Meme against Meme

But I do believe that cynicism is a meme in its own right, and has become totally reflexive, a kneejerk reaction. We need to fight that meme with a "killer meme" which destroys it.

People would be much happier if they started constructing virtuous circles instead of vicious ones. Positivity grows exponentially, just as negativity does. Actually, that observation is the basis of most religions and philosophies.


[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]
Taken from his blog, Click Opera.

Related posts:-
(Moronic) Cynicism
Hell in a basket
Optimism (as cultural rebellion)
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(Moronic) Cynicism

I've made quite a few passing references to "moronic cynicism", but never really defined what I mean by the term. Perhaps it's self-explanatory, but just in case it isn't, here are my Notes towards a definition of "moronic cynicism".

Moronic cynicism is a form of naivete. It's naivete turned inside out, naivete with a sneer. Imagine a child smoking a cigarette.

The girl on the left is not a moronic cynic.

Moronic cynics wonder why the girl's T shirt doesn't say "Hate" or "Cocaine" or "Fuck" or have a dead person's skull on it.

The moronic cynic uses cynicism as a way to prepare for the worst. The worst consequently arrives.

To be cynical is to be on the side of the worst, to think with its logic and to see with its eyes.

For the moronic cynic (and the shareholder) the bottom line is always money.

Moronic cynic, you will become the monster you claim to fight!

Passive aggression, self-destructiveness and negative capability are close cousins to moronic cynicism.

Moronic cynicism is still believing that there's a big simple thing called truth, then saying "They're lying to us!"

Moronic cynicism is splitting up with someone then sending 100 pizzas to their house rather than staying friends.

Moronic cynicism is telling the tale to your pals on a bulletin board and getting lots of applause for your malice.

"You should have kicked her in the teeth while you were at it!"

Moronic cynicism is taking a vaguely "No Logo" stance towards capitalism, but then working for a big marketing company, exacting your revenge on "the Man" and "the System" by frittering away your working hours on the internet and, when you're finally and understandably fired, stealing something.

"You should have set the place on fire!" say your pals on the bulletin board.

Moronic cynicism is attacking both the consumers and the companies that supply their needs. "Wake up!" you scream to people who are already awake, thank you very much!

Moronic cynicism is seeing the entire people, government and institutions of a nation as possessing some kind of "original sin".

Moronic cynicism is joining the mosque and carrying the bomb in your backpack because the world is evil.

Moronic cynicism is intervening in a contract because you think you understand the real needs of the participants better than they do themselves.

Moronic cynicism is thinking it's wrong to say bad stuff about women, but fine to say bad stuff about men.

Moronic cynicism is telling women of another culture that they're "exploited" because they're not as cynical as you are, and then finding yourself stereotyping them with words like "compliant" and "submissive" and "cute".

Hey, you're saying worse things about them than anybody in their culture does, and you still want them to be grateful for your advice?

Moronic cynicism wonders why the phone never rings.

Moronic cynicism is "enlightened false consciousness" as outlined by Peter Sloterdijk: "that modernized, unhappy consciousness, on which enlightenment has labored both successfully and in vain. It has learned its lessons in enlightenment, but it has not, and probably was not able to, put them into practice. Well-off and miserable at the same time, this consciousness no longer feels affected by any critique of ideology; its falseness is already reflexively buffered... To act against better knowledge is today the global situation in the superstructure; it knows itself to be without illusions and yet to have been dragged down by the "power of things." Thus what is regarded in logic as a paradox and in literature as a joke appears in reality as the actual state of affairs. Thus emerges a new attitude of consciousness toward "objectivity." Peter Sloterdijk. Critique of Cynical Reason, University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Moronic cynicism is thinking "empowerment" is acting on your own behalf rather than on the behalf of others.

Moronic cynicism is the narcissistic mindset of a fragmented individual in a culture where all individuals resemble each other, and everybody is secretly miserable.

Moronic cynicism is the secular version of Protestant "worldly asceticism". Hold back from the world, young puritan, for it is evil!

The moronic cynic flexes his muscles by criticizing marketing, then becomes a marketer himself. "I am evil," he says, and hates himself. His hate spreads out from the centre, from his wretched self-loathing, and becomes a concentric series of vicious circles, a whirlpool of pointless negativity.

The moronic cynic's pleasures are always guilty pleasures.

The moronic cynic cannot stand innocence because it reminds him of himself. He pisses on it as soon as he sees it.

The moronic cynic believed Michael Jackson was guilty all along. Of course! He would have corrupted those kids in the same situation.

The moronic cynic is not attracted to things because they are beautiful, but because they are forbidden.

The moronic cynic believes that [insert name of endangered species here] are already extinct and feels slightly disappointed to hear that populations are rising.

The moronic cynic would find the wholesomeness of this blog completely disgusting.

The moronic cynic suddenly falls in love one day with someone who isn't cynical at all.

The opposite of moronic cynicism is love.

[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]
Taken from his blog, Click Opera.

Related posts:-
Meme against Meme
Optimism (as cultural rebellion)
Disenchantment
Hell in a basket

Twist Your Melon

I like very much one thing he says in one of the documentaries, though. Asked why Anthology Film Archive has survived when so many other underground and alternative venues have been taken over and closed down, Mekas says 'It's because we are crazy! Everybody else had a more sensible way of thinking than us. They were practical, so they are no longer here.'

It's a vital thought. It reminds me why I keep trying to mess up my head with art. It's art, rather than life, that keeps me crazy. And only the crazy survive.

[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]
Taken from his essay, 'Edinburgh 2002'

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Boxed Off

Think, Say, Do, Feel

Eventually I started sleeping with Zoe (not her real name), the French ex-girlfriend of my Greek Marxist friend from university. Zoe lived in Tufnell Park and was into dancing, aromatherapy, massage, and sex. She was extremely thin and had a wicked sensuality. When she was at home in Vence, in the south of France, Zoe would lie in the garden and cover her naked body with snails, just to feel them crawling across her skin.

[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]
Taken from his blog, Click Opera.

Beware Agapanthus

"Man is always, I think, made fearful by what he does not understand. I heard the other day a story which illustrates the point and which may appeal to garden lovers. A lady wishing to keep people from crossing her lawn put up a notice BEWARE OF THE DOG. It had no effect. She then put one up BEWARE FIERCE DOG - still no effect - but when she put up BEWARE AGAPANTHUS no one dared come near."

Jim Ede - Founder of Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. ('Open House' Exhibition Catalogue)

The degree of aesthetic impact and emotional experience of the above quote varies dramatically depending upon whether or not the reader 'knows' what an 'Agapanthus' is. The quote is useful because it presents a few small challenges; to buy into, or believe in this story, we have to imagine, visualize, think and feel.

For those who do 'not know', the warnings of a dog, and a fiercer dog, set up the Agapanthus as something particularly fierce and dangerous. Finding out that an Agapanthus is a rather beautiful plant diminishes the fear of what it might be and enables us to understand one major point of the story, another point is that the realization also dashes the daydream created by our imagination.

For those who 'know' what an Agapanthus is, the quote presents a different challenge. When one 'knows' it is more difficult to imagine or create a daydream of what an Agapanthus might be. In many ways it is sensible and practical in life to trust in the reality we have tested, know and believe. However, the quote also makes more complex points, one being that there can be gains and benefits from using the imagination.

The 'lady' in the story uses her imagination to enhance reality - by activating the fear and imagination of others she gets the solution she wants. It is a consciously driven movement away from reality, a creative reversal of the process of realization.

There is also an implied warning that accompanies the process of immersing ourselves in the story - when we 'suspend our disbelief' (Coleridge, 1817) and our trust in things that are real, we make ourselves susceptible to being manipulated. It is like our reality anchor has been hoisted and we become vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of the sea. We identify with the lawn trespassers and the story makes us turn back in fear.

Significantly, those who 'know' and those who do 'not know' must both give up a sense of reality and accept the fictionalised story to be able to understand and have access to the benefits of the many points condensed within it.

Jim Ede recounted this viginette so that visitors to museums and galleries would enter and approach art and artefacts with open and creative minds, rather than expecting to find what is already known and what we feel safe with. There is a risk in embracing the unknown, the challenging, and the difficult, but without the risk there can be no development, creativity, or change. It is not difficult to see how crucial these factors are in learning.

The unfamiliarity of the 'Beware Agapanthus' sign forces a re-evaluation of habitual responses, momentarily we reconfigure our existing experiences to address a new set of learning parameters. We are forced to question and consider, or if the challenge is too extreme, we avoid. It is an important skill to 'know what to do, when we do not know' (Claxton 2003, p2) and it is something that is easily overlooked when there are so many prescriptive aspects of compulsory education.

[Karl Foster]

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Negative Capability

This is a concept Wilfred Bion developed from an expression first used by John Keats to describe a state of creative receptivity. It can be understood as a capability to hold an empty mental space. This means the ability to live with doubt, ambiguity, uncertainty, and, as Keats puts it, "without any irritable reaching after fact and reason". It is a space to hold back from thoughtless reaction.

The empty mental space is needed to be able to see and feel things clearly. It is a space where something can form, develop and emerge. When there is no solution or prescribed answer, one can be formed and shaped. When we do not 'know' we must learn to sit with 'not knowing'. This is not a kind of attention that is vacant or indiscriminate, this is wide-open attention with a specific focus. If we have Negative Capability, we may be able to stay open and receptive to change and difference. It is only by the accumulation of many such experiences that we begin to recognize the right conditions for creativity.

When trying to communicate Negative Capability we often use a big jar of buttons.

We usually pour the whole jar into an empty space on the floor. We like people to think that each button is a thought or an incident with an emotional charge. A button could be a criticism, or an unwelcome noise, or a happy thought, but the main point is that they are unprocessed stimuli.

The buttons spill in an uncontained way across the floor (it can be unpleasant to watch this happen) as they might in our minds. To establish a space where there is enough calm for reflection and where there is enough room for something to form, the buttons have to be pushed back.

As space appears between the buttons, Negative Capability emerges. The establishment of this creative space is dependent upon attention and calmness. When working in a group, a mobile phone ringing or somebody working on their laptop is like scattering a handful of buttons into the space that have to be pushed back to the sides again.

[Karl Foster]
Also see: Negative Capability, Wikipedia definition.

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Psychic Hermaphrodite
The Value of Uncertainty
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Being open to the new

The Pursuit of Happiness

Hillman: ... Also, I see happiness as a by-product, not something you pursue directly. I don't think you can pursue happiness. I think that phrase is one of the very few mistakes the Founding Fathers made. Maybe they meant something a little different from what we mean today — happiness as one's well-being on earth.

London: It's hard to pursue happiness. It seems to creep up on you.

Hillman: Ikkyu, the crazy Japanese monk, has a poem:

You do this, you do that
You argue left, you argue right
You come down, you go up
This person says no, you say yes
Back and forth
You are happy
You are really happy

What he is saying is: Stop all that nonsense. You're really happy. Just stop for a minute and you'll realize you're happy just being. I think it's the pursuit that screws up happiness. If we drop the pursuit, it's right here.

[James Hillman]
with Scott London
Online interview, you can find it here
.

Hear the Calling

I have come to be convinced that the parental fallacy itself has harnessed [a] Father's spirit to a false image, and his daimon turns demonic in kicking against the traces. He is trapped in a construct called fatherhood, a moral commandment to be the kind of good guy who likes Disneyland, and kids' food, gadgets, opinions, and wisecracks.

This bland mode betrays his necessary angel, that image of whatever else he carries in his heart, glimpsed from childhood into the present day ... The man who has lost his angel becomes demonic; and the absence, the anger, and the paralysis on the couch are all symptoms of the soul in search of a lost call to something other and beyond.

And so his absences - physical, mental, spiritual - call him away from the cage of delusions that crush the angel's wings. Without inspiration, what's left is bare, aimless ferocity. Without the desire for an ideal, what's left is lustful fantasy and the seduction of free-floating images that find no anchor in actual projects.

Present in body and absent in spirit, he lies back on the couch, shamed by his own daimon for the potentials in his soul that will not be subdued. He feels himself inwardly subversive, imagining in his passivity extremes of aggression and desire that must be suppressed.

Solution: more work, more money, more drink, more weight, more things, more infotainment, and an almost fanatic dedication of his mature male life to the kids so that they can grow up straight and straight up the consumer ladder in the pursuit of their happiness.

... the parental fallacy has trapped the parents also in providing happiness, along with shoes, schoolbooks, and van-packed vacations. Can the unhappy produce happiness?

Since happiness at its ancient source means eudaimonia, or a well-pleased daimon, only a daimon who is receiving its due can transmit a happy benefit to a child's soul. Yes, I am saying that "care of soul," as Thomas Moore has written, may thereby help the child's soul prosper.

Should the onus of soul-making in the parent shift to making the soul of the child, then the parent is dodging the lifelong task set by the acorn [their "calling"]. Then the child replaces the acorn. You feel your child is special, and you care for it as your calling, seeking to realize the acorn in your child. So your daimon complains because it is avoided, and your child complains because it has become an effigy of the parents' own calling.

Parents' deficient attention to the individual call they brought with them into the world and the hyperactivity of their distraction from this call betrays their reason for being alive. When your child becomes the reason for your life, you have abandoned the invisible reason you are here.

Any father who has abandoned the small voice of his unique genius, turning it over to the small child he has fathered, cannot bear reminders of what he has neglected. He cannot tolerate the idealism that arises so naturally and spontaneously in the child, the romantic enthusiasms, the sense of fairness, the clear-eyed beauty, the attachment to little things, and the interest in big questions. All this becomes unbearable to a man who has forgotten his daimon.

[James Hillman]
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.82, 83, 84, 85

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Men became neurotic at the mid-point of life because, in some sense, they had been false to themselves, and had strayed too far from the path which Nature intended them to follow. By scrupulous attention to the inner voice of the psyche, which manifested itself in dreams, phantasies, and other derivatives of the unconscious, the lost soul could rediscover its proper path.

[in reference to middle-aged patients suffering from depression] Such patients are often people who, because of the demands of their careers and families, have neglected or abandoned pursuits and interests which, at an earlier point in time, gave life zest and meaning.

If the patient is encouraged to recall what made life meaningful to him in adolescence, he will begin to rediscover the neglected side of himself, and perhaps turn once again to music, or to painting, or to some other cultural or intellectual pursuit which once enthralled him, but which the pressure of life's business had made him abandon.

[Anthony Storr]
Solitude, p.191, 192, 194

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I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life [...]

[...] Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears. For that reason the idea of development was always of the highest importance to me.

A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them [...] Whenever we give up, leave behind, and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force.

[C.G. Jung]
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.162, 307

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Jung thought that the cause of neurosis usually lay in the present [...] When the natural course of a man's development through life was held up, either by misfortune or by his failure to face life's obligations, his libido became turned in upon himself and reactivated the attitudes and feelings of childhood which would normally have been left behind him.

Jung believed that there was a natural and proper path of development for each individual; and that neurosis might actually be a valuable signal which indicated when, through intellectual arrogance, a false set of values or an evasion of responsibilities, a person was straying too far from his own true path.

Just as pain might make a man realize that there was something wrong with his body, so neurotic symptoms could draw attention to psychological problems of which the individual was unaware.

[Anthony Storr]
The Essential Jung, p.17

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Too much social security and equality breed individual restlessness and frustration: hazard starvation and variety starvation. The nightmare of the welfare state is boredom.

The higher the standard of living, the greater the need for variety. The greater the leisure, the greater the lack of tension.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos, p.118

................................................................................................................................................................................

Geezerz need excitement
If their lives don't provide them this they incite violence
Common sense simple common sense

[The Streets]
Geezerz Need Excitement

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Silence

Nonverbal communication among Navajo Indians

* Nonverbal communication styles have different connotations within each tribe.

* Navajo Indians, for example, may be comfortable with long periods of silence, and may not share inner thoughts and feelings with anyone outside their clan.

* Interest in what an individual says is shown through attentive listening skills.

* To establish a positive social relationship, the rule of silence is considered a serious matter that calls for caution, careful judgment, and plenty of time (Chisolm, 1983, as cited in Purnell and Paulanka, 1998).

* A person may be considered immature if answers are given quickly, or if he/she interrupts another who is forming a response.

* It is important to allow time for elderly Navajo to respond to questions. Not allowing adequate time for information processing may result in an inaccurate response, or no response (Wilson, 1987, as cited in Purnell and Paulanka, 1998)

* Navajo Indian family members may show support to family members during doctor appointments not through talking, but by simply being present. For Navajo Indians, silence is being supportive.

Cultural Competency - Multicultural Health Generalizations By Culture
Lifted from here.

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Trappist monks will generally only speak when necessary, and idle talk is strongly discouraged. As described by St. Benedict, speech disturbs a disciple's duty for quietude and receptivity, and may tempt one to exercise one's own will instead of the will of God.

Speech which leads to unkind amusement or laughter is seen as evil and is banned.

In years past, a Trappist Sign Language, distinct from other forms of monastic sign language, was developed to dissuade speaking. Meals are usually taken in contemplative silence, as members of the order are supposed to listen to a reading.

Wikipedia
Trappists

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Our actual conversations are now modeled on telephone talk. No pauses, because if there is a moment of reflection, a moment of silence, you wonder if the other person is still there. Manic. Keep talking, like I'm doing now.

The culture expects one to be manic: hyperactive, spend and consume and waste, be very verbal, flow of ideas, don't stay too long with anything - the fear of being boring - and we lose the sense of sadness.

So the whole structure that you mentioned: aggressive, dominant, power, sadistic, we can also call manic. And that quality of the psyche is our ego development. It's so ego identified that we don't even see it as a syndrome! What we see as a syndrome is slowness, sadness, dryness, waiting. That we call depression, and we have a giant pharmaceutical industry to deal with it.

[James Hillman]
Inter Views, p.13

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Silence is a major value in Native American culture, for silence is the token of acceptance, the symbol of peace and serenity, and the outward expression of harmony between the human and natural worlds.

[Diane Long Hoeveler]

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Native Wellness

Soul Descending

Plato's tale of descent is the Myth of Er which I shall condense from the last chapter of his Republic:

The souls are all hanging around in a mythical world, having arrived there from previous lives, and each has a lot to fulfill. This lot is also called a portion of fate (Moira) that is somehow representative of the character of that particular soul. For instance, the myth says the soul of Ajax, the intemperate and mighty warrior, chose the life of a lion, while Atalanta, the fleet young woman runner, chose the lot of an athlete, and another soul chose the lot of a skillful workman.

"When all the souls had chosen their lives according to their lots, they went before Lachesis [lachos = one's special lot or portion of fate]. And she sent with each, as the guardian of his life and the fulfiller of his choice, the genius [daimon] that had been chosen."

Lachesis leads the soul to the second of the three personifications of destiny, Klotho (klotho = to twist by spinning). "Under her hand and her turning of the spindle, the destiny of the chosen lot is ratified." (Given its particular twist?) "Then the genius [daimon] again led the soul to the spinning of Atropos [atropos = not to be turned, inflexible] to make the web of its destiny irreversible.

"And then without a backward glance the soul passes beneath the throne of Necessity," sometimes translated as the "lap" of Necessity.

The Platonic myth says the soul descends in four modes - via the body, the parents, place, and circumstances. These four ways can be instructions for completing the image you brought with you on arrival.

First, your body: Growing down means going with the sag of gravity that accompanies aging. ([Josephine] Baker told people she was sixty-four while she was still in her mid-fifties; she wore old clothes and gave up covering her baldness.)

Second, admitting yourself to be one among your people and a member of the family tree, including its twisted and rotten branches.

Third, living in a place that suits your soul and that ties you down with duties and customs.

Last, giving back what circumstances gave you by means of gestures that declare your full attachment to this world.

[James Hillman]
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.44, 45, 62

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Close to Extraordinary

We use [extraordinary people] as they are always used by a culture: to inspire ordinary lives by displaying their own potentialities. Extraordinary people excite; they guide they warn; standing, as they do, in the corridors of imagination - statues of greatness, personifications of marvel and sorrow - they help us carry what comes to us as it came to them. They give our lives an imaginary dimension.

That's what we look for when buying biographies and reading the secret intimacies of the famous, their luck, their errors, their gossip. Not to pull them down to our level, but to lift ours, making our world less impossible through familiarity with theirs. Without these exemplars of the daimon we have no other category of the extraordinary except diagnostic psychopathology.

These personifications of heightened imagination burn right into the soul and are its teachers. Not only the hero and hero-worship, but tragic figures too, beauties and comics and crones and handsome leading men.

[James Hillman]
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.32

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Local Hero

Imagine a better life

We dull our lives by the way we conceive them. We have stopped imagining them with any sort of romance, any fictional flair.

... today's main paradigm for understanding a human life, the interplay of genetics and environment, omits something essential - the particularity you feel to be you. By accepting the idea that I am the effect of a subtle buffeting between heredity and societal forces, I reduce myself to a result.

The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn't do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim. I am living a plot written by my genetic code, ancestral heredity, traumatic occasions, parental unconsciousness, societal accidents.

... we are victims of academic, scientistic, and even therapeutic psychology, whose paradigms do not sufficiently account for or engage with, and therefore ignore, the sense of calling, that essential mystery at the heart of each human life.

[James Hillman]
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.5, 6

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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe

What is it about this scene from the first Austin Powers film that moves me so much?

Dr Evil has taken his son Scott to Group Therapy. He's asked to tell the group something about his own childhood:

Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.

Therapist
: Oh no, please, please, let's hear about your childhood.

Dr Evil
: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.

Therapist
: You know, we have to stop.

What makes this scene funny is also what makes it fascinating. Dr Evil is just so incongruous at the group therapy session, dressed in his light grey totalitarian dictator's jacket. He's a character designed to be one-dimensional, to sit inside a volcano in a Bond film and strive to take over -- or destroy -- the world. He's supposed to say "I've been expecting you, Mr Bond!" and "I am going to kill you, Mr Bond, in due course, but first, since you are so curious, I am going to explain what will happen when I take over the world."

Instead, at the group therapy session, the totalitarian sits surrounded by suburban Americans wearing autumnal leisurewear, and -- as sinister, beautiful John Barry-esque music starts up -- tells them something so incommensurate with their own experience that they can only interpret it as a series of metaphors. He says he's been partially frozen, he says he's been trying to kill his son, and the hippy-liberal therapist interprets these as figures of speech. No, says Dr Evil, he means it literally. But what stops him is the thought "Who's going to take over the world when I'm gone?" And again the therapist explains it to the group as a metaphor. Haven't we all felt like that sometimes? Aren't we all alike?

No, we aren't. The John Barryesque music strikes sinister chords containing "forbidden" intervals, with an icy sparkling of mallet instruments falling across them like sunshine striking the tops of high mountains. Dr Evil begins his speech. We hear of luge racing -- a luge is a sled or toboggan -- and summers in Rangoon, the former capital of Burma, now Myanmar; a colonised nation now run by a military junta. We hear of taboo child-rearing practices (corporal punishment, humiliation), taboo body parts, undignified professions, insane cruelty, buggery, headwear made of meat, ritual testicle-shaving that evokes that talisman of unacceptability, clitoridectomy, brutally hierarchical social relations (the young Evil "received a scribe"), and archaic religions with a vaguely Nietzschean ring to them. What could be more strange to the American Christians present than Zoroastrianism? What could be better calculated to strike a chill in their hearts, and show them more rapidly the limits of their tolerance?

The pretense of this therapy session -- of all therapy sessions -- is that you can say anything. Whatever you say, you will be heard, and shepherded back from its extremity to some kind of normalcy. But Dr Evil, in his grey suit, is beyond the pale, irrecuperable. What he says is so unsayable that it can only be understood as a series of metaphors. His "standard" and "typical" childhood draws gasps and revulsion from his listeners. Rather than indicating that he is willing to move towards suburban normalcy, Dr Evil tries to influence the group to adopt the arcane rituals with which he grew up: "I suggest you try it". The aging 1960s hippy in charge of the session senses that the limits of expression -- and perhaps a moment of danger -- have been reached: "We have to stop."

It reminds me of Batty, the Nexus 6 replicant in Blade Runner, telling Deckard "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shore of Orion. I watched seabeams glitter in the dark near the Tennhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like... tears... in rain. Time to die."

What's so poignant here is that we know that the conventions of genre require the "evil" character to die, precisely for the incommensurability of his difference -- he is "the unacceptable other", the creature too intolerable for any tolerance, too incomprehensible for any understanding. We know these people must die for their difference, but we are also fascinated by it. We are wedded to monoculture, but subtly disturbed by pluricide. And so, just before they die, evil characters representing "the unacceptable other" are given speeches which allow us to glimpse, simultaneously, how unlike us they are, and yet how like us, if only by the fact that they have had experiences, as we have too. Luge lessons in Rangoon, attack ships off the shore of Orion. Like us, they will die, and this difference will all die with them. The removal of their incommensurable difference will, we know deep down, impoverish the world, perhaps even more than their presence menaces it.

Something about Dr Evil's speech reminds me of some lines near the opening of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland. Perhaps it's the sled and the luge, the overlapping references to summer and exotic places, the sense of privilege and refinement, something archaic. But it's also surely the sense that this is a way of life -- profoundly undemocratic, unacceptably other -- made more beautiful for being marked out for destruction.

Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]
Taken from his blog, Click Opera.

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Wishy-washy, like bamboo

Bert: There’s another aspect of that, because the word "character" is used in terms of integrity. You draw the image of the acorn growing into the oak, and the acorn wanting to be a poplar. So integrity, in this sense, is being true to character, true to the oak.

Hillman
: I want to use Clinton as an example. We think that character can only be like a moral Puritan, in a black hat and a black frock coat, who never wavers and never falters. But the man of character can be the man of wisdom I spoke of earlier, the man at the tiller, who just makes little adjustments to keep on course. Constantly adjusting, going with the wind. Constantly adjusting. He’s never on "true course," because you never are when you are actually sailing. You’re always slightly off-course. The job of a good sailor is to keep close to course, making little adjustments. They blame Clinton for being wishy-washy, for vacillating and not being true to whatever. But if you were Chinese you’d say the man is flexible. You’d say he is like bamboo, he is like water, or the wind, which is always shifting a little bit. Because that’s the way to be on this earth. Because anything that remains mountain-hard will be run over, or the water will pass it by.

It just shows the difference of cultures here. Our sense of character is to be only one way. It’s a monotheistic view of character. I’m suggesting that there are many ways of showing character, one of which is "wishy-washy." That’s also a way of showing character. It’s flexibility, bending like bamboo.

[James Hillman]
with Bert H. Hoff
Online interview, you can find it here
.

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A good martial artist is like water. Why? Because water is insubstantial. By that I mean you cannot grab hold of it; you cannot punch it and hurt it. So, be soft like water, and flexible.

Be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash.

Be water, my friend.

[Bruce Lee]

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Incursions of the Unknown

Bert: You also mentioned another aspect of this "calling," the element of risk. Aside from biology and social conditioning, that our finding our "calling" may entail embracing the risks we encounter as we live in the world. In our society we seem to want to protect ourselves from risks.

Hillman: I learned something from Malidoma Somé. He brought up one time how amazed he was with the idea of insurance in our world, that when some peculiar thing happens, we don’t think of "the invisibles" or fate or destiny, or meaning, or what could be going on. We think, instead, of calling the insurance adjuster. We think of making a claim. We don’t think that we’ve been visited by "the invisibles," but that this may even be a chance to make a little money.

Insurance insures us against the "invisible" world. That’s a remarkable thing. I think Malidoma saw something crucial. Insurance is really a giant umbrella against the incursions of the unexpected.

Bert: As you talk of character and risk, the image that comes to my mind is that of Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss."

Hillman: Aha! Of course, Michael Meade has made it clear that doesn’t just mean going through life smiling like Forrest Gump and eating chocolates. Meade points this out by pointing to a passage from Campbell that has to do with passion and adventure. You don’t know what you’re going to get into when you follow your bliss.

That’s what we’ve lost in our culture now. We’re an "air bag" society that wants guarantees on everything that we buy. We want to be able to take everything back and get another one. We want a 401-k plan, and Social Security. The whole arrangement of our life is built against the incursions of the unknown into our life.

Bert: And it’s the incursions of the unknown in our life that create the magic, fuel our passions.

Hillman: They challenge us, too, and in that sense keep us alive.

Bert: Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem: "Our role in life is to be decisively defeated by greater and greater Beings."

Hillman: That’s extraordinary, isn’t it? And youth won’t bear this kind of dull thing, the way we carve out risk-free lives where nothing happens, and of course they become absurdly violent and ritualistic. Because something else must be given to youth.

[James Hillman]
with Bert H. Hoff
Online interview, you can find it here
.

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Because it is this woman

Hillman: The philosopher Ortega y Gassett asked himself, "Why do I love this woman?" What does the psychoanalyst do with that question? Go into it: She's like your mother, she's not like your mother, she's your anima projection, she reminds you of your first love when you were seventeen or seven, "she's got these incredible qualities that I don't have" or "she's so different from me that it's extraordinary" or "she's just like me, we get along like brother and sister, it's remarkable." We dig and dig and dig to find the reason why.

What does Ortega say? He says: "You love this woman because - because it is this woman."

Ventura (trying the phrase out): "Because it is this woman."

Hillman: And that makes her the unique woman. That's the important thing, the uniqueness. Because it is this woman, it's not another woman. It has nothing to do with any of the rational qualities. It's not, as Stendhal would say, because she's a little ugly and therefore you can see the beauty in her. It's not because she's beautiful.

Ventura: It's not because she's your anima. It's not because she's your muse.

Hillman: It's not because anything. There is no because. The because is: it is this woman. And that gives love back to the Gods. You see, the Gods hit you with her arrow, or they hit her with your arrow, or you both got hit - and that arrow is the reason.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.164, 165

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Hell in a basket

Hillman: My friends talk about decency. Isn't it extraordinary how the world goes on working with decency, in spite of it all? Somebody falls, somebody tries to help them. There's just an immense reservoir of human decency around. It's a great power in the world, for keeping thing going, in spite of all the corruption.

Therefore we can't predict, we can't say the world is going to hell in a basket, it's too easy. You run the risk of being caught in an archetypal fantasy.

Ventura: That's the danger I always run into.

Hillman: Any one of the archetypal fantasies, whether it's "the world is getting better" or "the world is going to hell in a basket" - these are myths that seize us and are comforting, because any single one you get into is comforting.

Ventura: Whoa, how is "it's all going to hell in a basket" comforting?

Hillman: If your nature is dark, you may find the darker fantasy comforting. Another friend of mine's fantasy that comforts him is that everything is senseless and all our systems are attempts to make sense of what is essentially senseless. Therefore you're always in a valley, you can never get out of the valley, no matter which system you set up. I find that a despairing notion, but for him it's a mythological fantasy that gives comfort and safety.

And when you say to him, "Look, you're just hiding in that one," he says, "No, don't you see how despairing it is, there's no safety?" But he's safe inside a fantasy of no safety.

Ventura: If you say it's all beyond prediction or control - that in fact your fantasies don't fulfill themselves in the long run, they contradict themselves in the long run - then you can't control it with your systems, because life is beyond what we can think about it. Life is going to fool us all.

Hillman: Life is beyond what you can think about it. We need, nonetheless, to think about it.

Ventura: We have to, because that's how human beings are made.

Hillman: That's part of life, to think about it.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.233, 234

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A Healthy Environment

Hillman: [Revolution] begins with the realization that things are not right and an analysis of how they are not right - that's the first step. And that is the job of therapy. Because therapy deals with things that are not right. It's called dysfunction.

And instead of imagining that I am dysfunctional, my family is dysfunctional, you realize what R.D. Laing said long ago and Freud, of course, too: it is the civilization that is dysfunctional. The society is dysfunctional. The political process is dysfunctional. And we have to work on cures that are beyond my cure. That's revolution. That's realizing that things out there are dysfunctional. That's the therapeutic task. It's not to tell a person how to fight or where to fight, but the awareness of dysfunction in society, in the outer world.

Ventura: It's not just your parents, your childhood -

Hillman: - or my relationship with my marriage. There is a dysfunction in the society that is affecting us. And the second step is: I cannot repair it in myself in my own relationships alone, because my problem is social dysfunctions. So how is settling things with my wife going to repair the dysfunction of the general situation? That's a romantic delusion - that if we could just get our sex right, our conversations right, "If I could just find the right relationship -"

Ventura: "If my little home could be perfect, could be safe - if I could find balance in my home I'd be happy. Talk to my kid, talk to my wife, quit drinking, get laid decently a couple of times a week, get on a decent diet, get exercise, make a little more money, then I would really be okay." Except you won't. Because you still live in this crazy world of dysfunction that impinges on you and influences you and yours twenty-four hours a day.

Hillman: "Where the school isn't right for my kids, where the food I eat is not right, where the air I breathe is not right, where the architecture in which I spend my tie assaults me, the lighting and the chairs and the smells and the plastic are not right. Where the words that I hear on TV and are printed in the newspaper are lies, where the people who are in charge of things are not right because they are hypocritical and hiding what they are really doing - so how can I ever get it right within my home and within my marriage?"

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.218, 219

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The chemico-biologization of mental illness is of course strictly commensurate with its depoliticization. Considering mental illness an individual chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism.

First, it reinforces Capital's drive towards atomistic individualization (you are sick because of your brain chemistry). Second, it provides an enormously lucrative market in which multinational pharmaceutical companies can peddle their pharmaceuticals (we can cure you with our SSRIs).

It goes without saying that all mental illnesses are neurologically instantiated, but this says nothing about their causation. If it is true, for instance, that depression is constituted by low serotonin levels, what still needs to be explained is why particular individuals have low levels of serotonin.

This requires a social and political explanation; and the task of repoliticizing mental illness is an urgent one if the left wants to challenge capitalist realism.

We must convert widespread mental health problems form medicalized conditions into effective antagonisms. Affective disorders are forms of captured discontent; this disaffection can and must be channeled outwards, directed towards its real cause, Capital.

[Mark Fisher]
Capitalist Realism: Is there No Alternative?, p. 37, 80

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The patient is surrounded with love and support as they attend a healing ceremony. Thus connection to people, nature, and spirit is emphasized. In this manner, the Native American healing is a holistic medicine.

For the Native American, healing, spiritual development and quality of life cannot be separated from other life aspects to include politics and economics. Harmony with the Earth is essential for health.

"Native American Attitudes Towards Illness"

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Rolling Thunder often wondered out loud why psychiatrists failed to see the causal relationship between mental illness, air and water pollution, and the destruction of forests.

Every traditional Indian could see this relationship - this man-mind-nature interaction. Perhaps that is why American Indians are still performing "impossible" agricultural and medical feats; why American Indians are still custodians of the land.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.167

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You have to ask yourself whether you are healthy, happy, at ease with yourself and others, enjoying life, working creatively, emotionally caring and sensitive, resilient, capable of fulfilling friendships, responsible, self-reliant and the like.

A lot of these things are not wholly within your control. You cannot be happy or at ease with yourself just by an act of will. It requires among other things certain social and material conditions.

If you want to be good, you need a good society. Of course there can be saints in atrocious conditions, but part of what we admire about such people is their rarity.

Basing an ethics on this would be like restricting everyone to three raw carrots a day simply because a few rather weird people can survive happily on such a diet.

[Terry Eagleton]
After Theory, p.128

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I think that Bernard Smith, the non-alcholic legal representative of AA, came close to the mark when he said, "the [AA] member was never enslaved by alcohol. Alcohol simply served as an escape from personal enslavement to the false ideals of a materialistic society."

It is not a matter of revolt against insane ideals around him but of escaping from his own insane premises, which are continually reinforced by the surrounding society.

It is possible, however, that the alcoholic is in some way more vulnerable or sensitive than the normal to the fact that his insane (but conventional) premises lead to unsatisfying results.

[Gregory Bateson]
Steps to an Ecology of Mind ('The Cybernetics of "Self": A Theory of Alcoholism'), p.311

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The distinction to be made here is between great design that supports community, relatedness, a feeling of belonging, and great design that is about modernity, newness, and someone's legacy, which means it is usually indifferent or strictly utilitarian with respect to human habitation.

How could we design buildings and communal spaces that are not friendly to their inhabitants? Not so surprising when you realize that we design institutions, social structures, and gatherings that have the same effect.

Alienated and retributive cultures will create alienated and unfriendly buildings and public spaces. Patriarchal institutions will create physical space that glorifies those who lead them and the designers they choose, and they will be indifferent, in the name of cost, to the space dedicated to workers and citizens.

This means we must be thoughtful about the quality of relatedness that exists among those designing our spaces, for if they are at odds with each other, that is the kind of structure they will choose. One where conflicts are unresolved, isolation is glorified, and transparency is ignored.

[Peter Block]
Community, p.159

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Fucking in Ritual Space

Hillman: [In therapy] The sex addict needs to talk about pornography, about advertising, everything that is designed to turn you on.

Ventura: And everything designed to keep you repressed. The churches, Miss Manners -

Hillman: - and therapy's ideas of "relationship." In the sex addict, what kind of political awareness can you have about that? You wouldn't be for restrictions. My solution would be -

A long pause

Prostitution.

Ventura: Your credibility just took a very long walk on a very short pier. Prostitution so that -

Hillman: - so that the fantasy life would be freed.

Ventura: Heavy-duty bordellos. As in Genet's The Balcony, or in the Marquis de Sade. Yes. Yes!

Hillman: The classical bordellos that have been with us throughout history as part of high culture.

Ventura: I hear a chorus of, "Throughout the history of the patriarchy, you mean!" But prostitution appears to have started in the temples and rituals of what were still matriarchal religions. It was about fucking in ritual space -

Hillman: - as a sacred experience.

Ventura: And that's what a lot of so-called sex addiction is about - the search for fucking in ritual space. People will risk an enormous amount - their marriage, their jobs - to fuck in ritual space every now and again. Or you could put that a little harsher, as the puritan culture would, and say: people often take enormous risks to exercise their perversion.

Hillman: The only way you can understand some marriages, or why certain people stay together, is they've finally found someone they can share their perversion with.

Ventura: I like that. That's a reasonable reason to get married and a reasonable reason to stay married. Because what the society is calling a perversion you're feeling as a transcendent experience.

Hillman: That's where to go with dilmemmas of sex. Fucking in ritual space. It's not pictures of pussy or dick.

In the old-fashioned bordello the imagination of a person was cared for. Same for de Sade, which is a storybook of images. When the imagination of a person is not cared for we're left not only with what they now call sex addiction and sex therapy (which is a technology of sex and not the art of sex), but we're also left with the grandfather and the uncle who finger the little girls. Again, sex molestation and all that is partly a function of the repression of prostitution and of all sexuality not considered "normal."

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.213, 214, 215

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Sell Out

... selling out means accepting the goals and the tactics of the society as your own, as a way of life, when privately you don't agree with that way of life at all. Going along with stuff that you know contributes to the greater dysfunction. Living off the dysfunction. That's selling out.

If you share the commercial, "me first" values of this society, survival's hard enough. If you don't survival with your values is a great deal harder, because the society doesn't support any of it. Any of it.

[Michael Ventura]
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.207

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The pressure to sell out is such a common and transparent reflection of market discipline, so nearly a capitalist invariable, that it is far more interesting and important to ask how and under what conditions people are inspired to resist it.

Certainly many artists, still hoping to be able to eke out a living by their creative work, have resigned themselves to accommodating the market and therefore know, without ever needing to make a conscious choice about it, that intensely-held radical commitments can only threaten their ability to pay the rent.

[Gene Ray]
Art Schools Burning & Other Songs of Love and War, Chapter II, para. 1-2

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Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23, The Bible

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Do you have control (or does control have you) ?

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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Live the Straight and Narrow

Hillman: The compulsion to innocence. What is it about America? Why this dominant theme going all the way back to out first novels in the eighteenth century - the loss of innocence? It's been written of again and again. That's the major theme of American literature. Why are we a culture that doesn't want to lose its innocence?

Ventura: Doesn't want to lose its virginity. And constantly manufactures new versions of virginity.

Hillman: What is the moral superiority of being innocent? And why are sophistication and culture somehow corruption?

Ventura: It goes back to the Puritans, where any sort of imagination was doubt or deviation and considered the work of Satan.

Hillman: What does puritanism have to do with therapy?

Ventura: I think puritanism is the root of why a lot of people go to therapy. In the sense of, "Why do I go to therapy? I don't know how to be monogamous, I have all these terrible thoughts, I don't know how to live the straight and narrow like I'm supposed to, it's driving me crazy, I go to therapy to -"

Hillman: "- get straightened out."

Ventura: "Yes. So I can live in this confined place that my puritanism tells me I should live in. I should be a good husband and love only my wife, and a good father and sacrifice everything for my kids, and I should go to work and love going to work, and I should go to church on Sunday but not let the Gods and spirits into my daily life where they're too disruptive, and if only I could do that I'd be fine, but I have moods, I have tempers, I have fears, they all get in the way, they throw me off the good path."

Hillman: "And I know I should keep my body under control. But instead I eat too much and I drink too much, and I eat chocolate at night before I go to bed and I really shouldn't be doing that anymore, and I still smoke, and my body is full of appetites and lusts and perversions and peculiarities and -"

Ventura: "- and I want therapy to cure me of all this." In other words: "I want therapy to cure me of having a psyche."

Because that's what puritanism says: "If you do this and that and practice such and so and believe that and this, you won't have to worry about having a psyche. Your psyche won't matter, it won't be a factor."

Hillman: "You won't have to worry about having a body, either."

Ventura: "And anything that intrudes on the 'normal,' the straight and narrow, is evil. Which is an insidious way of saying: the psyche is evil. And if the psyche is trying to put some curves in your 'straight' and widen your 'narrow,' if your imagination is coaxing you, goading you, seducing you, prodding you -"

Hillman: "Yes, my imagination is filled with extraordinary things I shouldn't be doing -"

Ventura: "If your psyche and your body are trying to keep you from living as we, the Puritans, would have you live, then they are evil."

You have this thing in psychology where you're going to therapy to be cured of having a psyche!

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.200, 201

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The Cult of Childhood

Hillman: We did a book at Spring Publications called The Cult of Childhood. It shows how this fantasy about childhood, this worship of the child that we were talking about, goes back prior to Freudian theory and developmental psychology, back to the Romantics and Rousseau, to German education, which set up kindergartens, and so on. Then the idea infected the arts: artists produce wonderful things because the artist becomes like a child filled with spontaneity and creativity.

Ventura: That's such bullshit. Art is hard work. Van Gogh said, "An artist is a man with work to do."

Hillman: So even our theory, the commonly accepted theory, of art is affected by our fantasy of the child. I think the worship of the child and the cult of childhood are substitutes for really worshiping the imagination. That's what we really want, but it's been misplaced.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.189

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Alone Together

Ventura: So falling in love won't save me?

Hillman: You know why? Because as soon as two people pair off, they leave the party. They go elsewhere, his place, her place, for private salvation. Everyone else is left out. They don't ask, "What are the people saying?" Intimacy means anticommunity. And if the self means, as I defined it, the interiorization of community, then finding the one and only, the significant other, only reinforces individualism.

And all those passionate images on the billboards and the tube are just more propaganda for private salvation. They are saying stay indoors, off the streets, out of the party. They are false because they are reinforcing the false self of individualism. They are pushing private enterprise. They keep our sexual desire, our Eros, harnessed to private salvation. Just fall in love and you'll be saved.

Ventura: Getting it on doesn't even mean passion anymore, it means not being alone. "Let's just snuggle," she says, "we don't have to have sex." Statistics say that's what women want most. "I don't want joy, I just don't want to feel alone." We are deluded to feel that the only way out of individualism is private salvation, which is both bad sex and bad community.

Hillman: That's probably why the Church always said, "Outside the Church, our community, no salvation." So the Church and the old Bolshevists, and the Chinese Communists today try so hard to regulate love. They see that falling in love is another kind of individualism. They don't want lovers to "leave the party" for private salvation.

... we don't want to forget that in a true community there would necessarily be (as there is in the old tales, or in Wings of Desire and Dances with Wolves) a dialectic between intense states of privacy and the larger community. They pull to and fro in a dance of their own. "What are the people saying?" is part of that dance.

Ventura: And when there is that to-and-fro between the lovers and the community, each questions the other, helps keep the other honest; the lovers and the community each give to the other what can't be gotten otherwise.

Hillman: But that only happens if we realise we're not isolated selves

Ventura: Exactly. Without that realisation, the wonder that two people find together increases an isolation that in the end can only make them even more desperate, and that desperation will eat and kill their love in the long run.

Hillman: A vicious circle. As long as the world around us is just dead matter, Eros is trapped in personal relationships. And transference, by the way, just confirms that, hour after therapeutic hour. It reenacts the problem not of my childhood and my love for Mommy, but the culture's hangup on an ideal significant other and salvation through tortuous love. I want you - that's our deepest cultural cry. And you have to be divine, since all the divinities, the ancestors, the soul of things, are dead.

And what about this? Romantic love keeps the world dead. It insists, "Only you, only you, only you - you are my heart's desire. Forsaking all others." And here the "other" doesn't mean just other people, it means all others. No significant others can be had anywhere.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.180, 181, 183

Screenshots from Twentynine Palms

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One day when I stopped to see Deskit, I found her sitting alone in front of the TV at ten o'clock in the morning. She was in the best room, furnished with a large, new vinyl sofa and armchair, but she was sitting on the floor. Her children were in school, and her husband was at work.

I had known her in the village when she was a bit shy, but pretty and sparkling. She was still pretty, but the sparkle had gone. She was clearly unhappy and had grown quite withdrawn.

I had to see her because an aunt of hers had told me she was not very well. Neither the aunt nor Deskit herself knew why she was so unhappy, since she seemed to have everything she could possibly want. Her husband had a good job as a doctor, her children were in the best schools in Leh, and their house was modern, clean, and comfortable. But the process of development had isolated Deskit, imprisoning her in a nuclear family, removing her from the larger community, and leaving her without meaningful work. It had also separated her from her children.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.126-7

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