Thursday, March 01, 2012

Political science

I wonder why that field retains its arrogant name. Science?

Hell, even a lot of science isn't really science. Like social science. Or anthropogenic global warming "settled" science.

But I digress. (Yeah, I know it's hard to imagine).

I have always had, and still do have, a range of quite barbaric primo primi responses. Aquinas' term for gut reactions. They are practically instinctive and therefore pre-moral. I owe my awareness of these reactions largely to Jung, who helped me to transgress the barriers that my social and religious superego maintained in order to hide this part of myself from me. For example, if I am standing in a line and someone tried to break in ahead of me, my primo primi reaction is that I should murder them on the spot and step over their bloody bodies. I don't actually do it, because I am a civilized man. But because I am a man, homo sapiens, I want to. That no longer surprises or upsets me. People who want to be good often repress these reactions because they are unacceptable. I have learned to observe them with curiosity and listen to them. Why are they there? They have interesting things to say.

This habit has served me in good stead as a therapist and, I think, when I was a priest*. I can really only recall one time in the last fifteen years where a patient told me something that shocked me. And boy, did it shock me. I guarantee you, it would shock anyone who wasn't a psychopath.


Back to the "science" of politics. My cryptognomicon of a few posts ago once again came to mind --In order to have what you most desire, you must tolerate things that you loathe--when I read a story, the literary form of which has by now become journalistic canon, in which a couple of "teens" inflicted violence on another younger boy. Age and gender given. Race of the perps missing; a telltale sign. The boy they attempted to burn to death is White. It is highly likely that the "teens" were Black.  But most of the stories which relate the incident will not say that. As you may know, if you pay attention, there is a growing trend for apparently unprovoked --underreported and unpunished-- Black on White violence going around. The MSM does not want us to know**.

Here's my combination of primo primi response and politics. It seemeth unto me that, given the world we live in --determined by scarcity, contingency and flaw-- any political order must include in it some elements that are, in themselves, morally objectionable. It is really just a matter of which kinds of unpleasantness you are willing to tolerate, because there will always be some and they will not be insignificant. This, I think, is something most conservatives are aware of and not in denial about. It is something that liberals virtually ignore and functionally deny. They are, after all, in the utopia business.

So here's my specific primo primi political science: in a healthier society, those "teens" might be aware that attacking a member of the privileged majority group would bring public shame, certainty of (disproportionate) judicial punishment and possibly, even likely, informal vigilante violence against uninvolved and innocent members of their minority group, which the authorities would tacitly support. 

This situation did in fact exist in this country. And it had some nasty outcomes. But the accelerating reversal of the situation clearly also has nasty outcomes. Some far far nastier than this (but it's Lent and I will not rehearse them).

I ask myself this: under the old regime, awful things happened because of the structure of privilege. Things that many Whites blush at. Because that is one our special gifts and our greatest flaw. But when these new nastinesses occur, under the new regime, how many Blacks, hearing about them, feel shame, or even regret?

It's not politic to notice, or ask the question. But it makes for intriguing science.

* It was when a married female parishioner came to see me and during her rambling discourse I realized that she was a stylishly blonde sociopath  --the coldly charming reptilian type-- who was trying to involve me in a plan to seduce one of my brother friars. Really. I'm not making that up. People have no idea what parish priests get to see. No wonder so many of them drink.

**When 6 foot tall 200 lb karate student and former foster child Moses Alfredo Kamin strangled his stereotypically highminded liberal Jewish adoptive parents to death in Oakland in January, even though he is being tried as an adult, we never saw his picture. I wonder why.

A brief psychological note on this post: I am never less than very unhappy when I feel that not only am I being lied to, but condescendingly so, by someone who sees herselves as my moral superior, and in the process my self-interest and survival are at play. That's very primo primi territory.


Anonymous said...

Napoleon to Carl Jung: »Monsieur Jung, one tells me you have written this large book on the system of the Self, and have never even mentioned the civilized man.«

Carl Jung: »Sire, I really haven't had any need for that hypothesis.«

Anonymous said...

I answer that, According to Jung, »What we call civilized consciousness has steadily separated itself from the basic instincts. But these instincts have not disappeared. They have merely lost their contact with our consciousness and are thus forced to assert themselves in an indirect fashion. This may be by means of physical symptoms in a neurotic's case, or by means of incidents of various kinds, like unaccountable moods, unexpected forgetfulness, or mistakes in speech. (Jung et al, Man and His Symbols, p. 72/83 hardback)

Sc for Freud an instinct whose conscious expression culture or civilization forbids as a matter of necessity (that the entire truth of nature in consciousness too soon would kill a man's self too soon) finds expression in neuroses, Freudian slips, etc.

Jung as if hyposthesizes instead a steady separation of consciousness itself and the 'basic instincts,' as if perhaps for primitive man no such separation occurs and nature always lives entirely conscious.

Which I suppose could be only an even greater, though presumably merely implicit, absurdity than Rousseau's original solitary natural man who merely had no consciousness of nature at all, but only a sentiment of existence and a naive self-love that yet could not avoid staggering into society with others as for completion.

Or again according to Jung: »Anthropologists have often described what happens to a primitive society when its spiritual values are exposed to the impact of modern civilization. Its people lose the meaning of their lives, their social organization disintegrates, and they themselves morally decay. We are now in the same condition.« (ibid., p. 84/ hardback 94).

-But this begs the question. For obviously by this account, western man prior to "modern civilization" was a primitive society, that is, a society whose people had meaning in their lives in connection with the symbols of the numinous underground etc. Jung continues ibid »But the "civilized" man [n.b. the quote marks around "civilized": for Jung civilized man is no longer man but some sort of routinized emptiness who 'turns a blind eye to the numinous psychic powers' etc] is no longer able to integrate them into a coherent pattern [or, I daresay, even an incoherent pattern, let alone a coinherent pattern à la Charles Williams].«

Anonymous said...

For Freud, civilized man or cultured man was essentially human, albeit a temporarily alienated essence. Half or more of human nature was split off even from primitive man, Freud noted, and this alienated nature was indicated in terms of totems and taboos, if I may coin a phrase. The purpose of man was to bind together the creation via ratio (Genesis 1 re the original evaded blessing) and eventually via generation of the human family (Genesis 2, 3, 4)

In any event, at what point did empty routinized man happen? There's been attempts at un-numinous or perhaps rather impersonal and numinous accounts of nature since the pre-Socratics. Strauss praises Freud's account of Thanatos as worthy of the pre-Socratics.

But we may suppose that »"civilized" man" happens wherever the methodology of Baconian-Cartesian rationalism prevail's -- even though that methodology (reality in terms of the quantifiable, measureable etc) was never even the whole of Bacon and Descartes, let alone Hobbes and Shakespeare.

Fifth-rate Cartesians have always try'd to plausibly dismiss Descartes' concern with theology as irrelevant to Descartes' real concerns, or mere hold-overs from medievalness. Bacon they didn't treat at all, or as little as possible, dismissing him in apparent sarcasm as one who philosophized like a Lord Chancellor, sc a shallow ambitious toady to the Royal Court, but sc as one who was philosophically Lord Chancellor over the fifth-rate.

(Aristotle had remark'd on [understanding of] nature as a method for enslavement sc of more cowardly understanders by better, braver understanders. Or maybe the difference is in quality of naturing: the more understanding one's self is capable of, the more one can 'enslave' lesser natures?)

The busyness of daily life qua daily life has always been used for distracted growth in freedom from intrusive awareness of events pre-indicated by taboos: modern busyness has simply been much much busier!

The cultural possibility of openly dismissing altars as falsehoods (so evidently from Acts 17 the bored and scoffing philosophers in Athens were able to do) is not necessarily more advantageous for false enlighteners than the cultural necessity of only whispering that all that stuff is fake. (The foolish Self is not the forthright atheist but he who secretly says that there is no God.)

Perhaps we could say that modern man in Jung's version is "secularized Christianity" -- not à la Calvin, with his agenda for sanctification of the world I guess especially by his correlating trinitarian theology and self-knowledge, but à la George Eliot et al, who wish'd to have Christian morality free from Christian doctrine and an invisible priesthood -- a priesthood not manifestly 'priests' in the world, I guess.

(Jung notes that it is modern man precisely as connected with the Bible, sc Christian "believers" who "turn a blind eye to the numinous psychic powers that control man's fate in our aion" and accordingly fear science including psychology. p. 84/94.)

For no doubt the »psychic "underworld"« likes »"rationalism"« (Jung, ibid) for mankind in order to be able to dominate a mankind without understanding. Nevertheless as Jung points out, the closedness or obstuseness call'd "modern civilization" causes "people lose the meaning of their lives" (quoted above). Nature recurs, having been expel'd by the hayfork of health care reform, traditional family values, marriage equality, increased spending on the arts, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Jung seems ultimately to set aside Nietzsche, Heidegger and the poets, painters, composers and novelists of the Nietzschean aion (including Freud), except as tributaries to the desublimation aion.

That is, Jung leaps over the Nietzschean aion with its longings and concomitant new repressions and sublimations, and addresses directly the breakdown of nature-expelling Christian idealism -- the breakdown caused by the underground instincts' protest against the lifelessness of a psyche confined to progress and the conservative wish to maintain previous progress.

With Jung, we go from George Eliot directly to "health care reform" amidst porno and Vampire romance novels etc. What does Jung add to desublimation besides a progressive psychological movement toward ostensibly total consciousness of underground stuff? "Civilization" is in no way an improvement in man (as it is for Freud) nor even motivated by a decadent wish for improvement (as Nietzsche held). Civilization is only obtuseness vis-a-vis the underground (the instinctive reality of nature). Without calling civilization-free man 'natural man' Jung as if supposes an original natural man free from delusions about nature.

But the narrative line seems only to be a movement from unawareness (gnostic jahallyah?) to awareness. This movement is "man" according to Jung? After enlightenment 'man' ceases to be man but is Spirit?

The great narrative, then, is the narrative provided by the poets of "rationalism." They create the benightedness which makes liberation and enlightenment possible. Jungian shrinks ought to thank modernization, disenchantment, routinization, etc, for giving them something to do! ... The clergypersons of the UCC far surpass in mystagogy the hierophants of Egypt! "Secularist" Protestants crafted the tohu wabohu that makes psychological interesting possible.

Freud's rescue of civilizational respectability from Nietzsche's genealogy was a tremendous achievement in mystagogy -- figuring out how to use depth psychology (oedipus, toilet training, fratricidal sibling rivalry, castration anxiety, penis envy etc etc) to give middle-class morals a new lease on libidinous thanatos. This is then the great work of 20th-century psychology. Freud makes desublimation possible -- one points to the discontents imposed by civilization and opts to reject civilization and let it all hang out.

But can Jung's ransacking the traditions of east and west and the south make the desublimation aion psychologically interesting? Without a necessity of repression and sublimation, with only a "quote marks" meaning for "civilized" man, is there any task worth doing? Does an insight into the Anima make a porno habit more worth maintaining?

Anonymous said...

Jung remarks »The primitives manifest all the reactions of the wild animal against untoward events. But "civilized" man reacts to new ideas in much the same way, erecting [analytic?] psychological barriers to protect his self from the shock of facing something new« (ibid. p. /31). I feel sure Freud would deem "untoward" inadequate and "something new" risibly euphemistic.

In 'Archetypes and the Collecgtive Unconscious,' Jung ventures further and says »The so-called civilized man has forgotten the trickster [three-wheel'd sister, sc trinity? because the escapades of the tricksters presented by Jungians seem unconnected with the most dangerous events]. He remembers him only figuratively and metaphorically, when, irritated by his own ineptitude, he speaks of fate playing tricks on him or of things being bewitched [Does civilized man really speak of 'fate' and 'bewitchment'?]. He never suspects that his own hidden and apparently harmless shadow has qualities whose dangerousness exceeds his wildest dreams.[p. 267, par. 478.]«

Okay, "dangerousness." But danger in what way? to man's nature? ... 'who? whom?'

Admittedly, Mephistopheles has written »No Big Deal« over the door of Dante's Inferno in our aion. (BTW, don't Muslims see that the straight path is block'd (Canto 1) by sin?) But that is presumably as much a lie as the original inscription (after all, Dante enters and leaves. Hope is a metaphysical or theological virtue, eh?

P.S. Nietzsche: »Let us beware of saying that Thanatos is opposed to Life. Aliveness is merely a mode of the dead, and a very rare mode.—" Gay Science ¶109.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I've often thought how strange it is that Freud selected the medical profession for the introduction of psycho-analysis. When one's goal is to become a listening-talking healer and cultural interpreter of psyche, the knowledge required for the practice of medicine seems almost irrelevant, compared with knowledge of literature, Greek and Roman classics, the Bible, etc.

Despite Freud's tremendous cultural influence, "Freudianism" has been easily and quickly removed from psychiatry. The sort of person who goes to med skoo doesn't miss it in the least. Behiveoral and cognitive therapies plus medicines are far more effective for treating the ailments listed in DSM, to the extent that they can be therapy'd at all.

But it was in medicine (alienism, psychiatry) that the 'middle-class' ethos was open to Freud. Medical psychiatry provided a much longer route to cultural dominance than could have been had via church and synagogue. But even when patriarchy and castration anxiety and polymorphous perversity etc were commonplaces in educated-class self-interpretation, Christian and Jewish "religion" pay'd no attention, as though such things are obviously irrelevant to the Bible.

Seems to me Freud's atheism was not the reason for his rejection by church and synagogue. The atheism was a presupposition, not a primary insight. One can't realistically interpret a dream and say "Voilà the unconscious! And logically this proves there is no God." Atheism seems rather a theory for getting rid of Nietzsche's theology or metaphysics on the _death_ of God. Just as "atheist!" was a safe interpretation of Spinoza's theology.

God as constructed by collective obsessional neurosis doesn't imply that God isn't real. Constructions are real constructions. "Poetically man dwells," eh? ... I guess collective obsessional neurosis occurs before "In the beginning." ... Admittedly, if neuroses could be removed, then God would not happen. But Freud is quite emphatic that neuroses will continue, and presumably in obedient "will to power" and thus God.

... In contrast, Jung has been quite successful with the educated-class Christian crowd. No doubt this was made easier by Jung's rejection of the atheism presupposition. But he doesn't give an account of "God" to replace Freud's theory of obsessional neurosis. "Collective unconscious" may include collective obessional neurosis, but Jung doesn't declare this.

In place of Freud's narrow gate of excruciations such as the Id, penis envy and patricide and philistine anal retention, Jung's entry to the unconscious is a broad gate, even though the entrance extends directly into the things of the God/desses, e.g. Jungians' emphasis on sacred prostitutes, or Jung's own exegesis of the mass.

Freud is also emphatically concern'd with valuation: ego ideal, superego, besides also repression and sublimation as necessary (though methinks they can't really happen unless they are more than necessary). Jung offers instead bounteous payments in semiotic hypertrophy.

Freud: If you don't feel the interpretation is worse than the interpreted, you don't understand.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...