Fear and Loathing in Humboldt Saskatchewan
The psychological currents that gather and surround tragedies, such as the Humboldt bus crash, are complex, and all the more so in Western culture where the discipline for ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ judgement that generally prevails has low tolerance for fence-sitter meditations.
This (my) exploration into the complexities that associate with tragedy includes conjecture that may, in Western culture, be disturbing and judged to be in poor taste, but the aim of this psychological investigation is to explore real but uncomfortable possibilities in the hope of liberating a deeper understanding that can contribute to condolence.
For example, and I am not suggesting that this applies in this particular case, but am simply opening up and exploring the possibility spectrum, the ‘fear of failure’ (the new driver in a new experience) has been likened in psychology to the fear of death. In the views expressed in ‘Culture Against Man’ (Jules Henry, anthropologist) and in The Denial of Death’ (Ernest Becker), “Death struts about the house while Life cowers in the corner”). This is the result of reducing ourselves, by way of the ‘double error’, to notional ‘things-in-ourselves’, notionally with our own powers of sourcing actions and developments. Thanks to the ‘burden of concreteness’ [PERSISTING LIFE WITHOUT DEATH], we abandon the natural primacy of our relational experience and commit to INVENTING REALITY in ‘concrete’ terms of ‘things-in-themselves’, notionally with powers of sourcing actions and developments. The innately relational transforming reality in which we are included ‘goes missing’ in our conretized INVENTED REALITY.
In the writing of Heraclitus, to a larger degree than ever before, the images do not impose their burden of concreteness but are entirely subservient to the achievement of clarity and precision. Even for Thales and Anaximenes, water and air are no mere constituents of the material world; they also possess a symbolical connotation, if only as agents of vitality. But for Heraclitus fire is purely a symbol of reality in flux ; he calls wisdom ‘to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things’ — Henri Frankfort et al, ‘Before Philosophy; The Intellectual Adventures of Ancient Man’.
The ‘burden of concreteness psychologically removes us from our inclusion in the transforming relational continuum, the containing story that we are included in, … and forces us to use our language-imputed ‘thing-in-itself’ existence, as notional ‘sourcing fount’ of our ‘own’ actions and developments.
We thus take upon ourselves (psychologically) the burden of ‘sourcing’ (‘causing’) and ‘controlling’, out of the context of the overall ‘containing story’ that we are included in, … a ‘containing story’ which is not amenable to our attempts to ‘control’ it since it is innately bigger than us and we are included in it.
THAT IS, REALITY UNDERSTOOD AS SOMETHING GREATER THAN OURSELVES PREVAILS SO LONG AS WE REMAIN GROUNDED IN OUR ACTUAL RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE, and here, I might redundantly add, for clarity, “OUR PRE-LINGUAL RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE”, because we Western cultural adherents have the habit of opening our mouths and using language and grammar to REDUCE our actual experience by means of the ‘double error’, to a PSEUDO (INTERACTIONAL-) RELATIONAL EXPERIENCE in which we (our notional ‘independently-existing’ ego-selves) present ourselves as the jumpstart ‘sorcerers’ of ‘our own actions and developments’. As our words and grammar build intellectual double-error based constructions in our psyche, the transforming relational continuum in which we and all forms are included ‘psychologically falls away’ relinquishing the-now-swept-clean psychological ‘centre-stage’ to the double-error based INVENTED REALITY which is ‘thing-in-itself’ (‘being’)-based’ so that it ‘smuggles into our psyche’, ‘the denial of death’, re-rendering life and death as two sides of a single coinage as with relational forms in a transforming relational continuum, as ‘two separate realms’.
Jules Henri’s portrait of the ‘fear of failure’ that Western culture education builds into the developing child-psyche in ‘Culture Against Man’ (his story of ‘Boris’ being ‘belittled’ in the ‘normal’ classroom environment) strikes a nerve with many if not most of us Western culture adherents. The same is true for many of us in reading stories of Robin Hood and Les Misérables which, in inspiring poignant emotions, conveys the tragedy of ‘Western culture against man’. We Western culture adherents have locked ourselves into an ‘inverted heroism’ wherein we pride ourselves on our ability to endure our own self-imposed dysfunction (the ‘inverted heroism’ pointed to by Jules Henry and Ernest Becker). While Western culture adherents applaud the honest admissions of Henry and Becker, everyone continues to carry on as if the vital truth about the non-heroics of Western culture did not exist.
That is, we have ‘locked ourselves in’ with ‘high switching costs’ by building our own self-esteem based on an ‘inverted heroism’.
At the ‘bottom’ of all of this, including the language and grammar based Western culture ‘ego’ and the ‘denial of death’ is the ‘double error’ described by Nietzsche and discussed in the following commentary’
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Western culture has pushed ‘the double error’ into the foundations of intellectualized ‘reality’.
Our intuitive pre-lingual experiencing of sensations of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum is ‘topological’ and entirely without dependence of the abstract concepts of ‘things-in-themselves’ (such abstractions come later, through language).
To the infant’s developing mind, topology comes before geometry. In general, deeper and more fundamental logical operations are developed earlier than more specific rules and applications. The history of mathematics, which is generally taken as a process of moving towards deeper and more general levels of thought, could also be thought of as a process of excavation which attempts to uncover the earliest operations of thought in infancy. According to this argument, the very first operations exist at a pre-conscious level [i.e. ‘pre-intellectualizing’ level in the conscious and intuitive infant] so that the more fundamental a logical operation happens to be, the earlier it was developed by the infant and the deeper it has become buried in the mind.” – F. David Peat,
We never lose this relational-topological understanding of reality which is immanent in flow itself.
Meanwhile, Western language and grammar is abstraction based, and as Nietzsche has pointed out, Western language makes use of ‘the double error’; i.e. The first error is to use ‘naming’ to impute ‘independent-thing-in-itself existence’ to relational forms in the transforming relational continuum; … the second error conflates the first by imputing the power of sourcing actions and developments to the naming-instantiated thing-in-itself.
The ‘double error’ is foundational to Western culture INVENTED REALITY and is intrinsically tied to ‘ego’; i.e. in social collectives that would have one see oneself as an independently existing thing-in-oneself with powers of sourcing actions and developments, ego rules, whereas, in empathic relational collectives ‘inspiration’ is in a natural precedence over ‘ego’; i.e. Ego is a swelling head, inspiration is a full-filling heart’ . Avoidance of ‘double error’ based psychosis requires navigating within the relational dynamic in a manner that puts ‘inspiration first’, ‘ego second’.
Inspiration is where we are drawn into action by the ambient relational influences that we are included in. Ego stems from internal rational intellection that is inside-outwardly directing our actions.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” … “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” — Joseph Campbell
There is no evidence to support the contention that the behaviour of the boil in the flow is directed from out of the interior of the boil, since there is no evidence that the ‘boil’ and ‘the flow’ are separate phenomena. The separateness is purely ‘appearance’ which is concretized in the intellectualizing mind by language and grammar; ‘Katrina is growing larger and stronger’, … ‘Katrina is ravaging New Orleans’, …’Katrina is weakening and dissipating’. These ‘anthropomorphisms are the abstractions of language and grammar. ‘Katrina’ is given notional ‘thing-in-herself existence’ by the psychological effects of language and grammar on the intellectualizing mind.
This ‘double error’ self-deception is important because if we can use naming to impute authorship (sorcery) where there is none, then we are in a position to INVENT REALITY in terms of ‘double error’ based abstractions; i.e. intellectually constructing ‘things-in-themselves’ just by ‘naming relational forms in the flow’ and imputing to them powers of sorcery. In our Western culture (though not in indigenous aboriginal and Taoist cultures), INVENTING REALITIES ON THIS BASIS has become standard (‘normal’) practice.
As in the review of the Humboldt tragedy, we can see that not everyone is willing to see the ‘truck driver’s actions as the ‘source’ of the tragedy. What we see is a split in such understanding that is very common in Western culture (e.g. the McClure forest fire which destroyed the entire town, purportedly due to an improperly extinguished cigarette butt discarded by one Mike Barre). This split is understandable since, in the reality of our actual experience, as understood in modern physics, this concept of ‘cause-and-effect’ aka ‘sorcery’ is the product of language and grammar (as shown by Nietzsche) rather than ‘nature-based reality’. David Bohm reaffirms the non-viability of ‘causality’ aka ‘sorcery’;
“In the book ‘Causality and Chance in Modern Physics’ Bohm argued that the way science viewed causality was also much too limited. Most effects were thought of as having only one or several causes. However, Bohm felt that an effect could have an infinite number of causes. For example, if you asked someone what caused Abraham Lincoln’s death, they might answer that it was the bullet in John Wilkes Booth’s gun. But a complete list of all the causes that contributed to Lincoln’s death would have to include all of the events that led to the development of the gun, all of the factors that caused Booth to want to kill Lincoln, all of the steps in the evolution of the human race that allowed for the development of a hand capable of holding a gun, and so on, and so on. Bohm conceded that most of the time one could ignore the vast cascade of causes that had led to any given effect, but he still felt it was important for scientists to remember that no single cause-and-effect relationship was ever really separate from the universe as a whole.” –The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality: Michael Talbot:
As Nietzsche has shown, the concept of ‘causality’ (‘sorcery’) is tied to the abstract concept of ‘ego’ which in turn ties to the ‘double error’ where ‘naming’ is employed to suggest the existence of an ‘independent entity’ and grammar conflates this by imputing powers of sourcing actions and developments to the name-instantiated ‘thing-in-itself’.
The concept of ‘causality’ or ‘sorcery’ therefore has no basis in reality (reality is a transforming relational continuum) BUT IT IS NEVERTHELESS EMPLOYED AS IF IT WERE REAL IN WESTERN CULTURE, AND IT IS THE BASIS OF ‘EGO’ SINCE PEOPLE REALLY DO ‘BELIEVE’ THAT THEY HAVE THE POWER OF SORCERY AS LANGUAGE AND GRAMMAR MAKE IT SEEM (I.E. AS LANGUAGE AND GRAMMAR INFORM THE PSYCHE).
“In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego. In the beginning there is that great calamity of an error that the will is something which is effective, that will is a faculty. Today we know that it is only a word.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’
Those people who do well by the general Western culture public belief in ‘sorcery’; i.e. whose status and sense of self that they build are based on a belief in their own powers of ‘sorcery’ are forced, on the basis of logical consistency which the ego underwrites, to explain destructive and violent actions on this same ‘sorcery’ basis. If this ‘double error’ holds for the sourcing of positive actions and developments then it must also hold for negative (destructive) actions and developments; i.e. a ‘sorcerer’ must once again be identified and, in this case, ‘punished’.
We can therefore expect those with big egos based on recognition for ‘sorcery’ attributed to them, to be the most adamant as to the need for society to identify the ‘sorcerers’ of destructive events and to administer to them in an opposite manner to that which they experienced for their ‘constructive’ sorcery.
‘Sorcery’ (‘production’, ‘causality’) is a Western culture language and grammar-based abstraction that has no basis in the relational reality of our actual experience. There is only relational transformation as understood in modern physics, indigenous aboriginal, Taoist and Advaita Vedanta understandings of reality.
Western culture ‘ego’ as associates with ‘double-error’ based psycho-phenomena sets up a system of recognition and rewards tied to positive ‘sorcery’ (causation) of actions and developments by humans, nations, and corporations. While this is a mistake, since there is no such thing as ‘sorcery’ outside of language and grammar triggered psychological impressions, it nevertheless leads, on a symmetry basis, to the illusion that the emergence of destruction and dissonance, is likewise ‘sourced’ by some identifiable (name-instantiated) ‘thing-in-itself’. These abstract intellectual concepts give rise to a language-and-grammar based INVENTED REALITY which serves as Western culture’s ‘operative reality’, occluding and ‘psychologically wallpapering over’ the sensual-experiential reality of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum.
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