprised if it did.  I tried to change it… and, since that didn’t work, I tried the opposite tactic.  That is my version of being practical.

I didn’t have you in mind when I was thinking of those three groups.  I was mostly thinking about broad categories.  I’ve heard your views on the New Age and so I know you don’t self-identify as a New Ager.  I don’t know you well enough to say what I think you are to tell you the truth, but for some reason to me you’ve come across as an optimist.  Of course, labels are relative in how we personally interpret them.  You seem more optimistic than myself anyways.  I do sometimes see the gifts in the garbage, but first and foremost I see the garbage.  Actually, I usually don’t see a clear difference between the supposed garbage and the supposed gifts.

I like the distinction you made between CAN be improved vs actually improving.  Sounds like the type of think I’d say.

Freewill… that is a heck of an issue.  I’ve thought about blogging about it.  Maybe I will.  I could write a very long and detailed blog or even series of blogs about that subject.  I’ve been thinking a fair bit about it.  I was reading about freewill online and came across compatibalism which states that freewill and determinism are not in contradiction.  The freewill/determinism debate is like the theism/atheism debate.  According to compatibalism, freewill is relative.  Freewill is meaningless as an abstraction, but in practical terms we must define the specific context.  What specifically do we believe we are free from?  Or what do we want to be free from?

I dig what you say about your “deeper and more authentic Me”.  Good luck on expanding those moments in number and length.  A happening, not a doing… yes, indeedy!

I reek?  ummm… thanks.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

14 days later

Nicole said

Ben, I am really moved by what you are saying. Thank you for showing up as yourself to this extent though you are clearly very doubtful of getting what you need.

I have seen over and over here people expressing deep negativity, pain, suffering, heart cries – and finding others who resonate – yes! someone else who understands how deeply messed up the world is, thank you! So I believe the same will be of you, if you choose to show the “darker side” of Ben.

One of my closest friends here on the site loves really dark, angry music, has lived a very very difficult past (and blogs often about it) and sometimes shows up with very violent or heavy energy. He teaches me a lot , as you have done and are doing now much more, about how really unhelpful or inappropriate it can be to try to cheer people up or be optimistic at times. Now, when he gets in those kinds of places, I just walk over to him mentally and verbally and sit next to him, and we talk about it, and when he is ready to be alone again he lets me know and I quietly go.

I have no illusions about being able to understand what you live. I hear what you are saying about depression and it brings light for me, reminding me somewhat of times I have been depressed and had something I needed to work through about that, and just quietly turning away from all my friends who were telling me I had to “fix” the depression because they were uncomfortable with me being depressed. It wasn’t about them and I knew they couldn’t understand that.

I am greedy, Ben. I will admit it. I want to know about all of you, not just the parts of you that you think that I can relate to. In return, I promise to do my best to honour you and not impose my thoughts, feelings and beliefs all over that honesty.

14 days later

Centria said

Ben, thank you for writing this and sharing more of who you are and feel and think.  As someone who definitely leans towards optimism, I suddenly felt a rush of shame and guilt…..that so much obvious optimism might somehow not be honoring or respecting or allowing the more pessimistic sides to have their say, as well.  Just reading your words and story helps balance something.  Well, hopefully, anyway.

Last fall and winter I sat with a good friend who was very depressed.  She was thinking of killing herself.  It was tough to witness, tough to stay there with her, tough to honor exactly where she was in her life.  Like you, part of her did not want to be optimistic.  Part of her, as she expressed it, wanted to deeply feel the suffering of all beings.  She didn’t want to hear any change-your-thinking-and-change-your-life mentality.  So I listened.  And she spoke sometimes, and didn’t speak for long months.  And I did eventually recommend that she consider medication, and she eventually decided to seek help for her depression, and now she’s doing pretty well in her life.  But it did seem very important not to “fix” the depression, not to turn immediately towards the light and cheery and bubbly and optimistic. 
The words to express things are SO hard.  Because we don’t know.  But we use words and stories to attempt to explain….something…..but it’s never true and never accurate and is very often frustrating.  I feel frustrated just trying to find any words to comment here.  What could I possibly know of your life?  Nothing, only the glimmering edges.  And maybe not even those.
Yet I am always amazed when words come out of me pretending like they know or mean something.  Because when I look closely at what’s inside there doesn’t seem to be much there.  Emptiness.  Yes, a structure exists, in which one can claim optimism or pessimism.  But other than that….well, I feel there’s not much I can say that can express anything valuable here.  Except I value your presence here on Gaia so much, your honesty, your thoughtfulness, the way you can’t be pinned down into any definitive category.  Thank you Ben for continuing to share your truth…..and hopefully that fiction, as well.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

14 days later

1Vector3 said

Yeah, that was a tongue in cheek compliment, just for the fun of the language play. Glad you got it !!

Well if you do write about free will, Ben, I have a lot of comments ready !! Like determinism is definitely not the only alternative to the common notion of “free will,” not by a long shot. And that free will as commonly defined is not a necessary precondition of personal responsibility or morality.

Something Nicole said has indirectly triggered this thought which I am not sure I have expressed here before: “Depression” is to me a pretty meaningless catchall medical term. I often encounter people who consider themselves depressed, are labelled depressed, are treated as depressed, and to me they are just profoundly SAD, or feeling hopeless. To me, there is biochemically-induced depression, which is real and common, and a painkiller did that to me once, but on the very rare occasions when I have(fortunately for very brief periods)  felt slow, heavy, apathetic, tight, weepy, paralyzed, untalkative, withdrawn / dissociated, it’s because I am sad or hopeless ABOUT SOMETHING. True depression is kinda about everything and nothing in particular, as I understand it.

I feel more optimistic haha about people being able to pull out of sadness or hopelessness (or any of the other particulars mentioned below) than I do biochemical depression, or true depression if that exists. But I don’t feel hopeless about any of it. Anything can change. Miracles do happen.

Oh, and lots and lots of people labelled depressed are of course suffering from anger turned toward self, or guilt or self-blame, that’s the classic psychological mechanism, but most of the ones I encounter are actually in deep grief or mourning, often about the state or condition of the world !!!! They are sensitive souls, and bear the grief and suffering of all, as personal. To label this as a psychological or psychiatric illness or disorder is to kinda miss the point; it’s a soul-level response to an observed situation. It is optional, but only if one realizes exactly what is going on.

So “depression” to me is vague and meaningless, unless further specified. Not that I am saying you need to, just sharing my view on a subject that’s commonly discussed these days.

So the checklist would be:
sad?
hopeless?
biochemical source?
anger at self, self-blame, guilt?
grief, mourning? personal or world?
None of the above?

Blessings, OM Bastet

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

14 days later

1Vector3 said

Centria posted while I was composing. Point made: I do not consider her friend “clinically depressed” or mentally ill in any way shape or form. She is one of those I precisely mentioned; The souls who feel the suffering of everyone, as their own. I hate it when those people are put on medication – except for my OTOH below. I believe there are spiritually-based perspectives that could alleviate the perspective which is causing their “depression.” That “depression” or in truth empathetic sadness  is based on an OPTIONAL way of looking at the world, at people, at suffering.

OTOH I believe that a prolonged time spent in any of the other “causes” I outlined above, ends up causing biochemical depression, in addition to any other cause, as the body adapts, and some holistic approach including body mind and spirit would be needed to really make a difference. At that point, anti-depressants might make the person more functional, but they are walking wounded, and the causative perspective still operates.
 
All this sounds like theory but I hope the passionate desire to alleviate needless suffering which is the engine of my life, comes through in somehow. I do it my way, not always very personal or cuddly, those ways too are marvelous. I resonate with and respect and in fact sometimes do, in personal life, the kinds of “being with” and “grokking” that Nicole and Centria have described.

Hey, Ben, this is becoming Collective Wisdom on a very very common issue. Would you be willing????? Any others object???  Perhaps not really soon, but sometime after the energy has moved on from here??

Blessings, OM 

starlight : StarLight Dancing

14 days later

starlight said

My theory is that I am what I am and I experience what I experience… and as far as I can
tell this theory applies to everyone.  I’m happy when I’m happy and I enjoy life when I
enjoy it.  Conversely, I’m depressed when I’m depressed and I gladly curse God almighty
when I’m in a bad mood.

see, i think this is way cool…that you know and accept where you are…and that you are
not running around trying to pretend otherwise…which is what i did for years…never
facing myself…running from drugs and alcohol back to religion always escaping from the
now i was in…shew…today, b/c of my recovery program, i do not have to live that way…
i could never just be honest with me…until…i was able to be…of course, once i was
finally able to get honest…that enabled me to really use the 12 steps and to open up
that awareness…now, i deal with life on life’s terms…it has been a lot of work…and
much of it has been very painful…but i would not trade my life now for anything…
For happy people, I say more power to them.  Overall, I’m not a happy person myself. 
But who wouldn’t choose to be a happy person if such things were actually choices. 
I’ve tried to be one of those happy people.  It just didn’t work out.  We all have our
fates.  Some people just have easier fates than others.  I can hear people responding
with the opinion that nothing is fated, and all I can say is that such a person believes
this way because their nature and life experience has led them to do so.

i would say, from my experience, that happiness and depression both, are way’s of
experiencing this reality…and i tend to agree that there is no choice…on another forum
many of us went round and round on this…here is my story as it relates to choices…

when situations unfolded several years ago, that have led me along this journey that i
got sober on, i would say that i had no control over them, nor did i have a choice at
that very moment when the officer put handcuffs on me and dragged me off to face my own consequences of my behavior…however; everything i had done up to that point…had led me to that point…and looking back, no one put a gun to my head and made me behave in the ways that i had…so, i had to take responsibility for my actions…

i soon ran out of people, places, and things to blame for my behavior, b/c i had started
looking honestly at me…i am grateful that i had the awareness to do this, for i am
reminded that many near and dear to me, do not…i eventually even ran out of the idea
of a god to blame anything on, or to depend on persay, or to praise and thank for even
the grace of awareness…it just is…and i have accepted that today…and for those that
it is not…well, that just is too…

my own experience however, of taking these steps, which are just a journey within, taught
me that though i did not have a choice once i picked up that first drug or drink, or even a choice as to whether or not i used then…that b/c of the clarity of awareness i have today, i do have a choice whether or not to go down that road of insanity again…tomorrow,
i don’t know about…but today i am aware, and i am emotionally sober, as well as clean from chemical substances…i also learned that using was not my problem…it was my solution…my problem was a lack of power to live life on life’s terms…i have sense found that power within my own awareness…and it is way cool…lol

i learned through this program how to live life on it’s own terms…to stay awake to the
moment of now, and stay out of yesterday…out of tomorrow…and out of my head…i found
too, that every negative or positive feeling was due to conditioned awareness…and the
reason that i believe anything…is also due to that conditioning…so i really resonate
with that last sentence of yours in the paragraph above…

this way of thinking gave me an opening though…if i am responsible for how i feel…
what i think…what i believe…and my behavior…then that meant that i could change it…
first by recognizing it…accepting it…then remaining open to the now of awareness of the
moment…and it’s potential for change…THIS WAS VERY POWERFUL FOR ME…AND IS STILL…
when i am able to remain aware, i tap into that inner power, that inner strength, that we all have within our own awareness…
i might not be able to change or control the fact that a tornado destroys my house and all
my material possessions, but i do have the ability…today…to choose what i think about
that…and by changing my thoughts…i change my feelings…on a very simple level…
instead of reacting by conditioned beliefs and habitual emotions…i am free, in this
moment, to look at it another way…

there is a saying in recovery…

we cannot hear until we hear…we cannot see until we see…

iow…IT TAKES WHAT IT TAKES…


Freewill is a sacred cow for optimists, but it doesn’t mean much to me.  I’ve spent much
of my life trying to choose something other than this life I have.  Nevertheless, here I
am as I am.  I’ve tried to just love life and enjoy the simple things.  I have found some
basic sense of contentment, but depression always returns and my periods of depression last way longer than my brief moments of carefree happiness.

concerning freewill…i tend to think that we are puppets of awareness for the most part…
and yet, as i mentioned, in each moment of pristine awareness, there is the potential for
change…but even that change is not concrete…it just is…and i have learned to
experience my life in that ever-free moment of now…awake…present…even to the feelings
that i may not enjoy…like last night…i had gas…damn…it hurt…LOL

what i have experienced too…is that this very journey of life…is an awakening…if i
but pay attention…and remain present in the moment…

i have come to know depression and happiness as the protective layers of our conditioned awareness…we protect ourselves with both of them…and in my experience…they both have been necessary…to get me to right here right now…underneath all those layers of conditioning…i found my own true nature…and when i can remain there, which i can now most of the time…it is beyond awesome…beyond happy…beyond peace…beyond depression beyond suffering…beyond physical pain…beyond now…like Buddha said…it is bliss…nonconceptual…and free…(i am not a buddhist however)…i have even gone beyond being labeled as anything…(religiously speaking…lol)

i am a human being…and i still own my suffering and pain…my joy and sorrow…in the moment when i experience it…but it does not control my life, the way i think, believe, feel or act today…and i still have conditioning i am working through…mostly opening up further and integrating awareness with life experiencing…which you dear Ben, sharing yourself so honestly, have helped me with…

my sister is very sick with depression…my mother is very mentally ill…and we both were raised with this; it affected us differently, but needless to say we both were very much affected…and it has been so difficult for me (accepting her depression), b/c i have been on the other end of it…but i watched my sister start opening up…she was going to meetings with me, and she was blossoming…but she began shutting down again when she had to get honest…her critical thinking muscles are lazy…she holds on to her beliefs of religion like a little child not letting go of her blankie…and she is addicted to the idea of depression….and i stopped trying to push her here after her last two threats to kill herself…but i do not feed into her depression either…i allow her to be just what she is…and she is a beautiful being…very funny and intelligent…she just really is not aware of that…her mind is so tangled with guilt and shoulda, woulda, coulda’s…and a lot of childhood trauma…she is not at this time capable of facing herself…and with the medicines she is having to take, i don’t expect this to change…but, i do not believe that it cannot change…just like…i may wake up tomorrow
with the beginning of Alzheimers…some things again…we have no control over…but i am
awake and aware at this very moment…and it is within my control at this moment…to allow
my own true nature to just be…our conversations here, will no doubt enable me to be of more service to her…if nothing more than on the level of understanding…i thank you for that…


I suspect that everyone tries and enjoy their lives as much as possible, but what is
possible is not the same for everyone.  That reminds me of what my Grandmother used
to say: “Everyone is doing the best for where they’re at.”  Not much more can be said
than that.

there is another saying similar to that that i love…

“When we know better…we can do better.”

today…i take responsibility for my knowing…and my doing…but i realize today too…that this is a gift of the grace of awareness…

much love Ben…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

14 days later

Marmalade said

The thing is that I fully realize that when speaking about depression online like this only invites people offering advice and whatever.  Its to be expected even if its not what I want.  I’ve a number of times responded to someone’s sharing of hardships only to discover they didn’t even want any response at all.  I’m not like that because I always appreciate responses, but years of hearing advice has soured me on those kind of responses.  How I see advice is that if something works for you, then that is good… but it may not be useful to anyone else.

To some extent I understand other viewpoints, but I don’t know how to bridge the distance between my viewpoint and those of others.  My personal understanding is complex and contradictory.  Sometimes, I sense a genuine goodness and at othe times I would declare without a doubt that this world is a living hell.  At other times, I feel they may both be simultaneously true.

Hey OM, feel free to start a thread in the Collective Wisdom pod.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

14 days later

starlight said

well, i  cannot speak for anyone else, but i really was trying to just share my experience, strength, and hope…and specifically that…i understand that it might seem that i was trying to give advice…however; i assure you that i am aware that my path is not yours and vice a versa…but i cannot deny, that i would think it way cool, if you got something from it you could use…i would hope that you would be open to that…

the only way to bridge the difference between viewpoints, is to remain open as far as i can see…iow, allow yourself the willingness to see things differently…but again, that is a tool i use…that has worked for me…

always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

14 days later

Marmalade said

I’m just not in the mood for positive intentions, be it advice or not.  I’m open to what you’ve said, but at this point in my life I feel like I’ve heard it all.

I was raised in New Thought Christianity.  I spent years reading about and practicing positive thinking.  I’ve been to a Landmark Forum which teaches how to take control of your life.  I used to have a regular yoga and meditation practice for years.  I’ve been to many psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and even a shamanic healer.  And I went to a Shiatsu massage school where I learned alternative healing including energy work.  Sounds like a resume.  lol

I understand not wanting to blame God or other external forces, but I neither want to blame myself.  If doing all that I’ve tried isn’t good enough, then just hell with it all.  Its not your fault that I’m feeling irritable, and I’m not saying that I don’t want to hear other people’s perspectives.  I’m almost always willing to see things differently.  I’ve dedicated most of my life trying to see things differently.  But maybe at the moment I’m not in the best of moods for feeling open towards certain perspectives.

I’m sorry if I sounded critical, but afterall I am feeling quite critical.  Please understand that it isn’t you personally or anything specific.  Its just how I feel, but I don’t expect anyone else would want to listen to my griping.  I’m just expressing my criticalness because its worse if I don’t. 

15 days later

Centria said

There’s no other option, Mr. Cat, then to take you exactly as you are in this very moment.  That’s good enough for me.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

15 days later

Nicole said

You’ve explored so many avenues… I fall silent next to you and simply offer U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

If you do want feedback or if there is anything else I can do, I’m here, Ben. Love you.

starlight : StarLight Dancing

15 days later

starlight said

well, take your irritable ass to a 12 step meeting!  LOL…i don’t see that on your list…and it really sounds like you need one…LMAO…(just a suggestion…lol)

Talent and Inspiration Posted on Sep 1st, 2008 by Marmalade

Talent and Inspiration

Posted on Sep 1st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
I realized that I don’t work tonight and so I stopped by the coffeehouse.  I thought I’d do a simple blog entry.  I was downtown and the students are back in town.  I noticed a hack circle and I hadn’t hacked all summer.  I normally hackysack quite a bit when the weather is nice, but haven’t felt in the mood this year.

I’m pretty decent at hackysack, and I know some interesting tricks.  I’ve been playing soccer since I was a little kid and picked up hackysack in highschool.  I enjoy it in some ways, but it brings out a side of me that I don’t entirely like.  Hackysack isn’t exactly a competitive sport (although there are competitions).  Even so, it allows for ample showing off.  I can show off because I’m usually better than those I’m hacking with which doesn’t mean much since most people don’t attempt to be very good at it.  Most people just sort of kick back and forth.  I love the challenge of figuring out a trick, but I dislike the feeling of showing off.  I don’t know why that is.

Anyways, it got me thinking about talents.  I have many talents, but I don’t do much with most of them.  If I had taken hackysack more seriously when younger and had met more talented hackysackers to learn from, I could’ve been really great at it… but to what end?  In the past, I’ve spent endless hours simply repeating a trick to get it down just right… but its not a highly valued ability in our society.  🙂

I quit soccer in 11th grade because I didn’t see the point.  I was a very fast runner when a kid, but I was never great at soccer.  I had some natural talent, but never practiced much.  In order to be really good at something, you have to spend enormous amounts of time doing it.  And I’m not that competitive and I can’t say I’ve ever been a driven sort of person.  I was always a team player, but I didn’t really care if my team won.  And maybe that was a good thing as I was always on losing teams.  When a little kid, soccer was the game everyone played and I just enjoyed running around as kids do.  But sports become more serious as you grow older, especially in highschool.

Overall, I’ve never been a motivated person and partly that has to do with my not liking school.  Only once in my life did I have an inspiring teacher that actually brought out the best in me.  He was an art teacher.  I had always taken art classes and enjoyed them, but this teacher was a really great teacher that encouraged innovation.  He was the first person who taught me to think outside of the box.  I took art classes later on in college, but I never did as good of work as I did in that highschool class.  Unfortunately, I never felt inspired when not in the presence of that teacher.  Art was something I was good at, but it just didn’t capture my attention.  Just too much work and for whatever reason I never envisioned myself as an artist.

The talent I ended up focusing on is writing which isn’t something I cared about when younger.  I liked reading fiction somewhat growing up, but I was never obsessed with reading.  There was one thing that foretold my future.  My childhood bestfriend and I would tell collaborative stories.  In highschool, I started journalling very seriously and in later highschool became very interested in reading books with deep themes, both fiction and non-fiction.  But I can’t say I thought of being a writer at that time.  I really had no ambitions other than to understand life… which I’m still working on.

At this time, I had fallen into severe depression but hadn’t yet recognized it as such.  My truly obsessive nature began to show itself at this point.  I just wouldn’t let these questions go.  There had to be some kind of answer somewhere, but apparently older people were as clueless as me.  I found that a bit disheartening.  Back then, I actually still held the belief that with age came wisdom, but I came to realize most adults were even ignorant of the questions.  At least, my dad was always very honest about the limits of his understanding.  I like honesty.

I definitely had become more obsessed with non-fiction than with fiction, but I found few writers who actually inspired me.  Inspiration is a big thing for me.  I’ve always sought inspiration to counteract my apathetic nature.  By looking for inspiration, I was looking for my own inner motivation that tends to get lost with the years of conformity training that one gets in school.  I’m still looking for this inner motivation thingie, and I occasionally hit upon an ephemeral essence that feels true.  Give me another few decades and I think I’ll have it figured out.

Anyways, I’ve slowly realized that non-fiction for the most part isn’t what inspires me.  I’m inspired by imagination which is most often found in fiction.  On the other hand, fiction often lacks the depth of ideas that can be found in non-fiction.  What is a boy to do?  (Read Philip K. Dick is what. lol)

Okay, back to my life story.  I returned to my childhood home after highschool and reconnected with the aforementioned childhood bestfriend.  He also had become interested in writing, and so two aspiring writers were we.  This is when I started to take writing seriously and specifically writing fiction (because my friend was mostly into fiction).

So, after 20 years of my life, I finally found a talent that I cared about.  Unfortunately, it may seem, I found this talent at a time of my deepest depression…. not exactly a time of consistent motivation.

Over the last 10 or so years, I’ve slowly become more focused but its a struggle.  The internet has helped me to gain focus as online communities such as this give me the opportunity to play around with my writing.  I’m presently trying to get my mind back into fiction.  I even have a story I’m working on right now.

There ya go.  I could’ve been many things…
 …but a writer is what I became.

Access_public Access: Public 11 Comments Print Post this!views (166)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 2 hours later

Nicole said

Ben, I learned some important things about you tonight. Thank you. I really look forward to seeing your fiction when you’re ready to start unveiling it. It’s great to see you again! I’d missed you. Big hugs.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 8 hours later

1Vector3 said

Hey Ben, thanks for sharing your story. Never thought about the inspiration thingy and all the aspects of it you mentioned. New perspectives for me, goody.

I didn’t become a writer, I always was. It’s not something I do, but what I am. Breathe, write. No-write, like suffocating, or being strait-jacketed. Not to say this is better or worse than becoming a writer. Just noting a different life experience.

However, despite maybe 3 forays into fiction in my whole life, which weren’t totally lousy, I really have NO talent for it. Just can’t think up anything [my forays were school assignments.] So I really admire the heck out of you folks who have that kind of creativity. Really beyond me.More power to ya for contributing fiction to the world !
 
Finding the “inner motivation thingy” is crucial. If I were a praying person, I would pray for you that you find yours. I do “know” it is there, everyone has it. But sometimes it takes awhile in life to emerge, although often it get suppressed or repressed, and is actually visible if one knows where and how to look. Like: what feels like breathing? what did you do naturally as a kid? what would you pay to keep from being prohibited from doing? what gives you a feeling of elation, exhilaration? (even under the depression.)

Gee, idea-fiction, no dearth that I can see. Hesse? Ayn Rand? Colin Wilson (The Philosopher’s Stone, The Mind Parasites, etc.)? Theodore Sturgeon (e.g. Godbody, one of my top fave books.)? Ursula LeGuin? Just for starters. Maybe some don’t qualify for you, for some reason…..

Lots of depression is I think possibly basically biochemical, but I also go with those who say many depressions are really actual sadness about an actual something –a something which is kept outside of awareness –  and I also go with those who say many depressions result from giving up on having or being or experiencing what one most deeply and profoundly wants in life. And of course there is the inward-turned aggression theory. Do you know anything useful about your own depression?

I just don’t believe anyone has an “apathetic nature.” I believe a lot of folks got squashed, I have seen a 6-year old totally bored with life, it broke my heart, and I could see how the parents had done it. OTOH some young children are more exuberant and enthused than others who appear less interested in the world, the external world. And an introvert might get labelled “apathetic” and accept the label, but it wouldn’t be true.

Well, forgive my ramblings, and I don’t mean to pry for info, just offering my perspectives on matters you mentioned. No need to respond.

Keep ’em coming, I like the way you mix the personal and the abstract in your writing. Trying to think of other writers who have that combo. Lewis Thomas? Don’t remember him well enough.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 21 hours later

Marmalade said

*Hugs* to Nicole.  I suppose fiction is a different side of me, but you’ve seen some of that side of me with my discussion of PKD.  When it comes to fiction, I lean towards the imaginative which can take two forms: serious imagination or outright weird.

Now, to OM.  You gave me a lot to respond to.  I’ll respond in the order you wrote.

Becoming a writer.  Its an interesting thing.  I wasn’t raised with parents who were writers, but I was raised with parents who were thinkers and talkers.  So, I was raised with language, my mom is a speech pathologist afterall.  I also had a word-retrieval problem as a child and so I learned to compensate by having a large vocabulary.  As I said in the blog, I liked stories even though my parents weren’t all that into reading stories to me.  Reading books was one of my favorite escapes early on.  I was an imaginative kid and my bestfriend was very imaginative.  Still, I only started writing on my own in 8th grade.

There was one teacher who set my direction in life towards writing.  He was a decent teacher and I suppose I enjoyed his class fine, but he didn’t inspire me.  What he did do was challenge me with difficult texts.  He had us read many classics such as Jude the Obscure which is heavy reading for a highschooler.  It was also from the bookcase in his classroom, that I discovered Hesse.

I’ve at times felt envious of people who were raised by parents who read to them and encouraged them (or had teachers who inspired them or otherwise discovered writing early on).  My dad is a professor and so he helped me out with writing non-fiction papers for class assignments.  He taught me to communicate clearly and in an organized manner, but that is a long way off from fiction.  Being raised by parents who have absolutely no sense of fiction has been a challenge for me as an aspiring fiction writer.  My parents taught me how to think and to write clearly, but my imagination apparently was a gift of God or otherwise a genetic mutation.

Writing is something that slowly became more and more my identity.  Basically, writing is secondary to my most basic motivation.  I desire imagination, wonder, and understanding… but I also desire to express those things, to give them form.  I’m not a person who writes just to write.  I always have a purpose for my writing even if its just entertainment value sometimes.  I’m not a poet who just loves language for the sound of it.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

OM Part 2:

I must admit that I sorta do know what my inner motivation thingie is.  The single running theme of my entire life is curiosity.  I’ve been asking questions and wondering about life longer than I can remember… meaning my mom tells me I was asking deep questions as soon as I could speak.

I realize that idea-fiction in a general sense is not lacking.  I have many similar authors I could mention, but I definitely agree with you on Hesse.  Beyond exaggerating for effect, I was meaning a specific type of idea-fiction.  I have a wide-ranging curiosity which isn’t easily satisfied.  Too many fiction writers are narrowly focused or else there ideas aren’t grounded in a deep sense of subjective experience.  For instance, one can find enormous amounts of ideas in SF and one can find enormous amounts of terrible writing.  It takes a special talent to combine fiction and non-fiction, the personal and the philosophical.

Partly, I’m just a picky person.  I know what I like and I have no desire to spend my time on anything else.  I doubt I’m actually communicating to you what I’m meaning about my perception of a particular kind of lack, but it will have to do for the time being.

Do I know anything useful about my depression?  That is an interesting question.  I know a lot about my depression and depression in general, but I won’t be so presumptuous as to claim any of it useful.  lol

Any number of theories may apply to my depression including the ones you mentioned.   One thing I’m sure is that it isn’t a single factor.

As for the apathetic nature statement, I didn’t intend any grand significance to it.  I mostly see my occasional apathy as a side effect of my depression.  As depression seems to run in both sides of my family, I have a strong suspicion that there is a genetic component.  In that sense, apathy is a side effect of my natural predisposition which doesn’t mean its absolutely determined… just a tendency is all.  Opposite of apathy, some people use depression as a way of driving themselves harder and accomplish much that way.

I don’t worry too much about depression.  Its just what it is.  I feel no need to make a value judgment about it or try to get rid of it.  Personally, I don’t think its a disease nor a personal failing.  Ultimately, its just a label given to a pattern of behaviors.  Its just a word.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

I had a few more things I wanted to share about my talents. 

The hackysack is an odd example because its not as if one can make a career out of being a professional hackysacker.  However, my talent for physical tricks actually started with learning juggling as a kid.  I dated a girl who was going into juggling as a career and I went to a convention of professional jugglers.  It was very interesting, but I don’t have an interest in being a performer… back to not liking to show off.

Another talent I didn’t think of earlier is massage which is another odd talent.  I always liked giving people massages.  Eventually, I decided to go to massage school.  I liked learning about it, but I quickly realized I had near zero desire to do it as a profession.  Maybe its the same thing about not wanting to perform.

As a strong introvert, writing is more my style.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 22 hours later

Nicole said

dear ben,

i think you have a very healthy approach to your depression. you seem to have a really good way of coping with it from the many conversations we have had around it.

it’s interesting what a rich environment you had at home, though it lacked some elements for which you long. it does help to explain a lot about how you got to where you are now, a very unique person. yes, i know we are all unique, but i think you know what i mean.

serious imagination or outwright weird – well, they both can be good 🙂

i think you have a lot of important qualities which are helpful to you as a writer, for example, your intense ability to focus and do research for a long time; your ability to organise your thoughts and ideas, even when they represent a huge range; your amazing, zany sense of humour; and your astonishing flexibility in points of view.

Of course, that’s only the beginning of your qualities.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

I so appreciate your elaborating based on my comments !!! I enjoyed all you said. I have nothing particular to say in response right now, nothing has formulated – yet….

Well, perhaps two things I can begin to word:

Ultimately, depression IS just a word, but I guess I would be motivated to do something to make it less. I have noticed certain limitations I have accepted with the passing years, based on things not working out, and I can see that sense of limitations is kinda like a depression, and I am working to get back the sense of open possibilities that younger folks have.

BTW I underline that I too perceive the four qualities Nicole nailed so well just above !!! Your research ability is SO amazing it almost looks so prodigious that it seems to me only the manic folks I know could do something like that. Strange to say !!!!

Asking deep questions, wide-ranging curiosity, “I desire imagination, wonder, and understanding… but I also desire to express those things, to give them form.”

Are those what is partly captured by the labels INFP?

I have a friend who has discovered 35 SOUL archetypes (beyond personality) and I think this fits one of them. I will ask him, and perhaps get a description for you, so you can see whether the other aspects fit you too. Just as an expansion of self-knowledge. Just a label, from one perspective, but it’s nice when things that seem separate somehow cohere, or can be seen to be various manifestations of/from a single source, I think.

Well there, I did manage to say something !! 

Yes, Lord keep us from those who write to be writing, ditto those who talk to be talking. Myself, I think I write to improve things/people/life/the world/systems/institutions/methods, etc etc. To be useful, a resource, for improving things. (Not so great at motivating improvements, but really good at facilitating improvements folks have already decided to make.)

The world needs more picky people. Go for it. LOL !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet 

 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Nicole, thanks for the kind words.

I don’t know if I have a good way of coping with my depression.  How I think of it is that its good enough.

OTOH, OM, I understand what you mean by how we can tend to accept limitations as we age.  I don’t know if this is necessarily problematic as aging does bring real limitations.  But, even within any set of limitations, there are always possibilities.  I guess that is where my sense of curiosity and wonder comes in… keeping me from feeling stuck.

Was my self-description related to the INFP type?  I’d say that it fits many INFPs.  The latter part of wanting to express would depend on how well they had developed their auxiliary Extraverted Intuition (and other social factors of course).

Type is a strange thing when considering family.  My parents are very different types than I am.  Research seems to show that some personality traits are genetically passed on.  I’m sure I get my Intuition (N) from  my dad and my Introversion (I) from my mom.  From what I understand of my grandmother’s personality, the genetics for the Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) maybe came from her and skipped over my dad.  That is strange to consider how we carry genetics that will manifest in later generations even though they don’t manifest in us.  My grandmother died when I was around 6 and lived far away.  She wouldn’t have had much psychological influence on me and so I assume that it must be genetics (excluding any paranormal influences).

I unfairly downplayed the ways in which my imagination has been influenced by my parents. 

My dad’s family has a very strange sense of humor.  My grandfather was and my uncle is the kind of person who is constantly playing around and getting in trouble… a combination of physical and intellectual humor.  So, there is an immense creativity that I get from that side of the family, but they aren’t specifically artistic types and my dad has almost no interest in fiction.  My mom does like stories (ie movies) and she likes thinking about human behavior.  She does have some aesthetic sense when it comes to practical activities such as decorating a house, but definitely not an artistic type.

Another aspect is how my parents’ minds work.  My parents are people who constantly think but in very different ways.  My dad is constantly doing things or planning to do things, constantly reading and learning, constantly questioning.  From my dad, I learned that no question is taboo and curiosity is a very good thing.  My dad is very thorough when researching something, and is a very innovative thinker.  My mom has a mind that is even more active than my dad but not as much in an intellectual way.  Her mind is a wandering mind that runs very fast.  When my mom and I are having a conversation, we can talk very quickly.  Our minds resonate.  Even though our minds wander, we also can ruminate on the same thing for hours.

I think that I’m a product of combining the innovative creativity and silly humor of my dad with the wandering focus and interest in people of my mom.  Somehow that all adds up to an interest in the imagination conveyed in fiction. 

Plus, it seems my grandmother may have been more of an artistic type.  I suspect that she might have been an INFP.   She was a person of creative chaos and was lazy/apathetic in that she wouldn’t do anymore than absolutely had to be done.  She was always looking for meaning and was impractical in her idealism.  If that ain’t an INFP, then I don’t know what type she might’ve been.

BTW, OM, I’d love to hear about the SOUL archetypes.  I’m always curious about different systems, different ways of understanding people.  Because of Nicole, I was looking at the Enneagram recently.  I hadn’t looked at it in a while, but remembered myself to have been a 4w5.  I took a test that Nicole linked to and I came up as a definite 4 with some leanings towards 5.  The 4w5 description fits me as well as INFP.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Yes, same here, OM, as Ben says, I found the Enneagram very helpful recently in understanding more about myself and my friends, always looking for more grist for the mill.

It’s wonderful, Ben, that you and your mom can connect like that, and to see so clearly the influence of your family on who you are… I am fascinated.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

2 days later

1Vector3 said

I’ll see what I can do about getting info on the soul archetypes to you, Ben. The technological challenge is considerable…..

yeah, the Enneagram is IMO one of the top 3 or 4 typologies of real value in understanding self and others. Knowing my own type has been of major major major help in my own healing/wholing process. I do plan to post sometime my paper on the Enneagram One, The Healing Thereof, but it’s sooooo long, about 15 pages… But, I think, an easy read, at least structually if not in content !

Much as I have tried to study the Enneagram, and taken many workshops from a variety of teachers, and read several books, I can’t seem to retain the info about the points other than mine with a few exceptions like the 8, 3, and 5. Oh well.

And BTW I do not care for the Enneagram as it is commonly presented and taught, as a personality classification system; there it is IMO not much more useful than astrology. It doesn’t hang together. It only hangs together if you study it as a spiritual typology [which it was originally, apparently, in the Sufi origins] much more basic than personality.

Sandra Maitri’s book The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram is the only good book I know of re that approach, but it kinda buries the crucial foundational info. She learned it from A.H. Almaas, and I have a friend who also studied with him and wrote a much more clearly fundamental and lasered paper, which I have ambitions to make available on the Internet, am moving toward that. Almaas himself did write, and I have – I blush to say – yet to read anything he wrote.

I agree, Nicole, I am very impressed, Ben, with the eloquence and clarity you have around your parents’ characteristics and how these have interacted with your own.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole – Yeah, the way I can connect with my mom is odd.  We are very different types, and yet our minds completely resonate.  Its kind of funny because my mom is super practical but also kinda spacey.  I apparently only inherited the spacey part.  lol

OM – I’d appreciate any info you’d like to share about the Enneagram.  I have yet to study it thoroughly.  For some reason, I’ve never really connected to it… and, like you, I can’t seem to retain the info.  OTOH, the MBTI immediately made sense to me and I found it easy to remember, but it took a while to understand the more complex aspects.

Gnod: No Quentin S. Crisp

I discovered an interesting website: Gnod.  Quentin S. Crisp linked to it in a comment on his blog.  He was pointing out that his name isn’t included in the map of literature.  Nonetheless, the map is still pretty cool.  I tried out some other author’s names and it was interesting to see the other authors that were mapped.  The website also has a map of movies as well.

My Online Adventures

I became interested in the Internet through researching ideas which is what I do even without the Internet, but the Internet has made it much easier and more enjoyable.  The first topic I web-searched to a great degree (by which I mean obsessively) was Tarot which led me to MBTI.  I was only vaguely familiar with MBTI and was happy to learn more about it as I was already deeply interested in Carl Jung’s ideas. 

This search for info led me to an INFP discussion forum (INFP is my MBTI personality type).  It was utterly amazing because it was a large group of people who had a similar way of thinking and communicating, but it kind of spoiled me for more general forums I’d later join.  I had some truly awesome discussions there, but some of the members I interacted with on a regular basis ended up moving on.  I came to learn how informal web relationships are.  Most people don’t really want to connect.  I do want to connect, but when someone asked if I’d like to meet in person I realized I had my limits on how much I wanted to connect as well.  I’m somewhat of a loner and am contented with my few close real-world relationships.  However, I look for something different in my on-line friendships that my everyday relationships can’t satisfy.

Anyways, the INFP forum and other MBTI-related forums were just too specific.  My mind wanders and my intellectual hunger wasn’t being sated.  I went looking around.  I’ve since belonged to many forums: Beliefnet, Truth Be Known, some Integral Theory forums, and various Atheist/Agnostic forums.  I realized no single group would satisfy and groups took too much effort and time for what usually turned out to be too little benefit.  I started considering blogs as I really just wanted a format to express myself without constantly worrying about what others thought.  I first tried My Opera because the only blog I was following at the time (Quentin S. Crisp’s Directory of Lost Causes) happened to be there, but I quickly realized that it had too many foreign language blogs for my taste. 

I wanted to still be able to connect with people to an extent, and so I looked for places that offered blogging services along with social networking.  At first, I considered Ning because I already belonged to some groups there.  The problem I saw with Ning is that blogs seemed pretty isolated there.  There really weren’t too many other options that fit what I was looking for, but I kept looking and comparing.  I was also worried about newer start-ups that might not stick around and so I was trying to determine sites that had been around for years.  I finally settled on Gaia.com.  It had a good balance.  I was initially attracted to the fact that it had a very active Integral community.  I did enjoy it quite a bit and participated regularly in one of the groups.  I met some nice people and it was there that I developed my blogging abilities.  After awhile, though, it too felt confining.  It was really a site dedicated to people wanting to improve the world.  I have nothing against improving the world, but it really isn’t the reason I spend my time on-line and definitely not what I blog about for the most part.  Besides, the cynical side of my personality really grated with the large number of New Age types there.

So, I decided that I just wasn’t going to find a community of people who were similar to me.  My interests are just too diverse.  It was an amazing experience whenever I met a person who shared even a small percentage of the same interests, but that happened too rarely.  I was just tired of trying to connect with others.

I turned to sites that simply specialized in blogging.  I decided to instead use the blogging platforms themselves as the standard of my decision instead of anything to do with social networking.  I now was simply looking for an easy way to post my writings that gave me enough options to play around and personalize my blog.  I looked back at My Opera and checked out my old Live Journal account, but I mostly focused on Blogger and Word Press.  I posted the same thing on all of these blogs and compared their specific functions.  I did that for several months and Word Press won.  That is the story of how I ended up here.

However, I still crave discussion.  I wish more people would comment and I wish the people who comment would return a second time.  A single comment a discussion does not make.  I’m not trying to drive traffic to my blog because I’m not trying to make money or anything.  I just figure there has to be other people like me with similar interests, and at least a few of them would be interested in discussion.  I don’t know if such people are fewer than I imagine or if it’s that they’re unlikely to find my blog for whatever reason.  As far as I can tell, my posts often come up in search results and I definitely show up in Word Press listings.  People visit my blog on a daily basis, but why do so few leave a comment?

I suspect most people aren’t interested in discussion and especially not of the deep intellectual variety.  Even other deep intellectual types don’t seem all that interested in discussion.  Most people seem content to do their own thing in their own blog.  The people who seek out places to comment are often spammers and trolls.  It depresses me a bit.  I comment in other people’s blogs all of the time, but it doesn’t usually lead anywhere.  Most bloggers don’t respond back and certainly don’t try to connect in any way such as commenting in my blog in return.  This is partly explained by the statistics.  I was reading that 96% of bloggers haven’t posted in the last 4 months.

Partly to satisfy my need for discussion, I’ve been commenting in the online version of my local paper.  That is somewhat more satisfying as I actually know some of the people commenting and the subject matter is a bit more personally relevant.  However, I’m not much of a news junky and so I just enjoy the interaction and I even partially enjoy the stupid debate.  There are a couple of intelligent posters which comes close to offseting all of the opinionated ignorance.

I did recently connect with some fellow bloggers here on Word Press.  I’m feeling inspired to make my blog more interesting and new-person-friendly.  I wrote up an extensive ‘About’ page, a ‘Favorite Posts’ page, and finally got around to adding the blogs I visit to my blogroll.  I was thinking I should clean up my categories because they’re a bit of a jumble.  Also, my theme is rather mundane.  I picked it for practical reasons as I liked the way it was set up, but I should look at other options again.  If I ever feel extraordinarily motivated, I might add a picture to my banner.  It was only recently that I even got around to adding the icon of my kitty.  It sure is a lot of work.  If I was a motivated person, I’d probably be doing something in the real world rather than blogging.  lol

To further break out of my isolated slump, I joined Technorati and Blog Catalog.  I’ll see how that turns out.  I doubt it will make much difference.  Blog Catalog looks like it could potentially be a place to connect, but there is a lot of crap to wade through.

I’m happy to have a blog anyways with or without regular discussion.  I used to journal which got boring after a decade of being my own audience.  Blogging forces me to be more thorough and careful in my thinking process.  It’s good practice to have something that motivates me to write on a regular basis.  I enjoy writing and that is the important part.

Showcasing Sites for Writing

I was reading a blog post by Anne Whitaker (To the website! Chapter Three (at last!)) and came across these showcasing sites. 

Author’s Den

Creative Carnival

Blog Carnival

Technorati

Zimbio

I’d heard of Technorati before, but hadn’t ever looked into it.  I’m not sure that I’m all that interested in going out of my way to share my writing with the world.  Anyone who is interested in what I write about will probably (ignoring a recent exception) be able to find my blog posts just by doing a websearch.  But I could possibly enjoy a bit more interactivity than I get in my isolated blog world.  I was observing how very few of the people who visit my blog ever leave a comment… maybe one out of every few hundred visitors.  Half of the people who comment simply do so because I linked to their blog first.  So, I’ll explore these sites and see what I think of them.

Horror and Typology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burroughs, PKD, and Ligotti

William S. Burroughs had a powerful influence on many writers, two of note being Philip K. Dick and Thomas Ligotti.  PKD wrote about Burroughs in his Exegesis a number of times and he experimented with Burroughs cut-up technique.  Ligotti considered Burroughs to be his last artistic hero, but disliked his cut-up technique.  Burroughs, for me, acts as a middle ground between these two writers and also between the visions of hope and of despair. 

PKD, like Burroughs, was attracted to Gnosticism and saw something fundamentally or at least potentially good in a dark world.  Burroughs cut-up technique fits in with PKD’s belief about God in the gutter, divine truth revealed where one is least likely to look for it.  Both believed that, however difficult, God could be discovered.

Ligotti also started out as a spiritual seeker with his studies and meditation practice, but lost his faith along the way.  Ligotti, like Burroughs, takes very seriously the suffering of the human condition.  Ligotti takes the dark pessimism of Burrough’s to the extreme which he writes about in his Conspiracy Against the Human Race (an excerpt is published in the Collapse journal).  Both present insights that most people would rather not know about.

PKD sought the spiritual and had revelatory visions of what to him felt divinely true.  Ligotti sought the spiritual and yet discovered no truths to be consoled by.  Even though both accept the world is filled with much suffering, the difference is whether one has faith in the face of it.  Can our suffering be placed in a context of meanng?  Or are we simply animals who can’t comprehend the trap we find ourselves in?  Burroughs presents a very challenging view of reality.  PKD and Ligotti represent two very different responses.  So, why this difference?

PKD and Burroughs seem to have been more restless in their seeking than Ligotti (or so this is what I sense from my readings of these authors).  It’s possible that Ligotti is just better medicated.  He speaks about being more restless before his moods were modified with prescriptions, and also said something along the lines that this dulled his creative edge as he no longer had the extreme manic phases to motivate his writing.  PKD, on the other hand, did his best to magnify his manic phases by self-medicating himself with uppers (to the point of mental breakdown.. and maybe divine breakthrough).  Burroughs was also an experimenter with illicit drugs.  It makes me wonder what kind of view Ligotti might’ve come to if like Burroughs and PKD he had spent his whole life destabilizing his psyche.

This is important from another perspective.  For Burroughs and PKD, there instability drove their minds, their seeking, and their writing.  They were restless and had long careers and wrote profusely.  Ligotti has said that he at present doesn’t feel compelled to write.  I don’t mean to romanticize mental illness, but their is some truth to the connection between non-ordinary (including disturbed) states of mind and the creativity of artists.

Another issue is that both Burroughs and PKD were very interested in people and the human experience.  This included spirituality, relationships, and politics.  They were restlessly curious about this world that humans both live in and help to create.  Ligotti, however, wishes to see beyond the human, but realized that as a fiction writer he had no choice but to convey the horror of reality through the experience of the human.  The truly monstrous can’t be conveyed in its own terms whatever that may mean.  The problem is that this sense that one’s humanity is a failing or a limitation possibly doesn’t lead one to a long career as a fiction writer.  Afterall,  fiction is ultimately about human experience which necessitates to a certain extent a desire to sympathize and to understand. 

I appreciate what Ligotti has written as he has a probing intellect and communicates well.  However, some of Ligotti’s fans have said that Ligotti has said all that he could possibly say and has said it as best as he possibly could, and so what more is left for him to do?  Ligotti easily could be argued as a consistently better writer than Burroughs and PKD, but what good does it do if his understanding of the human condition has come to a deadend? 

I’m not saying that Ligotti can’t come to further insight.  However, without the restless seeking that drove Burroughs and PKD, is he likely to feel a desire to seek further insight?  Burroughs and PKD believed there was meaning to be found, but Ligotti dismisses meaning as just another way of avoiding suffering.  Other than the momentum of his identity as a writer, what is to inspire Ligotti to continue his creative career, to continue to share his thoughts and publish them?  Without a sense of purpose, what is the point of writing at all?

Anyways, Burroughs symbolizes the ideal of the person who simultaneously strives to be an artist and a truth seeker.  It takes something like courage (or maybe just a perverse compulsion) to confront suffering, grapple with it, try to understand it, and to convey whatever insight one has gained.  But there is danger in delving so far into the morass of the human condition.  You don’t know what you’ll find… or what you’ll become in the process.