Maybe love isn’t a feeling, but a seamless connection between the interiors of two minds.

Toward the end of C. S. Lewis’s classic memoir, A Grief Observed, he recounts in similes being visited briefly by the presence of his recently-departed wife, Joy Davidman.

 It’s the quality of last night’s experience — not what it proves but what it was — that makes it worth putting down. It was quite incredibly unemotional. Just the impression of her mind momentarily facing my own. Mind, not ‘soul’ as we tend to think of soul. Certainly the reverse of what is called ‘soulful’. Not at all like a rapturous re-union of lovers. Much more like getting a telephone call or a wire from her about some practical arrangement. Not that there was any ‘message’ — just intelligence and attention. No sense of joy or sorrow. No love even, in our ordinary sense. No un-love. I had never in any mood imagined the dead as being so — well, so business-like. Yet there was an extreme and cheerful intimacy. An intimacy that had not passed through the senses or the emotions at all.

If this was a throw-up from my unconscious, then my unconscious must be a far more interesting region than the depth psychologists have led me to expect. For one thing, it is apparently much less primitive than my consciousness. Wherever it came from, it has made a sort of spring cleaning in my mind. The dead could be like that; sheer intellects. A Greek philosopher wouldn’t have been surprised at an experience like mine. He would have expected that if anything of us remained after death it would be just that. Up to now this always seemed to me a most arid and chilling idea. The absence of emotion repelled me. But in this contact (whether real or apparent) it didn’t do anything of the sort.

One didn’t need emotion. The intimacy was complete — sharply bracing and restorative too — without it. Can that intimacy be love itself — always in this life attended with emotion, not because it is itself an emotion, or needs an attendant emotion, but because our animal souls, our nervous systems, our imaginations, have to respond to it in that way? If so, how many preconceptions I must scrap! A society, a communion, of pure intelligences would not be cold, drab and comfortless. On the other hand it wouldn’t be very like what people usually mean when they use such words as ‘spiritual’, or ‘mystical’, or ‘holy’. It would, if I have had a glimpse, be — well, I’m almost scared at the adjectives I’d have to use. Brisk? cheerful? keen? alert? intense? wide-awake? Above all, solid. Utterly reliable. Firm.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif.gif
Advertisements

Truth has nothing to do with it

“Do you think we’re going to make our public believe anything simply because it’s true? They know perfectly well what they are going to believe your fantastic story — you bet your hat. I don’t care if the whole damned beach was littered with mermaids! We’ve got our reputation to keep up. See?…

Look here!—you haven’t learned journalism as I hoped you’d do. Stuff that the public won’t believe aren’t facts. Being true only makes ’em worse. They buy our paper to swallow it and it’s got to go down easy.”

— H. G. Wells
sea_by_trf_lady

What is depression?

I’m sure the experience and the causes vary deeply from one person to the next.  Here is a view that counterposes against the medical model that most of us have been exposed to.

Laura Delano was a highly successful student who got swallowed by the Harvard student health system, treated with a cocktail of different pharmaceuticals, as her ability to cope with daily life spiraled downward. Ten years later, she took it on herself to taper off her meds, and endured a year and a half of even worse pain and new symptoms. Then she began to heal. She now runs The Inner Compass, an community to support people looking for alternatives to medical treatment.

In this interview, she talks to Charles Eisenstein.  Their thesis, in a nutshell, is that many problems identified as psychological actually derive from a mismatch between a person’s deep sensitivity about what it is to be human and the expectations of their social environment. They go on to describe ways in which treating the issue as biochemical invalidates the patient’s experience, and sometime can worsen or at least complicate the issue with the message “there’s something wrong with you.” Charles and Laura (I agree) cite evidence that data reported in medical journals about the effectiveness of antidepressants are distorted by economic interests, and that alternatives to pharmacology are not compared on a level playing field.

There’s a segment at the end where Charles asks Laura, “What would you say if you could go back and talk to your 13-year-old self?” Laura responds:

“Trust.  I’d say, What you’re feeling and thinking, this terror and confusion that you’re grappling with — trust that this is happening for a very important reason. And if you listen to it and have the courage to stay with it, it’s going to lead you closer and deeper into who you really are. The fact that you don’t know who you are right now, the fact that you want to die and that you are debilitated by those racing thoughts, the urge to channel your pain into hurting yourself — It’s not because there’s something wrong with you; it’s because you’re awake and you’re feeling the pain of the world around you. Don’t let them tell you you’re broken. Don’t let them tell you your pain is a sign of sickness. It’s really a sign of your aliveness.

“And I’d also say: You are so far from alone. At the time, I was convinced I was the only one going through this. I had no idea that there were so many people experiencing something, if not the same, at least akin to what I was feeling.”

 

What is money? A new understanding expands what is possible.

For those who like their information compact and concise, here is a video that takes you from A to Z in 15 minutes. German/British economic professor Richard Werner gives us his theory of money and references the empirical support for that theory above more conventional views.  He goes on to diagnose the simultaneous concentration of wealth and stagnation of productive activity, to trace it to concentration of the power to decide who gets credit, and to propose a comprehensive solution.

  • Banks don’t merely recycle depositors’ money; they actually create new money each time they issue credit.
  • The great majority of money in our American and European economies is created in this way.
  • Who gets the newly-created money?  When it is loaned against assets, it inflates the prices of those assets.  But when it is invested in research, education, and new manufacturing capacity the result is increased productivity.
  • When banks are large and decisions are centralized, the credit tends to be issued to entities that are nominally very profitable but are fundamentally unproductive: Real estate, insurance, finance, or the FIRE sector.
  • Small, community-owned cooperative banks tend to lend small businesses, where new productivity comes from.

(The only thing he doesn’t tell us is why the banksters aren’t telling us the truth about the power they have and how they’ve been using it to enrich themselves at our expense.  That would be a conspiracy theory.)

(And I would also add that investment in science has a long-term, large-scale value that small, local banks might not be able to appreciate.  We need government funding of science, and not just the kind of science that is already close to offering technological innovation, but the very speculative science that usually fails, but succeeds spectacularly when it succeeds.)

Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again. – JFK

 

Fine line between enlightenment and mental disorder

Suddenly there was a fracture between the world and me. While my body was still in the world, my mind had become a disengaged observer…It was as though all the constituent parts of me were still working, but an essential and vital element of my self, of my person, was missing.

I’m conscious even as I say this that I must have a functioning inner life; one that is capable of articulating this experience. But the capacity to knit that awareness into a narrative that I can occupy and own is missing.

This article on Aeon by Anna Ciaunica and Jane Charlton pathologizes the experience as DPD=Depersonalization Disorder.

Symptoms of derealization include:

  • Feelings of being alienated from or unfamiliar with your surroundings — for example, like you’re living in a movie or a dream
  • Feeling emotionally disconnected from people you care about, as if you were separated by a glass wall
  • Surroundings that appear distorted, blurry, colorless, two-dimensional or artificial, or a heightened awareness and clarity of your surroundings
  • Distortions in perception of time, such as recent events feeling like distant past
  • Distortions of distance and the size and shape of objects

But this shift in perspective is not negative for everyone who undergoes it.  It is at least akin to and perhaps congruent with the result of ascetic disciplines for detachment from the body.  It seems related to the reports of psychedelic experiences in which a person feels to be outside his body, outside his usual identity.  And there are mystics who tell us that this wider perspective is closer to reality, and that the embodiment of self is a kind of delusion or dream.

The self that feels, that thinks, that is reading this screen—this is not a real entity, but an illusion of the mind.  This is the mother of all truths, and this ability to adopt a perspective outside self is the basis of spiritual enlightenment.

video by Leo, at Actualized.org

Related is the feeling of detachment from agency, as though it is not oneself who is making choices. This can be an alienation from self and avoidance of responsibility for one’s actions; or it can be “going with the flow”, a resonance with larger forces that shape reality, or even surrender to the will of God.

So, is the loss of the sense of self an ultimate psychological tragedy, or is it liberation from suffering, carrying with it courage and empowerment and perhaps seeds of a cosmic love?

I welcome your thoughts…

Lost-head-and-bird

Sohrab Hura, Magnum Photos

Howard Zinn on the American Revolution

The traditional view that we are all taught in school is that a handful of noble heroes gathered in Philadelphia and magnanimously gave to “The People” control of the reins of government—“If you can keep it,” added BF.

In Zinn’s perspective there was a genuine populist uprising brewing all through the colonies.  90 years before the publication of Das Kapital, people of the American colonies self-organized to throw off the economic shackles with which England was sapping their productive work.  But a handful of aristocratic connivers arranged to co-opt the  people’s energies, and divert the revolution toward a limited transfer of power—from British elites to American elites. — JJM

“In 1776, certain people in the English colonies made a discovery: they found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits and political power from the British Empire. In the process they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership. When we look at the American Revolution in this way, it was a work of genius.”

“The Revolutionary leadership distrusted the mobs of poor. But they knew the Revolution had no appeal to slaves and Indians. They would have to woo the armed white population.”

“It seemed that the majority of white colonists, who had a bit of land, or no property at all, were still better off than slaves or indentured servants or Indians, and could be wooed into the coalition of the Revolution.”

“Here was the traditional device by which those in charge of any social order mobilise and discipline a recalcitrant population, offering the adventure and rewards of military service to get poor people to fight for a cause they may not see clearly as their own.”

“[It was] a wonderfully useful device, the language of liberty and equality which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution, without ending either slavery or inequality.”

“Inspirational language is still used, in our time, to cover up serious conflicts of interest in an apparent consensus and to cover up, also, the omission of large parts of the human race.”

“It seems that the rebellion against British rule allowed a certain group of the colonial elite to replace those loyal to England, give some benefits to small landholders, and leave poor white working people and tenant farmers in very much their old situation.”

“One would look, in examining the Revolution’s effect on class relations, at what happened to land confiscated from fleeing Loyalists. It was distributed in such a way as to give a double opportunity to the Revolutionary leaders: to enrich themselves and their friends, and to parcel out some land to small farmers to create a broad base of support for the new government”

“The new constitutions that were drawn up in all states from 1776 to 1780 were not much different from the old ones. Although property qualifications for voting and holding office were lowered in some instances, in Massachusetts they were increased. Only Pennsylvania abolished them totally.”

“The inferior position of blacks, the exclusion of Indians from the new society, the establishment of supremacy for the rich and powerful in the new nation — all this was already settled in the colonies by the time of the Revolution. With the English out of the way, it could now be put on paper, solidified, regularised, made legitimate, by the Constitution of the United States.”

“At the Constitutional Convention, [Alexander] Hamilton suggested a President and Senate chosen for life. The Convention did not take his suggestion. But neither did it provide for popular elections, except in the case of the House of Representatives, where the qualifications were set by the state legislatures (which required property holding for voting in almost all states), and excluded women, Indians and slaves.”

“The Constitution serves the interest of a wealthy elite — it enables the elite to keep control with a minimum of coercion, a maximum of law all made possible by the fanfare of patriotism.”

“The problem of democracy in post-revolutionary society was not the constitutional limitations on voting. It lay deeper, beyond the Constitution, in the division of society into rich and poor. For if some people had great wealth and great influence — if they had the land, the money, the newspapers, the church, the educational system — how could voting, however broad, cut into such power?”

— from A People’s History, by Howard Zinn