Friday, January 27, 2017

Scary but useful night

I did WAY more shaking last night than I usually do.  I kept having waking dreams of being abandoned in windswept and decrepit old houses.  I have denuded my haunted houses of ghosts, but the senses of abandonment, desolation and darkness remain.

I went into a grocery store I know well a week or so ago, and realized that I felt fear, like I didn't belong there.  I was for some reason keenly aware of all the space in the store, and the process of my occupying successive portions of it.  I felt the same in a hotel room.  I do often sleep in strange places, so some part of my anxiety is related to current events.

The essence of trauma is contraction, so perhaps the awareness of space is positive.  It is certainly one of the practices taught in Kum Nye.  To occupy space is to occupy oneself.

In this same grocery store last night, I felt a sudden onset of my shadow, so called, but layered on--like in one of those kits where you have multiple colored layers of plastic, and as you lay them down one by one the colors change in interesting and unpredictable ways.  I felt complete, but my complete self had this innate sense of horror, of grinding.

And I feel this morning that, if I might attempt a Freudian scale deconstruction of the human experience, the alimentary sense is VASTLY more important than the sexual sense.  It's not even close, but it is so primal we don't see it.  We all eat every day, don't we?  Is eating not one of our primary interests and even obsessions?  Look at the vast quantity of cookbooks created and consumed in the form of purchase every year.  Does the very word "Consumerism" not reference the alimentary process?

Consuming is grinding.  You first masticate the food.  One of the things that scared me as a child I still remember is some monster movie where the monster put a human being in its mouth, chewed it up, then spit it out as a bloody mess.  That really bothered me,  for reasons I now suspect I understand: this is what was done to me.  I was masticated.  I had a dream early on I know I have mentioned, where two women were grinding me in a giant mortar and pestle to a bloody undifferentiated mess.  That dream was at least 40 years ago, but so vivid I still remember it.

Now, I was reading yesterday that using brain scans researchers found people who they felt thought like themselves much more attractive, which makes sense.  We are attracted to people who "get" us, with whom we feel affinity, with whom we feel a bond of understanding.  Logically, a person capable of communicating love must therefore have a broad spectrum of perceptual and affective capacities, and the flexibility and adaptability to display them.  You have to be able to be with people where they live.

It popped into my head yesterday that I was not a "truth" baby.  I pondered what this might mean.  I have many such ideas pop in my head, that I then have to tease out, channeling my inner psychological Columbo.

As I have shared, I believe both my parents are narcissists, which in my current understanding means they were subjected to stresses, to trauma, at an early age they were never able to surmount or understand.  It became a background part of their lives which was completely invisible to them.  They don't know what they don't know, and rarely suspect it exists.  The world is simply confusing to them, irrational to them.

But a mother of that sort, looking into the eyes of her baby, sees only herself.  The baby, whose very existence depends on keeping the source of life happy, soon realizes this on an instinctual level, and begins to mimic the mother, rather than the mother mimicking the child.  You create a modus vivendi which is congenial to the mother, which meets her needs for recognition, but which is inimical to the child.

Now, here is where I would like to propose something a bit original: the human brain has evolved to seek out pattern recognition in others, to know who is "safe" and who is not, and at a primitive evolutionary level we fear those who are not like us are going to eat us, which is a source of much violence.

I have felt the wolf in me, the voracious and aggressive instinct which kept our ancestors alive, which is felt daily in all predators the world over.  Is it not interesting how the same dogs who will love the people they know will kill people they don't?  It is all context dependent.  They are still predators, still killers at heart (most of them at least: we all know dogs who wouldn't hurt a fly).

And psychologically, we have all met or heard of people who will chew people up, grind them down, then shit them out.  This is the root dynamic of sadism: consuming the souls of people who are different.

Add to this mix the patterns of narcissist relationships.  Link chosen more or less at random:
The following is a bit disjointed, because I am thinking out loud.  Nonetheless, I think there are important ideas here.  I have gone these places before, but I don't think ever so directly.

They start seeming to understand and value you.  They move on to wounding you with a thousand cuts, then finally see you as the enemy.  This is because they see EVERYONE as the enemy, since their capacity for actually perceiving others empathetically is ruined.  It is a social retardation, a massive defect in the ability to connect.

I was feeling this morning that "we lack stories".  This came to me in a dream state.  What a common culture does is provide a means for mediating the social and anti-social impulses.  It creates a means of connecting to others through shared stories, shared history, shared sources of meaning.  It creates a consistent means of saying "this person is like me", with the following conclusion "I do not need to fear them".

What happens when this social sense goes off-line, when we live in an endlessly perplexing world where we are all wondering if our neighbor is secretly a serial killer, because such people end up all the time in our media?  It reduces us evolutionarily to a more primitive state.  It activates the fight or flight response, chronically.  And it brings into play the "alimentary" response: eat or be eaten.

Even today, in our strange, strange world, cannibalism still retains taboo status.  It is both fascinating and horrifying.  John Podesta, to bring up a recent example, had a picture of two cannibals--dressed as gentlemen as I recall, certainly in garb contemporary to whenever the painting was created--eating a third, and when asked about it he did in fact say, in effect, it is better to eat than be eaten.  This is the same man who, in my estimation, has been credibly accused of being a sadist.  Why not?  Within that mindset, and within the paradigm I am proposing, it makes perfect sense.  Something he can't remember--likely a cold and very abusive mother early on, and perhaps a cold and violent father later--fucked him and his brother up badly, in ways they cannot see, and cannot correct.  Sadism is simply a means of self regulation. of damage control, of not going completely off the rails.  It is a means of survival, when suicide might otherwise make a great deal of sense.  All serial killers, I read, are in the end suicidal.

Ponder the saying "lone wolf".  Wolfs run in packs.  This is their nature.  A lone wolf is an aberration, perhaps not a traitor to its kind, but also not really a member of its race either.  It is a cursed wolf, in important regards, even if in America we do tend to regard radical individualists with respect.

There is something very important in all this.  The current national growling, and displays of bared fangs warrants sociological explanation.  The sheer venom and hatred on display is not even remotely warranted by who Donald Trump is or what he stands for.  What he stands for would have been self evident and generally applauded in the 1960's by nearly all.  He would have been very popular.

But what I would suggest has happened is that the patina of generosity and tolerance has been peeled away from the Democrats.  They stand naked, as what they are: monsters seeking to consume all of us in the self annihilation they chose for themselves long ago, as the price for finding refuge from a demon haunted world.

But the demons are in us, all of us.  True Liberalism is about social and individual growth, which is only made possible within the frontal cortex, within the social brain, within negotiation, empathy, compassion, principle, and devotion not to abstract ideals, but to actual people around us, to communities, to families, to friends.

My work continues.  It is not easy work, but God has granted me a nearly infinite tolerance for emotional pain, and the ability to learn from it and press on.

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