The Tiger Woods Affair: Understanding Celebrity Worship
When we give people God-like status, we are, ourselves, ‘playing God’.
We say that certain individuals have ‘command over the masses’ but this is the ‘tail-wagging-the-dog’ world view of western enlightenment society. The masses always have command over the individual; they are a continuing story while the individual is a ‘candle in the wind’.
Aboriginal physics can shed some light on this ‘tail-wagging-the-dog’ ‘illusion’ wherein the individual seems possessed of extraordinary powers.
And its not just ‘the celebrity’ that suffers when the masses who have ‘played God’ and given the individual his power, take it back and ‘bring him back down to earth’ so forcefully that he and those around him may be figuratively in not literally ‘crushed’.
[This article contains one picture and a video that may be offensive to some viewers. It has been included to underscore the ‘darkness’ that can be associated with celebrity worship ‘gone wrong’]
How could the following have happened?
One feels the need for a moment of silence to pay one’s respect for people who have fallen from the madness called ‘celebrity worship’ that involves everyone, though when things go wrong, those to whom we imputed God-like powers must stand trial for ‘abuse of those powers’ that we imputed to them and claimed ‘were theirs’. Those close to the imputed ‘power source’ are likely to be impacted.
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The ‘wag-the-dog’ phenomenon of celebrity worship follows a common pattern in the mindset and behaviour of western enlightenment society.
As with the entire set of writings in this APN website, the inquiry into bizarre practices in our enlightenment society always comes back to the same foundational assumptions of the culture, the use of ‘representations’ as (mistakenly) ‘reliable substitutes for the visible’, and by so doing, setting up a ‘mythological pseudo-reality’ in terms of the actions and interactions of notionally ‘local objects/organisms/systems’, notionally with their own locally originating behaviour. What goes missing in this ‘illusion’ is the ‘dark energy’, the invisible, quiet, tensions and latent potentials of space, from whence visible kinetics are continually emerging, and this ‘dark energy’, being real, comes back to ‘haunt’ our over-simplified world view in paradoxical ways.
The (mis-) association that imputes enormous power to a local individual, does so by denying the existence of ‘dark energy’ (potential energy bound up in spatial relations) that is the real source of power. No, we are not talking about ‘devil worship’ here. We are talking about ‘physics’ and ‘energy’.
The dark waters that run swiftly but quietly and deep, are the source of apparently ‘local’ ‘maelstroms’. The ‘parenting’ does not happen ‘backwards’; i.e. the ‘maelstrom’ is not the cause of turbulence in the flow, it is the result. But it is not surprising that superstition could have us impute a Godlike source to the maelstrom itself rather than to accept that the dark, swift and deeply running flow is the source of the maelstrom; i.e. the reality is that the maelstrom is the result of the turbulence rather than the cause of it.
By the same token, the God-like power of the celebrity is the result rather than the cause of the excitement of the crowd.
That we tend to invert the ‘parenting’ may be difficult to see because of our western habit of taking ‘opposites’ such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to be incarnate. In western medicine, though there are Nobel laureates in medicine that have argued the inverse case (e.g. Albert Szent-Györgyi), the popular view is that an ‘attack by pathogens’ CAUSES ‘illness’. To make an analogy, we have given these pathogens ‘celebrity status’ (e.g. ‘superbugs’) wherein we impute God-like (lethal) powers to them. Pasteur was, in his early years, one of the affirmers of this Aesculapian (possessed by evil that must be purged) view in medicine, but before he died he renounced this still-pervasive model and agreed with Antoine Béchamp that ‘The pathogen is nothing, the terrain is everything’.
So, when we are talking about ‘celebrity worship’, we are talking about a ‘way of seeing the world’ that pervades our culture in the manner that western and eastern medicine ‘split’; i.e. Pasteur’s latter view was that ‘the proliferation of microbes was the ‘result’, rather than the ‘cause’, of illness’.
Meanwhile, we have made ‘celebrities’ out of many microbes; i.e. we have attributed huge powers to them that some would argue are not their powers at all, that they are species that we have evolved together with in the interdependent web-of-life whose celebrity status, whereby we impute to them enormous powers, is the result rather than the cause of unrest in the terrain of the body. (e.g. search for ‘clostridium difficile’ in these pages for further discussion on this point.).
Celebrity worship is not prevalent across cultures. It is not present in the aboriginal tradition, but it is certainly a prominent feature of Western Enlightenment society. Our western culture has the ‘wag-the-dog’ habit of seeing things in an ‘inverted parenting relation’ for a very simple reason; i.e. it puts ‘the visible’ [kinetic energy phenomena] in (unnatural) precedence over ‘the invisible’ [potential energy phenomena], when the opposite relationship prevails in nature. Once ‘representation’ takes over, the ‘dynamical figure’ is everything and the ‘dynamical ground’ which is the parent-source of ‘dynamical figure’ is eclipsed, so that it become an ‘occult’ operator, responsible for things that are blamed, wrongly, on other visible phenomenon.
One could cite many examples. A familiar one is the humorist or ‘joke-teller’.
The accomplished joke-teller is skilled at intuiting where the tensions lie in the psyches of the audience and in triggering the sudden (explosive) release of these tensions. The joke is not the ‘cause’ of the audience dynamic, the joke is the ‘result’ of the audience dynamic. The joke triggers an ‘avalanche’, … a visible/audible manifestation of the latent energy potentials that have been built up in the audience. To paraphrase Pasteur, “The joke is nothing, the (condition of the) terrain is everything”.
As a teenager in a tense and quiet movie theatre watching a sad scene in a tear-jerker of a movie, my bored companion, who was not even paying attention to the film, but nursing a bad cold, pulled his handkerchief out and blew his nose loudly. It brought down the house and scared the hell out of him (he didn’t know how perfectly timed his action was).
The joke is nothing, the terrain is everything.
Similarly, tensions continue to build in golf spectators as they watch the thread of play, tracing the path of the little white ball through the green vastness of space as it ‘gets pushed’ towards the tiny target hole in the ground. If Tiger Woods were ten times the golfer he is, he could do like the joker and tease the tensions out of the crowd like (e.g. intentionally put his ball in the rough or the sand trap and then recover in spectacular fashion, but the situation is likely closer to the situation with my friend at the movies, Tiger game is not oriented to deliberately ‘trigger’ a crowd reaction. He simply pays attention to what he himself is doing but manages in the process, to trigger sudden explosive releases of tensions in the spectators.
When we RE-INCLUDE the ‘potential energy buildups’ that we normally exclipse with our focus on ‘representations of the visible’ (the view in terms of the extracted local figures and what they do), we no longer have the ‘wag-the-dog’ impressions, but instead acknowledge;
The power in the hurricane is the result not the cause of turbulence in the atmosphere.
The power in the joke is the result, not the cause, of turbulence in the audience.
The power in the ‘spectactular shot’ is the result, not the cause of excitement in the spectators.
The serious (political) side of ‘celebrity worship’ was reviewed by Thomas Mann, writing about the rise fascism in Europe (Mussolini et al) in ‘Mario and the Magician’ (1929). Mann won the Nobel for Literature in 1929.
There is a ‘religious’ fervour that associates with ‘celebrity worship’. Mann’s words, through the character (magician) Mario include;
“The capacity for self-surrender, he said, for becoming a tool, for the most unconditional and utter self-abnegation, was but the reverse side of that other power to will and to command. Commanding and obeying formed together one single principle, one indissoluble unity; he who knew how to obey knew also how to command, and conversely; the one idea was comprehended in the other, as people and leader were comprehended in one another.”
Many celebrities, political, musical (rock stars) and otherwise have experienced the phenomenon of their admirers wanting to ‘give themselves up’ to the whim and will of the celebrity.
In the Western Enlightenment culture, there is this tendency to play God and make someone into a God by ‘reducing ourselves to nothing’ in his presence, as is nicely captured in Mann’s prose.
Mann’s point is that the power of the politician is the result, not the cause, of the public body dynamic. The common ‘wag-the-dog’ view is illusion.
But, as we know, this conflicts with the common view in our western culture, which is that;
The power of the hurricane is the cause of turbulence (excitement) in the atmosphere.
The power of the joke is the cause of turbulence (excitement) in the audience.
The power of the spectacular golf performance is the cause of turbulence (excitement) in the spectators.
The power of the politician is the cause of turbulence in the public body dynamic.
If it is true that we are getting everything inverted, WHY ARE WE GETTING EVERYTHING INVERTED?
There is a simple answer to this question that has long been known (The more important question is, why do we keep doing this?)
During the Enlightenment, we began the habit of using ‘representations’ as ‘reliable substitutes for the visible’. The representations of dynamical forms became seen as ‘local objects/organisms/systems with their own local agency’ (internally sourced behaviour). E.g. a hurricane would become ‘a picture of a hurricane’ and thus something local and apparently existing in its own right and having its own local agency. One could easily forget that the hurricane is the result of the turbulent flow it is included in. The ‘dynamical ground’ is ‘eclipsed’ by ‘the dynamical figure’, in our ‘theatre of the mind’, which means that the dynamic phenomena that continues to be sourced by the eclipsed or occult energies, have to be explained by attributing their source to the ‘cast of characters’ in the representation-based ‘theatre of the mind’.
Enlightenment society’s use of ‘representations’ (maps, drawings, and later photographs— see Donald Kunze, Penn. State University – ‘Representation’) lifts out the visible dynamical form, from the darkness of the latent potentials from which visible dynamics spring. That is, ‘representation’ discards the dark, silent (invisible) NONLOCAL pregnant medium that is continually giving birth to the light, noisy, visible LOCAL dynamical forms captured in ‘representations’. The hurricane is the dynamical figure in the dynamical ground of the atmospheric flow. The ‘representation’ of the hurricane is the dynamical figure without the dynamical ground, the ‘kinetic’ without the ‘latent/potential’ from which the ‘kinetic’ is born. [N.B. see footnote for elaboration on the kinetic/potential energy relation]
In the aboriginal view, one ‘sees’ latent energy in everything, in the forest, in the ocean in the mountains, and from out of this quiet but ominous latent energy emerges motion; tensions (pressures) develop as the sun shines and wind begins to blow, … tensions arise between mountain crests and valley troughs and avalanches tumble down the mountain flanks, tensions between the dry innards of seed and the warm moist exterior sends sprouts bursting out of the soil. Tensions precede the flowers bursting out of their buds and the mist boiling out of the tropical rainfall.
We can look upon ‘latent potentials’ (the pregnant parent) and we can look upon ‘motion’ (the liberated child) but we can’t assimilate both at the same time.
While this ‘aboriginal physics treatment’ does not agree with ‘classical’ physics, it is in full accord with ‘modern physics’ (which put energy back into space); i.e.
The energy that is loaded into spatial relations is called ‘energy of place’ in physics (it includes gravitational, chemical, nuclear, mechanical/springs) and it is in an innate conjugate relation with ‘energy of motion’ (radiant energy flow, thermal energy flow, material energy flow, sound energy flow, electrical/magnetic energy flow).
But ‘representations’ (drawings, maps, photographs) owe their existence to the imposing of ‘Euclidian space’, the absolute space that ‘frames’ the representations. It is this notion of absolute space that allows us to (notionally, obviously not ‘really’) ‘lift’ the dynamical figures out of the dynamical ground and to re-conceive of them in terms of ‘local objects/organisms/systems, notionally with their own local agency.
The point is that the western enlightenment practice of accepting ‘representations’ as ‘reliable substitutes of the visible’, is problematic in that it shifts the focus, one-sidedly, to ‘motion’ and ignores the ‘potential-energy loaded’ ‘parenting medium’ of space. The Euclidian space framed ‘representations’ are NOT ‘reliable substitutes for the visible’ because they remove essential understanding that comes to us through our live experiencing of space. Living our experience is one thing but discussing our experience is something else again. We have become accustomed to discussing the world and its dynamics in terms of ‘representations’ which ‘drop out’ the most significant aspects of real-world experience, such as the continuous creative sourcing of dynamical figures from the latent-energy-loaded space of dynamical ground.
If we ‘go with’ the ‘REPRESENTATION’ of the ‘hurricane’, we drop out the dark (invisible) silent body-of-the-flow, the ‘dynamical ground’ that is the source of the visible dynamical figure, the latter being that aspect that most catches our attention. Since the representation includes only the dynamical figure, we naturally attribute the immense power of the hurricane, to the dynamical figure itself (as it appears in the representation) when the fact of the matter is that the ‘energy of place’ in the body of the flow or ‘dynamical ground’, which is no longer to be seen in the representation (which we have eclipsed and made ‘occult’) is the ‘real’ source of the power.
Thus, … though the dynamical figure captured in the representation is the ‘result’ rather than the ‘cause’ of the dynamical ground, we turn around and attribute the power that originates in the dynamical ground to the dynamical figure.
What is ‘celebrity worship’? – It is the psychological practice of attributing causal power to a local individual for allegedly causing certain results ( results such as the dynamic excitation of a viewing/listening audience, as with laughter associated with joke-telling and gasps of amazement associated with a spectacular golf shot), WHEN IN FACT the ‘power’ of the joke or spectacular golf shot does not arise in and from these things in themselves, but is the ‘result’ of the dynamics of the viewing/listening audience.
‘The terrain is everything’. The kid who happens to blow his nose at the right time in a tear-jerker of a movie can bring down the house. It would be ‘wagging-the-dog’ to say that he ‘caused’ the laughter, to impute the power of exciting the crowd to him.
Scientific thinking (of the classical variety) has conditioned, and continues to condition our minds in this way. Henri Poincaré describes the over-simplification built into scientific thinking in this way;
“We recognise at the outset that the efforts of scientists have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by our experience into a large number of elementary phenomena.
And to do this in three different ways : first, with respect to time. Instead of taking into account the progressive development of a phenomenon as a whole, we simply seek to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We assert that the present state of the world depends only on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the memory of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down “its differential equation” ; for the laws of Kepler, we substitute the laws of Newton.” — Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Ch. ‘Hypotheses in Physics’, subsection “Origin of Mathematical Physics”
Clearly, if we are of the same mind as a (classical) mathematical physicist, by this ‘short-cut’ of assuming that the present depends only on the immediate past (eclipsing the invisible potential energy/tension buildups), we are going to conclude that the joke was the cause of the laughter, and the spectacular play of Tiger Woods was the cause of the excitement of the crowd, and that my friend’s blowing his nose in the tear-jerking movie was the cause of ‘bringing the house down, collapsed in tears and laughter’.
That’s the scientific mindset for you. As Kepler said, science is habitually “choosing not that which is most true but that which is most easy”.
The net result of this situation, this ‘scientific short-cut’, is that we impute GOD-LIKE POWERS to an individual, when the powers are not his at all but the eclipsed/occult powers of the dynamical ground. But we believe they are his, mathematical-physicist-like reasoners that we are, so we will prostrate ourselves at the celebrity’s feet and give ourselves up to his bidding, … no, … we will implore him to use us as he pleases so that we can become the servant of a God.
One doesn’t find any aboriginal traditionalists caught up what Hunter S. Thompson describes as the rampant trend towards our society becoming a society of ‘celebrity-worshipping, flag-suckers’.
The flag-worshipping phenomenon has the same basic God-like power infusing ingredient as celebrity worshipping, as has been explored by law historians such as Peter D’Errico (law professor emeritus as University of Massachusetts). In ‘Native American Sovereignty: Now You See It, Now You Don’t, at http://www.umass.edu/legal/derrico/nowyouseeit.html ), D’Errico gets into how the God-Making comes into politics and flag; e.g.
“The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo- Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” (Walker, R. B. J. and Mendlovitz, Saul H. “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”
‘Celebrity worship’ has a ‘religious’ context. Because we, the masses, do not see that the power that we would impute to the individual celebrity is coming from us as a collective, from our own desire to balance tensions, we effectively make him into a God (in the way that people over the ages have ‘believed in Gods’) since no ordinary mortal can have such ‘command over the masses’.
But, whoops, as Poincaré counselled, … our reasoning, by simplifying habit, has been taking a short-cut (short-circuit, actually) whereby; “We assert that the present state of the world depends only on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the memory of a more distant past.”
In other words, in the ‘nose-blowing’ example, we start from the masses of people collapsing in tears and laughter in the movie theatre, the ‘present state of the world’, and we back up the film footage slowly into the immediate past to find the initial point of this eruption, and right at that point of the eruption, we find my friend blowing his nose loudly. What else could be the cause of the eruption of laughter? His handkerchief covered nose is, … ‘the smoking gun’.
But if we continue backing up the film, we see at least an hour of Laura getting herself into deeper and deeper trouble, losing her job and having to sell the old family farm at the worst time. The move to the city has also taken from her, her faithful golden lab who, being unaccustomed to traffic, has been run over by a truck. Laura, a highly strung and so, so sensitive woman who is now in depression and sleeping most of the day, hears a knock on her door. It is a Western Union messenger with a telegram for her, the contents of which are known to the audience but not to Laura, not yet. It is a message from her fiance telling her that he has just eloped with her twin sister who, as fate has willed it, he has fallen madly in love with and she with him. Everyone in the movie theatre would like to see Laura spared of this pain on top of pain,… but everyone in the movie theatre knows that she is not going to be spared and the tensions rise within them as they hold their breath in anticipation of what she is about to experience. As Laura begins to open the cablegram, my friend, who has been looking away from the screen and fiddling with some little plastic game, puts it aside for a sec and blows his nose loud, long and without restraint. The crowd in the theatre roars, he is their saviour, he has liberated them from tensions that they were unable to liberate themselves from. He has more power than all of them put together. He is God-like. They all look at him, smiling at him and appreciating his humour, his youthful wisdom and his humanity.
The agency is nothing, the terrain is everything.
The dynamical figure is nothing, the dynamical ground is everything.
The energy of motion is nothing, the energy of place is everything.
So, we impute to the dynamic inhabitant, power that derives from the habitat-dynamic, from the unleashing of energy by the releasing of tensions in a continuous search for balance. If it were not for tensions in the imbalance of thermal energy between the equator and poles, we would not have the emergence and the northward-bound antics of the hurricane. Once we have a photographic representation of a hurricane in our hand, all of the curved space geometry of the earth is forgotten and now we seem to have a dynamical figure that lives in its own right, free from the dynamical ground that it ‘actually’ lives in, and with nothing to blame for its bad behaviour than itself. We impute to it an entire life-cycle of its own, its emergence, its early development, its building of intensity, its northward journey, its trail of destruction and its dissipation, … all of which we can attribute to ‘itself’ seen as a ‘local system’ with its own ‘locally originating behaviour’.
But if we can impute power to things, power that is in reality ‘our power’, then we can also impute ‘abuse of power’ to those things, as was the case with Mussolini, and as is often the case with ‘fallen idols’. We make ‘em and we break ‘em’. This saves us from having to take responsibility ourselves.
But what is even more curious than the wag-the-dog causal world view of our Western Enlightenment culture, is ‘why we remain stuck in it’?
It appears to be that our sense of ‘self’ derives from a ‘representation-of-self’ that uses this same model whereby we attribute powers to ourselves that in reality derive from the dynamical ground in which we are included. The fertile dynamic ground of the biosphere is, like the movie theatre discussed above, full of tensions that want releasing. The farmer, in triggering the release of those tensions, tends to be seen as the causal agent of the ‘results’. But the present is not really the result of the immediate past as mathematical physics like to say it is, the tensions that want release have been building for a long time. Still, when there is a sudden ‘blossoming forth’ as there was in movie theatre, we roll the surveillance cameras backwards until we see what was happening at the initial point of these results in order to discover the ‘cause’ of them. Here we find the farmer and his activity and the association seems clear, thus we impute to the farmer the God-like powers of having created the fine harvest.
This is the effect of ‘representation’. When we lift the dynamical figures out of the dynamical ground, we create a whole mythology in terms of ‘local objects/organisms/systems, notionally equipped with their own locally originating behaviour. The imputing of ‘first cause’ creative/productive powers to an evidently local stand-alone figure equates to infusing God-like powers inside of him. Having removed the dynamical figure from the dynamical ground, thanks to ‘representation’, we have ‘eclipsed’ the true source of creative/productive dynamics. The individual organism or man or woman is now the possessor of those occult powers.
This is the common Western Enlightenment view of ‘self’, a stand-alone, independently existing figure, who is in possession of occult powers.
‘Celebrity Worship’, particularly when it goes wrong, is informing us of flaws in our assumptions, deep down in the foundations from whence we construct our world view and view of ‘self’.
Tiger Woods (like many other celebrities) may never have wanted to have those occult powers imputed to him. Perhaps his mission was initially a very personal one. But it was not left up to him to decide the issue. And now that he has been imputed to have such occult powers, it follows that those who imputed them to him can put him on trial for abuse of those powers. He is thus fortunate that his skill is a quiet physical skill rather than a rhetorical skill as was the case with Mussolini. But regardless, playing around with the occult is dangerous business. It is the public in generally that is playing around with it and it now has Tiger Woods and those close to him, in its grasp, making them dance like voodoo dolls on a string.
It is to be hoped that Tiger will find the necessary garlands of garlic, the crucifix or wooden stakes or whatever it takes for him to dispel the dark energy brimstone smell, at least in the spaces that he frequents. These are the increasingly necessary remedies that one needs while living in the sphere of influence of the superstitious mythologies of western Enlightenment society. Hopefully, this situation is going to improve* (*see http://goodshare.org/wp/our-job/ )
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[ * * * Technical Footnote:
As Einstein and Infeld note in ‘The Evolution of Physics’;
“Two expressions for energy occur in the mathematical description, each of which changes, although the sum does not vary. It is thus possible to introduce mathematically and rigorously the concepts of potential energy, depending on position, and kinetic energy, depending on velocity. The introduction of the two names is, of course, arbitrary and justified only by convenience. The sum of the two quantities remains unchanged, and is called a constant of motion. The total energy, kinetic plus potential, is like a substance.” The authors go on to observe; “Our world is not Euclidian. The geometrical nature of our world is shaped by masses and their velocities.”
Einstein further says; ‘Space is a participant in physical phenomena’, … and Poincaré goes further still; ‘Space is another framework we impose upon [our scientific view of] the world’ … ‘the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry.”.
Let’s say that you took a photograph that became a Hallmark card favourite, entitled ‘Winter in the Mountains’, depicting a beautiful arrangement of snow-covered fir trees alongside a creek in steep-sided valley. It is the very essence of natural peace and tranquillity.
But when you were there, there had been a buildup of over three metres of snow and while everything was still except the descending snowflakes, you could see the tell-tale little balls of snow spontaneously tumbling down the slope, and you could almost taste how those little balls can instantly become vicious huge balls, and you had retreated very quickly from the avalanche zone you were in, perhaps just in time.
The space you were in, loaded with potential energy that was easily converted, was in a ‘birthing mood’ and you could ‘see it’.
In the social dynamic, in Germany in 1937, at a celebration dinner, the beer and wine and the talk were all flowing freely when the senior SS officer at the head table, who was a serious SOB said; ‘I smell a Jew’. There was a silence that endured for a long time and coincidentally, the official photographs for the occasion were taken in that interim. The photographer said ‘smile’ and everyone smiled. The pictures, published in the media, were ‘representations’ of the actual state of affairs at the party, but they were hardly ‘reliable substitutes for the visible’.
Ok, this has belabored the point somewhat, but it does seem that it is a point often overlooked, and it is that we tend to start from visible motion and ‘make up a story’ that explains the visible motion; an approach which ignores the natural primacy of the energy of place (energy of space). So we tend to observe the moving inhabitant (e.g. the hurricane) and, by lifting him out of the real space and framing him relative to an absolute Euclidian space, ignore the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation (the inherent unity of the energy of motion and the energy of place);
“The introduction of the two names [energy of motion and energy of place] is, of course, arbitrary and justified only by convenience. The sum of the two quantities remains unchanged, and is called a constant of motion”
* * * End of Technical Footnote * * *]