Saturday, July 13, 2013

psyche and the matrix

The section of psyche talks about inner space and every human’s need to explore the inner recesses of his or her own mind.  Monks use meditation, others look inward through deep trace and others try to go with in through the use of herbs, fermented drink, or chemical drugs.  I have been going through my own search for inner space.  I was married for 13 years to a man whose, it seemed, took it as his mission in life to erase me.  Oh not in any violent sort of way, but in a much more insidious sort of way, by invalidating everything I believed in and stood for.  I was never allowed to offer my own opinion on anything, everything went according to his program, and at no time was I allowed to make a decision or have a goal or do anything in the way of any personal improvement.  The kids were raised with his values and morals, and taught that mom was on the bottom of the food chain of the house.  I turned from this brilliant vibrant artist/intellectual type, to this mousy, scared, “anything for you, oh lord and master” housewife.   Ugh.   You might wonder how it is that something like that could happen, or you might think that consent was given, in the fact that I did not leave.  I not only did not leave, I was incapable of leaving.  I actively worked to save the marriage that was the direct cause of my spiritual and moral destruction.  No matter that all my friends tried to save me, no matter that through the years they all fell away .They could not stand to watch me allow him to destroy me.  And allow it I did.  I yearned for the debasement.  I wanted to “fix” him, not realizing that he was breaking me. What does this have to do with psyche, you might ask?    I have darkness in me, something that sees me as not valid, not worthy, not equal or even close to being equal.  Somewhere deep down in the recesses of my brain or soul or where ever the sub-consciousness is I am flawed.   So when the great man finally decided that he no longer liked the person he had made me, he left.  For my best girlfriend.  So that he could turn that brilliant woman into a carbon copy of me.  It was the changing that he got off on, not the finished project.  So now I am left with this person, this husk that I did not recognize as myself.  And there was no one to guide me, as I clearly needed guidance.  I NEEDED someone to tell me what to do. And one night, on the verge of cutting my wrists, I had an epiphany.    Philosophy
An Introduction to the Art of Wondering says
One state of consciousness sought by the Zen Buddhist is called satori, usually
Translated as flash of enlightenment.And that is what happened to me. I had a moment of clarity that my whole life had been a search for some man to tell me what to do.  Why Should I not be able to tell myself what to do?  What was there lacking in me that I could not guide my own life?  So I started searching.  And I found painting.  Bob Ross oil painting as a matter of fact.  I went on line and I downloaded all 31 season of Bob Ross from the PBS.  And I watched, and my mind wandered to all the things I had been or had wanted before marriage. It may have been some form of self hypnosis brought on by Bob’s voice, which is peaceful and calm, similar to someone using a white noise machine or nature tapes, to silence their mental chatter.  I signed up for school and after my books were bought, I blew my whole grant on oil paints and canvas and supplies, and I painted.  For the next year, I painted and I cried. And then I stopped crying and I painted and thought about stuff.   And I thought about stuff while I painted.  And then I thought about nothing and used the painting as way to exorcise the great man from my mind.
 And then one day,  like Aldous Huxley, who could withdraw into a state of Deep Reflection  ( a highly meditative yet completely present state ) I realized I was standing from of a finished painting, with no idea of how much time had passed, and no recollection of having painted what I was looking at...And I was free…free from the great man (who in reality was a narcissistic abuser, and a compulsive meth addict)  , free of the mental chains that told me I needed a man to live( that came from how my step- dad treated my mom) and free of the doubt that had plagued me most of my life( of course I was worthy, the goddess did not create trash or make mistakes).  Some cultures have religious ecstasy, in which a person uses faith to transport them to a place where they are all with one and nothing and everything and they call that God.  Eastern practitioners of yoga learn to “let go” of the outer senses and reach for that which is within, and so find nirvana.  Others look within to examine the nature of space and time and the relation of the human mind to those concepts, and so look to place themselves firmly within themselves. I used painting…which in my mind is like yoga or meditation in that the smells of the paint and canvas and thinners is enough to put me into that mind set, and the repetitive motions of dab and stroke and the sound of the whish and burr of the brush hitting the canvas are like the positions of yoga, or the motions of the ecstatic Christian about to speak in tongues, who is filled with the other…to me the other is that which is in ourselves buried under all the lies and masks and mental chatter.  And when I paint I am able to go away and at the same time look within.  Time stops, psychological time as opposed to chronological time and all within me is still and quiet, and something, the gods or goddesses or my true inner voice speaks to me and I find both peace and truth.

The story of the Matrix is of one man’s awakening.  If you wake from the dream you will find that the reality that you thought was real was no more real than the dream you just woke from.  Matrix is the story of a man who must find the way from the unreal to the real.  Neo wakes from what he thinks is real is real to a halfway point where he finds out that nothing is real and everything he has been taught to believe is a lie and an illusion. To find that humans are slaved enmeshed in a dream world, raised as slaves to be batteries to power a city of robots and a mechanical society.  Humans are giving up their very life force to keep going a society that oppresses them.  This movie is an allegory of the Cave on a massive scale.  He was at first content to be discontented.  The he became an active searcher for reality.  As he because more aware, he was more in danger.  There are those who are trying to kill him for fear that he will rock the boat, scare the sheep, and shake up the status quo.  Morpheus says (paraphrase) that “Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, and most will fight you to the death to keep the illusion going”.  His enemies are not only the great deceiver, the evil genius, but also those that are still deceived, those that have no wish to be awakened, who prefer the dream to the hardships and cares of reality.  Neo’s story is the ancestral mythology that the mind is on a journey, and that each person must go through trials and ordeals to find the ultimate truth.  The movies play with the philosophical question of perceived reality vs. actual reality vs. truth. Vs. perceived truth.  What is really perceived as opposed to what is really occurring?  The Matrix movies draw heavily on Descartes’  “I think therefore I am”   and his theory of the Problem of the External world, and his theory of the Evil Genius.  These theories raise the point that if there is a being that can control all that you see or perceive, and that being can manipulate and deceive, then the only input that a person can actually know to be true, is what comes directly from the inner mind, as all external parameters and criterion can be misleading.   The story is essentially a parable for the soul’s search for the ultimate truth.  The Matrix can also be used as a parable for the working of the human mind.  On the surface there is one plane, which for the movie is the standard,  savior action plot, and for the mind is the everyday mental chatter and BS that occurs with everyone daily.  And then maybe you watch the movie again and pick up all these threads and thoughts, that maybe there is a meaning behind the action.  So too with the mind; there are thoughts and motives that go deeper than the surface things like job and house and partner and kids and walking the dog.  And then the more you watch the movie the more things you can pick out, symbolism and philosophical thought and other threads of subplots yet to be worked on.  Again this corresponds with the mind, and learning to think critically, picking out thoughts that lead to deeper thought and analyzing motive and subconscious drives and wants and feeling and desires.  And the more you watch the movie the more things you think of and see, and the more you use your mind and learn to think objectively and critically and they both are like onions layer over layer and meaning over symbol, and then one day, you wake up, and have reached what was for Neo, the end of the dream and the beginning of the revolution, and what is for the mind the end of the dream and the beginning of evolution.


 How are knowledge, senses, Mind and truth related to one another?
John Locke felt that the mind at birth was a tabula rasa, or clean slate upon which the senses drew or scribed knowledge. This in some part is true.  When a child at first encounters some new thing, the first thing they try to do, is look at it, then they turn it over and over and try to see all sides of it. Then they try to put it in their mouth.  This says that a baby is trying to gain knowledge by sensory experience. The knowledge that we have from a thing is what we gain from our senses.   As we get a bit older we start to rely on our other senses rather than oral, we can’t put everything in our mouth.  Sometimes we have to rely on other people’s experiences to form knowledge.  A mother knows that bleach is poison, so she puts it high away and tells a child that it is bad.  The child has not used its own senses to know the bleach is bad, but mother has said, and mother is always right.  The problem with this way of gaining knowledge is that we have to rely on two factors.  One that the information giver (mother) is always right which in most human cases is not so; and two, that the information giver is benign, that he or she or it has our best interest at heart. A mother will always give the child the information she think it is best for the child to have, so most of the time we can infer good intent, but this is not so of every information giver that we encounter the whole of our lives. Another factor to look at when using the senses to gain knowledge is perception; everyone is going to perceive an object in a different way. George Berkeley thought that nothing exists without being perceived. According to him, nothing is the world has a true set reality until someone uses their senses to quantify and name and perceive an object. The problem with this theory is that things exist regardless of whether or not someone is there to perceive it.  The  reality  of a rock is that it is a rock, has been and always will be , whether it is buried in the Sahara, or sitting on top of the world at the arctic circle.  What changes is man’s perception of the rock.  Say we set the rock on a table for people to look at.  There is enough commonality in perception to say that everyone will see a rock, however, experience colors perception.  A child will look at a rock and maybe think about how fun it would be to throw it, a mother might look at a rock and think that it is dirty and covered in germs, a sculptor might look at the same rock as the potential carving piece for a statue or another work of art, and a geologist is going to look at the rock and try to determine what sort of rock it is, how old it is, and what is inside it.  All are seeing the rock, but each has a different perception of it. So it is also with truth.  The truth is what we know and perceive, the child’s truth will differ from the mother’s, and those truth will differ from the sculptor and the geologist.  On the surface it seems that there are four contrasting truths, all derived from valid experiences. And yet all are possible.  Yes it is just a rock, but yes it may be fun to throw it; it may be dirty and covered in germs, it most definitely is made of something and does have an age, and an original location, and yes it may be able to be carved into something.  Harder to quantify are those truths which are abstract, which only exist in the mind of man.  Freedom is a word and concept of which we all become aware.  The truth of freedom is so complex and so abstract that you could say the word to a hundred, or a thousand different people, and each person will have a different idea on what the word actually means. The mind wants to classify and name all known and unknown things and ideas, that that it becomes easier to store knowledge.  What becomes more difficult is when the mind continues to use generalities even when such naming has out lived its usefulness.  Take the original rock. The mind was content to name it a rock, and perceive it in any way it decided to do. And from knowledge and experience might come the thought that there are many rocks in the world, and so be able to form a general theory that all rocks should and ought to look the same as the first rock.  If the first one rock or five or five hundred rocks are grey granite, the mind starts to form a set hypothesis: all rocks are made of grey granite. All it takes it one piece of blue marble to destroy that theory.  A closed mind will refuse to acknowledge that the blue marble is indeed a rock, in that it is not grey granite ,and so therefore must NOT be a rock in any way shape or form. A more open mind will think it may indeed be a rock but that it is an aberration, not to be repeated in a long line of grey granite rocks.  A truly open mind will know that the line of thinking used to classify all rocks as grey granite may be false, will take the knowledge of the blue marble as an opportunity to re-adjust a set perception of rocks, and use the experience of having seen the blue marble as an opening to re-investigate all previously perceived grey granite rocks, to see if he might have passed a blue one without knowing it.  Thus the open mind will shy away from forming set opinions with a limited amount of information( the one rock), and continue to examine all information coming from the senses; continue  to reassess and reclassify , and continue to think critically about all information being received.

Freud believed that man is an innately aggressive animal and that man’s true nature was to be a conqueror of other men. Freud thought that man’s nature to kill to rape, to take and seize, and rape and pillage. And that only the fear of the consequence of his action enables man to overcome these primitive impulses.  He believed that the suppression of the primitive urges of the subconscious and the subjugation of the id by the ego, were the underlying cause of most mental illnesses. He also thought that a lot of mental unrest was sexual in nature.  To him man was not a rational creature, but a violent, sexual, irrational creature only held in check by the wills of stronger men who rule above him.  In terms of constructing a moral code, this means that Freud thought man incapable of living a just and moral life without having some sort of system in place where the fear of retribution and punishment outweigh the urges that cause men to act immorally.  However if you follow these thought to their logical conclusion it could be said that having immoral men in power, will give the common man permission to be immoral.  If the government is corrupt, so too, will its people be.  This is false logic. There are many cases in history where this is not the case, where just and moral men have risen up to depose and unjust or immoral form of government.  There have also been cases where the government, and the men in power in that government, was clearly corrupt, and immoral, such as occurred in Hitler’s Germany.  It cannot be said with any certainty, and is clearly disproven in individual cases, that all Germans in this era were immoral or corrupt.   I think Freud was wrong.  I think Freud himself was inwardly violent, immoral, aggressive, and over sexualized.  He voiced his own inner demons and declared them to be universally applicable to all men.  This is the very worst sort of abuse of power.  Freud was in a position of intellectual authority over other human beings (in that people listened to what he thought, and he was able to convince people that he was right), and he used that authority to purge his own inner conflicts and to further his own agendas, whatever they were. In contrast to this, Sartre thought that all humans were responsible for their own morality and that no other person’s morality could be inflicted on another. He believed that humans existed within a reality whose parameters were set by their experiences, thoughts, fears and ideals and no one person’s reality was the same as any other person’s reality.  That there could be things so universally perceived as to be agreed upon that they were real, but that any one individual’s perceptions of that common reality would differ from another’s. He believed all humans are trapped in a prison of their own making, as each person cannot escape the limits of his or her own perceptions.  In the context of trying to forge an ethically moral system, Sartre thought that each person must be given the freedom to choose their own moral path. He thought that no moral code could be constructed that would be applicable to all humans in all situations, and therefore no universal moral code was possible. He thought of himself as an anarchist, in that he believed that it was impossible for one person to impose their own morality and governance upon another, and that the idea of men governing other men was preposterous and that each individual should or ought to be able to act in accordance with what was best for them and them alone. The idea of one man or one set of men trying to impose their own moral imperatives on any other man or set of men, in the form of government, to Sartre, this was the immorality.
 What is the Faustian of meaning life?
A Faustian meaning of life could be construed as one where a human pursues an objective regardless of the long term consequences.  Also this could mean that the human in question is so determined to reach his or her goal, he or she ignores all possible ramifications of said goal.  Faust was a character who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited knowledge, youth, power, and wealth.  Faust was a learned man, a wealthy and respected man who felt that the charms of his life were not enough to keep him mentally and spiritually engaged with his endeavors.  He lost the will and interest to continue with his work, because he was not satisfied with what he had.  He summons a demon who grants him unlimited knowledge and power, along with youth, energy and wealth.  Instead of using his newfound abilities for the greater good, because he is in essence a selfish man, Faust seduces a girl of good family, Gretchen, who had previously rejected him in his older incarnation.  He ruins her and her family, which leads to her death. In one version, not being satisfied with his revenge, he makes a plan to drain the sea to mine the minerals and treasures beneath the sea, and on the sea floor; this being an allegory for the destruction of the natural world in the pursuit of progress and industry.  At the pinnacle of his newfound life, having achieved the ultimate happiness humanly possible he dies (in some versions of the story, this is a set number of years, usually 24) and the demon comes to collect the soul owed to him.  Faust dies, and yet through the intercession of the pure innocence of the soul that was Gretchen, and in some versions the Virgin Mary, which embodies the Sacred Feminine; and due to the striving of his character to better himself no matter the cost, his soul is saved and Mestopheles the demon is thwarted. In other versions, he is forced to pay the debt that is owed, and is damned to hell.  It had been said the story of Faust is an allegory for the mind.  Faust is the conscious mind, which knows that there is more out there, but that is at a loss to find it.  Mestopheles is the id, which offers unlimited knowledge and pleasure, but at a cost. Gretchen and the deux ex machine that is the Virgin Mary or the sacred feminine, depending on the story, are the ego and the superego respectively which try to subjugate the id for the betterment of the conscious mind.  It can also be said that the story of Faust is a tale in which the humanity of our race is lost within the search for moderninity.  We strive to do bigger better faster more, and since the advent of the industrial revolution have lost the respect for the individual who had been reduced to a replaceable cog in the industrial machine.  The soul being owed or due can be construed as the damage that we do to the natural world in the search for progress and advancement.  John Stuart Mill talked in his autobiography about the ennui that poisoned his life’s work.  He no longer found satisfaction with his job his life his routines, because he had lost the capacity to engage with his daily life, and that he could no longer find satisfaction in his daily routines, projects and interests..  He thought his life was pointless so therefore it has lost all meaning to him.  This is a Faustian attitude.   This is precisely the sort of attitude that led Faust to propose his deal in the first place.    According to the text of the meaning of life:
We may conclude, then, that according to the moral approach our lives have
Meaning if the following conditions are met: first, they are not worthless, pointless,
Misdirected, trivial, or futile; second, we have not succumbed to the view that all
Human projects are absurd; third, we have identified with projects that we genuinely
Want to pursue; and fourth, our belief that successful engagement in our projects will
Make our lives good or better is true.
If Faust had done this, if Mills had not succumbed to the ennui of the routine of his life, they both would have led happy, successful, eminently useful lives.  If we were to look at this from the viewpoint of forming an ethical construct; then what we would have to extract from this is that in order to have a successful ethical construct, that you must include in the parameters the idea that enjoyment of routine, duties and personal endeavors is essential.  However according to Sartre, we must include in that construct a sense of personal responsibility as well.  According to him, each person is responsible for his or her own moral code; and though no one person can be responsible for another’s conduct, there is in his philosophy the thought that to have a working moral construct, one must include concern for other humans.  Yes you must do what is best for you but at the same time you must consider what is going to move the whole of humanity forward. As Sartre considered himself an anarchist he would not have followed this thought to the conclusion that some form of moral government is good; but he may have thought that limiting your own personal freedom enough to do what is best for not only you but also for the rest of humanity would have been the right path to take.  If we must search for meaning in our own lives then we must take into account the fact that a Faustian outlook on life would not be the most ethical path to take.  Yes it is right that since we are trapped within our own perceptions , we should and ought to do what is best for us, we must also take into account how our action affect others.  We must not be swayed however by the opinions or morals of the masses, or of the society in which we live, but must take every situation, every day, and carefully balance what is good for the individual versus what is good for the whole.

Friday, April 12, 2013

      So , yeah ...this is my blog . What are we going to talk about here?  Bunch of random stuff.  Art , Books , art shows , museums that are cool to go check out, what ever.  Anything and everything I find interesting and/or amusing. Occasionally you might find a rant or two, about my kids,  my never ending search for a job, school, what ever.
     To get started I LOVE LOTR. Not just LOTR but all of Tolkien's work. I have read all of his work multiple times . The Simarillion, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and MIddle-Earth.  I could talk endlessly about the architectural significance of the White Tower of Minas Tirith, as opposed to the structure of Minas Morgul. Or discuss ad nauseum the genealogy of the bloodlines of the Kings of Rohan.  Probably will end up doing some of that too, eventually.  There are many fine authors whose work is based on Tolkien and the world/feeling /genre  he created for us.  He is damn near a god, in my book; and I joyfully live/work/ dream in Middle-Earth. At least in my head.
     We could talk about art too , if you like .  I personally prefer the works of Monet over Manet , and think Jackson Pollack was lame but Andy Warhol was a genius.  I think that Turner had a fine eye for color , but was under appreciated for his atmospheric underpinning. We can examine the works of John Everett Millais. who is mostly known for his dramatic oil interpretation of Hamlet's Ophelia, but whose watercolor interpretation of the Eye of St. Agnes is both powerful and moving , for all that it is a monochromatic examination of a Victorian lady's bedchamber. Jaques Le Moyne des Morgues is an amazing Victorian era horticulturist , botanist , and watercolor artist.  I prefer his work over that of Audubon, though Audubon's birds are outstanding.  I like Ben Nicholson over Piet Mondrian , although both artists'  work is similar in both structure and intent.
    I think that the local art scene  in San Francisco is amazing, and so sometimes we will explore  the art and music and writers of San Francisco, and all the fascinating and scandalous history of the town I love so well.  I will tout works by Sumiko Saulson, local science fiction/ horror writer, whose works Warmth and Agrippa both scared me spitless and occasionally made me cry.  We can explore together the endless rounds and reverberations of the Haight-Ashbury/ Golden Gate Park  Drum Circle and all the many and august musicians who have sat in on sessions there.  Dives , coffee shops, hole in the wall diners , they are all there for our amusement and edification.