The Frog in the Milk Churn.

There was once a poor frog who, quite unknowingly and entirely by accident, leapt into a pail of milk. He just couldn’t get out no matter what he did. The sides were too steep and the level of milk too low… A passing rat looked on mockingly and said, ‘You should just give up and die. Nothing can save you. Why prolong the agony?”

”Well, you never know”, said the frog and kept on swimming.

”Ha,” said the rat,” any fool can see your fate.” He laughed unkindly and scampered off.

Frog kept swimming and as he swam he wondered about all kinds of things. Sometimes it was about juicy slugs. Sometimes it was about the meaning of Life and the Universe, but mostly it was to remind himself that the secrets of life and death are meant to remain so and that if he could once have been a wriggling tadpole there was no saying what might be about to unfold.

Frog held out for the possibility that he didn’t have all the facts pertaining to his situation. Life was still a mystery and having more questions than answers was a good thing. It left room for the Unexpected and held the tension between longing and despair.

”There is no consciousness without the discrimination of opposites.” CG Jung.

By morning he was still alive, perched upon the island of butter he’d churned during the night.

So, sometimes its better to have the problems of the Neurotic than the solutions of the Narcissistic…… who have an answer for everything but won’t make it through till dawn.

Rat has to have the answer, even if its suicide. Everything must be cut and dried. Get with the programme or call yourself a taxi. Its like that because his identity is so fragile. Even a little tension or dissent will tear the fabric of Being apart let alone entering into life’s mysteries like how life can still be worth it in the face of the inevitable..

The unshakeable belief that you know what’s going on and what must happen next is compensation that’s essential to Narcissism’s going-on-being. Its like having a super strong patching over an otherwise rickety picket fence, sections of the Great Wall of China interrupted by square miles of open badlands that require sentry posts and somewhere safe to water your horse..

What makes Narcissism malignant is when the sentry posts are overun, when there are major border incursions by perceived ‘wisdom’ and how-things-are-done. Identity gets so destabilised it now requires more aggressive solutions to maintain inner sovreignty. It borrows from the chess strategy of offence being the best method of defence and goes looking for situations to accomodate such a gambit, to justify explosions of temper, to give himself a rush of adrenalin and the unifying zeal of prejudice. All done as if poor impulse control and paranoia were in fact riteous indignation and moral outrage.

There is nothing that quite consolidates a shaky sense of identity like an emergency, especially if you can become adept at creating them yourself. Its as close to an infant magically producing the breast as you can get to in later life without first meditating  for forty years. All the disparate shards of selfhood begin to pull together out of situational necessity, as if by magic.

”People lose their neuroses during times of war.” S. Freud.

What’s particularly dangerous about Malignant Narcissism is that conflict then becomes an Ontological Necessity. It needs conflict in order to know itself and without which is thrown into anxious crisis.

…does not play nicely with other children…

In ‘Chrome Yellow’, Aldous Huxley makes the observation that the protracted wars between the South American countries that had all been given independence by Spain about the same time needed their conflict with one another because they had lost their cultural identities. There was not enough tribal culture left to tell a Venezualan from an Ecuadorian. National conflict gave the people an immediate and made-to-meaure sense of patriotic identity.

One sure fire way of staying in conflict and the comfy internal cohesion it provides is to have more than you need or at least to aspire to it. Having or wanting wealth beyond a certain point cannot help but take bread from the mouths of aggrieved others, though they may be a continent away and tucked out of sight. In any case, the distant rumble of insurrection is music to his ears. The Malignant Narcissist needs to be hated.

It is said in the trade that psychopaths can only be loved once they are hated. Objective hate..

”is part of the healing process. It gives a person a sense of individuality and separation which allows him to start feeling real.” D. Winnicott 

and only thereafter..

”being able to feel love and love others.” ibid

Of course, this doesn’t mean acting out our hate in some clumsy splurge. In the West we tend to think of hate as simply negative and destructive. But it has a developmental function. For the child to have a sense of belonging it is necessary….

”not [just] for unconditional love and acceptance but for parents to experience the child as a nuisance – hate him for it if need be- and then by giving the child time to become loveable again.” A. Phillips.

The child needs to be a nuisance. His belonging depends upon it.

The formal voice, the hard look, the annoyance at intrusion, are all there to tell the other that they’ve crossed a line and are currently not the centre of the Universe, something an emerging sense of individuality depends upon.

The Narcissist rarely has these boundaries set and so he will unconsciously seek out hate producing situations and provoke triggering behaviours in others out of the developmental need to experience the authentic boundary setting and angry protest that gives rise to selfhood.

I once saw a young boy of eight or so at a wedding flicking up the ladies’ dresses and getting roundly told off every time. I was about to say something to his father when the boy ran over and threw himself into his father’s lap oblivious to the presense of others, demanding sweets. His father replied, ”you can have anything you want..’ and suddenly the situation was explained.

Something you will often find is that the family of the Malignant Narcissist are all saints. No-one ever says a cross word or speaks ill of the dead. Mother in particular is a paragon of virtue though beneath the surface she has had her femininity so undermined that the ordinary reality of petty annoyance, an angry look or a harsh word in the right place has to be suppressed in favour of a gilded fantasy. An alternative fact.

If mother can’t feel her hate, mediate it, chew on it, make it intelligible, then no-one can know what the rules are. A just scolding, even a look of disapproval from someone who loves you, invites the child to experience a bigger picture of life, a greater sense of proportion and of its place in the world, as well as the possibility of feeling honest shame and of making reparation for it.

That’s why we value and remember teachers from school years who had that quality of being ‘firm but fair.’ A good teacher will not only educate the mind, they will also usher souls into being.

My woodwork master was called D. Mudge. It was an unfortunate name because of the ease with which you could run it together as ‘Damage’, which is what he was, very damaged, shell shock as you’ve never seen it, including running for cover at the sound of any and all light aircraft and a curious tendency to be attacked by bees. But he was a great mentor because he had this alchemical blending of kindness and severity. So even though he’d fly off the handle, he’d also invite us to tea as equals and talk about fascinating things.

In my first year someone  wrote an annoymous poem about him for the school magazine..

Dust is rising through the air..

Sound of mallets everywhere

A Cornish voice shouts, ‘Ere’ Ere’..

Watchya doin’ over there?”

Calling the child to account for itself does more than correct its behaviour. It acts as a mid-wife to the child’s shadow, compelling the child to develop a relationship with that part of itself and blossom as a result.

So whilst the Narcissist is seduced into the ‘priviledge’ of being so above the rules, he’s actually been deprived of the building blocks of selfhood. His mother’s oppression has given rise to a great storehouse of unlived potential in her which she cannot help but secretly hope he will manifest on her behalf albeit at the expense of his own unfolding. Specialness is traded off against having his own path through life, a dynamic to be endlessly repeated in adult relationships as the contradiction between feeling special and yet of being somehow eternally thwarted.

This contradiction is all too easily attributed to outer situations. I was moved by a detail in Donald Trump’s biography where the children would be taken to their father’s building site of a Sunday to collect and straighten bent nails in the yard. But… they were millionaires and lived in a twenty-three bedroom mansion..!  No holding of opposites but rather a wild collision of realities! Having more than you need and yet there never being enough….

So there is no slow churning of milk into butter to make an ‘I’ land. Its said that Narcissists have big egos but the problem is quite the reverse. They have yet to churn one. The rat in our story only has the brash persona of, ‘why don’t you just drown already?’ Its an attitude that requires others to carry his inferior feelings and personal clumsiness for him, something a healthy ego can shoulder for itself.

Such a dismissive attitude is dangerous for everyone else, not just because it is heartless or unfeeling, but because it flourishes best in an increasingly Apartheid environment where the inferiority of newly designated second class citizens becomes enshrined and concretised in law. Narcissism thrives on inequality which it not only imagines but must also create and if necessary, conjure.

So he becomes a kind of magician still caught at the childhood stage of wishing making it so..

Its gonna be great, trust me..

but still needing the hateful experience of the milk churn which the Fates are increasingly liable to provide in the form of corrective sanction.

Bluebeard, the Secret Hell.

The reason that we arrange to be led by folk we know don’t care about us is that there is an X in the equation which swings things away from what you might think was a more desirable outcome.

We acceed to authoritarian management because there is a covert pay-off. No-one has to do the difficult work of self-realisation.

‘It seems good to Us not to burden you with too many requirements.’ Acts 15;28

It’s okay, you don’t have to find your own way or fulfil any driving ambition. Its alright to be curtailed and told what to do…

because the part of us that minds it has a cunning plan…

to take refuge in the strong arm of he who’d beat you and so, in a very real sense, not be at home when he comes calling. The great thing about abdication is that you get to hold the torch when the castle is burned to the ground.

Alice Miller calls it ‘Identification with the Aggressor’, a process by which a child or subjugated person defends against the precarity of their situation by disocciating from it and forming a psychological alliance with the source of their suffering.

It was named ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ after bank raiders in Sweden took hostages that then became their fervent supporters, even writing to the Prime Minister asking to go with their captors. Hieress Patty Hearst became a gang member of the group that kidnapped her. Natascha Kampuch wept at the death of her jailer and rapist Wolfgang Priklopil, moved into his house and ran his car…

Levy-Bruhl called it participation-mystique, a process of  merging with another, initially observed..

‘in so-called primitive cultures where certain objects treated as holy artifacts were seen as filled with the spirit of their owners or worshipers.’ Gifford

 Without such meaningful totemic relationships that allow a person to be in the presence of their own mystery without being contaminated by it, we in the West do the same with pop stars and celebrity, reality TV and the cult of personality, which despite the high of being one with your hero..
‘can influence a person or group of persons into acting against their own best interest’. (ibid)
Identification with the Great Leader makes all kinds of heroic feats possible though you may not survive them. It wipes out all your troubles back home and replaces them with a fizzing riteousness so potent it can transcend the fear of death and calmly walk wave upon wave of unfaltering youth to the grave.
Sometimes the battlefield’s turf is the quietly carpeted drawing rooms
of gentility rather than the crack and thump of conquest at any price, but still….
‘a person caught up in this spell would rather die or injure him or herself than consider new information that might upend their thinking.’ ibid

Most people know the story of Bluebeard. He murdered his wives one after another and kept them in a secret locked room. He forbids his most recent bride from entering the room on pain of … well, a lot of pain, but she is unbearably curious and sneaks in while he is away…

just a peek…

Too late!

The room is a charnel house of former wives. She drops the key to the floor in horror where it becomes stained with blood that will not wash off no matter how she tries…

Bluebeard finds her out, and sets out to do just what he said he would do…  though she is saved in the last moment by her brothers who show up in the nick of time…

an’ cut ‘Ol Bluey down…

The traditional meaning is that of a cautionary tale,

‘Oh curiosity thou mortal bane, spite of my charms thou causest oft pain and sore regret..’ Charles Perrault

followed swiftly by reassurances that men are not so bad..

‘This a story is of time long pass’d; No husbands now such panic terrors cast; Nor weakly, with a vain despotic hand, Imperious, what’s impossible, command:’ (ibid)

More recently its been given socio-political attention with BB in the role of Patriarch enforcing gender roles with violence, or more psychologically with BB in the role of pathological narcissist. Clarrisa Pinkola Estes calls him,

‘the predator of the Psyche, wanting to sever intuition, a malignant force at odds with the instincts of the natural self.”

Von Franz amplifies this theme, BB is the destructive, murderous animus which must be encountered in order to grow..

”If a woman hasn’t gone through the experience of being trapped by a demon animus she only has unconscious thoughts.”

All well and good but there is a curious detail in the story that snags my attention.. Most of the interpretations are based on later versions of the tale in which the youngest of three sisters falls for his charms because she is naive, or she marries him against his will. But in the original by Perrault there’s neither foolishness nor abduction…

Bluebeard goes to one of his neighbours…

‘a lady of quality, whose two daughters were perfect beauties. He desired of her one of them in marriage, leaving to her the choice which of the two she would bestow upon him….

‘I want one of your children, it doesn’t matter which…’

None of this phases anyone. There is no outrage, no injunctions never to darken her door again. Mother colludes and passes of her kid like a mail-order bride who gradually identifies with BB rather than face how she has been betrayed.

There was nothing then to be seen but parties of pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth and feasting. Every thing succeeded so well, that the youngest daughter began to think the master of the house not to have a beard so very blue, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman…

A six year old child, having been persuaded onto her parent’s lap rather than explore the nearby swings and play area, is trying to extricate herself in an ungainly way whilst mother chides her softly like Nursy from Blackadder..

‘Oh you.. banana-brain…’

child’s inaudible muttering…

What are you?… a banana-brain.

more muttering..

‘banana-brain, that’s what you are.’

And you could say its just harmless fun and the mother is ‘joking’ in an extroverted and jovial way. ‘Its just people being what they are,’ you say, but actually its the worst kind of cruelty.. making a child feel stupid for wanting a go on the swings, feeling like a banana-brain in adult life for wanting to explore, embittered and muttering in old age for the life that’s been denied her.

Such throw away lines are how lives are poisoned. Often repeated they become the kernel around which identity is built because our survival compells us to adapt to expectation. So even when she’s free she stumbles, can’t get co-ordinated, making a hash of her liberty, just like… a banana-brain.

Her inner life is destroyed, not by showdowns, punishments or overt rejection but by one thing parodying  another, by the wicked cleverness that can say you are stupid and I hate you with a smile. What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke?

Life is what you make it but more importantly its what you believe it to be. Life will faithfully offer us up our expectations of it, rising to manifest and mirror back to us all our prejudices, secret fears and covert assumptions.

‘We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” Torah

That which we cannot face on the inside comes at us from the outside. Having had her inner life attacked by her social-climbing mother, our heroine learns to attack herself, killing off her sponteneity, deadening her sexuality, stringing up her feelings and hobbling the discriminating function that feelings are there to serve.

When she intrudes upon BB’s inner chamber she is bound to find there some expression of this violation. She is going to find her worst nightmares in the little room because she has entered into this arrangement in terrible bad faith, having sold out her integrity and the possibility of true love for the sake of a life of easy luxury.

BB is certainly a villain, but never pretending to be more or less than he is. There is no deception. ‘I want one of your daughters, I don’t care which.” The poor bride masks over the awful injury this constitutes by following suit, pretending that people and privacy don’t matter, but has to kill off her aliveness and subjugate herself to the tyranny of life’s baubles which will extract their pound of flesh from her one way or another. Her inner world will be attacked on a regular basis.

Life presents us with the face we show it and mirrors back to us inner states normally occluded from veiw.

I once comforted a woman whose husband had just had a heart attack and was at death’s door in hospital… but I withdrew my hand from her shoulder as if bitten by a snake when she wailed, ‘who will help me now?” Her thoughts were not of him, nor her tears about him, but about the burden of her middle-class chores.

Through her tears she then told me a dream that wild dogs had gotten into her lovely white Mercedes convertible and torn all the upholstery to pieces. Her inner life had been ripped out by her paltry material concerns and the utter failure to transcend her own petty troubles.

”We thought it was the outer event that had happened to us, but now see that it is we who have happened to ourselves.’ F. Wickes.

Its curious how much sympathy the heroine evokes, how villainous BB seems to be, polarised utterly with the Soldiers of Light, the brothers who finally do him in. Yahweh fairs much better in the popularity stakes when he puts Eve to the same test. Her curiosity gets her eternal damnation wheras Mrs BB just inherits everything and comes up smelling of roses.

There is no transformation. The dead wives are as much a part of her world as BB himself and killing him off still leaves her with the problem of life denied and the damage done to her personal destiny by the spell which compells her to identify with toxic values rather than her own gut feeling…

which says that people come before stuff.

 

 

The Tyranny of Lawn.

How people have their gardens is interesting. What they do with them, even if it is nothing, says much about a person because it embodies something of their relationship with Nature and their own Deep Selves.

Maybe you don’t have a garden and long for one but that too is a relationship, missing space to potter and grow stuff. Or, you only have a potted Yucca to call your own but that can be enough if you love it.

Some feel gardening is just housework out of doors. If you scratch a little you’ll find that Life itself is a drudge, the day a series of tedious boxes to tick all linked together with Obligation’s resentment.

Others ‘maintain’, their patch. Its a notch up from housework-out-of-doors because there’s a little pride in it though it’s limited to space to-be-kept-the-same, the chaos of creative potential held firmly in check.

More are making their mark or making an effort, or having something to do because there is nothing to do..

On the far-side there are the parking lots, Nature supplanted by Tarmac, forecourts for the glittering prize.

More wierd than the Parking-Lotters are the Lawn Brigade, acolytes of a tradition strangely rooted in tyranny and death.

Back in the day, only the rich could afford to hire the many hands needed to scythe and weed the grass, so a lawn was a mark of wealth and status.  The earliest lawns, however, had a very specific purpose.  They were the closely trimmed verge around medieval castles in France and Britain, kept clear of trees so guards had an unobstructed view of any dodgy blokes in armour that might hove into veiw.

Part of the problem with building big fat castles and hiding your loot in them is that everyone for miles around knows it’s there. The word ‘lawn’ comes from the Celtic ‘laun’ meaning safe enclosure, which sounds very sweet and mystical except that it was invariably a clearing on the other side of which are bearded hordes with a malevolent twinkle in their eye..

and pointy sticks..

The first lawns were battle grounds. Nice to promenade about on with your mates and stretch limbs weary from the Watch, but their real purpose was to deprive everything within bowshot of cover to hide in.

The bigger your castle, the more anxious the need for protection, the bigger your lawn needs to be, a kind of insurance policy reasoned on the likely assumption that the more loot you have the more attention you are likely to receive from unsavoury parties.

The problem with making a bet that something bad is going to happen to you is that it catches the attention of the Fates as well as that of your less than salubrious neighbours who are bound to then usher all kinds of ill to your door…

mostly in the form of armies.

So the status symbol of the pristine lawn originates in fear and conflict precipitated by folk having more than they need. The lawn, gentle epitome of Pimms, Tennis, and that Lounger-in-the-Sun, is actually the yawning gap across which Us is divided from Them.

So the next time you’re out trying to relax on the lawn but finding it difficult to do it justice, it might be down to your endocrine system anticipating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..

and the cannon balls of very bad luck…

but mostly what makes it so difficult for us to relax that we need multi-billion dollar service industries working around the clock to make any kind of dent in it, is good old fashioned Conscience…

.. way deeper than any internalised moral code which knows that both the castle and its sumptuous lawns are bread from the mouths of starving babes and who’s purpose it is to rectify the balance any way it can, including the judicious use of colourful neurotic afflictions and physical symptoms.

Conscience is its own thing, beyond any great influence of the ego. It grows horns and a tail like anything else we try to suppress, becoming a kind of Fury that brings it’s own form of Justice to the table when normal constraints have failed.

It is She who compells any person who has more than they need to..

”unconsciously seek retributive punishment in order to atone and so remove the sense of guilt at having avoided the problem of love.” Frances Wickes.

Curiously, the Palace of Versailles has just obtained a dreamlike piece of ‘lawn art’, pictured above. It is a life size statue of Sarah Kerrigan in her role as ‘Queen of Blades’, an assassin hero from the Starcraft Universe. She is an avenging harpie..

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman swarmed..’ Queen of Blades.

These blades are not for cutting the grass. They are for exacting poetic retribution. When the Principle of Relatedness is cut off for the sake of having power over others She haunts the lawn, working tirelessly behind the scenes to reach  those parts that official channels cannot, making us live in the ivory tower the lawn serves…

cut off from self and others.

Paranoia and Parapraxis.

Once upon a time there lived a poor couple whose greatest wish was to have a child….

From a small upstairs window in their little cottage, where they could see over a high wall and into a wonderful garden owned by an Enchantress in which there were all manner of exotic and magical plants, the woman spied a great clump of Rampion growing. Rampion is famed for it’s fertile properties and  she set her heart upon having some. So she persuaded her husband to clamber over the wall in dead of night and fetch her a bit.

..which he did.

and the next night too… and the night after that..

..getting quite blase now about his habitual stroll through this strange garden by moonlight to collect Rampion.

Until one evening, in a twinkling, the Enchantress has planted herself in his path, way bigger than he imagined with purple tendrils of electricity snaking about her fingertips.

‘What are you doing’? she asks, in a voice silky with impending malice..

”Er, sorry your Enchantress-ship. I was collecting Rampion for my wife who wishes to conceive a child. Please don’t turn me into anything nasty.”

The Enchantress pondered for a moment, ‘very well, but when the child is born it will be mine,” and then she vanished in a thunder clap leaving the poor man clutching his Rampion and quaking in his boots. On the day the child was born the Enchantress appeared as if by magic and scooped the babe up, ‘I will call her Rapunzel after the Rampion,’ she said and then they were gone..

To say that the Enchantress was an over-protective mother doesn’t quite do justice to her determination that Rapunzel be sequestered from the world. She built a tower in the forest without doors and Locked Rapunzel Up. Occasionally the Enchantress would arrive with supplies and command Rupunzel to lower her lengthy tresses for her to climb up..

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair..’

One day the local Prince is riding by and sees all this happening. He’s a tad curious and go’s over to the tower once the Enchantress is gone…

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair..’

So, he climbs up and they fall in love… as you might expect. But what happens next is not so expected…

One day the Enchantress visits and as she’s climbing over the balcony Rapunzel inadvertantly blurts, ‘ oh, you are so much more heavy than the Prince,’ and before she realizes it the truth is out. The enraged Enchantress cuts off Rapunzel’s tresses and banishes her to a filthy hovel in some farflung desert place. Then she lies in wait for the Prince.

Slips of the tongue, or ‘paraparaxis’, meaning ‘beyond what is acceptable’, in Greek, can get you into a world of trouble.  The problem with slips of the tongue is that they have a nasty habit of outing unacceptable truths. Its as if the Truth is just busting to find expression. The more unacceptable that Truth is the harder it will push for the light.

which is all very well. But to the person who’s just outed themselves its like having an inner traitor.

My most cringe-worthy slip of the tongue was in the library,  wanting to borrow a reference copy of the ‘Writers and Artists Year Book. The librarian was very attractive and scantily clad in summer heat. I tried my best to ignore the fact, not least of all because a gaggle of old ladies in the doorway were looking me up and down as if to say, ‘we know what you’re thinking you filthy little man..’

So I was on my best behaviour, and doing my utmost to be polite..

‘Good afternoon, do you have a copy of the Writer’s and Arse Tits Year Book?

which brings us to the next order of business, Paranoia. Something Unknown is Doing I Don’t Know What… and it doesn’t seem to have the interests of polite society on its agenda…

The Prince climbs up Rapunzel’s severed locks only to find the Enchantress at the top who wants very much to scrag him. Only by throwing himself from the tower is he saved, though he loses his eyes to the thorny thicket surrounding the tower on his way down.

Paranoia is when you think something is going on but its not. We overlay reality with our own inner pallette to the point that what gets painted is really rather different from what is actually there. The Prince thinks he’s getting Rapunzel but has to deal with the Enchantress instead…

a common male complaint.

He’s bound to feel that some wicked will is working against him. We’re all conditioned by experience to expect the world to respond to us in a particular way. Survival depends on learning who we are from our environment and living up to its expectations even if they are not good for us.

”Instictive forces do not reason. They assume, from the immense weight of their experience,.. that it will serve the individual well to be stabilized according to  initial experience.’. Jean Liedloff.

What this means is that..

‘the design of each individual is a reflection of the experience it expects to encounter… defined by the circumstances to which its antecedents had adapted.” ibid

So the boy who was humiliated by his mother, says to himself que sera sera, this is how it is. He adapts and expects to be humiliated by Life. He will even engineer it if he can, because survival means integrating Expectations, even if that expectation is that you are stupid and will fail.

‘Not so easily do we forget what we learned with our Mother’s milk’. Dostoevsky

The prejudices and assumptions we all have about life serve to create a seamless fit between the peculiarities of childhood and the objective face of a wider and untested Universe later on. Confronting your own paranoia, realising that how things were needn’t be how they are, is a huge wake up that can rob a person of their usual perceptual ability symbolised by the Prince’s blinding.

When I was a kid there was always a sense of something amiss at home that I couldn’t name until one day my father put his hand on my mother’s shoulder and she involuntarily shuddered with disgust. I was shocked. My first thought was, ‘what else is it that I cannot see.” And even though it was disorienting and painful, I grew.

because the painful thing was at least real.

‘Loosening and even fragmenting the internal psychic environment. . . is the ground for the birth and development of higher psychic structure. Disintegration is the basis of developmental thrust upward, the creation of new evolutionary dynamics and the movement of the personality to a higher level.’ Dabrowski

So the prince has to wander blindly about the  kingdom like a beggar until one day, deo concedente, by the will of the gods, he finds Rapunzel in her desert hovel. She recognizes him straight away, embraces him and her hot tears fall upon his eyes which are then restored.

Love heals all wounds.

Both Rapunzel’s parapraxis, which caused so much trouble, and the Prince’s paranoia…more trouble, ultimately serve the individuation of both and bring them together in a very human way unencumbered by the ivory towered inflation of their first encounter.

So slips of the tongue, though embarrassing, serve to bring unconscious material within reach of consciousness; and paranoia, though uncomfortable, helps to air the gap between what we think is happening and what is actually going on whilst continuously encountering the Unknown and being bent into interesting shapes by it.

 

The Plague Pit.

If you were to look to history for examples of how to get yourself out of a fix on a grande scale you’d think you couldn’t do much better than the miraculous swath of time that birthed the Rennaisance out of the Dark Ages. You could be forgiven for feeling that therein lay some treasure, a mystical clue to the redemptive flowering of Humanity rooted in some collective noble sentiment or sacrificial gesture.

But no..

It was done for them, or rather.. to them…

by a nasty little beast called Yersinia Pestis.

The author of this great Resurgence to our collective spirit, impossible without an affluent middle class, was not benevolent Popery or Charlegmane’s Universities, nor the art scene in Florence. It was Yersinia riding abroad on her mount, the mighty rat flea Xenopsylla, which made up for it’s teensiness by jumping far and harbouring pustule inducing chemical weapons that can kill quicker than thirst.

The Black Death killed over half of Europe. A liberating bonanza for those it left behind and so the West flourished for a while until Yersinia was wiped out…

or went back to her reservoir for a well earned rest.

”Widespread death eroded the strict hereditary class divisions that had, for centuries, bound peasants to land owned by local lords.” Louisa Woodville

Like sex, death is a great equaliser. It meant a temporary end to the stranglehold of landlords by the sudden dip in demand from surviving peasantry who, flush with inheritance, could now negotiate wages and had both the time and the means to better themselves, to fulfill personal ambition and potentials previously impossible.

Da Vinci’s mother Catarina was of peasant stock, as was Bruegel, Goya, and Titian.

Unfortunately we can’t have the fabric of society further rent by such upstarts whose contributions, whilst gratefully received, have a way of making people think that is not congruent with their governance.

And so the Deepening State must work to erode the Individuation of its citizens despite the consequences to culture, indeed, must make such a sacrifice in order to consolidate power that now depends on having people at a disadvantage.

What art came out of Nazi Germany? Or music from Stalin’s Russia? Not a lot. Stalin made musicians compose in groups so as to prevent any one individual from shining to brightly. Result? Decades of dreary band music. Shostakovitch was made to apologise to the Russian people publicly for the poor state of National musicianship….

Stalin was not just aware of his impact on Russian culture. He planned it, a deliberate, plaguing policy of dumbing people down.

Russian jokes play on the erosion of personal expression and identity. This one is a conversation between a foreman and a worker at a construction site. All its words are derived from the single obscene word khuy.

Ohuyeli! (have you gone mad?).. Nahuya (why) dohuya (so much) huyni (of stuff) nahuyarili (you have loaded up?) Rashuyarivay.. (unload it) nahuy.. (out of here).

Huli?! (What’s the problem?) Nihuya!.. (no way) Nehuy.. no need) Rashuyarivat,.. (to unload). Nehuyacheno.. (it got loaded) nehuyovo.. (quite well). Pohuyarilli.. (let’s go!)

Author S.-A. Kristofferson offers the tentative translation..

”Fuckheads! Why did you load so much of this shit? Unload it the fuck away from here.”

‘What’s the fucking problem? Fuck no! No need to unload. It got loaded right. Lets go.”

Another story tells the fate of a Ukrainian factory marked out for a special award and visit from dignitaries to bestow it with a Quality Mark. The bosses told the workers to mind their language and banned any obscenities. Production fell sharply. The bosses discovered that all the workers’ tools were known only by  their profane names, pizdulina, huynyashka, huyutina, all loosely translated as ‘thing’.

The same went for technological processes. Zayabenit, to push or force through, prihuyuachit, to connect or bond, huynut, to move slightly, zahuyarit, to throw far away or to put in deeply….

Plague is a symbol of something. It hits where there is the greatest density, the greatest sedimentation of character, entrenched identity that cannot move with the times. Its what happens when we are cut off from both ourselves and one another.

 In Camus’, ‘the Plague’, the citizens of Oran are initially indifferent to one another’s suffering because each person is selfishly convinced that his or her pain is unique compared to “common” suffering.”  S Notes.

or is the plague caused by the indifference, the omnipotent fantasy of being ‘unique’… identifying oneself with persona at the expense of authenticity?

Both physically and symbolically plague is about claustrophobic ‘no-space’. Fortunately ‘space’ is about a great deal more than the cubic yardage of your apartment. It also addresses an inner condition which has to do with being able to reflect, to tell yourself off, to value the wilderness within sufficiently to want to spend time there despite its dangers.

The problem is that getting some inner elbow room means coughing up hairballs and received wisdoms that will make you question stuff supposed to be set in stone.  The alternative is not to enquire, not to question, not to ask…which is where plague suddenly, surreptitiously, sets in.

When we are all boxed in and have no space, plague ensues one way or another, either in the spontaneous manifestation of Yersinia mounted atop faithful Xenopsylla, or the living death of stumbling towards a fate that is not your own.

Recognizing our potential, at any moment, to fall asleep and unwittingly become an agent of darkness is to become psychically immunized from falling prey to the malevolent bug of egophrenia.” ~Carl Jung- CW 10

…though many are bitten, become infected and die. The worst affected succumb to Cotard’s Delusion, the belief that they are already dead..

and it might be true.

“I see men assassinated around me every day. I walk through rooms of the dead, streets of the dead, cities of the dead; men without eyes, men without voices; men with manufactured feelings and standard reactions; men with newspaper brains, television souls and high school ideas.” Charles Bukowski.

And you can’t help wondering what it all means…and that perhaps if we do not die to our own grandiosity then, like grail kings of old, we will be made to die a different way.

Zombie Nation.

It seems there are as many prepping for the Zombie Apocalypse as there are for WW lll. What does this mean? No-one thinks its real but an awful lot of young people are pre-occupied with it. I even came across a zombie survival manual in someone’s loo recently. It was very detailed.

”your team of hunters will be out during the brightest, hottest, most excruciating part of the day. Make sure each hunter is well supplied with water and antisunstroke accessories.” Max Brooks. Zombie Survival Guide. Complete Protection.

Max put a lot of thought into that. My own seventeen year old waxes between sigma functions of differential equations and the best places to hide out in case of a zombie attack….along with millions of others, judging from the brisk sales of the bestselling survival guide…

and its contribution of a Wall St estimated 6 billion dollars to the economy..

So what is going on?

Max himself says,

”You can deal with societal breakdown, famine, disease, chaos in the streets, but as long as the catalyst for all of them is zombies, you can still sleep.” Max Brooks.

yeees, but that seems a bit thin.. self-analysis always gives you what you already think… It still keeps the zombies ‘out there’, not me and nothing to do with me.

Zombies are one of the main collective psychological fantasies of our culture, a significant contender to Porn Industry for the OCD  Heavy-Weight Championship face-off.

The Living Dead are a collective symbol. They describe an inner condition of Western Consciousness, and because it has to do with us we have a fascination for it.

We have festivals to try and give some creative expression to it. Halloween is second only to Christmas in the Collective Imagination. Yet  it has been so overladen with split off aspects of the modern psyche that it more resembles a Mexican Day of the Dead than it does the original Samhain New Year festival.

The Mexicans proptiate their departed with offerings of food, drink, music and fireworks, to stop them messing in Life’s affairs and ease them along into the next world. Its good psychological hygiene. It works because the Mexicans understand what they are doing. Its a far cry from sending your kids out in elf costumes to get wasted on sucrose.

We have lost the knack of honouring the ancestors, or facing the underbelly of their legacy to us, the planetary pillage they initiated, the theft of whole nations still ours, still exploited, today.

Collectively failing to know our own history makes the walking dead of History’s descendants. Our firm belief in our moral superiority, subjecting others for their own good, the rampant proliferation of narcissism in our culture and continued exploitation of what are now Slave Nations, gives rise to something inside us eternally hungering, devouring of Consciousness, sapping of Life.

We are naturally moral beings. People know when they are living off ill-gotten gains. It makes it difficult for them to enjoy what they’ve taken and makes them subconsciously want to fail, want to be brought down, finds them in need of enemies. Eventually the split off conscience finds some way to sink the shining hero, which is why evil always rots from within and why anything dictatorial is invariably the author of its own demise.

I too believed in my own supremacy once, in elite right to rule. I was priviledged, and suppressed people ‘for their own good’ but strange to say it filled the world with demons that only truly disappeared when I pulled my head out of my ass and reflected on the hidden fascism in policing the planet whilst feasting on its  brains and intestines.

Curiously the symbol of zombie brain-feasting was never part of the original genre. It is as recent a contribution as the Simpsons 1992 classic Treehouse of Horror. Yet, like any divinely inspired midrash, it stuck because it seems right.

But why?

Return of the Living Dead’s writer and director, Dan O’Bannon, suggested that the undead felt the need to feed on brains because it somehow made them feel better by easing their pain.

Which, by way of allegory, is precisely what makes people mess with one another’s heads. The insecure narcissist who knows he is only skin deep has to have someone be the dumbass in the equation. Even the prime Minister of Montenegro will do. Anyone with juicy brains and soft guts.

When Life gets Random..

Of course you have control issues. Life is a bitch and then you die. But worse than being short, nasty and brutish, life is terribly random. For anyone who is not the Silver Surfer and cannot ride the Quantum Fluctuation Fields of curved space, we cope instead by giving chaos a pedigree, saying it was meant to be, as if Fate simply meant being led by the hand through a single possible life.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Bilbo Baggins

Most of us need only reflect on the way we met a partner to remind ourselves how co-incidental life can be, and that everything is a billion to one. We prefer the idea of being in the right place at the right time to try and bring some semblance of order and purpose into events, forgetting what personal responsibility is lost in things that are meant to be, how much expectation then has to be shouldered by the other.

Life’s collective chaos tends to express itself in acts of war. Though we abhor the idea of war so too do we go to battle on the slightest pretext and sometimes on whim and invention. The Gulf of Tomkin debacle, which precipitated the Vietnam war, pissed quite a few people off by never having occured. The Gulf war was joined on the strength of WMD’s which turned out to be a lie. Yemen lies in ruins because the Saudi king doesn’t like their elected President. His mate wants the job.

But its how these chaotic things are sparked that grabs my attention because they are so far flung from the hushed rooms of diplomatic discussion, the fine manners, the fine wine…

and even from the undertones of opportunism, or the cut and thrust of deliberate calculation..

No better event exists than the sublime Unlikelihood of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which started the Great War, to serve as an example of how the most absurd occurence can trigger global events.

There are in fact two versions of the story. The first, less interesting, is the testimony of a fellow conspiritor to the assassin Principe, a Serb Nationalist whose account makes a cunning ambush of the killing… after an initial failed attempt and having been received by the mayor of Sarajevo Fehim Cercic …

”Potiorek, the Austrian Commander, pleaded with Franz Ferdinand to leave the city, as it was seething with rebellion. The Archduke was persuaded to drive the shortest way out of the city and go quickly.

The road to the (Austrian Military) maneuvers was shaped like the letter V, making a sharp turn at the bridge over the River Nilgacka. Franz Ferdinand’s car could go fast enough until it reached this spot but here it was forced to slow down for the turn. Here Principe had taken his stand. As the car came abreast he stepped forward from the curb, drew his automatic pistol from his coat and fired two shots.”  Borijove Jevtic (a member of the Black Hand group who later claimed he had been involved in the assassination.)

The second story, from a number of other primary sources, rings a lot better. It was a shambles. Eight assassins, mostly pneumoniacs who were in the terminal stages of illness and once arrested would not survive long to enjoy their commuted executions, lined the main street of Sarajevo every hundred yards armed with grenades, hand guns and cyanide. You’d think they could manage to take down a  glittery waving target with a great feather hat in the back of a slow moving car with the top down?

But no. The first assassin bottled out. The second threw his grenade but missed, hitting the car behind instead and injuring two of Ferdinand’s men. The royals roared off and the rest of the assassins melted away into the crowd.

And that should have been the end of it, but Chance had only just come out to play and was about to deliver up something in the assassins favour even more unlikely than the golden opportunity they had just botched.

Ferdinand insisted in visiting the two men injured in the attack once the official business at the town hall was concluded.

”In order to avoid the city centre, General Oskar Potoriek decided that the royal car should travel straight along the Appel Quay to the Sarajevo Hospital. However, Potiorek forgot to tell the driver, Franz Urban, about this decision. On the way to the hospital, Urban took a right turn into Franz Joseph Street….

where there just happens to be a cafe that sells cheap coffee… which was where Principe had gone to calm down and collect his nerves while he had a cup of Joe… His breathing had returned to normal, the crowds had dispersed, the police had gone, so he got up, paid and left…

In that moment the Archduke’s car swung round the corner..

One of the conspirators, Gavrilo Principe happened to be standing on the corner at the time. Oskar Potoriek immediately realised the driver had taken the wrong route and shouted “What is this? This is the wrong way! We’re supposed to take the Appel Quay!”.

The driver put his foot on the brake, and began to back up. In doing so he moved slowly past the waiting Gavrilo Principe. The assassin stepped forward, drew his gun, and at a distance of about five feet, fired several times into the car. (http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWassassination.htm)

within a month Europe was plunged into the war to end all wars.

I personally feel rather intimidated that a cup of coffee could trigger such an event. Its the kind of thing that makes you want to move more slowly and be careful where you put stuff down just in case you start world war 3. Who knows what cataclysmic events might be set in motion by popping out for a pint of milk…

or riding your bike..

Fortunately, I also laugh in the face of danger. Brazen with courage, but careful as can be, I venture out every day – knowing full well the mayhem that can ensue from saying hello, the shrapnel that can fly from tipping your hat just so. Yet I manage to brave it all none the less.

Luckily the chaos that happily ensues from the teensiest thing is also what seems to generate creativity, steepen your learning curve, and bring the soul to fruition.  DNA research shows that the further from the Alduvi gorge humanity roamed, the more complex human DNA became. The challenges, the new skills that had to be learned, the eternal encounter with the unknown and having to adapt to it… all this fed and strengthened nomadic wo/man.

Our is not a survival of the fittest. In fact Darwin only used the phrase once, rather tentatively, in his whole Origin of Species. His emphasis was actually on the survival of those best able to adapt. His phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ has been given the best of all possible make overs and emphasised by the Establishment because it implies the right of might and power as proof of its own legitimacy, useful at a time (1859) when you are busy colonising the planet.

We need unforseen change like roses need muck which it is why it is a death knell to life’s adventure to wish it were all easier, something I have to remind myself of twenty times a day. Moreover, we are not just the passive recipients of what happens to us, some canvas on which life viciously paints itself. If freedom is simply freedom from, from oppression, tyranny, tragedy, we cannot be free because all this chaos is the raging stream in which we swim. It is home as well. So better we ask, given the chaos, what am I free for…?

 

 

 

Thunder, Perfect Mind.

How big is the Universe?

very big..

with mobius strip blueprints.

People who think about such stuff, other than those trying to perfect techniques of delayed ejaculation and have already mastered their times tables, generally fall into one of three groups..

each one of which has its own Quantum Demon to wrestle with.

The first bunch, the Old School, like their Universe all squared away, limited in space and time. The second lot, Hawking’s Hotspurs, are a bit more mystical and have their Universe expanding. The third, mostly consisting of undergraduates in possession of their first ever quarter of skunk,

say its infinite and goes on forever, dude.

The Quantum Demons that preside over each mob have the rational mind by the hip. The First confonts the Old School with what might lie beyond their sign in the verge..

‘No Parking, Universe non-existent beyond this point”.

The second, the Big Bang Demon, feasts on the arguement that the Universe expands at such tearing speed we cannot creep up on it fast enough with a tape measure. Even the speed of light has a number and the fact that you can’t sharpen your pencil quickly enough, or live long enough to chase after all the zeros involved, doesn’t mean that the number, though unimaaaaginably big, isn’t out there and therefor the question, ‘What is supposed to lie beyond?”, still remains. Put more simply, ‘What are we supposed to be expanding into?’

The third Demon takes a large toke himself and asks, ‘If the Universe is three dimensional, twiddly warps in time and space not withstanding, how can it contain that which is infinite?

Err..

The Universe cannot go on forever and yet it must. You can appreciate why the story of a minor god, Ialdabaoth also known as Yahweh, creating it All out of pique at his Mum, who’d sent him to his luminous cloud for bad behaviour..

should become so popular.

It by-passed the paradox.

God made it.

Problem solved.

I like the idea of Autogenesis, that which makes itself. Somehow, something that comes into existence because It Wants To dwarfs the question of it’s inside leg measurement, however mighty.

At the micro cosmic end of the scale you find a similar paradox. It also has to do with time and space doing what they shouldn’t.

Matter is and is not.

Fortunately, these things are supposed to be a mystery.

‘I am the utterance of my name.” Thunder, Perfect Mind.

Hoping for redemption at some point in the future on the basis of being sorry for something you did in the past is not only designed to rip you out of the present. It gives you the idea that everything can be understood. And that’s why there is no real wonder anymore.

because you have to be able to acknowledge that you haven’t actually got a fucking clue, not even if you are awake or asleep, to find wonder in any one moment.

I knew a Professor of Comparative Religion from Oregon who approached his work in a very rational and academic way. Eventually the mysteries of all these religions began to plague him and he got really obsessed by that-which-could-not be-spoken. In particular he was tormented by the Buddhist concept of Desirelessness.

He heard there was a great Buddhist master visiting in the next state and drove all night to meet him. When question time arose he jumped up and said,

‘but how can you desire desirelessness?’

The master shrugged and said, ‘It just doesn’t bother me.’

At some point contradiction collapses into paradox and rather than confuse and agitate it soothes and nourishes.

‘We are all alone, together.’ Buddhist proverb.

Its supposed to be a mystery.

The Uninvited Guest.

Carl Jung tells the story of a man who came to see him in despair. He had just married his fourth wife and was anxious it would go the way of the other three, as though he was driven by a compulsion to destroy his intimate relationships. Jung asked about the three former wives and it turned out they were all sculptors.

Jung chuckled and said, ‘Well its simple, you have to manifest the creative part of yourself and stop getting your wives to carry such intolerable expectations.” So the man became a sculptor and managed to protect his marriage from the vengeance of a muse grown to angry destruction in the wings of life’s pageant.

What cannot come in by the door will climb in by the window. When others live out our dreams for us it ends badly but the divorce courts might prove to be the least of a person’s concerns .

After all the creative principle,

”does not take a man by the hand and lead him right up to Paradise; she puts him first into a hot cauldron where he is nicely roasted for a while.” Von Franz

..the choice not to be roasted is really a decision to be eaten up a different way… The muse becomes dark and forbidding..

you have never given her a chance of expressing herself, and therefore she has become inhuman and brutal.”ibid

but with poetic intent, for your pleasure and delight…

When inner choices are restricted some kind of compensation is bound to ensue in its concretised and less conscious outer form. We may then manage to turn our consumerism into an index of success and prosperity rather than experience it in its original form as a compulsion born out of inner hungering and unfulfillment but it will still taste like chewing gum and smell like burnt rubber.

By their nature, Single System Systems discourage the kind of errant wandering necessary for Individuation. We are free in the way captive baboons cling to the bars of their cages when released into the wild. Children are not encouraged to think, to follow their own destiny, to really choose, and so you have 68 different types of snack instead to pour all your creative energy into and, having energetically shortlisted and brainstormed, arrived at the difficult choice twixt Wispa and Mars.

”Here the Crocodile god, Inertia, presides. He invites you to share his sunny log and, as you contentedly bask in the sun, he obligingly swallows the energy that might otherwise disturb your sleep.” Frances Wickes.

Its easy to forget that the archetypal principle associated with creativity and embodied by figures like Dionysus or Loki are gods of madness as well as gods of abundance. Put clinically, emerging potential ‘de-integrates’ ego structures. One way or another it disrupts the human realm, arriving always in a great chaotic clamour that cannot help but make a mess of things..

and that’s when he’s in a good mood.

Analyst Lyn Cowan suggests masochism is a distortion of the principle of submission to higher wisdom. Perhaps sadism and what passes for ‘ordinary’ cruelty can be distortions, sometimes horrendous, of creative buds that fail to fruit when higher wisdom is not acknowledged, Dionysus, Render of Humans, grown angry and petulant.

I once new a man with a string of anti-social convictions, a text book psychopath with very little interest in what was going on around him or in any creative venture until he’d had three lines of coke and half a dozen Intergalactic Gargle Blasters whereupon he would spontaneously weave metered poetry around the evening’s events in perfect rhyme.

Next day it would all be forgotten.

It seemed that much of his anti-social meanness was about more than what he might have suffered as a child, it was the vengeance of his creative spirit that was only allowed out to play once he was massively disinhibited.

Collective inhibition, which persuades us there is nothing we do not know that is also worth our effort, is the same beguiling voice that then offers us a compensatory outer world of dazzling novelty, everything new, improved, and yours by right.

For life to be good it has to be easy. We want it easier as though the worth of life could be ascertained by how little you had to put into it….

as though there was an inverse relationship between meaning and getting your trousers on. Generally speaking our highest ideal is not to have to do anything. We work so that we can take time off from it. We do it today to be free tommorrow.

Life-as-a-journey, with its glassy, jaundiced eye perpetually upon some future goal rather than upon life as it happens, gets upgraded to life-as-vacation, at least it should be if only the lousy world would cut you some slack and let you trough through that bucket list you’ve been nursing.

as though life’s fulfillment could not take place without riding shotgun in the Paris to Dakar rally or walking the ten tors of Dartmoor. So what we want to happen next is seriously going to mess with what happens next. It’s a form of dismissive and limiting attachment that ultimately makes an old grouch of those whose creative life has been made dependent on time and money.

”People who have a creative side and do not live it out are most disagreeable. They make a mountain out of a molehill, fuss about unnecessary things, are too passionately in love with somebody who is not worth so much attention, and so on. There is a kind of floating charge of energy in them which is not attached to its right object and therefore tends to apply exaggerated dynamism to the wrong situation. M.L. von Franz

In the Samuri tradition, warriors were expected to hone their skills in calligraphy, poetry and painting. This was not just to garnish their CV, it was psychological hygiene to make sure that unlived creativity did not sour and devolve into indiscriminant pointyness.

In the West we’re busy cutting these outlets from our curriculum. They can’t be quantified and take too much effort. When would you ever need to play a bassoon? What use is a pen and ink drawing? Will making a kite put food on the table?

So we demure and go back to the T.V. where nothing is required of us….exulting quietly that our sloth is really a measure of frilly cuffed sophistication. Of course one might think of  ‘leisure’ as a well earned reward for hard work but that still somehow fails to address the truth that for many, life’s highest value can be measured in days spent comatose on a beach with nothing to do till dinnertime.

 

 

 

 

Time, Eternity and Bathtime.

The recent stink created in scientific circles by Stephen Hawking’s angry letter to Big Bounce theorists, Ijjas, Steinhardt and Loeb, is as interesting to Psychology as it is to Physics.

Firstly the letter claims that there can be ‘no disputing’ the current model championed by Hawking and his friends, of an ever expanding Universe. This is curiously authoritarian for ‘objective’ scientists.

He was angry, you say… How interesting.

Then the letter cited just how many scientific documents exist to support the dominant model.

Our dick is way bigger than yours.

most scientific..

But even stranger, they then went on to say that Ijjas et al were disrespecting the scientific community by their research and rubbishing the research of the signatries, which is a glorious piece of paranoia….

By holding your opinion you are attacking me and destroying everything I stand for..

So, what makes otherwise level headed chaps suddenly become Unquestionable Authority believing that Vengeful Dissenters are out to get them?

when paradigm shifts turn your world upside down.

Something unknown is doing I don’t know what.

Ijjas et al have some compelling evidence gleaned from the European Space people, a mapping of the most ancient light, Cosmic Microwave Background, by the space probe, Plank. What they found was a puzzle and didn’t fit with what you might expect if you subscribed to the accepted veiw.

And so they said as much.

The frenzy with which this was then received is typical treatment of all mould breakers. They get pilloried and called into line like apostates. The leading lights of their day become the old guard, defending against innovation, unable to bear that their story might be but one among many.

Quantum theory itself asserts that what we see out there mostly has to do with us, so these riled physicists have had a raw nerve gouged somewhere..

what might it be?

The problem is that Science finds it very difficult to deal with some of its own conclusions….

especially when they are decidedly mystical.

And you don’t have to be a physics major to see it. The current model says that the Universe came into being 13 billion years ago. How can it make sense to say that Time came into being at a point in time? It’s a tautological argument whatever ‘age’ you put on the Universe. The reason it’s a tautological is because you have to refer to a moment in time in which you aver Time was created..

which is a tad circular.

Moreover, it is in the nature of Time to tick, and so the mains of a time when Time began, can be additionally garnished with the question of what was going on at elevenses the previous day…

The Big Bang theory is more than a scientific theory. It is a creation myth. Those that tend it, the true believers, do so with curiously sacred and tetchy devotion. Questioning into what does the Universe expand is a bit like asking an Australian Aboriginal to explain how bandicoots came from Ka-ro-ra’s armpit.

Ijjas et al propose a ‘Big Bounce’, contraction and expansion, which suggests recurring life-cycles and sentience…

within which the Universe is perhaps more of a three dimensional Mobius Strip. If you went as fast as your legs could carry you, armed with enough biscuits, you’d soon approach Earth…

The veiw that our telescopes continually approach the boundary of Creation leads to a strange condundrum. Since matter cannot approach the speed of light without becoming infinitely dense, the light of the Big Bang must precede it’s material manifestation, which means that the light of the Origin exists outside the conceivable Universe let alone the measurable Universe…

and all of a sudden Orthodoxy is plunged into sacred fire.

Not disssimilar to the goal of Consciousness as suggested by the Gnostic gospel of Thomas….

“I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand has touched, and what has not arisen in mind.” Thomas logia 17

that which is both ‘the light’ and no-thing.

Thomas Kuhn observes that folk on the cusp of paradigm change tend to behave in the same way no matter which era you find them in. They carry pitchforks and torches. He defines science as….

“a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions”. T. Kuhn

Which is why we can live with the paradox that recognises being hugely overweight is problematic whilst owning more stuff than you need is aspired to as the very symbol of success.

Can you imagine how bright the torches would burn, how pointy the garden gear, if a significant body of folk suddenly got it into their heads that having more than you need is a form of obesity and something to be troubled about?

…and that the ubiquitous collective value we’re sold, to be rich and famous, is the same as wanting to be fat? If a person’s body weight reflected average wealth then the richest of our species would put blue whales to shame.

On the side of obscene, slavering wealth, is the conditioning of centuries that associates money with salvation and the right to rule. We regard material gain as deserved and even ordained which means the stuff you stole also has the numinous power to confer legitimacy on the theft and transform it into something noble.

One of the greatest symbols of this in the West is the Spear of Longinus, now housed in the Vatican treasury, the spear that supposedly pierced the side of Christ. When Hitler invaded Austria the first and only thing he did that day was to take possesion of the Spear of Longinus from where it was kept at the time in Vienna.

The gilded Spear magically confers legitimacy on the owner, no matter how it has been obtained and therefor represents a symbolic equation between wealth/possession and the favour of the gods.

Since piety replaced good works as the index of salvation as early as the Council of Nicea in the fourth century, it became difficult to tell saint from sinner. Charity no longer counted for much, and so piety had to be inferred by the extent to which god’s blessings might rain down upon you. Wealth and virtue become synonymous, resolving once and for all the puzzle of spiritual poverty being dolled from a golden chalice.

Scientific theories are just like the spear of Longinus, we imbue them with the Magic of Authority and get very peeved when someone claims their relic to be more holy. Creeds of any kind are dangerous. They let us live with horrendous contradiction and stamp all over originality.

Personally I like the Big Bubble theory over the Big Bang and the Big Bounce. This theory says that somewhere God is creating the Universe with bubble bath.  Our galaxies are all in the the skin of the bubbles which sometimes burst but get re-made with just a little splashing. Not quite in Eternity, yet neither in time, life emerges in the unimaginable vastness of the Monad’s wash tub.

 

 

 

 

On Not Wanting To Know.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, the Master takes Thomas to one side and gives him some secret teaching. Thomas demonstrates his worthiness to receive this knowledge by refusing to be drawn into a comparison between Christ and anyone else.

”Master, my mouth will absolutely not permit me to say you resemble any one.” Then Jesus said, ‘I am not your master. Because you have drunk..from the bubbling spring I have made to gush out, (and so) he took him aside…” logia 13

When the other disciples ask what Christ said to him Thomas refuses to tell them, not out of preciousness but out of fear…

”If I tell you one of the logia that he said to me you will take up stones and throw them against me” ibid

So, we don’t get to find out what these teachings are, nor why they would provoke reasonable and even saintly men to violence, but we might find some meaningful extrapolation in the Apocryphon of John, which was also found at Nag Hammadi, and which also describes a set of secret teachings to the author who likewise demonstrated that he had ‘the ears to hear’..

”I said, “Lord, how does the soul become smaller and return back into the nature of its mother?”

Then he rejoiced when I asked this, and he said to me, “Truly you are blessed, for you have understood! That soul is made to follow another who has the Spirit of Life in it. It is saved by that (other) one. Then it is not cast into another flesh.” Apocryphon of John logia 23.

we are to save one another.

now that’s something you might get stoned for….

John went one further than telling everyone he could find, he wrote the whole thing down. The Gnostics considered what he had to say so significant, so pivotal to spiritual life, that it was the most copied work found at nag Hammadi.

The Apocryphon is not simply non-canonical. It is the Watergate tape of the fourth century. Just having a copy meant instant death.

John pens a very different Genesis and Yahwewh doesn’t feature all that much. In the beginning was the Monad, out of which emerged Barbello, a mother who begat Sophia, another goddess, who only then made….

something imperfect.

..she created it without her partner. And it was not patterned after the likeness of its Mother, for it had a different form… It was dif­ferent, a model of a lion-faced serpent. His eyes were like flashing fires of lightning. She cast him out from her, outside of those places so that none among the immortals might see him, for she had cre­ated him in ignorance.

She surrounded him with a luminous cloud. And she placed a throne in the midst of the cloud in order that no one might see him and named him Yaltabaoth. This is the Chief Ruler, the one who got a great power from his Mother.

And he was stupefied in his Madness… for he said, ‘I am God and no other God exists except me,” logia 12.

sound familiar?

looking about for a hefty rock yet?

Sophia begins to reconsider what she has done as Yaltabaoth/Yahweh severs diplomatic ties with her and she repents ‘with great weeping’.

So she confesses what she has done to the Monad who helps her trick Yaltabaoth into breathing some of his power into Adam and thus depleating himself. Eve is created by Sophia as Yaltabaoth tries to reverse what he has done.

It is she who aids the whole creation by toiling with him, guiding him by cor­rection toward his fullness, and teaching him..logia 19

Thereafter, Yaltabaoth’s purpose is one of revenge and subjugation..

‘let us therefore cast them out lest they eat if the fruit and become as one of us.” Genesis 3;22

His intent is..

”to deceive the human race, keeping them in ignorance of their true nature, and is the primary means by which Yaltabaoth keeps humanity in subjugation. It is the source of all earthly evil and confusion, and causes people to die “not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth”. Derived from Wisse’s translation.

Yaltabaoth is thorough. He doesn’t stop at expulsion. He sends angels down to seduce humanity…

And the angels changed their own likenesses into the likeness of each one’s mate, filling them with the spirit of darkness…

They brought gold, silver, a gift, and copper and… they beguiled the human beings who had followed them into great troubles by leading them astray into much error and thus the whole creation became enslaved forever.” logia 25

So you can see why the Church might want to destroy this book and anyone who read it. But if these secrets shown to a deserving John are in any way similar to the secrets taught to a deserving Thomas, why might they provoke Jesus’ own disciples to stone wielding violence?

The answer has to do with the way Consciousness develops and the impact this has on self-construct.

Generally speaking we think of Consciousness as an incremental thing, increases by successive stages, building upon what has gone before, the gradual addition of more or less compatible information to an already established and solid storehouse of knowledge.

But Consciousness doesn’t work like that.

‘Perhaps men think I have come to cast peace upon the world and they do not realise that I have come to cast divisions upon the earth, fire, sword, strife… Thomas. logia 16.

The reason for this is that Consciousness, rather than comfortingly adding to our storehouse, sometimes burns it down. What we come to know often negates what was before. Our self-constructs can feel threatened in the process because who we are is inextricably bound up with what we know or think we know.

If what you know is turned on its head then who you are will feel profoundly challenged. Rather than supporting received wisdoms, new experiences can  question all our sacred cows, but its an upset without which there is no real consciousness at all.

”Conflict is the birth of consciousness.” Esther Harding.

So Thomas’ concern that the others would stone him if he told them the truth has to do with his recognition that self-preservation sometimes wins over the thirst for knowledge, a tussle he has just had himself.. What is being asked about is not just game changing but paradigm shifting and therefor destructive to the security of Tried and True.

be careful what you wish for…..

A good example was in yesterday’s news. A white police officer in Hastings Police dept, Michigan, took a DNA test and discovered that he was 18% black. He told his white colleagues in the department who began to rag him about it to such an extent that he finally sued the department for racial discrimination.

The officer’s whole self construct, his job, his relationships, his priviledged role in society was overturned all at once. He was forced into the shoes of his dark brother and compelled across a threshold  that would question his core beliefs.

This happens whenever anyone faces their shadow. You don’t just pop it in you knapsack. It displaces you.

Even worse is the second of life’s great transitions. The shift from shiny persona to a complicated and not so marvellous ego is a breeze next to the one of having ego-consciousness become consciousness-of-an-ego; i.e. having a position outside it .. which begs all kinds of questions about our relationship with our Maker.

”I am the vine which he

doth plant and cherish most

the fruit which grows from me

Is God the holy ghost.” Angelus Silesius.

This is very different from being the helpless pawn of an omnipotent God. It is a philosophy of salvation that is a two way street..

” for such a prayer increases the light of the star.” Jung Seven Sermons.

This is symbolically represented in John’s Apocryphon by Yalbadaoth depleating himself by breathing life into Adam.

”As the human ego depends on God for creativity, so God depends on the ego for its nourishment in the form of trust, confidence and the acceptance of archetypal intentionality.” S. Hoeller.

The paradigm shift offered us by John is as radicle as Galileo’s revelation that the earth revolved sun rather than the other way around. And not just for all the differences in the story. Nor even for the mutual dependence inferred. It turns on its head the generally accepted idea amongst ordinary modern people that we contain a soul, that we are partially divine, as though we could omnipotently house that which transcends us.

No, the soul contains the body. It’s the other way around. Which means that eternal life after death can be happily preceeded by eternal life in the meantime….