Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sentimentality

I was listening to some old Brian Eno albums last night on the way home from Detroit, and initially it hit me that his weirdness is his way of distancing himself from his feelings.  It is the musical equivalent of using humor--the unexpected, which you throw like a flashbang in front of you to make it the locus of attention--to distance people. (I won't deal with them here, but Tom Waits and Beck seem to have this trait too.  They are capable of music of great depth and beauty, but seem to feel the need to create ugliness as well.  I believe it was the movie Ararat where a painter created a full portrait, then for some impulsive reason smudged the hands.  Perhaps they can only handle so much of their better angels without breaking down looking at this fallen world).

Here is an example: Dead Finks Don't Talk.

Musically, it is interesting.  It is different.  But is it sincere?  Have I learned anything interesting about the passions and conflicts of Brian Eno?  As a contrast, I had visited the Motown museum in Detroit the same day (Did you know Berry Gordie's parents ran five businesses, and required all of their 8 children to contribute $10/month to a general incubator fund, from which the $800 Gordie borrowed to start what became Motown was drawn?).  Listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mVrZmTj_rw

It is sincere.  There is no guardedness, no pushing away.

Then you have some songs by Eno which always bring tears to my eyes, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGX_WJLCxrA

Or this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoZCDNqmFqs

And it hit me that there is a creative sensitive core to Eno, which he is always trying both to hide and to express.  He does not have, to my knowledge, songs which say "I am very lonely and it hurts", although I'm sure his personal collection has plenty of those.

Then I was cycling between this distancing--which is a mild dissociation--and this sentimentality, and it hit me that the problem with sentimentality is that it is emotionally simplistic.  It is the emotional equivalent to simplistic thinking.  If {oversimplification} and {oversimplification}, then {false or incomplete conclusion}.

Edward de Bono described what he called Catchment Areas, which I have mentioned from time to time.  What he intended is that raindrop falling on a mountain peak might hit just barely on one side or the other, but wind up hundreds of miles away, after flowing down the mountain, and into a river.  We have a Continental Divide in the United States, so that a stream of rain might wind up even thousands of miles from drops which once were inches from it.

Thinking is like this, so that rather than retain the nuance of what is actually there, you say phenomenon X is "basically just. . .", and in so doing you kill its uniqueness, and in the process degrade your own perception, and make life less interesting by a lot.

But emotions and thinking are closely related.  No firm dogmatism unsupported by emotional rigidity is possible, in my view.

The assertion I would like to make, though, is one I have made many times in many ways: the emotional superficiality PRECEDES the bad thinking.

And sentimentality is basically flowing naturally fully into one of a small group of unnuanced emotions: sadness, happiness, anger.  When you feel each of them, you feel them roughly the same way.  They don't change.  They don't evolve.  They are a species of psychologically immaturity.

And so one can easily posit, and see in the case of Eno, that both psychological defensiveness, and a tendency to maudlin emotion, can easily coexist.  One can see him both weeping profusely, and being very aloof. I myself am often like this, so perhaps this is projection, but I think it is more likely recognizing in another something I see in myself.

And in this respect I will call back to mind the SIFT heuristic.  Reversed, most Thoughts depend on Feelings, which arise from internalized and constant--if often unconscious--Images, which in turn arise as emergent properties of specific bodily Sensations which were adaptive at some point in time, and retained in their wholeness, both the adaptive parts, and the now unnecessary parts.

We are, you see, in many respects our tensions.  And in reversing our tensions, and in finding relaxation--peace, a synonym--we become more like one another, and better able to interact as fellow travelers beached on the same cosmic shore.

This, for me, is the beauty of Kum Nye.  It teaches one how to look behind what appears to be there, what appears to be firm, what appears to be fixed, what appears to be immutable, what appears to be in some final sense who we ARE.  What a terror to be stuck forever with some disruptive event--some psychological puncturing--which happened oh so long ago!!!

And Neurofeedback plays into this since for the truly traumatized, significant calming needs to happen before some sensations can even be brought into awareness without tripping the circuit breakers, which is how I put it (although I can't recall if I've put it that way here; internally it's long been my term).  What I mean for this is a relapse into dissociation, which is a foggy world, but one devoid of sharp sensation, to which one would otherwise be terribly open.

My work continues.  I will add one more ingredient to the mix, one which in very much in my consciousness at the moment: Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalog.  I watched numbers 4 and 5 last week.  I find his work amazingly moving, precisely because he avoids the cheap shots, the easy sentimentality, the simple answers.  What he is asking is that people feel what it is like to be human, with all the confusion, the conflicting emotions, and lack of given answers.  I feel watching these makes me richer in the ways which matter.

I had some specific commentary on number 4, but will make it some other time, if I choose to make it.  Some thoughts I keep to myself.

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