TOTP vs Popworld

So Top of the Pops has been shelved.

Should we be sad? Probably not. TOTP was only really worth watching for those moments when defiantly underground music somehow gatecrashed the charts.

Seeing this show, with its eternal Smashey and Nicey-ness, try and accommodate things like acid house was always fun.

TOTP had to try to appeal to both 'the kids,' and their Daily Mail-reading parents, a gloriously impossible task that gave rise to the odd moments of TV gold, such as Altern8 donning chemical suits and bring 'ardkore to the nation's living rooms or Nirvana's very obviously mimed performance of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' a masterpiece in the art of piss-taking.

But recently, with the charts buried in the living death of neo-AOR and X-Factor sludge, those moments where TOTP could be a clash of very different worlds have become few and far between. And so, the programme lost its point, settling down very comfortably to men on stools singing ballads.

While I don't mourn the passing of TOTP, I do hate what its passing says about TV and pop culture in general. See, it's all about context: in particular, the rise of channel 4's Popworld, its every success mirrored by TOTP further sliding into oblivion.

TOTP was, at least, genuinely enthusiastic about pop music, gamely trying (and dismally failing) to understand all this new-fangled stuff where you couldn't even hear the words. Popworld, by comparison, doesn't - can't - show enthusiasm for anything, except its own cleverness.

For Popworld, everything is to be smirked at: pop music exists as the object of a snide putdown and nothing more. Everything is wrapped around invisible, ironic quotation marks. Actually, scratch the 'invisible': presenter Miquita Oliver's hands routinely flail into the air, out of her control, and you can tell that, deep down, she wants to do those little inverted commas, over and over again, but she stops herself at the last second, aware that such a gesture just wouldn't be cool.

The problem is, I think, about distance. Popworld is unable to enjoy anything, or show any passion, because its always at a distance from life: it exists behind a post-modern barrier of sarcasm and affected superiority.

That's sad, hateful and pathetic, of course. But, perhaps more importantly, it's also just very boring. The presenters' self consciously display their boredom towards those around them, but, really, there's little more tedious than a smirking, passionless smartarse sneering in an impeccably arch manner.

TOTP might have been shit, but its cheerfully enthusiastic heart was in the right place. Popworld, by contrast, doesn't have a heart at all.

[Simon Hampson]
Found in FACT magazine

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A Safe Distance

Because in general we approach the arts and entertainment from outside, because we go to art, we regard it as external to the main part of our life. We go to the theatre, to the cinema, the opera, the ballet; to museums; to sports fields (for a part of all great games is as much art as theatre or ballet).

Even our reading is outside the main occupations of our day; and even the art that is piped into our homes we feel comes from outside.

If we consign art to the leisure outprovinces of our lives, and even there experience it mostly in some indirect form, it becomes a mere aspect of good living - that is, a matter of facts, not feeling; of placing, of showing off cultural knowledge; of identifying and collecting.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos ('The Importance of Art'), p.199, 200

When the chief fields for intellectual expression and the main channels for the stating of personal views of life were theology and philosophy, the artist was able to remain in closer contact with a public.

But now that art has become the chief mode of stating self, now that the theologian-philosopher is metamorphosed into the artist, an enormous gap has sprung.

The only person who might have stopped this schism between the artist and the non-artist are the critics. But the more obscure and the more ambiguous a work of art the more need there is for interpreters. There are thus excellent professional reasons for critics to encourage the schism.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos ('The Importance of Art'), p.198

Hence, the ceremonies of personal crisis are prototypically dramatic in two related ways. They affirm the human struggle for values within a social setting, while confirming individual identity in the face of ordinary "existential" situations such as death or puberty. These ceremonial dramas, then, constitute a shaping, and an acting out of the raw materials of life.

All primitives have their brilliant moments on this stage, each becomes the focus of attention by the mere fact of his humanity; and in the light of the ordinary-extraordinary events, his kinship to others is clarified.

Moreover, these ritual dramas, based on the typical crisis situations, seem to represent the culmination of all primitive art forms; they are, perhaps, the primary form of art, around which cluster most of the aesthetic artifacts of primitive society - the masks, poems, songs, myths, above all the dance, that quintessential rhythm of life and culture.

[Stanley Diamond]
'Plato and the Primitive'

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We feel we are stating a natural sequence of events when we say: this house was burned down because the lightning struck it. Primitive man senses an equally natural sequence when he says: a sorcerer has used the lightning to set fire to this particular house.

In explaining things in this way he is just like ourselves: he does not question his assumptions.

[C.G. Jung]
Modern Man In Search Of A Soul ('Archaic Man'), p.130


[Popper] believes that philosophy is a necessary activity because we, all of us, take a great number of things for granted, and many of these assumptions are of a philosophical character; we act on them in private life, in politics, in out work, and in every other sphere of our lives - but while some of these assumptions are no doubt true, it is likely that more are false and some are harmful.

So the critical examination of our presuppositions - which is a philosophical activity - is morally as well as intellectually important.

[Bryan Magee]
Popper, p. 15


Beyond Good and Evil begins with questions concerning the notion of truth, the possibility of certainty, the issue of freedom and necessity, and other traditional philosophical problems, and develops all of them into questions about the moral character of the person who, like most of us today, is more or less convinced by the traditional answers to them.

More accurately perhaps, Nietzsche tries to show how often and how unsuspectingly his readers have given answers to such questions, sometimes not even aware that these are questions at all and that these answers shape their everyday life.

But what he centrally objects to is not the specific answers these questions have been given but the very assumption that they are to be answered, and perhaps even asked, at all.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 26


Related posts:-
Guiding Fiction
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Guiding Fiction

Fact                             -                      Fiction
Objective                    -                      Subjective
Complete                    -                      Incomplete
Top-down                   -                      Bottom-up
Narrow                        -                      Wide
Theory                         -                      Story
State                            -                      Process

A story, or theory, cannot account for everything - but can it account for enough?

A story is a heuristic, a general guide for action based on experience. A theory is a story at high resolution, a definitive statement on what is, and a prediction of what will be: a story taken literally.

Stories are entraining; they narrow us down, focus us on a certain set of information. Like a constellation, they select points from an infinitude, defining what is salient and what is not  In believing in a story, or theory, we plant our feet in the ground and commit to a position; this, not that. When we commit too much we become ideologues.

Stories are how we ‘kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.’ Meaning is, then, created retrospectively, by reflecting on past events.

Theories are man-made, and our sight is limited. The more simple the context, the more likely a theory may be good enough; the more complex, the more likely the theory will be insufficient.

Theories work within known/complicated domains. Because stories are 'loose' and allow room for interpretation (this looseness giving us what Taleb calls 'optionality'), they are better suited to complex domains. In a complex domain we do not want to be tied to a narrow range of action because it is likely that such action could be wrong. Snowden recommends a series of 'safe to fail' experiments; in other words, send probes in multiple directions, but be prepared for most of these to fail. Do not invest heavily in any single strategy, rather spread your investments lightly across multiple lines of inquiry. The looseness of the heuristic, or guiding story, allows for such a diverse approach.

Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike, and never can the soul have vision of the First Beauty unless itself be beautiful.


That which enables us to know and understand aright in the things of God, must be a living principle of holiness within us.

[John Smith the Platonist]

[...] knowledge comes about in so far as the object known is within the knower.

[St Thomas Aquinas]

[...] the world partly becomes - comes to be - how it is imagined.

[Gregory Bateson]
Mind and Nature, p.220

Theories [can] matter according to their use. They are not destinations, they are our means of transport ... the question about a belief is not whether it is true but, rather, how would my life be better if I believed it?

So a belief can never be an idol or a fetish (or a resting-place), it can only be a tool or an instrument.

However subtly, however difficult to discern, what we believe issues in what we do. Our theories are compasses, if not maps.

When [we ask] of any particular truth, 'What is its cash-value in terms of particular experience?' [we] imagine what this particular truth, this particular belief, can buy us, what experiences it can provide us with.

Our truths are not out there, like new planets, waiting for us to discover them; they are made by us (and for us) like uniforms. In the service of our needs, they equip us for our particular tasks.

What we believe about God - like what we believe about the differences between the sexes, or about creativity - will above all affect our conduct.

[Adam Phillips]
Side Effects ('On Not Making It Up'), p.76, 77, 78

Any attempt to square linguistic statements with the world is to compare apples and oranges, to try to climb out of our own minds and language to see the world as it is in itself, and Rorty saw no profit in it.

Indeed, following his own pragmatist criteria, he did not suggest that he was offering an alternative view of the world; rather, he proposed that his way of talking about things was useful. 

Instead of spending valuable time asking whether various types of inquiry—science, political thought, poetry, alchemy—are better or worse at capturing the truth, we should ask whether there are new ways of describing and redescribing the world that better serve our variety of goals, with the understanding that "hope of agreement is never lost so long as the conversation lasts."

[James Ryerson]
'The Quest for Uncertainty: Richard Rorty's pragmatic pilgrimage'

In a letter to Popper [...] Einstein states quite clearly his agreement with Popper 'that theory cannot be fabricated out of the results of observation, but that it can only be invented.'

What is more, observation as such cannot be prior to theory as such, since some theory is presupposed by any observation. Failure to recognise this is, in Popper's view, the flaw in the foundations of the empirical tradition.

'[...] the belief that we can start with pure observations alone, without anything in the nature of a theory, is absurd; as may be illustrated by the story of the man who dedicated his life to natural science, wrote down everything he could observe, and bequeathed his priceless collection of observations to the Royal Society to be used as inductive evidence....

Twenty-five years ago I tried to bring home the same point to a group of physics students in Vienna by beginning a lecture with the following instructions: "Take a pencil and paper; carefully observe, and write down what you have observed!" They asked, of course, what I wanted them to observe. Clearly the instruction, "Observe!" is absurd....

Observation is always selective. It needs a chosen object, a definite task, an interest, a point of view, a problem [...]'

This means 'that observations, and even more so observation statements and statements of experimental results, are always interpretations of the facts observed; that they are interpretations in the light of theories'. 

At every level, then, our knowledge can consist only of our theories.

[Brian Magee]
Popper, p. 33-4

The person with whom saving is a desire springing from his personality gains also a profound psychological satisfaction in being able to act accordingly; that is, he is not only benefited practically when he saves, but he also feels satisfied psychologically.

One can easily convince oneself of this if one observes, for instance, a woman of the lower middle class shopping in the market and being as happy about two cents saved as another person of a different character may be about the enjoyment of some sensuous pleasure.

This psychological satisfaction occurs not only if a person acts in accordance with the demands springing from his character structure but also when he reads or listens to ideas that appeal to him for the same reason.

[Erich Fromm]
The Fear of Freedom, p.243

In the natural history of the living human being, ontology and epistemology cannot be separated. His (commonly unconscious) beliefs about what sort of world it is will determine how he sees it and acts within it, and his ways of perceiving and acting will determine his beliefs about its nature.

The living man is thus bound within a net of epistemological and ontological premises which - regardless of ultimate truth or falsity - become partially self-validating for him.

[...] what is important is a body of habitual assumptions or premises implicit in the relationship between man and environment, and that these premises may be true or false [...] the net of premises which govern adaptation (or maladaptation) to the human and physical environment. In George Kelly's vocabulary, these are the rules by which an individual "construes" his experience.

I am concerned especially with that group of premises upon which Occidental concepts of the "self" are built, and conversely, with premises which are corrective to some of the more gross Occidental errors associated with that concept.

[Gregory Bateson]
Steps to an Ecology of Mind ('The Cybernetics of "Self": A Theory of Alcoholism'), p.314-15

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

For the manner in which we tell ourselves about what is going on is the genre through which events become experiences. There are no bare events, plain facts, simple data - or rather this too is an archetypal fantasy: the simplistics of brute (or dead) nature.

... our fundamental unease with Freud's theory is not that it cannot be verified but that it does not satisfy. We fail to fall for it not because it empirically fails as a hypothesis about human nature, but because it fails poetically, as a deep enough, embracing enough, aesthetic enough plot for providing dynamic coherence and meaning to the dispersed narratives of our lives.

We see what our ideas ... allow us to see.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.11, 23, 36

"Being born, coming into this particular body, these particular parents, and in such a place, and what we call external circumstances ... form a unity and are as it were spun together." Each of our souls is guided by a daimon to that particular body and place, these parents and circumstances, by Necessity - and none of us has an inkling of this because it was eradicated on the plains of forgetting.

Images such as these fill the mind with lovely speculations, and have for centuries.

These cosmological myths place us in the world and involve us with it. The cosmologies of today - big bangs and black holes, antimatter and curved, ever-expanding space going nowhere - leave us in dread and senseless incomprehensibility.

Random events, nothing truly necessary. Science's cosmologies say nothing about the soul, and so they say nothing to the soul, about its reason for existence, how it comes to be and where it might be going, and what its tasks could be.

Explanation by the physical sciences of the ultimate origins of and reasons for our life may not be such a good way to go. Any cosmology that begins on the wrong foot will not only produce lame accounts; it will also lame our love of existence. The creation myth of random events in unimaginable space keeps the Western soul floating in a stratosphere where it cannot breathe.

No wonder ... Plato says of his "fable": "It may preserve us, if we are persuaded by it."

[James Hillman]
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.46, 47

You also have to look at yourself in a temporal context - to have some sense of your life as a narrative, in order to judge whether it is going well or not.

This does not mean that everything from cutting your first teeth to losing the lot of them has to form a logically coherent whole. Not many narratives of any degree of subtlety have that kind of unity.

Narratives can be multiple, ruptured, recursive and diffuse and still be narratives.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory, p.127

People find no resources within themselves and nothing to inspire them outside. It's a state of affairs that would be inconceivable in Tibetan society, where the dying are sustained by the teachings they're reflected on all their lives, and thanks to which they're prepared for death.

They have all the reference points and inner strength they need. Because they've been able to give meaning to their lives, they know how to give meaning to their death, too.

[Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.270

Storytelling plays a noble and historic role in our lives and in society.

Stories can give us a narrative to guide and instruct us. They are crucial to our knowing who we are; they provide a sense of identity. Some stories, however, become the limitation to creating anything new ... We need to distinguish between the stories that give meaning to our lives and help us find our voice, and those that limit our possibility.

The stories we find useful and fulfilling are the ones that are metaphors, signposts, parables, and inspiration for the fullest expression of our humanity.

Limiting stories are versions of the past.

They are stories about the conclusions we drew from events that happened to us. Other limiting stories are those that are rehearsed or make the point that the future will be a slightly modified continuation of the past out of which the story arose. Stories of this nature place us as victims of events or even fate.

Theater, movies, song, literature, and art are storytelling of the highest order. These are the mediums for building an individual sense of what it means to be human.

[Peter Block]
Community, p.35

Gender egalitarian societies often have creation stories which give important roles to women. Without the active explanation in myth, there is no ideological underpinning for a high female status.

The same may be true for the berdache. In cultures where berdaches have high status, there is usually mythological justification for the practice. It is not enough that the religion be neutral or tolerant. It must actively explain the phenomenon in a positive manner.

[Walter L. Williams]
The Spirit and the Flesh, p. 188-9

"Should we be mindful of dreams?" Joseph asked. "Can we interpret them?"

The Master looked into his eyes and said tersely: "We should be mindful of everything, for we can interpret everything."

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p. 80-1

PTSD is often seen as resulting from an inability to create an organized narrative account of the trauma.

Therapeutic models of trauma in fact suggest that the generation of a comprehensible narrative account of the traumatic experience is an important part of the recovery process.

Such therapeutic processes can be understood within the EMU framework as helping to constrain the interpretation and behavioral implications of the event within a clear explanatory narrative, thereby dramatically reducing the uncertainty associated with the traumatic experience.

It has long been argued that one of the functions of religion is to reduce uncertainty about the meaning of the world. However, the EMU predicts that any strong interpretive structure (e.g., political ideology) would constrain the behavioral and perceptual affordances associated with an experience and, therefore, serve a similar uncertainty-reducing function (cf. Amodio, Jost, Master, & Yee, 2007; Hogg, 2005).

[Jacob B. Hirsh, Raymond A. Mar, and Jordan B. Peterson]
Psychological Entropy: A Framework for Understanding Uncertainty-Related Anxiety'

I care about the premises more than the theories, and I want to minimise reliance on theories, stay light on my feet, and reduce my surprises.

I want to be broadly right rather than precisely wrong. Elegance in theories is often indicative of Platonicity and weakness - it invites you to seek elegance for elegance’s sake. A theory is like medicine (or government): often useless, sometimes necessary, always self-serving, and on occasion lethal.

So it needs to be used with care, moderation, and close adult supervision.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 285

In Greek legend, there were two Titan brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus. Prometheus means “fore-thinker” while Epimetheus means “after-thinker,” equivalent to someone who falls for the retrospective distortion of fitting theories to past events in an ex post narrative manner.

Optionality is Promethean, narratives are Epimethean - one has reversible and benign mistakes, the other symbolises the gravity and irreversibility of the consequences of opening Pandora’s box.

You make forays into the future by opportunism and optionality […] It is a way - the only way - to domesticate uncertainty, to work rationally without understanding the future, while reliance on narratives is the exact opposite: one is domesticated by uncertainty, and ironically set back. You cannot look at the future by naive projection of the past.

All this does not mean that tinkering and trial and error are devoid of narrative: they are just not overly dependent on the narrative being true - the narrative is not epistemological but instrumental. For instance, religious stories might have no value as narratives, but they may get you to do something convex and antifragile you otherwise would not do, like mitigate risks.

English parents controlled children with the false narrative that if they didn’t behave or eat their dinner, Boney (Napoleon Bonaparte)  or some wild animal might come and take them away. Religions often use the equivalent method to help adults get out of trouble, or avoid debt. But intellectuals tend to believe their own b***t and take their ideas too literally, and that is vastly dangerous.

Consider the role of the heuristic (rule-of-thumb) knowledge embedded in traditions. Simply, just as evolution operates on individuals, so does it act on these tacit, unexplainable rules of thumb transmitted through generations - what Karl Popper has called evolutionary epistemology.

Accordingly, wisdom you learn from your grandmother should be vastly superior (empirically, hence scientifically) to what you get from a class in business school (and, of course, considerably cheaper). My sadness is that we have been moving farther and farther away from grandmothers.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 211-13, 215

Definitions are neither true nor false; they're useful or useless.

We can only find out if a definition is useful by trying to apply it to organisms, conceptual issues, and experimental issues. Hopefully, it turns out to be interesting.

[Stuart Kauffman]
'The Adjacent Possible'

Science's answers derive from the same source as its questions. On the one hand, the scientist requires experiments to ascertain that his hypotheses are valid and thus true laws of nature; only by tests can he be sure there are no exceptions and that his concepts are genuine concepts of the understanding and not only imaginary. 

On the other hand, the scientist also requires a priori hypotheses even to approach the world, to observe and test it fruitfully. And the situation of science in turn reflects the nature of all human experience. 

Man can elicit from nature universal laws not by waiting on nature like a pupil for answers, but only, like an appointed judge, by putting shrewd questions to nature that will be deliberately and precisely revealing. 

[Richard Tarnas]
The Passion of the Western Mind, p. 346

The illumination and the color of all things have changed. 

We no longer understand altogether how the ancients experienced what was most familiar and frequent - for example, the day and waking. Since the ancients believed in dreams, waking appeared in a different light. 

The same goes for the whole of life, which was illumined by death and its significance; for us "death” means something quite different. All experiences shone differently because a god shone through them. All decisions and perspectives on the remote future, too; for they had oracles and secret portents and believed in prophecy. 

We have given things a new color; we go on painting them continually. But what do all our efforts to date avail when we hold them against the colored splendor of that old master - ancient humanity?

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
The Gay Science,152

One must have before one's eyes an imaginary goal that gives one an incentive. 

[...] One would lose courage if one were not sustained by false ideas [...] If by some misfortune the truth were to show itself as it is, all would be lost; but it seems to grasp very well the importance of always remaining well concealed.

[Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle]
Dialogues of the Dead, Part V, Dialogue 2

It is important, nevertheless, to emphasize that interpretation can discover only whether a particular instance of behavior was "in character." That sometimes—perhaps often—it is possible to judge someone's behavior accurately as being "in character," however, should not lull us into believing that we have achieved certainty in judging a particular instance of behavior. 

That is, when we are dealing with complex adaptive systems, surprises are unavoidable. Because of their sensitivity to initial conditions - due, in turn, to their contextual and temporal embeddedness - complex adaptive systems are characterized by unusual twists and novel turns. 

Given this limitation, we must always keep in mind that reconstructing specific instances of behavior will always be, at best, an interpretation and not a deduction - a much more fallible type of explanation than we had previously hoped was available. Interpretations of human action are always tentative.

Absolute certainty about either what the agent just did, or what he or she will do—specifically—a year from now, is therefore impossible. As the title of Prigogine's latest book (1996) announces, the dynamics of complex systems signal the end of certainty. 

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p.225 

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A necessary lie
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Everything is alive
Faith vs Reason
Imagine something better 
Fear Visions
Take Aim
Where mind goes, body follows 
Playing With Your Self
Creative Partnerships
Hell in a basket
The Creation of Meaning
Memory Lane 
Case History
Ideas with weight 
Masters of the Universe
A Healthy Body  
Twisted out of Shape
The Death of Meaning 
Where language ends (and art begins) 
Which difference makes a difference?
Top-down / Bottom-up


It would be possible, from a psychoanalytic point of view, to describe the singularity of a person's life in terms of the risks courted and the risks evaded (in this sense, a symptom turns up when an opportunity has been missed, a risk not taken).

As Lenin insisted, it is always never the right time for a revolution.

[Adam Phillips]
Side Effects ('Learning to Live'), p.159

The development of one's essential traits depends indeed on circumstances that allow for practice and risk taking.

[James Hillman]
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.70

I think I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth, I only regret in my chilled age certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

[Henry James]

Virtue is heedless of personal safety and comport. Its antithesis, as Emerson makes clear in “Heroism” (1841), his most extended elaboration of this stoical conception of virtue, is not selfishness, a lack of altruism, or an unwillingness to subordinate self-interest to the common good but caution, timidity, “false prudence,” “sensual prosperity” - an inordinate concern for “health and wealth.”

“Tart cathartic virtue” is the antidote to the “despondency and cowardice of our religious and political theorists.” It is the “plenitude of energy and power” that announces itself in “contempt for safety and ease,” in “contradiction to the voice of mankind,” and in “good humour and hilarity.”

It is the “military attitude of the soul,” in short, to which “we give the name of Heroism.”

“Work and live,” Emerson exhorts his reader; but honest work is hard to come by. The more we need it, the more it eludes us. An honourable calling, which Emerson regards, in effect, as the everyday form of heroism, helps to reconcile us not merely to everyday disappointments but to the metaphysical terror and pain of existence.

We are oppressed by the disparity between our oceanic desires and our satisfactions, which are measured out in “drops”; between our longing for immortality and the certainty of death; between our need to know what will happen to us after death and the impossibility of finding out. In a faithless age, Emerson seems to suggest, the religious spirit lingers on chiefly in the “low curiosity” that makes us demand definitive answers to everything, or again in the nagging speculation about the “origin of evil” that he compares to mumps, measles, and whooping cough - adolescent diseases to which the “simple mind” is immune.

“The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses,” Emerson says, “is to forego all low curiosity, and accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature, work and live, work and live.”

England is the “best of actual nations,” but an excessive concern with comfort, a “headlong bias to utility,” and a “self-conceited modish life made up of trifles” have coarsened the English character and led to a loss of “commanding views in literature, philosophy and science.”

Their respect for workmanship notwithstanding, the English have nevertheless created a civilisation in which a “manly” life becomes more and more difficult to achieve. Their very success, which strengthens “base wealth” and “vulgar aims,” dampens youthful ardor or else forces it into the wrong channels.

Englishmen enjoy all the requirements of a good life except appropriate outlets for their energy and ambition, which therefore aim only to become well educated, clever, and comfortable […] A society that finds so little for young people to do cannot welcome new members with much enthusiasm - another sign, as Emerson puts it in another context, that England now “lives on its capital.”

In 1856, it was still possible to hope that things would turn out otherwise in the New World. “There, in that great sloven continent, in high Alleghany pastures, in the sea-wide, sky skirted prairie, still sleeps and murmurs and hides the great mother, long since driven away from the trim hedge-rows and over-cultivated garden of England. And, in England, I am quite too sensible of this. Every one is on his good behavior, and must be dressed for dinner at six.”

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p. 274-5, 277-80

National “opulence” led to “national effeminacy and effeteness”: “corruption exists in direct ratio to the wealth of a nation.” Lea blamed “excessive national wealth” for the spread of "luxury, feminism, theorism, [and] the decay of martial inclination and military capacity."

The fear of decadence haunted all the "over-civilized" industrial nations at this time, especially the patrician classes, who embraced imperialism not so much as a higher stage of capitalism but as the cure for capitalism - for the "purposeless gluttony," as Lea put it, that sapped the fighting spirit.

In the imaginative writing prompted by the British rule in India, according to Allen J. Greenberger, "the value of empire-building seems to have less to do with the Empire itself than with the development of certain qualities in the empire-builders." Colonization would revitalize the home country, overcoming the "almost oriental luxury," in the words of a minor novelist, that had "gone far to weaken the fibre" of the British middle class.

Henry Stanley, the explorer of darkest Africa, drew the usual lesson in his autobiography: "England is losing her great characteristics, she is becoming too effeminate and soft from long inactivity, long enfeeblement of purpose, brought about by indolence and ease, distrust of her own powers and shaken nerves."

Africa, in particular, appealed to European imperialists at the turn of the century for the same reason that images of the Wild West appealed to Americans. "A man's man here," says the hero of one of the many English novels celebrating the Boer War. "He means something. He can stretch himself […]”

The object of war was glory, not plunder or personal gain, and it appealed to heroism, not to envy and hatred.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.298-9, 311

Hard work and even danger ceased to be "repulsive" when they served the "innate pugnacity and all the love of glory" that modern man inherited from his ancestors.

Peaceloving people overlooked the importance and legitimacy of those needs, treating them as atavistic impulses destined to wither in the wake of modern rationalism and moral enlightenment. On the contrary, James argued, the need to participate in shared communities of risk and high purpose was inextinguishable.

"Martial virtues,” accordingly, were "absolute and permanent human goods.” If they could not be realized in some other way, they would continue to be realized in war itself. James urged pacifists “to enter more deeply into the esthetical and ethical point of view of their opponents.” They needed to understand why their humanitarian utopia "tastes mawkish and dishwatery to people who still keep a sense for life's more bitter flavors.”

Instead of dismissing out of hand the residual opposition to moral uplift and social improvement, they would do better to see it as the expression of an "unwillingness to see the supreme theatre of human strenuousness closed."

Simon Patten foresaw a shift from a "pain economy" to a "pleasure economy," but even Patten, James noted, acknowledged the morally "disintegrative influences" of superabundance."Where is the sharpness and precipitousness," James wanted to know, "the contempt for life, whether one's own, or another? Where is the savage 'yes' and 'no,' the unconditional duty?”

Men and women achieved dignity only when asked to submit to an arduous discipline imposed by some "collectivity"; and "no collectivity is like an army for nourishing such pride.” The undemanding life of "pacific cosmopolitan industrialism," on the other hand, could only nourish a sense of "shame" in "worthy breasts."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.301

Mothers can be fatal to their sons. It is against the mother that men have erected their towering edifice of politics and sky-cult [...] The male projection of erection and ejaculation is the paradigm for all cultural projection and conceptualization—from art and philosophy to fantasy, hallucination, and obsession.

Women have conceptualized less in history not because men have kept them from doing so but because women do not need to conceptualize in order to exist.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.14, 20

Courage is important, not simply as a quality of individuals, but as the quality necessary to sustain a household and a community.

Kudos, glory, belongs to the individual who excels in battle or in contest as a mark of recognition by his household and his community. Other qualities linked to courage also merit public recognition because of the part they play in sustaining the public order.

In the Homeric poems cunning is such a quality because cunning may have its achievements where courage is lacking or courage fails.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.143

Related posts:-
Life Is Too Short!
Being Brave
Hear the Calling

New Look

Three years ago, I had a nightmare that I cut off all my hair. Ever since I'd started growing out my hair at 17, I'd vowed that I would never cut it. As a teenager, I always felt skinnier and younger than anyone else, and somehow the extra hair made me feel bigger and more adult. Soon, I came to see my hair as a reflection of my integrity and personal steadfastness, and later, as the symbol of my identity as a rock-and-roll performer.

The year after I started growing my hair, I moved to New York to become an entertainer. I wanted to combine all the things I enjoyed most - music, performance, art, philosophy - into an experience of heightened fun. I fashioned my image accordingly. I associated long hair with freedom of spirit and rebellious living, and I wanted to harness those associations to entertain people.

So I transformed myself into an archetypal frontman, a character I could lose myself in. Onstage, my long, unkempt strands created a sense of additional craziness, amplifying every head bang, every body slam. My stage uniform was a white T-shirt, white jeans, running shoes, and a watch, with my hair obscuring an unshaven, dirty, sometimes bloody face.

The idea was to create a basic silhouette that would stick in people's minds. I wanted children to be able to draw me using just a few basic visual elements, like a cartoon superhero. I grew up drawing comics, and the idea of being able to represent a persona with just a few basic elements seemed almost mythic to me.

My hair was the envy of many women, even though I washed it only four times in six years, and sometimes it smelled so bad it made me sick. I wanted to get reactions out of people, to push the idea that I was wild and free. Abandoning personal hygiene was one obvious strategy. Sometimes, I even used fake dirt to make my clothes look as if they were covered with sweat and human waste. I was amazed by what a primal response filth could elicit from people - women in particular.

So the dream about cutting my hair made me think I'd lost everything. My entire identity was caught up in those oily locks!

But then I woke up. I leaped out of bed and looked in the mirror. It was still there - long and flowing. I felt like I'd been given a second chance.

The I started thinking. What if I did cut my hair? Would I look ridiculous? Would people think I was a sellout? Would my dance moves lose their power? Maybe my subconscious was telling me to shake things up. Had I become too safe, too predictable? Did my persona take all the risk out of creativity?

If I really wanted to be crazy, then maybe I needed to let go, since holding on to anything as superficial as a hairstyle was going to keep my real wildness from riding free. I wanted to shock myself. I wanted to do what I most feared, just for the sake of doing it. I wanted to embrace the idea that I could only discover myself through fearless living.

I called up an old friend and told him what I was thinking. "Are you crazy?" he shouted. "Do not cut your hair! It's career suicide!"

That was all I needed to hear. Thirty minutes later I was in a barber's chair. "It must have taken years to grow your hair so long," the barber said. "Why cut it now?""I had a dream that it would be the worst thing that could happen to me," I told him. "So I figured I better do it."

He began to snip. I watched in the mirror, expecting an unrecognizable face to emerge. But all I saw was me. Realizing that my identity transcended my aesthetic choices was liberating. But it was scary too. For so long I had maintained a fixed conception of myself, never considering that there were countless other possibilities, each one just as valid and real.

Offstage, people stopped recognizing me - not just fans, but also friends, business partners, even ex-girlfriends. People speculated that the "real" Andrew W.K. had been spirited off and some imposter had assumed his identity.

And in a way, people were right. I'm not the same Andrew W.K. anymore. Since I cut my hair, I've begun actively challenging many of the other assumptions I've always had about myself.

I used to think that I didn't want to make music with other people. So I started looking for opportunities to work with other musicians, and I wound up producing Repentance, the new album by Lee "Scratch" Perry. I used to insist that I would never participate in organised religion, so I began making friends who believed in God and went to church, and I even joined a church.

These decisions might sounds like contradictions, but I've never felt lost or uncertain about them. Instead, I feel more and more that I have nothing to be afraid of. No matter what I do, I can only be myself. It's the only choice I have.

[Andrew W.K.]

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Uses of Heroes | Self-development
Community | Individuation: Becoming who we can be
Group Identity
Solid Ground
Playing with ourselves

Reason / Faith

Reason               -          Faith
Science              -          Religion
Fact                    -          Fiction
Literal                -          Metaphorical
Nomological      -          Mythological
Consistent          -          Inconsistent
Coherent            -          Incoherent
Convergent        -          Divergent
Mono                 -          Poly

The imposing arguments of science represent the highest degree of intellectual certainty yet achieved by the mind of man.

So at least it seems to the man of today, who has received hundred-fold enlightenment concerning the backwardness and darkness of past ages and their superstitions. That his teachers have themselves gone seriously astray by making false comparisons between incommensurable factors never enters his head.

Above all, the facts of faith, which might give him the chance of an extramundane standpoint, are treated in the same context as the facts of science.

Thus, when the individual questions the Churches and their spokesmen, to whom is entrusted the cure of souls, he is informed that membership in a creed is more or less de rigeur for religious belief; that the facts of faith which have become questionable for him were concrete historical events; that certain ritual actions produce miraculous effects; and that the sufferings of Christ have vicariously saved him from sin and its consequences.

If, with the limited means at his disposal, he begins to reflect on these things, he will have to confess that he does not understand them at all and that only two possibilities are open to him; either to believe implicitly, or to reject such statements because they are flatly incomprehensible.

Whereas the man of today can easily think about and understand all the "truths" dished out by the State, his understanding of religion is made considerably more difficult owing to the lack of explanations.

If, despite this, he has still not discarded all his religious convictions, this is because the religious impulse rests on an instinctive basis and is therefore a specifically human function.

You can take away a man's gods, but only to give him others in return.

[C.G. Jung]
The Undiscovered Self, p.45, 46

The standpoint of the creeds is archaic; they are full of impressive mythological symbolism which, if taken literally, comes into insufferable conflict with knowledge.

But if, for instance, the statement that Christ rose from the dead is to be understood not literally but symbolically, then it is capable of various interpretations that do not collide with knowledge and do not impair the meaning of the statement.

Is it not time that the Christian mythology, instead of being wiped out, was understood symbolically for once?

[C.G. Jung]
The Undiscovered Self, p.27

Temples and churches, pagodas and mosques, in all countries and ages, in their splendour and spaciousness, testify to man's need for metaphysics, a need strong and ineradicable, which follows close on the physical.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.162

Our time has been distinguished, more than by anything else, by a drive to control the external world , and by an almost total forgetfulness of the internal world.

By 'inner' I mean our way of seeing the external world and all those realities that have no 'external', 'objective' presence - imagination, dreams, phantasies, trances, the realities of contemplative and meditative states, realities that modern man, for the most part, has not the slightest direct awareness of.

People did not first 'believe in' God: they experienced his Presence, as was true of other spiritual agencies.

Sanity today appears to rest very largely on a capacity to adapt to the external world - the interpersonal world, and the realm of human collectivities [...] But since society, without knowing it, is starving for the inner, the demands on people to evoke its presence in a 'safe' way, in a way that need not be taken seriously, etc., is tremendous - while the ambivalence is equally intense.

Small wonder that the list of artists, in say the last 150 years, who have become shipwrecked on these reefs is so long - Hölderlin, John Clare, Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Nietzsche, Antonin Artaud ...

Those who survived have had exceptional qualities - a capacity for secrecy, slyness, cunning - a thoroughly realistic appraisal of the risks they run, not only from the spiritual realms that they frequent, but from the hatred of their fellows for anyone engaged in this pursuit.

Let us cure them. The poet who mistakes a real woman for his Muse and acts accordingly ... The young man who sets off in a yacht in search of God ...

The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness. The state of outer darkness is a state of sin - i.e. alienation or estrangement from the inner light. Certain actions lead to greater estrangement; certain others help one not be so far removed. The former used to be called sinful.

Already everything in our time is directed to categorizing and segregating this reality from objective facts.

Many people are prepared to have faith in the sense of scientifically indefensible belief in an untested hypothesis. Few have trust enough to test it. Many people make believe what they experience. Few are made to believe by their experience.

We live in a secular world. To adapt to this world the child abdicates its ecstasy.

There is a prophecy in Amos that there will be a time when there will be a famine in the land, 'not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.' That time has now come to pass. It is the present age.

[R.D. Laing]
The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, p.115-8

[A man] must sense that he lives in a world which in some respects is mysterious; that things happen and can be experienced which remain inexplicable; that not everything which happens can be anticipated. The unexpected and the incredible belong to this world. Only then is life whole.

[C.G. Jung]
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.390

[...] our ancestors understood metaphorically at least five thousand years ago that the process of creative courageous encounter with the unknown comprised the central process underlying successful human adaptation, and that this process stood as the veritable precondition for the existence and maintenance of all good things.

Such understanding, however, was implicit and low-resolution – at best, procedural, embodied, encoded in ritual and drama – and not something elaborated to the point we would consider explicit or semantic understanding today.

We are constantly tempted to regard such understanding as superstitious, because of its continuing lack of explicitness, and to presume that our current modes of apprehension have rendered traditional beliefs superfluous. 

This attitude is predicated (1) on failure to recognize that empirical enquiry cannot provide a complete world description, because of the intractable problems of action, value and consciousness and (2) on an ignorance with regard to the content and meaning of pre-empirical or pre-experimental belief that is so complete, profound and unfathomable that its scope can barely be communicated.

Freud described religious beliefs as illusions, motivated by wish-fulfillment.

Such beliefs can be more accurately understood as culturally-shared and accepted strategies for pragmatically managing complexity.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'Complexity Management Theory: Motivation for Ideological Rigidity and Social Conflict', in Cortex 38(3), December 2002, p. 453, 455

Whenever you try to understand anything, by whatever powers you have, you will discover [...] that what you are pursuing is inexhaustible [...] that you are trying to apply a formula to something which evades your formula, because whenever you try to nail it down, new abysses open, and these to yet other abysses.

When [the romantics] asked themselves how [...] one could begin to understand reality, in some sense of the word 'understand', how one might obtain some kind of insight into it without positively distinguishing oneself on the one hand as a subject, and reality on the other hand as an object, without in the process killing it, the answer which they sought to give, at least some of them, was that the only way of doing this was by means of myths [...]

[...] because myths embody within themselves something inarticulable, and also manage to encapsulate the dark, the irrational, the inexpressible, that which conveys the deep darkness of this whole process, in images which themselves carry you to further images and which themselves point in some infinite direction.

[...] the Greeks understood life because Apollo and Dionysus were symbols, they were myths, who conveyed certain properties and yet if you asked yourself what it was that Apollo stood for, what it was that Dionysus wanted, the attempt to spell this out in a finite number of words, or even to paint a finite number of pictures, was plainly an absurdity.

Therefore myths are at one and the same time images which the mind can contemplate, in relative tranquility, and yet also something which is everlasting, follows each generation, transforms itself with the transformation of men, and is an inexhaustible supply of the relevant images, which are at once static and eternal.

[Isaiah Berlin]
The Roots of Romanticism, p. 120-1

[...] all modern theories have as a common feature the desire to bring religion down to a purely human level, which amounts to denying it, consciously or otherwise, since it really represents a refusal to take account of what is its very essence […]

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 221

[…] perhaps the most astonishing thing of all is the speed with which it has been possible to induce Westerners to forget everything connected with the existence of a traditional civilization in their countries; if one thinks of the total incomprehension of the Middle Ages and everything connected with them which became apparent in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it becomes easy to understand that so complete and abrupt a change cannot have come about in a natural and spontaneous way. 

However that may be, the first task was as it were to confine men within the limits of their own individuality, and this was the task of rationalism, as previously explained, for rationalism denies to the being the possession or use of any faculty of a transcendent order; it goes without saying moreover that rationalism began its work before ever it was known by that name, and before it took on its more especially philosophical form, as has been shown in connection with Protestantism; and besides, the 'humanism' of the Renaissance was no more than the direct precursor of rationalism properly so called, for the very word 'humanism' implies a pretension to bring everything down to purely human elements and thus (at least in practice if not yet by virtue of an expressly formulated theory) to exclude everything of a supra-individual order. 

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p.193

But the rise of science did not lead to the end of religion, however much Richard Dawkins might like it to be so. Instead - as noted by Illich - religion responded to the challenge by becoming immanent itself.

Western Christianity progressively abandoned its commitment to transcendence and was ‘resolved into philosophy’, allowing itself to be brought down to Earth, into the realm of social activism, politics and ideas. 

‘The conversion of a large part of the religious world to the idea of modernity’ said Del Noce, ‘accelerated the process of disintegration’ that the modern revolution had unleashed.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
‘What Progress Wants’

The task of the descriptive sciences is to describe.

The practitioners of these sciences know that the world is full of marvels which make all of man’s designs, theories or other productions appear as a child’s fumblings. This tends to induce in many of them an attitude of scientific humility. They are not attracted to their disciplines by the Cartesian idea of making themselves 'masters and possessors of nature.’

A faithful description, however, must be not only accurate but also graspable by the human mind, and endless accumulations of facts cannot be grasped; so there is an inescapable need for classifications, generalisations, explanations - in other words, for theories that offer some suggestion as to how the facts may 'hang together'.

Such theories can never be 'scientifically proved’ to be true. The more comprehensive a theory is in the descriptive sciences, the more is its acceptance an act of faith.

Comprehensive theories in the descriptive sciences can be divided into two groups: those that see intelligence or meaning at work in what they describe, and those that see nothing but chance and necessity.

It is obvious that neither the former nor the latter can be 'seen', i.e. sensually experienced by man. In the fourth field of knowledge there is only observation of movement and other kinds of material change; meaning or purpose, intelligence or chance, freedom or necessity, as well as life, consciousness, and self-awareness cannot be sensually observed.

Only 'signs' can be found and observed; the observer has to choose the grade of significance he is willing to attribute to them. To interpret them as signs of chance and necessity is as ‘unscientific' as to interpret them as signs of supra-human intelligence; the one is as much an act of faith as the other.

This does not mean that all interpretations on the vertical scale, signifying grades of significance or Levels of Being, are equally true or untrue; it means simply that their truth or untruth does not rest on scientific proof but on right judgment, a power of the human mind that transcends mere logic just as the computer programmer's mind transcends that of the computer.

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.127-8

[…] “the religious man, unless he happens to be a scientist, is unable to make a bridge between himself and them by producing the right initial argument, which must always be on the scientific plane.”

If it is not on the 'scientific plane', he will be shouted down ‘and reduced to silence by all sorts of scientific jargon'.

The truth of the matter, however, is that the initial argument must not be on the scientific plane; it must be philosophical. It amounts simply to this: descriptive science becomes unscientific and illegitimate when it indulges in comprehensive explanatory theories which can be neither verified nor falsified by experiment.

Such theories are not 'science' but ‘faith'.

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.134

Mythology, as [Niebuhr] understood it, offered a coherent account of human history, in the form of narratives that embodied ethical insight and emotional truth in symbolic form, but the truth of this account, because it rested on intuition and emotion (in the Christian case, on the emotions of trust, loyalty, gratitude, and contrition), could not be established simply by argumentation.

Niebuhr did not recommend the prophetic myth - the narrative of creation, the fall, God's judgment and redemption of history - as an object of aesthetic appreciation, a set of agreeable fictions. He maintained that it gave a true account of the human condition, superior to other accounts. Judeo-Christian prophecy, like any other myth, was prescientific, but it was also “supra-scientific.”

Myths originated in the “childhood of every culture when the human imagination plays freely upon the rich variety of facts and events in life and history, and seeks to discover their relation to basic causes and ultimate meanings without a careful examination of their relation to each other in the realm of natural causation.”

In this sense, mythical thinking fell short of science in its power to explain the world; but it also transcended science by virtue of its power to illuminate the "end of existence without abstracting it from existence.” 

In the latter sense, myth alone was "capable of picturing the world as a realm of coherence and meaning without defying the facts of incoherence."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.371-2

From the past of Western Civilization, as a result of the fusion of Classical, Semitic, Christian, and Medieval contributions, there had emerged a system of values and modes of living which received scant respect in the nineteenth century in spite of the fact that the whole basis of the nineteenth century (its science, its humanitarianism, its liberalism, and its belief in human dignity and human freedom) had come from this older system of values and modes of living.

The Renaissance and Reformation had rejected the medieval portion of this system; the eighteenth century had rejected the value of social tradition and of social discipline, the nineteenth century rejected the Classical and the Christian portion of this tradition, and gave the final blow to the hierarchical conception of human needs.

The twentieth century reaped where these had sown. With its tradition abandoned and only its techniques maintained, Western Civilization by the middle of the twentieth century reached a point where the chief question was “Can it survive?”

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The Policy of Appeasement,’ p.353

Related posts:-
Levels of Being

Holistic Workout

I will remain silent on the subject of what yoga means for India, because I cannot presume to judge something I do not know from personal experience. I can, however, say something about what it means for the West.

Our lack of direction borders on psychic anarchy. Therefore, any religious or philosophical practice amounts to a psychological discipline; in other words, it is a method of psychic hygiene.

The numerous purely physical procedures of yoga are a physiological hygiene as well, which is far superior to ordinary gymnastics or breathing exercises in that it is not merely mechanistic and scientific but, at the same time, philosophical.

In its training of parts of the body, it unites them with the whole of the mind and spirit.

When the doing of the individual is at the same time a cosmic happening, the elation of the body becomes one with the elation of the spirit, and from this there arises a living whole which no technique, however scientific, can hope to produce.

Yoga practice is unthinkable, and would also be ineffectual, without the ideas on which it is based. It works the physical and the spiritual into one another in an extraordinarily complete way.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East, p.85

The gods are within us

Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually. Like Laplace, we think God is a hypothesis that can be subjected to intellectual treatment, to be affirmed or denied.

We completely forget that the reason mankind believes in the "daemon" has nothing whatever to do with external factors, but is simply due to a naive awareness of the tremendous inner effect of autonomous fragmentary systems [instinctual products of the unconscious].

This effect is not abolished by criticizing it - or rather, the name we have given it [God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc] - or by describing the name as false.

If we deny the existence of the autonomous systems, imagining that we have got rid of them by a mere critique of the name, then the effect which they continue to exert can no longer be understood, nor can they be assimilated to consciousness.

We think we can congratulate ourselves on having already reached such a pinnacle of clarity, imagining that we have left all these phantasmal gods far behind. But what we have left behind are only verbal spectres, not the psychic facts that were responsible for the birth of the gods.

We are still as much possessed by autonomous psychic contents as if they were Olympians. Today they are called phobias, obsessions, and so forth; in a word, neurotic symptoms. The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor's consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.

It is not a matter of indifference whether one calls something a "mania" or a "god." To serve a mania is detestable and undignified, but to serve a god is full of meaning and promise because it is an act of submission to a higher, invisible, and spiritual being.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East, p.37, 38, 39

The human psyche has many levels. What is religious exists at the very deepest of those levels. What is religious is what is fundamental.

People are religious, whether they know it or not, because they must have fundamental beliefs. Otherwise they cannot act. They can’t even perceive. They can be very confused about the nature of those fundamentals. Their psyches can be fractured, disjointed and incoherent.

Without axiomatic beliefs, however, we cannot simplify the world enough to act within it. 

[Jordan Peterson]
'Maps of Meaning: Suggested Readings and Russian Translation'

Related posts:-
Faith vs Reason
Real Magic

Imitation of Christ

The Christian subordinates himself to the superior divine person in expectation of his grace; but the Oriental knows that redemption depends on the work he does on himself.

The imitatio Christi [imitation of Christ] has this disadvantage: in the long run we worship as a divine example a man who embodied the deepest meaning of life, and then, out of sheer imitation, we forget to make real our own deepest meaning - self realization.

As a matter of fact, it is not altogether inconvenient to renounce one's own meaning. Had Jesus done so, he would probably have become a respectable carpenter and not a religious rebel ...

The imitation of Christ might well be understood in a deeper sense. It could be taken as the duty to realize one's deepest conviction with the same courage and the same self-sacrifice shown by Jesus.

Happily not everyone has the task of being a leader of humanity, or a great rebel; and so, after all, it might be possible for each to realize himself in his own way.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East, p.56, 57

Related posts:-
Facing Reality
Escaping Uncertainty

Magic and Illusion

[In reference to religious rites and blessings] Everywhere and at all times there have been rites d'entreé et de sortie [rites that precede or proceed an event] whose magical efficacy is denied and which are impugned as magic and superstition by rationalists incapable of psychological insight.

But magic has above all a psychological effect whose importance should not be underestimated. The performance of a "magical" action gives the person concerned a feeling of security which is absolutely essential for carrying out a decision, because a decision is inevitably somewhat one-sided and is therefore felt to be a risk.

When the rationalist directs the main force of his attack against the magical effect of the rite as asserted by tradition, he has in reality completely missed the mark. The essential point, the psychological effect, is overlooked.

[C.G. Jung]
The Undiscovered Self, p.18, 19


Magical practices are nothing but projections of psychic events, which then exert a counter-influence on the psyche and put a kind of spell upon the personality. Through the ritual action, attention and interest are led back to the inner, sacred precinct, which is the source and goal of the psyche and contains the unity of life and consciousness.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East, p.25


By what criterion do we judge something to be an illusion? Does there exist for the psyche anything which we may call "illusion"? What we are pleased to call such may be for the psyche a most important factor of life - something as indispensable as oxygen for the organism - a psychic actuality of prime importance.

Presumably the psyche does not trouble itself about our categories of reality, and it would therefore be the better part of wisdom for us to say: everything that acts is actual.

[C.G. Jung]
Modern Man In Search Of A Soul ('The Aims of Psychotherapy'), p.74


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

[William Wordsworth]
Passage from 'Daffodils'


Related posts:-
Take a break (watch a film)
The gods are within us
Faith vs Reason
A Way In
The Importance of Rituals 
How do you take your metaphysics?