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.

 

 

Consciousness and Quantum Physics.

As part of Empire’s ‘special’ forces I was once caught up in a covert operation to ‘liquidate’ a group of dissident fighters who’d defected to our side, having been given a clean uniform, a shiny semi-automatic G3 and a square meal… without really thinking any of it through… They must have wondered at their sudden good fortune, all freshly laundered and all.

Most were taking the opportunity to exact tribal revenges or personal vendettas. The problem was that they also had a check list of grievances which had become diplomatically, ahem, ’embarassing’.

We were eight gunners in the belly of a Crocodile, 16 tons of armoured personnel carrier, roaring to its rendezvous. En route, the mission is unveiled. Gooks. Lure them out. Kill them.

During the rest of the journey I sat in shock, trying to think through what I had just been ordered to do, and as more of an invitation to a party than a command..

…you are in the grip of Evil….

They are defectors, untrustworthy, here today and gone tommorrow, taking pot shots at you along the way with your own weapons..

…you are in the grip of Evil….

They’ll turn against you one day. You can’t trust them! Strike now while they are unprepared and easily beguiled by treachery….

I mean strategy…

…you are in the grip of Evil….

When the innocents were teased from the bush with bully beef and cigarettes  the trap was sprung. I remained bolted to my seat, immobilised from within. A woodlouse in the debris at the bottom of the vehicle was trying to negotiate my bootlace. Would it go over or under? Which way forward? What would he do?

When the firing  stopped, the officer (subsequently killed) glared at me furiously for refusing an order. It could have fetched me an eon in the Dog Box but he said nothing.

And so I started to chew. If I can refuse an order and get away with it something other than the ordinary rules of war are at play. Moreover, if allies can be killed today for the inconvenience they might pose tomorrow then what about one another? What about the guy sitting next to you?

And what might motivate such hideous cupidity? The answer was in the momentary anguished screams of the dying, which is what the Crocodile was ultimately searching for, what it fed on, the beseeching howl of betrayal that confirmed them as sacrifices to the dark face of god.

What any of us were fighting for had nothing to do with freedom or any political ideals. The scenario I had just witnessed was the endgame, apparently gratuitous carnage until you consider the awful possibility that when strategy assumes the the shape of rite and sacrifice we weren’t just soldiers anymore, we were ministers, priests at the devouring altar of Mammon, disavowed dark face of Yahweh whose PR makeover into New Testament Shepherd could be swung but had to be fed with offerings of Humanity to do it, culminating in the current  famines in Yemen and Somalia engineered not just by economic policies of greed or the propping up of corrupt regimes for gain…

..but to feed the maw of gods we will not name.

War proliferation and economic infrastructure depending upon perpetual conflict is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s about way more than money and greed. Its about the quasi-religious experience of being sunk into the Collective,

of being Quanteam,

and being used to act out the horrible, denied underbelly of Yahweh.

The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.” CG Jung

In the days of the Indian Empire the dashing Brits were fainting at the sight of a table leg at home whilst pig sticking ‘overseas’. Within the collective hive there is no jaring query, no raised eyebrow. ‘I’ has been swallowed up by ‘We’.

With the prospect of nuclear war greater than it has been for decades we would do well to remind ourselves, not just of the dangers of escalation but of nuclear weapons specific purpose, civilian deaths,  game changing technology for gloves off diplomacy. Its the innocent people we’re ultimately after. You don’t nuke a city because you don’t like the mayor. Nor even because you are pissed at its citizens. We are through the looking glass of collateral damage. The dark god requires sacrifices.

never before has…

Dresden..

what?

The bombing of Dresden by the Allies, deliberate civilian targets, a hundred and twenty thousand killed..

never,..

and the Holocaust, and the Armenian genocide.

Never before this last century..

Acre.

What?

Acre in Judea. 1052 AD. Richard the Lionheart bravely killed every civilian in the entire city. 20,000 people. Oh and Charlegmane, he was full of convert or die. Some of the ones who were converted still had to die… only quicker. By the sword instead of the garrot. I wonder if they were grateful for that mercy?

and lets not forget Edward Longshanks beaching the Jewish citizens of London in Morecambe Bay, 1275, to be swallowed by the tide as surely as Andromeda was offered up to Poseidon….

Soon after the above, when the fittest had done a rather poor job of surviving and my troop had been cut down from thirty men to a mere four, we remaining Sons of Empire were treated as pariahs by the others in the Commando who wouldn’t talk to or eat with us. Men refused transfers to the unit or pulled strings to avoid it. It was as if we had condensed all the fear of mortality that soldiers are apt to deny and become embodiments of ill fate.

The irony is that when the troop was disbanded as a solution to the obscure mythology developing and we were individually assigned to other units we immediately became the opposite, like Yahweh himself our association with carnage and death suddenly inverted into one of heroic talismen of survival, lucky warriors carrying some kind of manna imbuing each host troop with new life and hope..

despite the obvious reality that we were being cut to pieces.

and despite all the ardent blood sacrifices to the Dark One..

This flick from one state to its opposite is what the ancient Greeks called Enantiodromia. Its the kind of thing that seems terribly unlikely, impossible even, yet actually describes both matter and consciousness rather well,…

”This phenomenon practically always occurs when an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates conscious life; in time an equally powerful counterposition is built up, which first inhibits conscious performance and subsequently breaks through….” C G Jung.

Enantiodromias occur at a sub-atomic level as well. In fact, life as we know it seems to depend on the unlikelihood of matter being one moment a wave and the next a particle while blinking in and out of ‘reality’. Its as unlikely as going for tacos at an icecream stall and still getting lucky, or an entirely indoctrinated man refusing an order…

and getting away with it.

Enantiodromias, in both quantum physics and in psychology, presuppose a ‘quantum superposition’, or Self, a non-material state wherein these opposites are tolerated as paradox.

Within the quantum ‘superposition’ matter is in an unquantifiable state, you could even say it both does and does not exist. It ‘pre-exists’ in contiguity with everything else. Consciousness is like-wise an unquantifiable soup until something observes, witnesses, mirrors, even a woodlouse will do, compelling realisation from the Belly of the Crocodile. That which pre-exists, knowing right from wrong, takes form as a definite state.

Being here now, the unrehearsed messiness of emerging from the wave function and becoming what you are not, is then further complicated for both consciousness and matter when time and distance come into play.

It seems there isn’t any.

Old Man Physics says that if you lie in wait for a Quantum Creature on a jungle path after you’ve seen it leave its lair, it will in fact arrive at its destination by a different route. The act of lying in wait changes the past. If quantum creatures are separated and housed in different laboratories what you do to the one affects the other. Distance is a construct.

”If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t.” Feynman.

Participation mystique, a term coined by levy-Bruhl to describe the  soup of collective identification with one another, a state of shared psychic reality like the quantum superposition, containing the components of individual identity without suffering their trials, just outside real time and space, removed from any circumstantial trouble and gloriously protected from all moral consideration.. allowing men to play dice with the Universe in a way the Gods would never dare….

similarly defies conception.

Just before my decimated troop was disbanded, I passed out one day on the parade ground. I was carried to the medic’s tent who looked me up and down and asked, ‘have you got a girlfriend?

er, yes. Jane.

Is she pregnant?

er, I don’t think so, why?

Because you have the worst case of morning sickness I have ever seen…

Many years later and out of the Blue, Jane’s younger sister called on me and told me that she had in fact been pregnant at the time and had an abortion without letting me know.

how does that happen?

You hear about fathers-to-be having sympathetic experiences with their partners, but without being told and thousands of miles away?

Distance doesn’t matter.

Like the enmeshed sub-atomic particle, individual consciousness is undivided from its superposition in a way that bypasses the constraints of time and distance like phones or first class post. This enmeshment of the wave function is what Rupert Sheldrake calls Morphic Resonance.

This most excellent Quantum Biologist refloats the gnostic idea that matter and life pre-exist as morphic fields of possibility which are both non-material and have memory. Get that..

Though if these fields exist beyond the bounds of time and space what would there be to remember…?

It turns out that even dense materials have a morphic field which ‘informs’ the process of crystalisation, something which can be observed by the way in which synthetic crystals grown in laboratories become easier and quicker to create over time. Laboratories starting up on the other side of the world synthesise the crystals at the new faster rate despite using all the same old equipment. Something akin to a neural pathway, but outside three dimensional space and time, enables the crystallisation process to ‘remember’ how it is done.

The simplest of creatures have morphic fields that help them ‘know’ who they are, cuttings grow roots, the lizard his tail, the segmented lugworm a whole new body, and what is learned  by one member of a species becomes part of the storehouse of knowledge of all its other members wherever they are. Sheldrake taught a sample of rats to achieve complex tasks. A separate second control group then took only a fraction of the time to learn the tasks once the first group had them well mastered.

Morphic fields do more than share memories. They share information. The introduction of milk bottles in the 20’s led to the surprise discovery that once one Blue-tit had worked out how to get the top off the milk bottle, the news then travelled faster than Blue-tits can fly, let alone breed. So, no new genetic markers or mutations in the mix.  When delivery was interrupted by WW11 and several generations of Blue-tits had come and gone, the new generation knew straight away what to do.

What does it mean?

When I bought myself out of the military for the princely sum of $125 I went walkabout in Central Africa for a few months to try and get my head straight. I had just left Kasama, south of the Burundi/Zambian border where I spent the night. I walked for miles along an empty road into the sprawling endless forest. All of a sudden I became panic stricken as it occured to me, I cannot say how, not in words or images but as an impression, that I was about to be arrested before the hour was up.

I rushed into the forest with my heart pounding, emptied my bag and sorted through all my stuff to see what there might be to incriminate me in any way, anything that might give anyone the slightest reason to get offended.. I had an old cammo bush hat, a sewn set of parachute wings I kept as a momento of the war which was a bit off….

So, I buried them with about twenty minutes to go and got back on the road to meet my fate. Nothing and nobody. Still, strange shit will happen so I squared my shoulders and walked around the bend in the road.

Nobody, just jungle.

I began to relax and walked on. Perhaps I’m just a bit mad? After another ten minutes I got to the lip of a shallow escarpment that looked out over a broad valley. I could see for miles and waaay down the road.

Nobody. Not even locals, let alone horrible policemen. Just the cicadas.

Four minute warning. I began to laugh..

At that moment a young couple from Malawi drove up behind me, the first vehicle all day, perhaps taking pity on my clearly hysterical state. They gave me a lift as far as the road block three miles away where I was arrested exactly on time.

What the hell..?