The little Match-girl.

It was New Year’s Eve and dreadfully cold. Down the darkening road, all covered with icy slush, came a young girl, bare headed and bare footed. She had her mother’s slippers when she set off but now they were lost. She staggered along, blue lips beyond shivering, a useless shawl clasped about her thin shoulders with one hand and the matches she’d been trying to sell at the market all day in the other.

Eventually she collapsed into a snow drift beside a fine house, unable to go on. Perhaps if she lit a match she might be warmed a little? So she hesitantly drew one out and struck it against the wall. Whoosh, it suddenly seemed as if she were beside the most wonderful iron stove with brass feet and a bronze ornament on top. She was just about to stretch out her feet when… fizzz, the match expired.

So she struck another. The wall became translucent and upon it she saw the vision of a grand table, groaning with piles of all the most wonderful food. A plump goose, cooked to perfection danced towards her but just as she reached for it,… fizzz, the match went out.

Another, and a great Christmas tree rose up covered with a thousand twinkling lights until they seemed like the stars of heaven, one of which fell….

‘Someone has just died’, thought the girl, for so her late grandmother had taught her.

A final match and there stood Grandmother, more beautiful than she had ever been. ‘Grandmother, take me with you,’ she cried and rubbed all the matches against the wall in a great blaze to help keep Grandmother near….

In the cold dawn, sat the poor child, rosy cheeks and upturned smile, frozen in death.

So what is the story about? Some much needed counterpoint to, ‘they all lived happily ever after.’? Little girl wants to join her grandmother in the afterlife and gets her wish? Cautionary tale for ungrateful brats?

Or is it, dreamlike, offering us a scenario to compensate one sided consciousness? C G Jung had a dream once, of craning his neck to look up at a patient. He apologised to her the next time they met, told her the dream and confessed it made him realise that he looked down on her.

Dreams and fairytales balance conscious perspective. They have a self regulating function and correct matters if it gets lopsided or seduced by how mighty fine it is.

What could such a story be compensating?

It was first published in 1845, a time when the powers of Europe were carving up the third world just like the plump and succulent goose in our story, when child slavery was at its most chilling height, when Western belief in its hegemony justified the rape, pillage and genocide of entire nations and got fat from the profit, a state of affairs which had been unfolding as part and parcel of a patriarchal legacy for centuries during which the divine feminine had been cast out into the cold…

The pursuit of happiness as a right, our mouthy insistence on endless choice, way more than we ever need, speaks of the need to try and fill an icy abyss of emptiness. We even have more nuclear bombs than Earth to blow it up with. The frozen plight of the match-girl depicts the inner world of the West’s endemic, malignant narcissism which is not only tolerated but openly encouraged and aspired to.

A dog eat dog mentality is regarded as normal, even strong and successful, as though your worth in the world could only be measured by how many people you had to tread on to get there. But beneath it all is the chill of the snow drift, the inner feeling of being without resources, the constant dragging exhaustion of having to wear someone else’s shoes, of following a destiny not your own, of wanting to be what you are not, of feeling woefully inadequate to life’s challenges.

But then we are saved! The magical matches! Whatever your aspirations are, imbued with..

the Prospect of Atonement.

such that it becomes… Holy Stuff.

The car that will get the girl, that will create the lifestyle, that will land the contract, that will secure the portfolio, that will improve the leverage, that will be the magical, idyllic house that Jack built.

And there is more…

We cling to what we are not allowed, like a threadbare shift that sustains us not one jot from the cold. Despite the compensatory tsunami of gadgets, toys and entire aisles of chocolates in Sainsbury’s, the thin shawl of living for today, something we mostly have such a prejudice about that we equate it with vagrancy and yet..

‘consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin.. be not anxious for the morrow for the morrow will be anxious for itself.’ Mat 6;29.

In fact it’s virtually taboo to live according to such values. People don’t like it. Why? Because it is politically effective. Here and Now is where stuff gets done and we can’t have that. Rather, shake your fist at me and threaten me with tommorrow’s ballot. Satisfy yourself that you’ll do something big, when you next get the chance. Make a flourish… at some point in the future. When you’re not busy. Clutch with pride your freedom to be a political animal… at the next convenient opportunity. Coming soon to an armchair near you…

They say that the Devil’s greatest trick is to pretend he doesn’t exist. We mostly feel that organised religion is on the wane and doesn’t really affect us anymore as a driving force and yet the castrating insistence that future redemption is where it is at, has infiltrated and pervaded the secular world to the extent that it has become a naturalised citizen. The billowing admonishments of priestly classes promising salvation…at some point, becomes the seduction of billboards and advertising jingles, luring the pregnant moment with promises of pain-free gratification once you’ve mortgaged yourself to the hilt and spent the rest on insurance policies to make sure the future does what it says on the tin and coughs your soul back up just in time for death bed wisdoms.

The luminous promise of future spiritual rewards in Heaven, apparently repleat in virgins, has been supplanted by the even more alluring appeal of shiny things which you too might have one day if you press your nose to the grindstone hard enough in the meanwhile and pay into that pension plan….

which you may or may not get to enjoy.

So what remains once we have lifted our eyes to the distant, misty shore of tommorow’s hopes and dreams, is degraded to the kind of misery personified by the match girl. Inner life is left impoverished, starving, unsustainable. We lose not only the beauty of life but the capacity to help ourselves, to confer with one another, to bus in assistance when you need it.

Everything becomes about the momentary glow, the brief sizzle of endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline that you get every time you sit fantasizing about how life could be different, what it should be like, what you’d do with the lottery or the pick of your mates’ wives.

If that seems indecent you might prefer mortgage endowment portfolios tied into an incremental retirement plan. How wonderful life will be then! But then it fizzles and you’re left in your toenail clippings and dog hair, the nasty spot on your belt line and the stench of muck spreading on the neighbour’s field. Powerless to be Now.

Redemption by future stuff  is an ugly mistress. All the uncertainty that attends the reality of brief and uncertain tomorrows has to go somewhere, and so you wind up feeling paranoid and robbed,… like the real American, to bastardise Bill Maher, whose day is spoilt because he can’t flip around the radio without having to hear Mariachi music.

The way we cling to stuff we’re not allowed has a way of bending it out of shape to the point where it may cease to be useful.

The revolutionary simplicity of just refusing to buy into any system that advocates redemption on the never-never becomes a clinging to life-as-we know- it, as though the only way to be in the moment is to stop the world from turning…

and so, strangely, the quest to live for tomorrow becomes, confusingly,  wanting tomorrow to be another version of today.

About getting back with his ex..

‘things are different this time. Before she was demanding and possesive but now she wants me to do stuff and stay with her all the time’ Fry from Futurama.

Before the toll of twelve o’clock Otherness is threatening, hell really is other people. Everything new disrupts and undermines the single point of veiw, that faith in barricading yourself against anyone with whom you aren’t joined at the hip… all of which may well fizzzle out in a moment, but can still be replaced by another and better stopgap, untill you freeze to death in your designer snow drift.

The matchgirl stumbles at the threshold of the New Year, she can’t quite make it into a new arrangement with the world. She dies because she cannot name her true situation or what is actually happening and so she is powerless to help herself.

Letting in how duped she has been, how miserably treated, how seduced with false hopes and petty dreams as well as all the inevitable contradictions of realizing one’s own complexity, also makes possible the idea that the value of life is not simply surviving it as long as you can or cramming it with goodies you’ll never get to suck at but that I and me can confer about some hare brained scheme and discuss whether its actually a good idea whilst I and thou part company the richer from our parley..

Sometimes space does more than contain. Sometimes it squidges out honey.

 

Anxiety and Depression.

What are anxiety and depression?

They are how life seems in response to trauma. We regress to where it’s safe, to Mother, even if it costs us our wings.

But what if the trauma itself is loss of Mother? And what if this loss has been eroding human contentment for millenia?

Loss of the Divine Feminine, stripping motherhood of sacred context, is going to damage baby and is bound to give rise to compensatory, narcissistic defences to bulwark raging inner emptiness.

Sincs we can’t (daren’t) blame God for this we blame the Enemy, the rival predatory suckling, the dark brother, a phantasy demon born of deprivation who holds, who must hold, the good stuff.

Our spiritual emptiness is then ameliorated by riteous hate of the rival whom we can then blame for all our ills.

But there is a problem with this. In order to cover over our anxiety and depression we have to be at war. With ourselves and one another.

We go to war so as to afford ourselves the means to smooth an eternal path of prejudice and depersonalisation over our neighbour, the hated rival, whom we must experience as inferior as well as unduly favoured.

This means that prejudice and paranoia are intrinsic to monotheistic culture. It begins with mockery and ends with napalm.

Reducing the divine feminine to a whore riding her beast in Revelations, paraded up and down like a condemned prisoner prior to execution, has resulted in the collective depletion of the Western psyche. It has had consequences that have washed down through the centuries, culminating in alienation, compulsive aggression, instant gratification and the analyst’s couch.

The narcissistic schism this creates in families is not simply that parents are preoccupied with themselves and the nagging sense of their own incompletness. The absence of the Principle of Relatedness means that they struggle to find value in their kids or pleasure in their company.

The ‘me, me, me,’ is a default position resulting from a de facto failure to attribute sufficient significance to one another or to derive real nurture from our relationships.

Without value inherently invested in the Other we become isolated and shut off, compelled to revisit the underlying and unacknowledged horror of Mother’s loss in any number of substitute situations whilst vainly keeping our heads above water by the power that riteous indignation and eternal sabre rattling has to keep the fragmenting psyche together.

Freud observed that people lose their neuroses during times of war. Why? Because, win or lose, they feel vindicated, can band together and have something other than the condition they were born into to feel anxious and depressed about.

I have been to war so I know about this stuff. We were always so upbeat about everything, even when we knew we were losing. Why? Because the issue of an outer victory was a secondary consideration next to the inner need to have others carry our inferior feelings….

even though they won….

yep, just goes to show how non-rational such things really are. The losers can still de-value the victors and collectively identify with one another in lieu of relatedness.

Or just go and start another war…

Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq.

And its not for oil, or political ideology. Its the need to aggressively ramp up the projection of the Dark Brother so that the fractured template of our spiritual paradigm can be knit back together just that little bit more than it might if peace broke out.

Our Collective Narcissism is caught in a trap. To get out we have to afford the other with value, or at least validity. All the feelings of deadness and loss then wing their way home across the nomansland that formerly separated us from those fragments of soul which give testament to our inner poverty.

What this means is that the resolution to narcissim is by way of anxiety and depression.

Our only health is the disease,

If we obey the dying nurse-

Whose constant care is not to please,

but to remind of our and Adam’s curse

That to be restored

Our sickness must grow worse. T.S. Eliot   East Coker.

Rather than fixing them or using behavioural techniques of suppression we are challenged to live with our affliction, find meaning in them, to acknowledge that there really is something going on to be anxious and depressed about.

‘We become enlightened, not by imagining beings of light, but by going down into the dark’. Carl Jung

Anxiety and Depression are dirty words for the most part. We spend billions annually combating them, little realising that it is our defensive attitude that exacerbates and causes the very condition we are wanting to diminish.

If we would heal our divided self it is by way of embracing the loss of relatedness and mutuality that our superior, holier-than-thou attitudes have bought us. Being ‘positive’ won’t cut it. We have to find a way of relieving what we consider to be ‘negative’ of the stigma we are so determined to attach to it. Only then will we find the humility and compassion to live peacefully with ourselves and with one another.

At a lover’s death..

Banzan was a famous Zen monk from way back. One day his son died and he was weeping inconsolably by the graveside. One of his pupils asked him,

”Master do you not teach the oneness of Being and Non-being, of remaining unattached from samsara … and wordly illusion. Why then are you crying?”

Banzan replied, ‘he was a very personal illusion.’

My ex died. Cancer. I cried like a baby. Was it the suddenness? Or the horrible randomness of finding out on Facebook? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

We did, on Facebook.

But while she was still alive, so that I..

Listen buster, this is not about you. The dying are not in the habit of thumbing through their address book to gratify yesteryear’s voyeur. Its the living that want to mend fences so that they can continue to do so with good conscience.

And now all those things you left unsaid, your regrets at the part you played, the unexpressed tendernesses…

…remain. The opportunity is passed. You feel sorry for yourself and your tears are for yourself… How absurd that you should feel so upset for someone who faced their end with dignity and courage, that you should cry for her when she did not cry for herself.

Oh, but she was so young!

So, never mind the quality feel the width…?

No, no, its that she did not deserve it!

No-one does. All deserving is about being fairly recompensed for deeds well done, but Death cares nothing for fairness or whether you’ve been good.

But she was so healthy..

We all are at one time or another. It passes. In any case what laughable irony that you, the literary scourge of Consumer Culture’s compulsive living-in-the future and wanting more than it has, should now bewail the span of her alloted years with all this crying about unfairness and wanting… more.

You are too hard. No feeling person can share a bed with another for years without greiving their loss even if you’ve parted company. What would it say if I felt no pang at her passing?

Does her death detract from her contribution to your life?

No.

Then your tears are for yourself.

I loved her!

And always will, which is why love trumps death. What the shock of the unexpected does, which is mostly what life is made of, is to remind you that your own alloted four score years and ten are only an outside bet, and that who’s turn it is next – a roll of the dice.

fair enough.

Not only are we temporary, we are indefinately temporary. It’s only a statistical probability that you’ll make it through the day. The horror of it all is such that you keep it entirely in the wings of Consciousness, busying yourself with a myriad soul-numbing distractions whilst reserving your pity for those who can’t be comforted by it untill it bursts on-stage like a drunk at a kiddies Panto.

Then there is no comfort to be had! If my sorrow for others is impotent and compassion for myself is self indulgent…

I didn’t say that. Its that we are all alone, together. Within the extinguishing blaze of Death is a coal of something that is entirely improbable….

..which is why its a good thing you know so little.

The most difficult part of pain and loss is not enduring it or even searching for meaning in it, but by defending against the loss of each miraculous day should we wish it further from our shoulder and a little less like being kicked by a mule.

‘He who is near to me is near to the fire.’ Thomas logia 82

By coincidence I have been reading Voltaire’s ‘Candide’, about a man to whom befalls every sudden ill you can imagine. He soon discovers that everyone with whom he is associated has an even worse tale to tell. He and his companions hear of a man who has had an easy life. Curious and intrigued they go to find him, anxious to prove that the human condition is not one of inevitable suffering…

..and its true. The pompous ‘Cococurante’ has indeed not suffered in life. But then neither does he love or feel gratitude. Sex bores him. Art and literature no longer divert or amuse. Eveything is drab and tasteless. The troupe cannot wait to escape him.

And so what Voltaire vanages to convey in an afternoon more bloodthirsty than any videogame is that life is not just a vale of tears, it is a vale of Our tears, without which we cannot become fully human or find the compassion it takes to look forward to the Adventure.

 

How Men are Made.

On the day I turned eighteen my father crossed the yard between our colonial house and the workshop I’d made into my room, all ceremonious, and formally shook my hand. ‘Congratulations, now you are a man.’

He thought he was doing me proud.

which made the empty pit in my stomach all the more gnawing. I was a man on account of the clock. Not because I had acheived anything or showed my mettle, nor because I had gone on some bold adventure but because it was Tuesday.

Of course he secretly knew it was a sham but continued in his proud role of conferring stuff upon me by sending me to war in the hope that being shot at would do the job where his handshake had clearly failed.

Toxic masculinity takes all kinds of forms, mostly noticeably in its impact on women, minority groups and due process, but there is a further privy of splashback, not so noticeable, that still deserves a mention.

A central pivot of the patriarchy’s inflation is the narcissistic and destructive notion that it is a father’s duty to initiate his sons into manhood.

Of course he must fail. It’s vain to believe we make men of our sons. It is a cover story for the often conflicted and occasionally murderous relationships typified by our role models of filial piety down the centuries, namely, kings who lost their heads to princes..

and vice versa.

or,  if you were Edward ll you got to have a red hot poker shoved up your bum instead..

So, I duly went to war and got shot at a lot…

which set me to wondering..

if the purpose of perpetual war, a covert yet shameless foreign policy of ongoing conflict wherever it can be created, doesn’t have some nuances to it above and beyond the obvious profiteering of the Deep State.

More subtle even than the visceral need to have a Dark Brother be the enemy, someone to pit your life against so that you can know you have a life, something to define you in an uncertain world, a bogeyman to help you conjour just the right degree of riteous hate to temporarily cement the fractured soul.

No, boys are sent to war because we collectively subscribe to the madness that it will make men of them. Its a scenario that has overtones of Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac on the mountainside, with the added psychopathic sadism that he’s doing the boy a favour.

Not only is everyone expendable, they are expendable for their own good. So that those dispatching their sons in their uncountable droves can have butter instead of marge or marge instead of dripping and that ‘our way of life’, our comforts, can be maintained.

What  does such an attitude do to a person, you know, deep down?

The kind of splashback in store, in all its hideous glory, is amply personified by the true story of Mel Bernstein, ‘the most armed man in America.’ Mel has millions of dollars worth of legal military hardware on his Colorado Springs ranch. I caught a video of him saying whistfully to camera, ‘these are real men’s guns.’ They conferred masculinity on him in their lethal tonnage.

Unfortunately, Mel’s wife was accidently killed in one of many explosions on set whilst he was making a movie about himself for Discovery. He never says her name.

Now he lives in a bunker, a tardis from the 60’s, with four life size plastic dolls who do have names. ‘I put panties on them,’ Mel explains, ‘I’m a considerate boyfriend,’…

resolving once and for all the question of whether the compensatory need to play with guns affects your mental health, or more precisely, your capacity for relatedness.. Mel says of Discovery’s decision not to make the movie during which his wife is blown up on camera…’so, they cancelled and threw away the whole show.’

Durn fools. All they had to do was edit out the bit where she got kilt. Don’ make no sense….justa wastin my time..

Thankfully, a considerable chunk of a boy’s becoming a man has less to do with his father than the latter might like to think, so long as he manages to survive his pappy’s loving ministrations.

In indigenous cultures, though the various rituals into manhood may differ a great deal in content, what they all seem to have in common is that the youth be thrown back on his own resources, that he have an experience of death and rebirth as a result of an encounter with the Unconscious.

When an Ndebele boy is sent out into the bush with his peers, the presence of the elders, whilst loosely officiating, are not central to the drama at all. They are more witnesses than agents of anything.

What imbues the novice with a sense of the sacred is achieved by a series of ordeals they have to go through.

“And it is primarily these ordeals that constitute the religious experience of initiation – the encounter with the sacred.” M Eliade.

The ordeals are, more often than not, symbolic of death followed by resurrection or rebirth. The fathers wait patiently on the sidelines.

Because they know very well that no matter how enormous their dicks are, rebirth is the preserve of the feminine.

If the feminine is denied or undervalued, the transformation doesn’t take place. Change requires a uterus..

and so because we Western men are largely unwilling to afford the feminine with the role she has in the making of a man, he remains unmade.

What then are we to do? It doesn’t seem right to appropriate other culture’s methods of growing men and yet we have lost our own to vain and empty repetition. Luckily it’s not the form that counts. What seems to evoke change and growth most is precisely the authentic despair that you are stuck and don’t know what to do, because it is then that you are thrown back on your own resources and hidden depths.

So, at least crisis can be meaningful, its own trial of strength or endurance, its own initiatory experience.. The feeling of inner poverty and betrayal can be given some respect and credibility because these feelings are real, they bear testimony to some form of inner truth and can constitute the very death experience, the alchemical ‘mortificatio’, which begins the transformation process, the end of ideals that no longer hold marrow, from which rebirth will happen in Her own time and under Her own agency.

 

 

 

 

 

The Aspiration Trap.

Asked what’s important to them, us First World folk generally get all misty eyed about some ideal cornucopia of future possiblities. Its all such an interesting adventure that the depressing underbelly of the beast gets ignored.

and its depressing because its always about tommorow.

and tomorrow never comes.

Sometimes our aspirations can get a bit like Insurance. You shore up against Life’s woes with a cunning plan for a better future, forgetting that you have just made a bet with the Universe that something bad is going to happen to you. So anxiety increases despite your new found safety.

It seems like a sensible idea, planning for the future, and it probably is when you are six and can’t decide if you want to be a fireman or a farmer. The problem is that we then collectively continue to wonder about what we’d like to be when we grow up…

for the rest of our lives.

We then give this evasion of life a pedigree, the Bucket List. To be a humdinger it must comprise all kinds of unrealistic and even fantasy expectations of oneself ..

which is why folk are generally as depressed as their list is long..

..and with good reason.

Because there is invariably this tacit assumption that ticking off the list is when your life really begins.

Having life begin at some totemic future moment is a mixed bag of voodoo. My friend’s dad bought a helicopter, his ‘life long dream’. So, he flies it over to my friend’s house and lands it in the garden.

‘What do you think?’ asks the dad once the engine has whined down enough to be able to hear yourself think.

‘Oh it’s great’, says the younger man, it’s just that your values haven’t changed for forty years.’

hard but fair.

Its not your fault. You have been sold redemption as a future’s market since you could crawl. With so much focus on what life holds in store, life as-it-is ceases to count for much, like waiting for a bus, for the next bit of real life to come along, something you always wanted.

This means that the real freedom, which is to do gladly what must be done in the here and now, cannot be entered into, because Now is what the Bucket List is secretly pitted against.

‘Life is what happens to you whilst you are busy making other plans’. J. Lennon.

and cannot help but be experienced, not just as dull, but as intrusive and disrupting, the table with our precious map and carefully laid plans being repeatedly overturned, which is why the realm of wishing making it so is also the land of paranoid anxiety.

I think I’m being robbed all the time and I am, by me. So focused am I on the horizon and beyond that the immediate abundance at hand seems not to exist.

“If you focus too far in front, you won’t see the shiny thing in the corner of your eye..” Tim  Mandin.

So why do we collectively obsess over lottery ticket jackpots, exotic locations, selfies of daring-do? To appear more interesting? As a prop for a shaky self construct? Or has the pursuit of happiness just been hijacked by Consumption?

Or, all of the above.

The West certainly seems to feel that Novelty and Choice are constitutional rights, forgetting that this is invariably at someone’s expense. What life should be like and its fantasy of continuous contentment means bread from another mouth.

so its quite a price that is paid

for the sake of magically keeping life on hold. After all, if life only begins when my plans for it prevail I am kept safe from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, protected from all the goblins and dragons I am now free to become in the lives of others.

 

 

Of Bears and Presidents.

You might have seen J K Rowling’s reply to Mr Trump’s recent tweet,

‘..are now fighting back like never before… blah blah ..DO SOMETHING!.’.

She says, ‘Nothing expresses calm confidence better than a caps-lock scream of ‘DO SOMETHING,.

which is nicely tounge in cheek, not quite sarcasm but more bite than irony, though it does beg the question of what he might mean, given that the order is not directed at anyone in particular let alone devoid of content.

My inner conspiracy theorist, who is is rather unreliable, says that he’s wanting to mobilise his base into open revolt, a call to arms for white supremacists, further doubling down of the police state.

The first bit conjurs images of beleagured trenches, the hand to hand kill or be killed of desperate combatants…’are now fighting back like never before’.. It is a call for backup, mobilising the Reserves…

and there are lots of them….

But the fact that the ‘DO SOMETHING’ is more of a bear growl than anything else is important. Bears are dangerous. They can swipe your head off.

They say that a grizzly’s personal space is 55 feet. If you’re that close it is gonna come at you teeth first. It’s a rather precise figure and makes you wonder how such data was retrieved. After all, the bear has to be sorely provoked in order to find out.

When I was a kid I really wanted to find out how fast I could ride my bike down the hill and still make the bend at the bottom. It never occured to me that finding out could be that painful.

Testing stuff to destruction seems to be a thing with us white folks, or perhaps better said, with any Single System System. The reason is that a ‘holier than thou’ attitude is rooted in First and Only, being so special that you lose sight of where you begin and end so great is your Wonderfullness, so seeped in They that I and Me no longer talk and know themselves thereby…

So boundaries have to be fortified, built and tested to destruction to claw back some sense of Self, even if you get scragged by the bear or come off your bike in the process.

Knowing where your edges are can feel more important than longevity, or a full term in office…

..which is why having leaders who are not magical and know enough about bears to go round them can be extremely useful.

You could also say that ‘DO SOMETHING’ is a kind of magical invocation of the breast by one whose symbiotic omnipotence with mummy is so great that her teat still constitutes personal property.

Since the spotlight is always fixed on the Narcissist in the equation, as you would expect, its often missed that Narcissism is a folie a deux, a game for two, a collusion of exclusive shared specialness whose fin you might indeed expect to see as it breaks the surface in stressful moments.

And you’d be right to scoff at a president who calls for his Mama just because the other kids won’t play nicely, but then what do you expect from a culture that idealizes youth and condenses it into a narcissistic value system built on the values of adolescence?

While we subscribe to fantasies of eternal youth, endless choice, perrenial summer nights and exotic destinies, how can our leaders not be petulant and demanding brats?

And you can’t really call the tyrant out for behaving like a two year old if you spend half your time playing by the same rules, even if its as petty as being ashamed of your ride or are losing sleep over what you don’t have.

A culture of Instant Gratification and bottomless pit must produce First and Only, all imbued with the feeling of having been cheated in some way despite being top of the heap.

Which is why, to paraphrase Socrates, Democracy must recind itself. The freedom to be a kid all your life is a burden, the endless sweeties, the eternal  preoccupation with goodies and treats wears thin. And so when you’ve everything of what you’re told and believe you want… and still you nurse a gnawing pit…

then that is the moment when either your paradigm collapses rather painfully or you reach down to that last resource, the promise of symbiotic omnipotence, the magical covenant that lets you be a bear.

Do Something. Make the magic happen. Make the frustration go away. We had a deal. I would let you pour all your expectations into me, be the golden child and long for nothing but would triumph over my enemies in return as promised.

Do Something!

Release the Behemoth of Zaldar!

Convene the Satanic Hordes of Gilgamesh!

Cast a binding spell with the sacred amythest of Middle Earth.

What is so scary about neo-Nazis is what motivates them, a secret fascination with power that can be conjured, something that sets the seal on any questions about supremacy and silences any quibbling at the back of the class.

The way you have to deal with both bears and malignant narcissists has its own kind of magic, an apotropaic gesture which has the power to stop a half ton ball of spitting fury in its tracks.

Don’t run.

You won’t get far.

The trick is to stand your ground, but in a very particular way. You have to face the bear and hold up your arms full stretch to say..

i am big and i am here…

but you also look down at an interesting bit of grass as if to say ‘I show you respect. You are the boss.’

a bit like taking a knee.

Gestures and objects that contain opposites are magical. They are both of this world and yet not. They confirm what you know whilst including something new, so change occurs, which is a kind of magic.

Death from Above.

Having mad leaders has been par for the course for longer than you think. In fact its been a fashion accessory for any truly civilized nation ever since Nebuchadnezzar went bonkers and spent seven years in the desert eating grass.

Emperor Justin liked to bite people, and sometimes quite large chunks, an arm or a leg, a habit that could only be tempered by him being driven about on a mobile throne..

you mean a pram..

er..

“Having placed him on it, his chamberlains drew him about, and ran with him backwards and forwards for a long time, while he, in delight and admiration at their speed, desisted from many of his absurdities.”John of Ephesus

Across the other side of the world but about the same time, Emperor Quinfei of China kept order by forcing random attendants to have sex with each other in front of him. Anyone who refused had their family killed..

along with anyone that cleared their throat in protest…

Madness ran in the family. Mostly because the family ran in the family. Special people, utterly confused by their parentage, its illustriousness and nine yards of tree diagrams not withstanding, were raised in an atmosphere of continuous terror and emotional neglect, but then suddenly given weapons and armies.

Its not going to turn out well.

But it seems from our foray into alternative forms of government that one need not be born to power to abuse it and in equally colourful ways.

John Quincy Adams thought the Earth was hollow. He attempted to prove it at the taxpayer’s expense.

It all started with John Cleve Symmes Jr, a U.S. Army officer who spent his life advocating his hollow-Earth theory on the literary circuit and gained quite a few followers. What he proposed was the 1800s equivalent to sending people to the moon to find cheese. He wanted to mount an expedition to silence his critics and also to trade with the Mole people…

ahem..

As luck would have it, Adam’s successor, Andrew Jackson, was a man who thought the world was flat. Naturally, Jackson promptly canceled the expedition and along with it, dashing  all hope of contacting the wily Mole people.

We seem to have developed a way of ensuring that whoever holds the reigns of power in any Single System system you care to name, if not already mad, is soon to become so with the absolute corruption of absolute power. What’s so funny is that we continue to promote ideals that create would be Emperors, as though at some point it is bound to work, like the magical novel written by the hundredth monkey.

One thing that most mad leaders have in common irrespective of their path to greatness is a preoccupation with their Nobs. Christian VII of Denmark wanked so much it interfered with his stately duties. Eventually his physician, Johann Streunsee, usurped power..

“as well as boning the queen behind Christian’s back. Presumably he was too busy jerking off to notice.” Kyle Stevens.

It seems that being given permission to live above the rules gives much needed perspective, as though something were trying desperately to impress upon us how unsophisticated and uncultured we really are.

“In a mercifully off-the-record moment at the height of America’s entanglement in Vietnam, reporters asked Lyndon B. Johnson to explain, simply, “Why?” Unable to conjure a suitable answer, LBJ instead produced his veiny avatar.

“This is why!” Johnson declared, presenting his penis to the press pool like Excalibur.” M. Judson

Apparently, Johnson’s passion for his Johnson went so far as to name it, Jumbo, apparently a sizeable trunk that he would regularly take out for everyone to admire….

pointing the way to death for 3.3 million people.

who didn’t share his pre-occupation.

The tragedy of LBJ’s madness was not just the numbers killed but the symbolic equation between his penis and his foreign policy, or perhaps between the Vietcong and his wife.

Equating one thing with another is the preserve of infancy. Mother’s milk is her love. Her arms are the world. Unfortunately it is also the preserve of the Gods. Our amusing list of mad leaders with their dicks out makes it easy to forget that they feel divinely inspired into the bargain.

But, by what pray?

and we have to go further back than National Socialism to find the answer.

Supremacist ideals are lodged in European antiquity like currants in a bun. They are expressed in epics later condensed into Wagner’s Ring Cycle way before Christianity brought in its own brand of First and Only.

At the back of an already malevolent and warlike Yahweh, is his big brother, Wotan, whose deal it is to renounce Love for the sake of Power. The film ‘Lord of the Rings’ re-crafts much of the ancient story including a cursed Ring of Power.

The original specifies this curse in detail..

“The Ring itself as described by Wagner is a Rune-magic taufr (“tine”, or “talisman”) intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed ‘denial of love’ (“Liebesverzicht”). wiki

some form of sexual/emotional witholding.

The love of power costs the power of love. You get to be all pumped up but also incomplete..

which is frustrating..

because in a world where you can have and do whatever you want, happiness is not something you can do for yourself.. So Wotan is a grumpy bastard and any man identified with such power isn’t really going to feel in the pink unless he is coming his load over an entire nation.

So, the Las Vegas shooter, was it gambling debts? Or could it be that a man placing daily wagers of $30,000 simply has more than he knows what do with and has devised a cunning plan to throw it all away…

except its supposed to be fun and its not. And you’ve achieved all the goals Life has set but the glittering prize…

crumbles as it is bestowed.

You are living the Dream but actually its a cruel and empty hoax, which might unhinge you just a bit and make you feel that if the attainment of earthly things is not enough then becoming a god and raining death from above will do the trick.

“Imagining that we have left all these Gods far behind, we are still as much possessed today by autonomous psychic contents as if they were Olympians which disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world. ” CG Jung.

When they are perpetrated by Jo Citizen they are act of pure evil, when atrocities against civilians one thousand fold are contemplated by Presidents, all nicely sandwiched in a neat dossier with a fancy seal, it magically becomes the foreign policy of having no choice.

 

 

On Having no Choice.

Being above the Law and “Having no Choice”, have something in common. They both absolve a person of accountability, which is the essential condition for any public office. And if one cannot pardon oneself for ones own crime then the next best thing is not to be responsible for it in the first place.

Curiously, the legal test for a criminal insanity plea rests precisely on this issue of whether or not a person can help themselves,

“arguing that the defendant is not responsible for their actions due to an episodic or persistent psychiatric disease at the time of the criminal act.” wiki

but what does it mean, not to be able to help oneself, to have no choice?

Does it mean acting instinctively is a psychiatric condition?

Probably not. And then there is the conundrum that stating you had no choice, is the end result of reasoned consideration. Which doesnt make sense.

and it doesnt have to, which is precisely the joy of being unaccountable. Its a moral version of not filing your taxes. Not only can you shoot someoneon fifth avenue and get away with it. You can poop your pants and nobody on the bleachers will say a word.

Not being responsible for the consequences is a threat parents sometimes use to get junior to tidy his room, but not before his brother made him punch him in the head and trash the room to hell some more.

And so the worst of all scenarios is that the pudgy little digit on the button feels absolved of its actions. Disocciated. It couldnt help itself. It was compelled by some rogue pinky.

The problem is not a massively inflated ego, though it is a useful disguise of posturing competance, but that there is only the most tenuous internal cohesion held together by regular doubling down displays.

So the problem is that the decision to Nuke Korea is made by the part of him that also says it is not his responsibility. Unfortunately, “the devil made me do it” is not an empty get out of jail free card. Watching the reality TV show of absolute power corrupting absolutely you can observe the process of degenerative ego functioning. A recent speech at Fort Myers contained regards sent by his wife who was stood right next to him…..

The reality of the Deep State is out of the closet. Most folk know that no matter who you vote for the government and wealth get in, that politicians are the grey uniformed lackeys of Overlords who dont get out much….

it can be like that in the individual soul. The evicerated ego can become a kind of puppet, a golum for the Denizens of the unconscious that have their own agenda and the power to erode a mans critical faculties.

Its dangerous enough when the infantile part of a person grabs the wheel and starts dictating events. “He made me do it” gets fuelled with babyish rage and pretty soon you are all over the road.

The problem is that its not just the babyish part of a man that threatens his ego integrity. Jane Goodalls recent compared the antics of our Great Leader with the dominance rituals of chimpanzees..

“In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: Stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks.”

Her words are echoed by others in the Chimp hood..

“The top male essentially goes berserk and starts screaming, hooting, and gesticulating wildly as he charges toward other males nearby. Trump’s incendiary tweets are the human equivalent of a charging display.” Prof Dan McAdams.

And if that were not enough, the Chimps are in the safer end of the jungle which is full of all kinds of archetypal forces.

I have just seen a video clip on FB of a cop gunning down a man outside a convenience store for resisting arrest..

Someone commented, “getting up in that aggressive way was what got him shot”. The cop didnt kill him. He killed himself. And perhaps the man who pulled the trigger believed that too, that he was simply witness to a suicide. The fact that he calmly emptied a clip of seven rounds into his chest at point blank range had nothing to do with him. It was his time.

When I commented, she said, “oh, well you have never been in that situation”, and I replied, “actually I have”, she responded, “then you should be more understanding.”

and there is the double bind of those that are no longer constrained by Principle of Relatedness. Things not making sense becomes a pious incomprehension of the Will of God in whose mighty Right Arm, you are now his Instrument.

The psycho beat cop, the bent Senator, the orchestrated oppression of the People is about more than greed. Its not just about angry babies stuffing themselves from the cookie jar, or mere hooting primates, they are also filled with the light of messianic riteousness, Wotan personified.

The God who had no choice.

and its better than coke.

Of course Wotan wishes to live in the natural freedom signified by the Rhinegold..

“but cannot because if he does his power as a ruler will be destroyed along with the order on which his authority is based.” S. Williams.

Wotan, God of Doubling Down.

God of War.

 

 

 

The End is Nigh, Again.

Apparently, tommorow is supposed to be the End of the World.

I hope you have packed your things.

The curious thing about Doomsday prophecies is not simply the supreme consistency with which they have all been wrong thus far…

…but that being eternally wrong doesnt deter people from further speculation. You begin to suspect that there is more going on than fear of God or Death. The fervour with which such things are peddled suggests something more interesting than Eternal Damnation is afoot.

But what could it be?

Having folk forever examining their consciences on the premise that the earth is imminently about to open up and swallow them whole, is a good way of keeping potential miscreants in line. Its also got to make you feel pretty damned important to be there at the time. You would be eligible for a free T-shirt,   “Armaggedon, I was There”, with a skull and cross bones motif, just to show how hard you are.

You might give legitimate consideration to the thought that there is just a little passive aggression in exaggeratedly running about to dodge a falling sky, or loudly announcing that Gods Wrath will be visited on Teatime.

Its scary. Nursery will never be the same again.

Perhaps membership of an Apocalyptic Cult fills some unacknowledged need that attending church socials just doesnt quite cut. Meet and Greet is hardly as punchy as having ringside seats to the Final Reckoning.

They do say that giving a person news on their imminent demise has a somewhat invigorating effect on the psyche. Having your time left measured by a wristwatch can be positively galvanising.

Maybe if we were to look at individual responses to knowing the exact time of their own death we might get some insight into this collective phenomenon of being eternally preoccupied with the End of the World..

and not just because we can now do that to ourselves…

Convicted criminals whose countdown to the rope or the chair comes close to the catastrophic expectation of a collision with Planet X or the vengeful fires of Yahwehs wrath.

How prisoners face their end seems to be the same the world over. They obsess about food and need more than usual amounts of bathroom time. The famous last meal is our human response to the helplessness and horror of being dragged towards a death that someone or something has arranged for you.

Sometimes the prisoner comforts themselves with something that reminds them of home and childhood. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber wanted mint chocolate chip ice cream. Ricky Ray Rector wanted Pecan Pie he decided to save for later. Serial killer John Wayne Gacy went the whole hog and had shrimp, a bucket of KFC chicken, fries and several pounds of strawberries.

The exception to the rule seems to be Victor Fueger, hung in Iowa at the age of 28, who asked for a single unpitted olive, though, to be fair, it was in the hope that the olive would grow into a tree above his grave as a symbol of peace….

So human response to death being a tad more concrete than at-some-point-in-time is to feast and comfort themselves in any way they can. Eat, drink and make merry for tomorrow you die.

The main difference between the convict being marched down the Green Mile and the End Timers is that the folk all dressed in white gathering on the hillside at dawn of the appointed day are all really glad to be there.

Why?

Because if you are riteous and sorry and about to die but still somehow out and about on your own recognizance you might feel entitled to be exempted from the rules for a spell. After all, it is a special occasion.

And so it makes you wonder if our preoccupation with having life cut short represents a secret need to be momentarily freed of the repressive attitudes that cannot help but lurk beneath first-and-only. A wish for some brief respite from the Treadmill and all the life denying rules and expectations that go with it. A need to eclipse whatever it is that promotes meanness, that taboos tenderness and intimacy. Something both to mend and to remember the trauma of being ripped from the Great Mother.

After all, what does your town do if you are all convinced the world ends tommorow? You forgive your enemies, make love and party till dawn.

 

 

The Lure of Automatic Pilot.

Pizza Hut have bought out a trainer. Embossed on the tongue of the shoe is a button that you can press to order pizza. It sends out a GPS location to your nearest convenient franchise and..

boom..

pepperoni at your fingertips.

In Greek mythology the magical shoes were Hermes department. He had a pair of winged sandals that allowed him to pass between Olympus and the Mortal Plane. The magical shoes mediated between worlds just as they did for Dorothy in her travels between Kansas and Oz.

Very handy.

The capacity to mediate between worlds with enchanted footwear is the nub of a developmental stage in childhood characterized by symbol formation which magically uses transitional objects to manage the gap between Self and Other. It is the essential condition for passing from “first-and-only”, wherein hell is other people, to “being-amongst-others”, where we not only learn to tolerate otherness but are redeemed by it.

“You are therefor I am.” Satish Kumar.

This shift of perspective, is from what the Gnostics called “hylic consciousness”,  It comes from the Greek “hyle”, meaning husk, the unnourishing and winnowed part of an ear of wheat and is characterized by the person who simply lets themselves live without reflection or enquiry…

” He takes life as it comes and does not worry about the problem of meaning, its worth or its purpose. He devotes his time to the satisfaction of personal desires, enjoyment of the senses, riches, ambition.” R. Assagioli.

Transition from ego as landlord to the experience of no longer being master in ones own house is expressed in the Alchemical tradition as “the problem of three and four”.

..as taxing as divvying up a pizza between an odd number of people..

because three into four wont go. The conscious mind and the denizens of the deep Psyche are like oil and water. Making it across a threshold that demands acknowledgement and valuing of the Other without being swallowed up by them..

and with Pizza trainers instead of Hermes sandals for help…

is a way more tricky business than you might imagine..

“Not a few have perished in our work.” Alchemical saying.

A modern fairytale that expresses this sense of crisis and shows how it is resolved comes from an unexpected source, Robocop.

The hero Murphy has his humanity stripped from him and is largely reduced to robotic functioning, a fate suffered by many who adopt the first-and-only stance because it…

” contains the archetypal, omnipotent, defensive and mechanical, as well as the manipulative and destructive nature of Robot.” Lederman

The robot adaptation of the narcissistic character is, however, not entirely negative. Robocop can be redeemed by a combination of two factors. One is that his partner, Lewis, continuously reflects his humanity back to him. Her unflagging faith that he is in there somewhere gives him the courage to explore his obscure situation. Second, he finds his own dramatic solution to the problem of three and four.

Robocop has three protocols, 1) Uphold the law. 2) Serve the public trust. 3) Protect the innocent. As you might expect in any fairystory there is a hidden fourth directive which is entirely incommensurable with the first three..

Do not rise up against your masters.

Becoming conscious of this contradiction throws Murphy into turmoil. The law must be upheld… depending on who is involved. Serve the public trust, for as long as it serves the masters to do so. Protect the innocent, if its expedient…

Murphy realises hes been forced into a catch 22 situation that he cant win. Unless.. he plunges his hands into a massive electric generator that wipes out his programming but also nearly kills him.

Wright speaks of,

“the traumatic birth of self-consciousness, erupting into the still intact (and mechanical) symbiosis with mother.”

Realising that you harbour hidden and contradictory injunctions is shocking. Rewriting the inner script means first realising that you are being run from within by something so old, so habitual, so not-self that you can lose sight of its operation.

Folk simply clank through the day on automatic pilot fulfilling ancient expectations which may once have ensured survival but now serve the demoted purpose of simply keeping oneself on an even keel, maintaining the comfort zone, making sure reality does not intrude or question the preferred construct.

People will go to extraordinary lengths to keep the automatic pilot going because what they are up against is not a mere addition of information, another nut for the store house, but a shift of paradigm that threatens to bring the storehouse down.

Be careful what you wish for…

A good example of this is the story of Hiroo Onoda a Japanese soldier who continued to fight WW11 untill 1972 in the Phillipine jungles. He did this because he absolutely refused to believe that Japan could have surrendered. It was inconceivable. Surrender was more ignoble than suicide, something he had been expressly ordered against. Could his superiors be any the less accountable?

And so he fought on.

Many people have an inner Hiroo, an old soldier still fighting yesterdays battles,  disrupting the present with archaic material, fused to the Motherland, crushing the possibility of change or anything unscripted.

Over the years great efforts were made to persuade him that the war was over. Leaflets were dropped, photos and newspaper articles, all regarded by Hiroo as propaganda, fake news.

He was finally persuded only by hearing of Japans surrender from the lips of his own commanding officer, Major Taniguishi.

“Suddenly everything went black. A storm raged inside me. What had I been doing for all these years?” Hiroo Onoda.

Hiroo got a big shock, but he also went on to become a philanthropist and even donated some of his considerable back pay to local Phillipine projects as well as setting up a school Japan.

Many folk never get out of the Jungle. They remain omnipotently fused with the mother/land, content with the replacment of their autonomy by rows of endless choice, something to keep you occupied, hey, how about these new shoes you can get. They order pizza.