This I Believe

I believe that humans live in a constructed world composed of myths, propaganda, lies, half-truths, ideas, social relationships, and the individual itself. 

I believe that I will disappear without a trace.  I suppose I might leave some ashes but ashes get discarded and monuments eventually are reused for their stone.

Perhaps I’ll leave behind some art.  But paintings, sculpture, and literature are mostly thrown away.

I’d like to be exceptional but given the few famous historical figures and their works that come to my mind compared to all who have ever been, the odds on fame are low.  I will be one of 9 billion contemporaries, at least some of whom are very creative and interesting people.  None of them know me and I really don’t know any of them except through the news, which generates myth.

Whatever I believe about myself and the world will disappear when I disappear.

Perhaps science will save me, make me live longer, but sooner or later fatal accidents happen.  If I’m careful, I’ll die of boredom.

Even if I have a genius for life, who I am now is not likely to be who I am a thousand years from now any more than I now resemble myself as a baby.

I suppose I might make some anonymous contribution to my culture but cultures come and go, leaving crumbling ruins and undecipherable scripts.  Most folks now don’t care much about the past.  History will dissolve me.

Even the earth, that cracked crust covering a ball of molten rock, even that will disappear as the sun grows.

Even in some science-fiction imagination whereby future generations carry my name etched in golden plates beyond the death of the sun, beyond the heat-death of the universe, even if they were so incredibly devoted to my memory of my reputation, I couldn’t possibly know any of that now.  And after all, how could they possibly get it right?

Perhaps I’m wrong about the gods; I don’t think I’m right about very much.  But even so, why would a god of all of space and time and matter and energy care about me or us or even our own plain little corner of the universe?

That’s what I believe but that’s not how I live.

I believe I am stuck in the present with dreams of the future and nightmares of the past.

I live in a world of beliefs, expectations, words, ideas, dreams, plans, conversations, memories, fantasies, histories, scientific theories, nightmares, moon rises, parties, families, phobias, injuries, pleasures, musicians, paintings, movies, enemies, jokes, and paradoxes that evolve too fast to be analyzed.  My life contains beliefs and is not contained by them.

A belief is one of the many props of personality, one of the weapons with which the person defends the emptiness of the inner being hungering for dominance over the Other.

 

The End of the Enlightenment

If I want to get to the bottom of things, I have to ask a good question and here it is…

How did we let President Cheney bamboozle us into the murderous war on Iraqi civilians?  

How he pulled off the war is clear enough.  Bill Moyer’s The Selling of the War provides some answers.  Any newspaper article or TV news program provides more.  But how did we let him mislead us into the war?  Are they brilliant?  Are we stupid?  

Here is my solution.  

The unconscious is suspicious, fearful, aggressive, impulsive, ignorant, inarticulate, and domineering.  It hungers for its object and thus is the source of our distinction.  It drives us to recognize the Other as friend or foe.  It cannot be seen or controlled.  It can only be interpreted.  

Driven by paranoid fear and sadistic aggressiveness, our inarticulate unconscious breathes through the mask of personality, which forms words and sentences.  In the encounter with the Other, personality is created and recreated in the moment. The personality is formed socially by alliance and enmity.  

The social identification of the Other as a foe harmonizes with the paranoid unconscious and creates the personality.  We don’t need to know anything about the enemy, only that it is the enemy.  The enemy of our enemy is our friend.  The friend of our enemy is our enemy.  The social identification of the enemy creates our personality.  We become who we are in war.  We recognize each other in combat.  

The mob is the common hatred of the Other, making a closed, familiar system.  The Other is included in our circle.  We could not exist without the Other.  It’s not possible to destroy the Other.  

There is no essential person beneath the mask.  The idea of oneself is yet another utterance breathed through the mask.  You can only see yourself socially.  Integrity is an utterance that insists on wearing one mask, a single face.  Meditation is an effort at integrity.  

There is no logic or reason beneath the mask.  There is only the will to dominate, to order things.  

Cultures cannot learn.  Only the mask, that which gives shape to our primal howl of fear and rage, can learn.  We are neither the unconscious nor the mask.  We are only the thinnest of membranes sufficient to keep the inside from the outside.  

The unconscious will to dominate encounters opposition and cooperation.  A social action is the vector sum of all its wills.  

Warriors and anti-warriors are exactly alike in their differences.  

Thus warrior and anti-warrior, the slayers and the slain, join up and do the dance of death, the music of empire.