Ktismatics

24 May 2007

Unclaimed Sorrow

Filed under: Psychology — ktismatics @ 3:32 pm

Suppose there is an intervention focusing on sorrow. Depression is an attitude or emotion that resides in a self; loss is an event that happens in the world. Sorrow is positioned somewhere in between depression and loss, between the self and the world. Sorrow is a personal response to loss, but sorrow is also what makes loss personal. I don’t think I’m cutting things too finely here. I’m looking for words that haven’t already been claimed by psychotherapy.

Depression is a formal diagnostic category; a syndrome, or cluster of interrelated symptoms; a disorder. Questionnaires have been devised for evaluating whether someone is clinically depressed and how severe that depression is. Medications have been designed to enhance the synaptic responsiveness of depressives’ brains by increasing the neurotransmitter uptake rate. Various psychotherapeutic techniques are used in the treatment of depression.

Loss is a life event that can trigger the onset of various undesirable emotional responses: anxiety, mourning, insecure attachment, anomie, anger, depression. People who have experienced a loss can be treated preventively, helping them work through the usual emotional sequlae until they re-establish a post-loss equilibrium: grieving programs, programs for children whose parents are going through a divorce, programs for employees who are “let go.” The life histories of people who are experiencing anxiety, anger and depression can be evaluated to identify whether loss may be at the root of the problem. Sometimes loss can only be inferred: something in childhood that has itself been lost to memory. Lacanian analysts trace psychiatric disorder to a primal loss of plenitude, a loss that never happened in reality.

Sorrow hasn’t been claimed by psychotherapy. It’s an emotionally charged and profound word, associated more with religion and poetry than with diagnosis and treatment. The word isn’t heard in everyday conversation. People who say they’re sorry are usually referring to minor violations of politesse rather than deep regret or guilt; people rarely say they’re sorrowful. Sorrow is a noun, like depression and loss, which might reify it as a thing. Sorrow is an oppressively painful atmosphere or force field that permeates everything, welling up from a gash that’s been ripped in the heart, flowing out from a gash that’s been ripped in the world. Sorrow is something so painful we’re reluctant to let ourselves be vulnerable to it ever happening to us. Sorrow has been exiled from our culture and our discourse.

Sorrow doesn’t prescribe how it’s supposed to be understood, or experienced, or treated, or cured. There is no database, no drug, no ten-step program. No a priori tacit agreement is established between therapist and client as to roles, procedures, self-definitions. It’s time: the terms “therapist” and “client” really do have to be banished now. The intervention moves to a loge in the deserted theater or a bench in the garden. Neither outside nor inside, sorrow is the medium in which the intervention is immersed, binding together participants, words, gestures. Filaments of sorrow stretch across space and time, knitting a gauzy fabric strong enough to suspend us all above the abyss.

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33 Comments »

  1. One of the things that we are good at is to bury that sorrow as fast as possible. As a therapist specialising in sorrow you may end up having to be something of an ambulance chaser!

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    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 6:46 pm

  2. “Sorrow is something so painful we’re reluctant to let ourselves be vulnerable to it ever happening to us. Sorrow has been exiled from our culture and our discourse.”

    So, is sorrow banned because its painful, as it always has been, or is there some particular cultural banning or exile of the reality of sorrow once the modern project of the conquering of the universe was completed?

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    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 24 May 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  3. Sam –

    Maybe I can offer solace to widows in exchange for a substantial share of their inheritance?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 May 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  4. Jason –

    I’ve been wondering why, in a society that so aggressively encourages the pursuit of happiness, there’s like an epidemic of depression. I tend to think of it as a chronic sense of dissatisfaction that results from pursuing objects/commodities as satisfiers of intrinsically interpersonal desires. But adjusting to our society means marketplace cooptation. And when the failure to find happiness also induces a sense of guilt at not taking advantage of all the modern possibilitiesl I say yes, there’s something about the era that’s gone wrong. If we really let this dissatisfaction open out, maybe we’d experience the sorrow of a culture that’s letting us down. So how does a potential roller coaster rider let sorrow “blossom” from less promising, less devastating starting point? Now the rider has to be willing to go into the sorrow that he/she isn’t even currently experiencing — like making yourself watch a scary movie.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 May 2007 @ 8:39 pm

  5. John, do you think that not dealing with sorrow properly is a major cause of depression? From what I can see in India, where we are lower down on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one can’t afford to get depressed. Still depression exists and it is more noticeable in the middle and upper classes and dealt with just as badly. Medication sort of takes the edge off but it also dulls the person and the problems are always lurking to spring back in times of stress.

    A more cognitive approach does look more promising…

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    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 11:40 pm

  6. “I tend to think of it as a chronic sense of dissatisfaction that results from pursuing objects/commodities as satisfiers of intrinsically interpersonal desires. But adjusting to our society means marketplace cooptation. And when the failure to find happiness also induces a sense of guilt at not taking advantage of all the modern possibilities.”

    You and Steve Shaviro have me thinking about this lately, too…with all the Lacan/Zizek/Hegel vs. Deleuze/Neitche talk going on. The more I think about this, the more I consider valuable – in a certain way – insights like Shaviro’s at “negative or oblique?”: “I’m all to aware that we have reached the point where positivity and affirmation are all too comfortably ensconced in the business schools; but negativity (whether in Zizek’s version, or that of Adorno, or that of the Situationists) is ensconced there also.”

    I mean, one one hand, I just want to say that they (Lacan/Deleuze) have their picture of humans wrong. Humans are originally good, God is good, and dang it, the problem isn’t so foundational as they make it sound! In other words, one part of me wants to say that the issue can be boiled down to character…economically speaking, it can be boiled down to what Thomisticguy would call “prudence.”

    But then another part of me wants to slap the church into reality and help them wake up to the darkness of the world we live in. In all of our “its just an issue of character” talk, we generally just act complicitly with the darkness. And I don’t know how much of THAT is a moral problem, or how much of it is an intellectual problem.

    Which leads me to: “I say yes, there’s something about the era that’s gone wrong. If we really let this dissatisfaction open out, maybe we’d experience the sorrow of a culture that’s letting us down.”

    I have a feeling that we might end up experiencing great sorrow in relation to our politico-economic system whether we want to or not, or whether we “let ourselves” or not. We might not have to choose the scary movie or the theraputic roller coaster.

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    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 25 May 2007 @ 5:48 am

  7. Jason –

    I liked the negative-oblique discussion too.

    Just to sort out the piles as I understand them: Lacan and Hegel assert that lack is foundational to the human condition; Deleuze and Nietzsche do not. I favor the Deleuze/Nietzsche side on this issue.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that human nature is good in a moral sense — it just is. It’s good maybe in an aesthetic or pragmatic sense too. I think human nature can be turned toward the morally good, depending on how compatible one’s morality is with limitations on human capabilities.

    Desires, instincts, drives, affections, etc. are part of the human condition, and they evolved in an environment where it’s possible for these desires to be fulfilled. There are surely ways of distorting natural human desires, and one way of doing that is to turn them toward unreachable or imaginary fulfillments. This I think is something the marketplace does; also, in my opinion, religion. Another distortion is to deny all fulfillment of natural desires, which it sometimes seems that the Epistle writers have in mind.

    But this post is about sorrow and depression, so maybe we’re talking past each other. Are you suggesting that depression is attributable to lack of character and imprudence? And what “darkness” are you referring to?

    I have a feeling that we might end up experiencing great sorrow in relation to our politico-economic system whether we want to or not, or whether we “let ourselves” or not. We might not have to choose the scary movie or the theraputic roller coaster. What sort of sorrow do you envision? Are you more worried about the marketplace as a way to overfeed fleshly appetites, or as a device to keep them from ever feeling satisfied?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 May 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  8. Sam –

    There’s a temptation in the West to take your observations to absurd lengths — the poor people are happier than we are, so why should we worry about reducing poverty? Maybe a certain level of anxiety and depression must be sustained in the society as a kind of guilt offering for affluence. As I mentioned, I do worry that clinical practice is just another commodity for making people happy. My intention is to understand unhappiness, at both the individual and the societal levels, to delve into it. But maybe that too is corrupt — we can afford to play this game because we can always stop when we feel like it. So I’m ambivalent.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 May 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  9. “I think human nature can be turned toward the morally good, depending on how compatible one’s morality is with limitations on human capabilities.” Ooga booga. Me no understand. Lol. Human capabilities and the moral good? I probably just need a reminder here on something you’ve already mentioned…??

    Sounds like, from the next paragraph, you mean to say that a different assumption about human nature would imply a different assumption about the capability to be morally good, and as well would imply a different history from way-back.

    “Another distortion is to deny all fulfillment of natural desires, which it sometimes seems that the Epistle writers have in mind.”

    This is WHY you side with Neitche/Deleuze rather than Lacan/Zizek? Your reasons for siding with one or the other coming from a non-religious context, too, I suppose. Anyway, I guess if you follow Neitche’s geneology of morals, this is where you end up.

    The way I see it, though, God designed nature, and ours too, so He’s not denying fulfillment of our natural desires. I’d say that it is sometimes/oftentimes Christian living involves making choices to do things you don’t want to do, or making choices not to do things that you do want to do…but in terms of the big picture…I don’t think that means that God is out to deny fulfillment of our natural desires.

    In Protestantism, though, I’d say its more susceptible to looking that way. I mean, Blake complained of the Priest’s denying him of his natural desires long before Neitche, so…yeah…I can see how the argument doesn’t just hinge on Neiteche’s particular opus there.

    “Are you suggesting that depression is attributable to lack of character and imprudence?” No way, dude! I mean, it can certainly contribute. I’d say that someone of “high character,” disciplined, free (“freedom means right action” – T.S. Eliot) will probably exprience more peace. The Proverbs attest to that, and the Psalms. But I just finished the Erdmanian’s “hebel” paper on the plane…its no guarantee that you’ll get out what you put in. In other words, then, I’d say that “sorrow and tears” just sort of come with the territory…of living in these times.

    “And what ‘darkness’ are you referring to?” So…I am referring to “these times.” I’d say that Lacan and Deleuze and Co. are doing a good job of exploring the “darkness” to which I am referring. The “hebel,” the fact that the whole economy is moved by either a lack or a hoped for fulfillment that doesn’t ever fully happen (depending on how you look at it).

    Christians hear that whole discourse…and only hear what they take to be a false assertion of what it means to be human (“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that human nature is good in a moral sense — it just is”), but I think that Christians could would do well to take the picture painted by those thinkers as a picture of what they (we) are up against. AND…if the Bible is true, just how strong, faithful and full of Grace (gifts) God is.

    I hear the questions coming…it sounds like I’m saying that sin causes sorrow. So…I AM saying that…to a degree (and only to a degree). But I am also saying that its pretty unavoidable. We live in a world of sorow(s) (see above about the economic system, for example). I mean, if you think big picture…way back to the roots (as I would see them)…there wouldn’t be sorrow without sin (but that doesn’t render the discourse or insights of Zizek/Deleuze unvaluable to me). AND…the development of character can bring peace (I think…I’m experiencing this now…WITH tough struggle). BUT…even as I see it…the one truly good and innocent person is born, and dies on a cross shouting “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me!” But then he rose.

    “‘I have a feeling that we might end up experiencing great sorrow in relation to our politico-economic system whether we want to or not…’ What sort of sorrow do you envision?”

    I’m envisioning the possibility of the system falling apart…caving in on itself, or something of the sort. That would sort of confront us with some previously-latent sorrows (or anxieties about things that might bring sorrow)! Whether we wanted to face them previously or not.

    “Are you more worried about the marketplace as a way to overfeed fleshly appetites, or as a device to keep them from ever feeling satisfied?”

    Well, that wasn’t what I was referring to in that situation. As noted, I was referring to the break-down of our economic system.

    But – to answer the question anyway – I’d say that…for me…its a both/and thing. The marketplace is both a way to overfeed fleshly appetites and a device to keep them from ever feeling satisfied. The two kind of feed on each other, if you ask me. As an “emprical observation,” I’d take it to be true that advertisers feed on at-the-least a percieved lack (and at most advertisers feed on a genuine river of soul-death that runs at its depths, which is creepy). And yet how could there be a percieved lack if there wasn’t at-the-least a desire to overfeed the appetite, which itself would correspond or run parallel to the contemporary “surplus of desire”?

    And yet, I am not suggesting that the percieved lack is only founded on the desire for overfeeding. Whose to say whether lack feeds surplus, or if surplus feeds lack? For Lacan/Zizek and Deleuze/Neitche a decision in favor of one or the other is a philosophical position on the deepest meaning of being human. My position, however, is none of those. I’d say that in a state of “Original Justice,” or the Garden, or in the “kingdom of God,” there is amazing abundance beyond what we would probably even dare to dream.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 26 May 2007 @ 9:00 am

  10. “but I think that Christians could would do well to take the picture painted by those thinkers as a picture of what they (we) are up against.” Oops…should clarify…by “what they (we) are up against,” I was not referring to the philosophical positions of Lacan/Deleuze, but instead to the “darkness” of our times, of either insatiable surpluss or of foundational lack.

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 26 May 2007 @ 9:05 am

  11. Jason –

    It’s not incompatible with human nature to deal fairly with strangers, or to sacrifice yourself for your children, or to rein in your impulses for having sex with everyone, or to avoid killing people who provoke you — so moralities that included these values aren’t impossible. Moralities that reverse all these values are also achievable: cheat the stranger, sacrifice your firstborn, pursue promiscuity, avenge all wrongs. Some moralities just can’t be done by humans; e.g., abandon your physical body and live a disincarnated life in this world, go back in time and reverse wrongs you’ve done to others in the past.

    I agree with Nietzsche and Deleuze, as well as (American Protestant Puritan) Jonathan Edwards, because I think they’re right. I’ve posted before on evolutionary psychology and environmental affordances, which are also compatible with this position from a more naturalistic empirical point of view. E.g., foods taste good to us because our genes have built into us sensory desires that are fulfilled by eating the kinds of foods that will keep us alive. Here is a desire that is built-in to find fulfillment in the world. Conversely, a taste for crap and puke has been pretty much eliminated from the gene pool because it turns out that eating these things tends to make you die.

    I agree that Protestants in general are more prone than Catholics or Eastern Orthodox to regard desires as evil and as something to be denied/overcome. Neither the Old Testament nor the Gospels are big proponents of this kind of anti-flesh orientation. Protestants spend a lot of time in the Epistles, where this sort of flesh-spirit dualism is most pronounced.

    I will pause now, returning later to add further commentary to the Hesiakian discourse.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 May 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  12. Jason –

    Sin causes sorrow. Sin => the sinner is separated => loss of God’s presence => sorrow. This is the basic Christian discourse on loss, which dates to the Fall. So, while loss is not part of human nature, loss is intrinsic to the human situation of being born into this world. So sorrow would be intrinsic to being-in. Heidegger says angst is intrinsic, but it’s based on the inevitability of death — which is another consequence of the Fall in the Christian story.

    And yet how could there be a percieved lack if there wasn’t at-the-least a desire to overfeed the appetite, which itself would correspond or run parallel to the contemporary “surplus of desire”? I think the economy enshrines desire as an absolute good, such that the more fulfillment the more happiness. Desires are tricks the genes play on us to do their bidding; e.g., hunger and taste preferences in order to get nourishment and survive, sex in order to procreate and pass on the genes, etc. These appetites were attuned to an environment characterized by lack — food is hard to find, infant survival rates are low, etc. The Western environment is not lacking for most of us; instead, the lack is displaced into the self — which is a big distortion. Since the appetites are already genetically predisposed to operating under conditions of lack, it’s not hard for the economy to trick the desires into perpetual overfeeding coupled with unfulfillment.

    This whole idea of built-in biological desires as a mechanism to enhance survival in a tough environment would need some rethinking if you believe that man was created to live inside an environment characterized by abundance rather than lack. If you believe that man evolved from lower animals that also arose in an abundant environment, then the whole premise of natural selection kind of doesn’t fit any more. Maybe the creationists ought to work up a theory of built-in appetites adapted to abundance rather than lack.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 May 2007 @ 6:08 pm

  13. The Doyle,

    On abundance and lack: I don’t know if man’s early environment was one of abundance or lack, but I don’t think that effects whether or not we are originally meant to live in an environment of abundance.

    My thinking on natural selection, then, is similar to my thinking on abundance/lack. Natural selection is probably true, insofar as it is a theory about reality that fits with what can be observed about the way the world works. But that doesn’t mean that we are or were originally meant to live in a competitive environment of “natural selection.”

    Here I think of Girand – such consideration of an “originary” (maybe a more figurative or mythological than an actual or literal “origin”) abundance (rather than lack) and cooperation (rather than rivalry) seem to underlie his thought.

    Jason

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    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 28 May 2007 @ 7:15 am

  14. Jason –

    “Originally lived” versus “originally meant to live” — an interesting distinction. Of course the thoroughly naturalistic worldview says “meant to live” is a meaningless concept, that “meant” is itself a human construct. Evolutionists would say that our species and our instincts evolved in an environment of lack, so that now in an environment of plenty we tend instinctively to overindulge in stuff that used to be in short supply — sugar, fat, etc.

    It’s strange to think about God implementing a natural selection mechanism for evolving a species that’s meant to live in an environment in which natural selection isn’t important. However, that’s the world we live in today. Our species has probably for the most part stopped evolving genetically because we can adapt so much more quickly by innovation and learning; i.e., culture.

    We currently live in conditions of plenty, due largely to human culture. Our species is able to modify the environment in ways that allow us more readily to meet needs. It’s done through work. The Genesis 3 story implies that we wouldn’t have needed to get so creative and work so hard if Adam and Eve had just left that one tree alone. Anyhow, we’ve made a garden in the desert, and we could kick back and take it easy without actually doing much work any more. Why do we keep it up?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 May 2007 @ 4:09 pm

  15. “It’s strange to think about God implementing a natural selection mechanism for evolving a species that’s meant to live in an environment in which natural selection isn’t important. However, that’s the world we live in today.”

    I am thinking of natural selection as something not (necessarily) implemented by God. That’s why I mentioned Girand and mimetic rivalry. Mimetic rivalry and “natural selection” are of course not one and the same, but both are the opposite of an originary cooperation and union of folk with folk and God (unless God is rivalry and/or compeition).

    “Anyhow, we’ve made a garden in the desert, and we could kick back and take it easy without actually doing much work any more. Why do we keep it up?”

    Well: A) We still run around like ants building an anthilll.
    B) Because its all we know, and its who we’ve become, and…
    C) Because there there is no longer any line between what is “nautural” and “man made.” More importantly, there is no real connection to “nature” in what is man made. Why, then, would anyone care that we work so hard (aquaducts, ect) to maintian a man-crafted garden in the desert?

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    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 28 May 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  16. Jason –

    “Mimetic rivalry and “natural selection” are of course not one and the same, but both are the opposite of an originary cooperation and union of folk with folk.”

    Natural selection doesn’t specify a free-for-all competition of man against man. The primates from which our species evolved were already social. Most of the distinctive features of humanity — imitative learning, language, transmission of innovation throughout social groups, the ability to alter the environment — likely would never have evolved if our forebears were more like bears — solitary hunter-gatherers looking to avoid one another or to pick fights with each other. Man is genetically a social being. Arguably the relative placidity of the human temperament gave our ancestors the ability to look toward one another as sources of knowledge to be learned from rather than as alien others with whom we have little in common.

    But social primates also tend toward violence, especially against neighboring tribes. Man actually seems less warlike than chimpanzees, who routinely attack their neighbors and whose murder rate is reportedly far higher than human societies. But men do attack rival tribes, which tend to be nearest geographically geneticaly to themselvse. Girard mostly talks about rivalry within tribes, where the social solidarity breaks down. Imitation, the basis of learning, can also be the basis for competition within the group. The question for Girard is whether scapegoat is a natural means of restoring group solidarity, or whether it’s a cultural artifact. But Girard certainly assumes that humans are naturally drawn together into groups.

    As for your ideas about why we keep working even in a land of plenty:

    (a) We aren’t very much like ants. All the worker ants in an anthill are genetically identical, as if they were a single individual distributed across a lot of separate bodies. Humans aren’t like that.

    (b) Work isn’t all we know. We have a capacity to play, to relax, to steal,…

    (c) If we evolved in an environment of scarcity but were made to live in an environment of plenty, then you could say that we were destined to be removed from our “natural” environment to something unnatural — either supernatural or artificial. So in certain ways a man-made land of plenty and a God-made one are similar in the sense that they are distinctly not “purely” natural to our species and our instincts. But, as you’ve pointed out before, the man-made really is built on top of the natural environment, so there is always a connection.

    “Why, then, would anyone care that we work so hard (aquaducts, ect) to maintian a man-crafted garden in the desert?” We care, a lot. My question was rather why we don’t at some point trade off the results of our collective labor (man-made gardens, aqueducts, etc.) for other activities like discovery, art, contemplation, etc. — more like the Greeks envisioned, or the Marxists. Part of it is instinctual, part is cultural.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 May 2007 @ 4:51 am

  17. “‘Why, then, would anyone care that we work so hard (aquaducts, ect) to maintian a man-crafted garden in the desert?’ We care, a lot.”

    I am interested in hearing more of what you mean here. I mean, from my observations of LA living and also what LA folk care about…no one really gives a hoot that they are vainly trying to create their own garden in the desert.

    “My question was rather why we don’t at some point trade off the results of our collective labor (man-made gardens, aqueducts, etc.) for other activities like discovery, art, contemplation, etc. — more like the Greeks envisioned, or the Marxists.”

    That’s really freakin’ interesting. I did not know this aspect of Marxism. More socialist countries in Europe do seem more culturally rich, it seems. Arendt talks about the fact that we are all now either workers or laborers; even kings think of their role in society as a job. But for the Greeks or in a monarchy, cultural richness was for those who were free from work. So…how does that work in Marxism (theoretically and practically)?

    More on vainly trying to craft our own Garden in the desert: “If we evolved in an environment of scarcity but were made to live in an environment of plenty, then you could say that we were destined to be removed from our ‘natural’ environment to something unnatural — either supernatural or artificial. So in certain ways a man-made land of plenty and a God-made one are similar in the sense that they are distinctly not ‘purely’ natural to our species and our instincts.” Of course, for me the issue ultimately boils down to the difference between vainly trying to create one’s own environment and committing to live in God’s reality, which is “at hand.” Of course, though, that doesn’t negate the truth that men contribute to the making of a reality when they speak or act, but that itself also doesn’t negate the truth of the need to live in God’s reality.

    In other words, I would not say that man is destined to be removed from his natural environment, but in fact the opposite…that insofar as he tries to escape it (for what reason?), it will come up and bite him in the ass. Ex. – Katrina (what was theophany is now a nuissance), bad-tasting apples (chemicles to make them bigger and nice-looking). Future examples – water shortages in LA.

    “We aren’t very much like ants. All the worker ants in an anthill are genetically identical, as if they were a single individual distributed across a lot of separate bodies. Humans aren’t like that.” Of course, what you are saying is true here. Uumm…I was kind of thinking of folks like Hardt/Negri when I said that we are all like ants. We are subsumed into a sameness. Part of that sameness into which we are subsumed is how we relate to “nature,” and how that effects daily life. “Democracy” means both “man” and “land.” Our contemporary form of “democracy” depends upon a particular relation to the land, although a very different one from that of the ancient Greeks.

    “Work isn’t all we know. We have a capacity to play, to relax, to steal,…” Oops. Miscommunication; I was unclear. Sorry. When I said “its” all we know, I was referring to our relation to the land, and how that is now part of our identity. Although the questin of what “work” is itself hinges on the question of our relation to the land, as well.

    So, actually…I kind of had Arendt in mind here, in terms of work, when I was thinking of our relation to the land. We are “a society of laborers” (or workers), as Arendt says, which is not only whacky in and of itself (as Jason says), but is disastrous if you consider the coming of more and more autonomous/machine production, displacing human workers (as Arendt says)…further displacing man in relation to the land. If his work is done through his robots, and work is about the tilling of the land, and his robots are an extension of his being…uuuhhh…that’s weird (says Jason).

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    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 30 May 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  18. Ooops…forgot to mention. I think that part of why we continue working so hard (to craft the Garden), is because we think in terms of lack instead of abundance. We live by our work out of fear that our needs won’t be met otherwise. Of course, its true that we can take the time to stop and smell the roses, and the potatoes will still be next to them for us to eat (as you seem to point out). Be we don’t think of that, because, out of fear of the disappearance of the potato, we would rather just keep working really hard to grow more potatoes…or bigger ones (thanks to chemicals), or whathaveyou.

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    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 30 May 2007 @ 6:07 pm

  19. Jason –

    People care about living in the garden in the desert; they want somebody else to make sure the water keeps springing up from the ground for their sprinkler systems and their car washes. Did you ever see Chinatown? Individual moral corruption was directly linked to the corruption of illegal water rights deals and flows of dirty money.

    Why aren’t we who live in the contemporary non-Marxist West more interested in pursuing truth, beauty and justice? Is it the marketplace that encourages people to seek not just enough water in the desert to quench their thirst and to clean themselves, but to install a grass lawn that requires daily watering and a waterfall in the back yard, and then buy bottled water to drink at an enormous price for the usually indistinguishable taste difference and minimal health benefit but easily distinguishable brand-name recognition connoting high-class tastes? This relates to the desires question: do people really desire such things, so they need either the church or the state to rein in their appetites? Or does the marketplace transform straightorward and easily-satisfied desires into cravings for what the marketplace can provide?

    It hasn’t been a vain effort to create a man-made environment — it’s been very successful. The human species has successfully spread itself across the world not just by adapting to the natural environment but by modifying the environment. It’s the unique edge that humans have over every other species. It’s the image of God in man, this ability to create.

    With respect to living in nature, I’m responding to your notion that man may have evolved in an environment of scarcity but are destined to live in a land of plenty. The land of scarcity in which we evolved — our instincts, desires, brain capacity, learning abilities, etc. — that was nature. To superimpose plenty onto scarcity is to modify the natural environment to which we became genetically adapted. Whether God or man makes the modifications is beside the point: it’s still nature made unnatural.

    Mankind has made water flow in the desert, has cultivated apple orchards instead of having to find the apple trees in nature, has enhanced the fruits according to preferences for taste or beauty or lack of worminess, has installed protections and warning systems against natural disasters. We are alienated not just from the land but also from the ingenuity that modifies the land: aqueducts, agriculture, pesticides, levees, etc. It’s all bureaucratized so we don’t have much contact with, or give much consideration to, anything outside our own jobs and houses.

    Why should automation be disastrous? Automating the routine parts of people’s jobs should free them to do more innovative things. But the benefits of technology aren’t geared to reduce people’s drudgery in order to free their minds and spirits without adversely affecting their security. Instead, the benefits of new technology are justified in terms of capital return on investment, which is measured in money saved by eliminating jobs and increased demand for stuff people don’t need or even want until they see the ads.

    Like we both agreed, man is alienated both from the nature of potatoes and the agricultural enhancements to the potato. The instinct to work arose in an environment of shortage. We can meet everyone’s demand for potatoes. We create artificial demands for stuff that isn’t instinctive, and then the instinct to work can be channeled into meeting these artificially-induced needs.

    To me, a better world would be one in which man uses his creative ability and industry to meet everyone’s need for potatoes. Then we would turn people’s work instinct toward creating and enhancing and helping rather than toward stimulating and meeting artificially induced demand. Is that a Christian ideal or a Marxist one?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 31 May 2007 @ 4:18 am

  20. Sorry its taken me a while to get back. I’ve been busy with responsibilities at work. And plus, now I have one of the bosses sitting right next to me…

    “People care about living in the garden in the desert; they want somebody else to make sure the water keeps springing up from the ground for their sprinkler systems and their car washes. Did you ever see Chinatown? Individual moral corruption was directly linked to the corruption of illegal water rights deals and flows of dirty money.”

    “Chinatown”? A movie, or a part of town? I’m confused…regrettably don’t know what you’re talking about. Nonetheless…the whole situation sounds interesting. What would have been the connection between individual moral corruption and making sure the desert stays wet? Are you saying that the root of why the land is being manipulated rather than harmoniously lived with is the moral corrupion of a few powerful folk who wanted to stay powerful? Uumm…wouldn’t that suggest that there was already a preexisting condition of an environment in which the desert is manipulated by man to remain wet?

    I’m ONLY speculating…I don’t know the story to which you refer…just trying to figure out what you mean…and whether or not you mean to explore the historical story behind why folk live in an artificially flooded desert. I think that what you mean there is probably related to: “We are alienated not just from the land but also from the ingenuity that modifies the land: aqueducts, agriculture, pesticides, levees, etc. It’s all bureaucratized so we don’t have much contact with, or give much consideration to, anything outside our own jobs and houses.”

    “It hasn’t been a vain effort to create a man-made environment — it’s been very successful. The human species has successfully spread itself across the world not just by adapting to the natural environment but by modifying the environment. It’s the unique edge that humans have over every other species. It’s the image of God in man, this ability to create.”

    For my comment on this, as referenced above, I am referring to the difference between manipulating the land…pulling up from it what is not there (man doesn’t “create” anything)…and working to live in harmony with the land to bring forth what it was originally meant to bring forth (man is a poet). The Garden had big nice trees, rivers, gold and precious stones, and “underground spring” or “mists rising up from the ground” (depending on which translation you read).

    As for whether the market drives folks to drink bottled water and have sprinklers in their back yards…I’d say its the age-old chicken or egg delimma. Without an end purpose of an untimate Being, then the picture of the chicken and egg relationship is simply a matter of the continuation of the existence of chicks and eggs. However, the way I see it, the Big King Chicken in the sky (lol) created us as both morally good and as made from the dust of the earth. So I’d say that all the extra demands from the marketplace upon our psyche would obviously not be there if not for a market-driven system, but that the Prince Fraidy-Cat Chicken in the sky would prefer that we have whacked out desires in the first place anyway.

    All of which translates into the market itself being a “technology” that is an extension of man’s being that is filled with lots of good and lots of bad…and which came forth from the dust of the ground, too…which is where the things we desire come from.

    “To superimpose plenty onto scarcity is to modify the natural environment to which we became genetically adapted. Whether God or man makes the modifications is beside the point: it’s still nature made unnatural.” It sounds to me here as if you are giving away your Protestant background (that part of my own Protestant background with which I am unsatisfied)? Protestants are on a kick against nature.

    Anyway, I think we are talking mythologies here. Since the whole root of Derrida’s “trace” notion is that we don’t see what was before us, the science upon which you are basing your statement is still a mythology. The difference between your mythology and my own is the basis of each, I think. In my own mythology, I of course wasn’t around for the beginning of history. But I believe in an unseen present goodness that is at the origin, core or root of all that is and makes man. How that necessarily translates into chronological history of our primitive environment, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem essential to my mythology. To me, man was good but whacked out then, just as now.

    Your mythology is, it seems, is based on observation of either seen or evidential reality…as governed by reason. I am referring to how the theory of evolution was developed. Regardless, “natural selection” is based on observations on how the world works. The idea of man’s “original goodness,” however, is not based on any observable phenomena. Although evolution and natural selection purports to tell a story of what was long before any of us were around; in other words, its still a mythology.

    I don’t say that to disprove evolution and nautral selection. I’m just exploring where we meet and where we part ways.

    All that to say, though too, that I don’t think a return to an originary goodness is to make unnatural (or supernatural) that which is natural. Rather, the way I see it, nature “was” (OK – “is”) “originally” good, and “now” its whacked out.

    I think you and I actually sort of basically agree about why autonomation should or should not be disastrous. But regardless, I think Arendt’s point, not being a Delauzian, is that our being has been “territorialized” into our viewing ourselves as workers or laborers…what to do when there’s no labor to do?

    “To me, a better world would be one in which man uses his creative ability and industry to meet everyone’s need for potatoes. Then we would turn people’s work instinct toward creating and enhancing and helping rather than toward stimulating and meeting artificially induced demand.”

    I would agree. Except I would say that the “turning of the work instinct twoard creating and enhancing and helping” is a RE-turn to something original. I guess that would then provide a partial answer, then, too:

    “Is that a Christian ideal or a Marxist one?”

    What is Marx’s ground for wanting to establish such an ideal?

    Like

    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 1 June 2007 @ 9:26 pm

  21. A boss sitting next to you? I can see how that might cut into your blogging time.

    Chinatown was a movie directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson. Probably not worth elaborating on if you’ve not seen it — only a side thought, not a main point.

    “working to live in harmony with the land to bring forth what it was originally meant to bring forth” The point I’ve been trying to make is a response to your point: if man evolved in conditions of scarcity, in what way do the instincts fit in a world of plenty, whether that world is put in place by God or by man? The water springs up from the ground right now, thanks to sprinkler systems. What’s it like for a creature who evolved in the wilderness to find himself living in the garden?

    “It sounds to me here as if you are giving away your Protestant background (that part of my own Protestant background with which I am unsatisfied)? Protestants are on a kick against nature.”

    What the heck are you talking about? I’m referring to evolution, to human culture, to man’s innate ability to modify the natural world. Why do you feel that modifying nature — tools, agriculture, architecture, etc. — has to be a kick against nature?

    And I’m not talking about mythology, I’m talking about prehistory and history. Man evolved in an environment of scarcity; man has modified the environment to yield conditions of plenty. “the science upon which you are basing your statement is still a mythology.” No it’s not; it’s a theory that generates hypotheses that have survived large numbers of empirical attempts to falsify them. It’s no more a myth than gravity. Can you see gravity? No: you see the apple fall. Does that make gravity a myth? No: it makes gravity a theory supported by the empirical evidence provided by falling apples.

    On the other hand, I agree that your belief in the innate moral goodness of man and his subsequent fall into sin might be based on mythology — stories alleging to be historical but for which no testable hypotheses can be generated. I posted extensively here and elsewhere on what a true myth might mean, and concluded that it’s a problematic concept. Instead of relying on the mythic narrative you could assert on grounds of faith that man is good but corrupted, and I’d be more prone to listen. Nature in an evolutionary science context is morally neutral, so to claim innate goodness in man you’re invoking criteria about which evolution has nothing directly to say.

    “Rather, the way I see it, nature “was” (OK – “is”) “originally” good, and “now” its whacked out.” Well I guess here you’re backing out of the natural selection hypothesis altogether. Do you believe that there was no physical death in nature until after man sinned? Do you believe that man evolved in a garden and that only after he had become genetically modern human did man’s environment change from a garden to a wilderness? That when man started modifying the environment was also when man “went bad”?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 1 June 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  22. funny…will have to comment later, but just when i started reading your comment, i realized that i had forgotten to go back and revise/explain what i meant by “giving away your protestant background.” i skipped to where you commented on that in particular, and you started with “what the heck are you talking about?” lol. i will try and undig my hole later…

    Like

    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 2 June 2007 @ 12:13 am

  23. That is pretty funny.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 June 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  24. OK, I’m back. For one, I think it would help to make this a bit more personal…maybe. At my counselling session last night I talked about my apathy/anger waiting to surface every morning as I’m on my way to work, leading the magazine rack at 7-11 (or whatever else happens to come along) as the first of a series of waiting-to-pounce triggers. The relevant thing to this conversation is that the anger/apathy (anger if I decide to care for some odd reason) turned into a 30 minute conversation on Capitalism and its effecting my feelings of being “stuck” at work…going to work every day and participating in something with which I really don’t agree.

    For two…to head in a bit of a different direction…can we pretty much just forget what I said about your Protestant background? What I was referring to was the Protestant theology of our having “two natures,” rather than an original self and then sin. But you clearly aren’t Protestant…my comment was probably not helpful. It would have been better to approach what you were talking about more on your own terms.

    But before I go the personal route, there was some stuff in your last comment that is definitely worth addressing. I think you hit some good and important chords. The thing that really seems to get at the root of where the two of us are at (and then the mythology thing is related): “Well I guess here you’re backing out of the natural selection hypothesis altogether.”

    The thing is, yes and no. No, I’m not backing out of the theory of natural selection…in the sense that it is a theory about reality that is supported by the evidence of/in that observable reality. In that sense it can’t very well be denied; unless I decide to try and disprove it with some other thoery or hypothesis. As a Christian, though, I think that would very much not be the correct route. That they play the scientists’ “game” is my annoyance with both the evolution and the intelligent design folks within Christianity. Don’t worry though, I don’t get annoyed at the scientists themselves (or those who hold their positions outside of Christianity, such as yourself); they’re just doing their thing.

    Where I AM backing out of the theory of natural selction is in the sense that I don’t think it necessarily says anything about what is original about us. We who are observed and abservable here can make as accurate as possible theories about what is observable, but it leaves untouched both what is unobservable and how what is unobservable relates to what is observable.

    On top of that, natural selection is still a theory. And I don’t say that to invalidate it, but to say that it still has a relationship to what is not seen that bears a certain resemblance to “mythology.” Along those lines, I don’t read most mythologies as being “literal” histories anyway. I think that’s key. I doubt Homer actually/literally thought there were Cyclopse monsters on some island near Phoneicia or wherever. And I doubt the Greeks literally thought that Leda made love to a swan who was actually Zeus.

    I think the meanings of mythologies do not hinge on such “historical”/literal readings, but instead point to something “original” beyond what is literally/historically/actually “observable.” For example, in the Leda/Swan myth, it is in some texts stated that Helen (Leda’s daughter) was born not from Leda’s womb, but from an egg hatched by the goddess Nemesis. To me, since Leda is the queen of Sparta, this indicates a meaning in the text that points to something original but not “observable” about humanity. “If you eat of this tree, you will be like god.” Another example is the story in Plato’s Phaedrus of the tension between the Egyption king and god.

    I think the example from the Odyssey of the one-eyed monster living on some island is more difficult to explain, but serves as another very good example of a mythological story that points both to something “orignal” and to the relationship between what is original and what is observable. Hence only one eye, which is lost in the course of the story, causing a monstrous reaction from the zero-eyed monster, leading to the ironic answer from the king, “Tell them Nobody did it.” We would think that Odyssius’ answer was asking the cyclopse to lie (his name wasn’t “Nobody,” but “Odyssius!”), but the king was actually dispensing a truth unto the monster.

    So then: “The point I’ve been trying to make is a response to your point: if man evolved in conditions of scarcity, in what way do the instincts fit in a world of plenty, whether that world is put in place by God or by man? The water springs up from the ground right now, thanks to sprinkler systems. What’s it like for a creature who evolved in the wilderness to find himself living in the garden?”

    I really don’t know how to respond to that. It is here revealed that we are speaking from two different grounds, I think. I mean, I hear “instincts,” and for me an original but unobservable goodness and abundance supercedes the observable neutrality/badness and scarcity. So then for me, it is not a problem in my mind. Man’s “instincts” simply are a part of who he is and flow from what is original. He is made originally for life, and so go his instincts. To me, the instincts don’t necessarily have to be something that were developed in a certain set of historical/prehistorical circumstances. Unless that is the DEFINITION of “instincts,” in which case I have no problem throwing “instincts” out of my picture alltogether, pretty much. But I’m not sure if I’m actually answering your question. I hope so.

    Along similar lines, I think: “Do you believe that there was no physical death in nature until after man sinned?”

    I really don’t know. Apparently the unofficial Catholic doctrine is exactly that (“Original Justice”), but the text seems to indicate the opposite. In the text, man was removed from the garden specifically so that he may not eat from the tree of life and then live forever in a state of sin…which to me indicates that he was not going to live forever previously. But yet “Original Justice” makes a lot of sense to me, too. I really don’t know about this question.

    “Do you believe that man evolved in a garden and that only after he had become genetically modern human did man’s environment change from a garden to a wilderness? That when man started modifying the environment was also when man ‘went bad’?”

    No. I feel like your question is being asked from two different grounds of speech at once. From two different eyes looking in two different directions but asking one question, if you will. Like, I don’t think you can necessarily make perfect parallel correspondences between evolution/natural selection and the story of the Garden. Nor do I take that to be a problem. Evolution speaks its truth, based upon observable reality. The Garden has its voice, from someplace deeper (I think).

    For me, the Garden story takes precedence, so I see no reason for the bad stuff that comes with “natural selection” (lack, competition to the death) to be resolved when sin, as described in teh Garden story, is done away with. But for you, it seems, evolution/natural selection takes precedence (I think), so you are looking for ways for the Garden story to correspond with it (I think). Whereas I’m not too concerned with making sure that my Garden story corresponds perfectly with the story of evolution/natural selection. Although that does not mean that I think that natural selection is not necessarily true, on its own terms or grounds.

    So, I’m not sure how all that relates to: “Instead of relying on the mythic narrative you could assert on grounds of faith that man is good but corrupted, and I’d be more prone to listen.”

    But I know I have serious problems with: “Nature in an evolutionary science context is morally neutral, so to claim innate goodness in man you’re invoking criteria about which evolution has nothing directly to say.” That I have a problem with that is probably obvious to you, especially in light of what I said above in this comment. As I mentioned, I’m not too concerned with making sure that my Garden story falls in line with the evolution story. To me it should be the other way around.

    Also to me, the only way to find why the two stories were able to be separated was if you look at the history of modern sience…”the battle of the ancients and the moderns.” It was the scientists who separated faith and reason (and to their own ends), not the church or the ancients. It was only the Protestant Liberals later on who decided it was a good idea, which to me is dumb.

    Screw the personal stuff. This is already way too long, and we were talking about capitalism and marxism a couple comments up anyway…maybe/hopefully later…

    Jason

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 June 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  25. BTW, when I asked my arch. prof. (the main one, from whom I learned the most), “Well…for Marx…uuhh..what is the ground?” My prof. smiled mischeviously, and said, “All things melt into air.” At the time I took that only figuratively, but now I suppose I see that Marx himself, partially from Hegel, was telling an actual/literal hisotry. As I say that I am thinking of above where you were talking about man’s history/pre-history, instincts, natural selection, ect.; and as well I am thinking of what you were saying where mythology (figurative language) supposedly makes historical claims.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 2 June 2007 @ 9:15 pm

  26. I gotta go to bed, but I’m generally with you on the myth idea — there’s meaning and truth that’s illustrated by the story but that doesn’t insist on taking the story literally. More later, and the personal issues do interest me. And I’ll disregard the Protestant background thing.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 June 2007 @ 9:46 pm

  27. I just realized that I should clarify what I mean when I refer to competition to the death as a bad aspect of natural selection. You had already said that natural selection is not a free for all competition. But I’m just referring to the fact that some folks end up not valued or not as an integral part of the system of life. They die off. Whereas God values all folk and all things, without condition or limit.

    Like

    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 3 June 2007 @ 2:08 am

  28. “Tell them Nobody did it.” It’s kind of like God calling Himself Yahweh, or “I Am” — so every time you read Yahweh elohim in the Bible you read “I am God.” Maybe that’s why the Jews don’t pronounce the name.

    “From two different eyes looking in two different directions but asking one question.” You haven’t seen any photos of me, have you?

    Okay to all that about evolution and the Garden, I think I get it. There’s probably not much we can cover that’ll be a surprise to either of us. It makes sense that the Judeo-Christian discourse on God, man’s goodness and corruption, etc. be grounded in something other than biological origins.

    “It was the scientists who separated faith and reason (and to their own ends), not the church or the ancients.” This is an area of interest to me historically. I subscribe to the view that science was able to extricate itself from faith in reason (i.e., Aristotle, Aquinas) when the Reformers went back to the Bible for the grounds of their faith and belief. This reliance on evidence rather than authority became the foundation for empirical science, which not coincidentally emerged into dominance within the Protestant countries. That’s part of the irony of the PoMo evangelical position: Protestantism was the genesis of the Modernism that the post-evangelicals are now trying to slip out from under.

    But I say let’s return to the personal issues of your job — it’s the kind of thing I’m working on now.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 June 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  29. Lol, no I haven’t seen any photos of you. What, are you crosseyed from reading too much? Is that what I have to look foward to?

    Evolution and the Garden…okey dokey.

    “This reliance on evidence rather than authority became the foundation for empirical science, which not coincidentally emerged into dominance within the Protestant countries. That’s part of the irony of the PoMo evangelical position: Protestantism was the genesis of the Modernism that the post-evangelicals are now trying to slip out from under.”

    I think its ironic to those who just dress casually, use podiums instead of pulpits at church, continue to operate programmatically with a business-like structure, and call it PoMo. But I think some are actually well aware of what’s happening. I mean, one of the things Smith stated as being a measure for being “not postmodern enough” was hierarchical structure (or a lack thereof) in the church. I think that has to be taken contextually. I still don’t think Smith would be down with CEO style leadership in the church, which comes with programmatic operations.

    Anyway, I think this is why, among those for whom its not ironic, you are seeing a conscious return to things more catholic. Whereas I could imagine a church for whom the irony remains – in other words the church continues to operate essentially programmatically – and yet the church in question starts doing more catholic ritual-like stuff that is intended to be the technical solution to a mathematical set of problems. My church is exactly such an example of one who is doing more ritual-like stuff, but for whom the irony remains (I think).

    Interestingly, my pastor has a Psychology background (in college); I think you guys would heartily disagree on the proper psychological practice (in terms of the question of technical solutions). Guess where I would stand?

    As far as capitalism, my job and I…there are many emotins in my regarding all of that, I have suddenly realized. As of my counselling session Fri. night, I realized that they aren’t just something that come out at certain times or on certain days at work when certain of my architectural values are violated. Its more of something I carry around with me every day, even when I’m not working, since my work is such a big part of who I am. Especially since I’m a prophet, and I view my character/role in largely in terms of what I speak forth into the world, so to speak (“vocation”/”calling”).

    The emotions…there is a general and underlying sadness in me at the loss of what seems like even the possibility for true architecutre – globally. There is a deeply underlying resentment and anger at the system and at those close to me who seem to be carried away into or by the system to find their value, place, image or identity in the world. These folks close to me, to a degree, determine what I do every day at work (my bosses). And that underlying anger only really manifests itself at certain times when I am confronted with very concrete situations at work – such as when I certain stupid and ugly aspects of a building that I had noticed AS being stupid and ugly I come to realize as having been regulated or determined by the money-machine. These are the moments when I decide to care; that’s when I get angry. Otherwise its just like a light and constantly blowing breeze of apathy upon my soul.

    Then there are those times, like toward the end of my counselling session Fri. night, when a certain underlying hope and peace in my soul are manifested in my bodily state. These are the times when I believe that goodness, truth and justice not only will and do reign, but will ultimately happen (my counsellor is Christian). Of course, it seems, the hope and the anger are inseparably interwoven like some fabric whose pattern I don’t quite know exactly. Funnily, though, my counsellor was just trying to get me to FEEL my anger, rather than just carrying it around resentfully.

    How this relates to WHY I’m in counselling…I carry all this around…the resentment, anger, sadness, apathy, ect…and it makes the “triggers,” such as the magazine rack at 7-11, appealing. Or maybe all those negative emotions makes me into an easy target (esepcially condisering the fact that they are really underlying emotions). But anyway, after the triggers lead to actions, then I feel like a dummy for falling into the worst of the system about which I am angry (even if I don’t end up spending any money on a given occasion…I used to spend LOTS).

    Like

    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 4 June 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  30. Oh…and I’m still in the process of getting out of the financial hole I had dug for myself, too. So then when I “act out”…like…its still there, even if I don’t spend money. And that’s besides the point of the simple moral stupidity of the action in question.

    Like

    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 4 June 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  31. Your work experiences are similar to my own. Excellence is sacrificed for expedience and market considerations. Even people who have earned the opportunities to take risks in the name of excellence rarely do so. It seems that people in a position to do something different get there precisely because they’re not interested in or capable of doing anything different. I’m not one for pushing hope, but I do hope you’ll stick with your commitment to your calling/vocation. Maybe some strange avenue will open up that you’re not expecting.

    “the hope and the anger are inseparably interwoven like some fabric whose pattern I don’t quite know exactly. Funnily, though, my counsellor was just trying to get me to FEEL my anger, rather than just carrying it around resentfully.”

    It’s interesting that your counselor was trying to get you to feel your anger rather than trying to suppress it. This seems right: somehow pushing through to the other side of anger. And maybe resentment isn’t such a bad response to compromise in the name of money. I don’t mean envy, or even the feeling personally stifled (which I don’t doubt is the case), but the resentment that people allow and encourage such a system to persist. Hope and anger intertwined: it might be fun to watch what sort of pattern emerges from that combination.

    It’s probably better to go through to the other side of the anger toward something positive, rather than to let it get hooked up with all the other guilt-inducing behaviors you’re drawn to. I find repeatedly that when I get mad I turn myself into the asshole by blowing up. I think it’s because, though I feel justified in my anger, I also feel guilty about it, so I let the anger carry me out of control into a place where I definitely feel guilt. It’s stupid.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 4 June 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  32. “It seems that people in a position to do something different get there precisely because they’re not interested in or capable of doing anything different.” This does seem true. There’s some stuff in the Psalms about that.

    “I’m not one for pushing hope, but I do hope you’ll stick with your commitment to your calling/vocation. Maybe some strange avenue will open up that you’re not expecting.” That’s funny to me. Thanks. I heard some encouraging words last night from some close friends, too. An engineer friend, whose relationship with me about five years ago started off a bit on the rocky said, said he thought I was really smart, and could help “open people up…but only certain people who will get it.” He laughed when he said, “but only certain people will get it,” but that seems to be the kink in my chain sometimes.

    And yeah, I don’t feel personally stifled by the money holding’s of others….more by what “we” hold valuable as a society. That’s sort of what you meant by feeling resentful that everyone encourages the system to persist, I think. As far as resentment being a good compromise…I don’t know about that. Resentment doesn’t strike me as the mean between exteremes to which Aristotle referred, lol. I mean, it seems to me to be another unhealthy form of “passive silence.” When I hear “resentment,” I still hear the death of my soul with the same note.

    “It’s probably better to go through to the other side of the anger toward something positive, rather than to let it get hooked up with all the other guilt-inducing behaviors you’re drawn to.” Thanks for the encouragement again. I’d agree…although I’m not sure how much it matters that I agree. I’m still struggling with practicing it, which is the part that counts, I think.

    And thanks for sharing your personal experiences. I’d assume Anne takes it well (based on the way I’ve seen you guys interact). And from her stories on her blog, it seems like you haven’t alienated your daughter with your blowups. Maybe the get handled pretty well after the fact, with both you and Anne being trained in psychology and all…I dunno.

    Like

    Comment by Jaosn Hesiak — 5 June 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  33. Thanks for your thoughts. I dunno either, about a lot of things, anger and resentment being high on the list.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 5 June 2007 @ 9:04 pm


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