Control

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Control                               -                      Chaos
Solid                                  -                       Liquid
Known                               -                      Unknown
Certain                                -                      Uncertain
Intentional                          -                      Accidental
Mono                                  -                      Poly
Familiar                              -                      Novel


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Hillman: ... "You are out of control," "I am out of control," are big sentences now in this culture.

And the important thing is to be able to control your behaviour, get your shit together. I think control is one of the most dangerous words we've got right now in our vocabulary.

First of all, it's a word that belongs with Honeywell, it's a "control systems" idea - that the controls (not the psyche or the Gods) are what run everything, run the ship, run the air conditioner, run the factory.

Second of all, it's a word that belongs in the police world. So it's a combination of technological and bureaucratic or oligarchic or fascist. And it's become an ideal of therapy!

Ventura: And yet when your life is out of control --

Hillman: When is your life out of control? Tell me about it.

Ventura: When you're falling in love your life's out of control. And when you're falling out of love.

Hillman: Your life is very out of control! Out of control.

Ventura: You get fired or let go or have an accident, your life's out of control.

Hillman: When you have a breakdown of any kind - bankruptcy, a death, a big illness - your life's out of control.

Do you realize the conditions we've just described are the great dramatic moments of life?

Ventura: Which we're supposedly living for!

Hillman: That's what we're living for. Falling in love, being heartbroken by love -

Ventura: - revelations that turn you inside out -

Hillman: - mourning and grief -

Ventura: - victory, defeat - because when you get a big victory you're often as out of control as when you're badly defeated -

Hillman: - losing it, finding it -

What is all this emphasis on control? Isn't that what they call secular humanism, to ban the Gods?

Ventura: We're banning the Gods -

Hillman: - with that control system.

Ventura: We want to control all the things you supposedly live for - all those things that, if you get to be an old person, and have not had them, you go, "What was my life about?"

Hillman: All the times you drove through the storm, all the times that bastard broke your heart.

Ventura: And the old-timers smile and cry when they tell the stories. So on one level what you want is to be out of control, and on another level you're fighting that. That's your dialectic.

That's called, being around on the planet.

Hillman (laughing): That's called being around on the planet.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.203, 204


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Classical music, like classical architecture, like many other classical forms, specifies an entity in advance and then builds it. Generative music doesn't do that, it specifies a set of rules and then lets them make the thing.

In the words of Kevin Kelly's great book, generative music is out of control, classical music is under control.

Now, out of control means you don't know quite what it's apt to do. It has it's own life. Generative music is unpredictable, classical music is predicted. Generative unrepeatable, classical repeatable. Generative music is unfinished, that's to say, when you use generative you implicitly don't know what the end of this is.

Generative music is sensitive to circumstances, that is to say it will react differently depending on its initial condition, on where it's happening and so on. Where classical music seeks to subdue them. By that I mean classical music seeks a neutral battleground, the flat field. It won't be comfortable -- with a fixed reverberation, -- not too many emergencies, and people who don't cough during the music basically.

Generative forms in general are multi-centered. There's not a single chain of command which runs from the top of the pyramid to the rank and file below. 

There are many, many, many web-like modes which become more or less active. You might notice the resemblance here to the difference between broadcasting and the Internet, for example.

[Brian Eno]
'Evolving metaphors, in my opinion, is what artists do'


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Introspection's course and limits were set by a consciousness that insisted on unity. To hear the deeps not only affronted Christian tradition; it invited what had been declared the Devil, Hell, and madness.

Here we begin to see the staggering consequences of denial of the daimons: it leaves the psyche bereft of all persons but the ego, the controller who becomes super-ego.

No spontaneous fantasy, image, or feeling may be independent of this unified ego. Every psychic happening becomes 'mine.' Know Thyself shifts to Know Myself.

What Philemon taught Jung, however, was that there are things in the psyche that are no more "mine" than animals in the forest ... or birds in the air." Moreover, without images, the imaginative perspective itself withers, only reinforcing the ego's literalism.

The images which could teach the ego its limits, as Philemon taught Jung, having been repressed, only return unimaged as archetypal delusions in the midst of subjective consciousness itself.

The ego becomes demonic. It fully believes in its own power.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.65


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There's a necessary inferiority when you're in psychic reality.

[...] soul means inferiority - something sensitive, something ... well ... pathologized. Soul makes the ego feel uncomfortable, uncertain, lost. And that lostness is a sign of soul.

You couldn't have soul or be a soul if you couldn't feel that you have lost it. The person as the strong ego [...] doesn't feel that he's lost anything.

That's one reason I question the psychiatric process of developing a strong ego. That seems to me a monstrous goal for psychotherapy because it attempts to overcome the sense of soul which appears as weakness, a weakness that seems almost to require symptoms.

Violence or power or sadism or domination keep us from sensing soul, and until they crack from inside, don't work anymore, fall apart, as I have called it, we can't work with them.

[...] when you are suffering, when there's failure, dejection, and you are cast down, thrown back on yourself, left alone, wet, in one way or another - then you begin to feel, Who am I? What is going on? Why can't I? Why doesn't my will work?

The Great Western Will - that I have been trained ever since I was a child to know what I want, to get it, and do it. To be independent!

It doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman here. You're taught to be independent, to stand on your own two feet, to take what you need, to know what you want, and to know where you're going.

Now all of that gets defeated by the syndromes or the symptoms I'm talking about, the pathologizing. Suicide is one. Betrayal is one. Masturbation is another one [...]


[James Hillman]
Inter Views, p.12, 17


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Adam and Eve then became almost drunk with excitement. This was the way to do things. Make a plan, ABC and you get D.

They then began to specialize in doing things the planned way. In effect, they cast out from the Garden the concept of their own systemic nature and of its total systemic nature.

[...] Eve began to resent the business of sex and reproduction. Whenever these rather basic phenomena intruded upon her now purposive way of living, she was reminded of the larger life which had been kicked out of the Garden.

[...] there is humility, and I propose this not as a moral principle, distasteful to a large number of people, but simply as an item of a scientific philosophy.

In the period of the Industrial Revolution, perhaps the most important disaster was the enormous increase of scientific arrogance. We had discovered how to make trains and other machines. We knew how to put one box on top of the other to get that apple, and Occidental man saw himself as an autocrat with complete power over a universe which was made of physics and chemistry.

But that arrogant scientific philosophy is now obsolete, and in its place there is the discovery that man is only a part of larger systems and that the part can never control the whole.

[Gregory Bateson]
Steps to an Ecology of Mind ('Conscious Purpose versus Nature'), p. 441, 443 


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Mechanisation, bureaucracy, the increasing complexity of technology and scientific specialisation are […] typical phenomena of mass society today, ‘yet they seem to vitiate the authority of the individual, as well as the democratic power of the majority, in favour of an anonymous principle of organisation and discipline.’

If this is the case, the artist can’t hope for any privileges from mass society, or even from the concession of a marginal status […] Such a society won’t recognise the need of a safety valve.

[…] a mass society won’t have any need of the artist, and presumably won’t even bother to domesticate his mystery.

[Denis Donoghue]
The Arts Without Mystery, p. 91-2


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Related posts:-
Escaping Uncertainty
Live the straight and narrow
Taking the rough with the smooth 
Incursions of the Unknown
Wild Things
Soul Possession
Reasonable Paths
Small Mind/Large Mind
Balancing Art
Devils in the Dark
Monotheism & Polytheism
An Orderly Mind
Step toward Madness 
Pressure Valve
Shades of gray

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