Thoughts on nihilism: the absence of the ‘belief show’

Here’s a thought I had:

Recently, I was thinking about nihilism.  I began to mention some things about it that were interesting.

First of all, I said that nihilism is nothing but the fact that there is no ‘belief show’.  I first mentioned the ‘belief show’ in an article called “A time when shamanistic ‘journeying’ scared me . . . I thought I was going mad: questioning shamanism – the ‘belief show’“.  ‘Belief show’ refers to a need that, in order to establish a belief, we need to have the belief demonstrated in some way . . . we don’t just say “I believe” and that’s it.  Because of this, belief needs to have a performance, a ‘show’, to demonstrate it, and to manifest its fact.  This appears a number of ways:

  • Through a ‘rehearsing’, often of a legend or myth.
  • Through festivals celebrating aspects of belief (such as the birth of Christ).
  • Having belief demonstrated or seen around you (such as by people’s behavior, statutes, temples, etc.)
  • Seeing other people participate in various version of ‘belief show’.
  • As a way of life and world view.

Nowadays, there is really no performance of belief anymore . . . the ‘belief show’ has largely disappeared.  We live in an era where there is no demonstration of belief.  This causes a tendency to have no belief:  nihilism.

Normally, the loss of belief is looked in ways such as these:

  • That we have nothing to believe in.
  • That we have too much to believe in and, because of this, don’t know what to believe in.
  • Because we have been so disappointed by things we simply don’t know what to believe.

In fact, it appears, to me, that these are actually examples of the result of losing belief (the ‘belief show’) more than the cause of the loss of belief.  The root problem, it seems, is that we have no way to believe because there is no way for it to be demonstrated.  As a result, belief is as if ‘put on hold’ and stopped from developing which eventually creates a lack of belief or nihilism.  In other words, nihilism isn’t just “not believing in anything” but the result of an impairment in the ability to believe because one of the mechanisms of demonstrating belief (the ‘belief show’) is not there.  To put it another way, we don’t believe because we have nothing to believe in but because we have no way in which to believe.  As a result, the absence of the ‘belief show’ tends to cause a deterioration in belief. 

This shows a number of interesting points about belief:

  • That there is a close association between belief and the ‘belief show’.
  • That belief is a ‘language’ all its own.  The ‘belief show’ is a medium of that ‘language’.
  • That belief is a ‘medium of expression’ which is why it requires a ‘belief show’. 
  • That belief entails other aspects of our self other than our conscious and overt self.
  • That belief is not a matter of individualistic power, that it is not rooted in the fact that a person says “I believe” or “I agree with the belief”.
  • It shows that belief is not rooted in ‘logic’ and the need for things to make sense.

In this ‘era of individualism and logic’ people tend to emphasize only the logical or individual aspects of belief (that is, whether it ‘makes sense’ or the fact that one ‘accepts’ it).  This, in actuality, is getting belief all wrong . . . no wonder this modern point of view can’t find belief!   The ‘belief show’ reveals that belief needs many more things than individualism and logic can offer.


The ‘belief show’ manifests its power in many different ways.  This is because belief reaches to many aspects of our self.  Because of this, belief entails many manifestations to become real and to reach the many levels of our self.  In many ways, one of the weakness’s of belief is that it requires so many manifestations.  But the myriad conditions of life create a slew of situations and conditions that disrupt, alter, destroy, and undermine the manifestations of belief.  In this way, belief often is ‘hanging on a thread’.  Some of the things that cause this include:

  • The existence of different and competing belief systems.
  • A change in way of life (as belief is intimately rooted with way of life).
  • A change in population (which seems to cause changes in belief).
  • A change in society and social conditions.

Things like these create conditions that hinder the manifestation of belief and, therefore, alter the ‘belief show’, generally by undermining it.  As a result, it becomes apparent that belief is, in actuality, actually a fragile affair, very reactive to conditions, and easily undermined or destroyed.   This conflicts with the common held view that belief is ‘solid’ and the ‘base’ of life.  The evidence points that, if a person believes then it is ‘solid’ and the ‘base’ of life but belief, by itself, is very fragile.  This is another way of saying that it is the people who believe that truly make belief.  It is not a ‘force’ of itself.  It has power because people give it the power of belief.

Passive Manifestations

The ‘belief show’ entails many passive manifestations.  By ‘passive’ I mean that it takes no real effort on the part of the person.  A person basically ‘follows along’.  This is done a number of ways, such as:

  • The belief is something that is seen and observed.
  • It is not instigated by us.  Because it is ‘happening before us’ it tends to give it a ‘life of its own’.
  • It often is repetitive in life.

Some good examples of this are ceremonies, festivals, and rituals.

The effects of these is that they make things a ‘fact’, something that is there, but not something we actively participate in.  We primarily watch and observe and, in so doing, it instills its fact upon us.  This puts them in our ‘consciousness’ and makes us aware of them.  Passive manifestations, by themselves, create people who ‘play along’.  This creates a passive form of belief which tends to be weak and easily shaken despite the fact that the beliefs are viewed as ‘all-powerful’ and invincible.  In fact, its so weak that people who only emphasize this element, even though they are in an environment of great belief (such as a formal religion or primitive tribe), tend to easily lose belief (as I’ll discuss below).

The ‘playing along’ creates something like an illusion.  They appear to believe when in the environment of belief but are slow to lose it when they are away.  This shows that the passive manifestations, really, is a manifestation of environment, of its demonstration before them.  This is ‘environment-demonstrated belief’.  Basically, the demonstration of belief, in the environment, maintains the belief in people.

In actuality, the ‘environment-demonstrated belief’ seems to create a number of effects:

  • Its  keeps belief going.
  • It makes belief consistent within a body of people.
  • It keeps the belief ‘on the peoples mind’, so they can access it when they need it.

These are all elements that maintain belief in a society.  As a result, the passive manifestation is crucial in the social situation.

Active Manifestations

But it takes more than passive manifestations to create a ‘belief show’ and make belief.  Just ‘watching it’ is not enough.  There must be active elements to give it life in ones life.  These include things such as:

  • Participation.
  • Some form of association with an aspect of belief.
  • A tendency to ‘deliberate belief’ (that is, of maintaining and developing belief for ones own self).

Some good examples of this include prayer, participating in ritual, actively practicing aspects of belief (such as certain observances, rituals, and customs), etc.

The active manifestations tend to create people who are actively involved with their belief and creates an active belief style.  Because of its active nature it tends to hit deep within a person.  As a result, the active manifestation is crucial in personal growth and development.  In contrast to the environment based quality of the passive manifestation it requires a lot of the ‘inner person’ to maintain and keep it going.  As a result, one could describe it as an ‘interior-based belief’.  This makes it so that the active manifestation is crucial on a personal level.  In some ways, it makes it so that belief pierces a person like a spear.

‘Levels’ of belief

These two manifestations shows that there are ‘levels’ in the manner of belief in a population of people, for not everyone is the same.  In a ‘believing society’ (that is, where the bulk of the people believe in a specific belief system) there tends to be gradations going which range from passive manifestation to active manifestation, revealing different levels of belief in a society:

  • An attitude of blind obeyance – “just following along”.
  • A culture-bound belief – “being a part of society”.
  • A ‘personal’ belief system – actively practicing customs and traditions of belief.
  • A deep interior-based belief – becoming a priest, monk, etc.

This means that, in a society, there are all levels existingIndividual people, though, tend to focus on a specific level depending on their inclination, abilities, and conditions.  This is quite significant and shows that there are two elements in belief:

  1. The social element – this is primarily passive
  2. The individual element – this is primarily active

For some people, the active elements of the ‘belief show’ plays a bigger part in life than others.  In fact, the ‘belief show’ can become a way of life.  In this case, life, as a whole, becomes a show or demonstration of their beliefs.  There are many ways this appears:

  • As a cultural phenomena.  In many societies this point of view is part of the culture and way of life.  Because of this, it often entails a large part of the population, which is usually quite small.  This is particularly pronounced in many primitive tribes, for example.
  • As a social phenomena.   In many societies the society will give special place and functions for people to display the ‘belief show’ as a way of life.  Good examples are priests and monks.
  • As a personal phenomena.  Many people will develop a spirituality, on their own, in order to satisfy the need for a more active ‘belief show’.

In a ‘believing society’, the ‘belief show’ tends to play a big part in society and there are many people who live the ‘belief show’ as a way of life.  This further ingrains belief into the culture and minds of the people and tends to strengthen it.  The effect of this, oftentimes, is to create a greater bond between the people and create a stronger society.

The importance of an ‘Active Belief System’

In an article called “Thoughts on defining shamanism: an ‘active belief system’” I defined what I call an ‘active belief system’ and a ‘passive belief system’.  In the ‘active belief system’ people see their beliefs demonstrated as an active and living entity in their life.  They see the gods decisions in events that happens, for example.  In the ‘passive belief system’ this is seen very little or not at all.  Often, the belief system is based on imitating or learning already established beliefs, rituals, etc. which they replicate.  They also tend to rely on religious texts and legends as an example in life, which they often try to replicate or emulate.  The active element has disappeared.

History tends to show that there is a tendency for the ‘active belief system’ to degrade into the ‘passive belief system’ with changing conditions, such as overpopulation, for example.  When this happens there becomes a change in the ‘belief show’.  Basically, with the deterioration of the ‘active belief system’, and the coming of the ‘passive belief system’, the active manifestations of the ‘belief show deteriorated as well . . . passive manifestations tend to become more prevalent.  But, as I mentioned above, the active manifestations are what make belief hit deep within a person.  Its absence has, accordingly, destroyed the deep hitting aspect of belief.  Many people, nowadays, have no sense of an ‘active belief system’ and certainly demonstrate no active manifestation of belief.  Their passive outlook, created by the modern ‘passive belief system’, naturally makes them look at things from a ‘passive’ viewpoint, expecting things to automatically ‘make sense’ and be demonstrated before them.  I have often been stunned how many people expect religion, for example, to automatically answer everything and answer all their questions, while they sit passively to the side in their lounge chairs.

With the coming of the ‘passive belief system’ the belief becomes somewhat weak and frail, as described above.  As a result, belief tends to waver easily and fall easily leading to a lack of belief:  nihilism.   Because of this, one could very well say that nihilism, then, is rooted in the deterioration and absence of an ‘active belief system’.  Once the ‘active belief system’ fails, all that’s left is the passive manifestation.  Typically, this is not strong enough to maintain itself and, as a result, belief tends to falter.

What all this reveals is that the great strength of belief is in the active manifestation . . . the passive manifestation are really supportive.  As a result, a purely passive-based belief tends to lead to no belief at all . . . nihilism.  In other words, nihilism is a condition created by a ‘passive belief system’.  This seems to show a historic progression:

  1. An ‘active belief system’ with active and passive manifestations.
  2. A ‘passive belief system’ with passive manifestations and some remnants of active manifestations.
  3. A ‘passive belief system’ with passive manifestations.
  4. Nihilism.

Though these conditions are primarily social they tend to have great impact on the person.  They make it so that there is a continual ‘losing hold’ of belief by the individual person (that is, its losing an active role in their life).  This shows that the fall of belief is, in some sense, a result of the failure of the person.  This failure is primarily because the person cannot stand up against the social/historic conditions that they are in . . . instead, they respond to it.  In this way, the failure of belief ,or nihilism, is a testament to the weakness and powerlessness of the individual person to life’s conditions and realities.   This fact is further represented in the fact that a person cannot just say “I believe” and that’s it, as is often claimed (such as by Christianity and the individualists).  Belief requires much more.  A person needs a way to demonstrate belief, the ‘belief show’, for it to be manifested and to become a reality in their life.  But the ‘belief show’ is influenced by various conditions and realities of life.  When these disrupt the ‘belief show’ so does belief become disrupted which can, in some cases, utterly destroy belief . . . nihilism. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., Dehumanization and alienation, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the ‘alien issue': peoples need to believe in the Divine when they can’t

Here’s a thought I had:

I have often chuckled at all the different statements about aliens.  In fact, its become a joke for me to say that aliens are the cause of everything.  If there’s bad weather . . . aliens caused it.  If there’s a tragedy anywhere . . . aliens caused it.  If someone does something stupid . . . aliens caused it, obviously with their ‘mind rays’.  I also jokingly speak of any bad event as a sign that the aliens are going to invade soon.  Not only that, anything that can’t be explained . . . aliens did it.  For me, its become a thing I joke about.

But, for many people, its not a joke . . . they believe it.  The claims of aliens as the source of many things has gone to extreme and absurd lengths.  Its practically created a whole new belief system about aliens, of what they are, what they do, and what their intentions are.  I sometimes speak of this as the ‘alien issue’.

Some of the things spoken of in the ‘alien issue’ include:

  • That aliens will cure everything and may even prolong our lives.  In this way, they are our saviors.
  • That aliens will give us advanced knowledge and a better society.  Often, they are perceived as ‘advanced’.
  • That the aliens built the pyramids, great monoliths, and other great structures of the past as our ancestors were to “primitive” to do it.
  • The idea that “the discovery that aliens exist will change everything.”  This refers to this idea that their discovery will somehow rock human reality to the core.
  • The idea that “the existence of aliens will show that we are not the only ones in the universe” or the “we are not alone”.  This is often treated as if it will be some great revelation.
  • The debate on whether a person believes in aliens or not.  This often is taken in the same context of if one believes in god or not.  I’ve even heard of people speaking of the “believers” and “non-believers” in relation to aliens, as if the “believers” have been initiated into some great truth.
  • That the aliens are the source and origin of the idea of our ‘gods’.  In this way, they are the gods of our ancestors.  To put it another way, our ancestors mistook aliens for gods because the aliens were so “advanced”.
  • That the aliens have interbred with humans and, as a result, we are actually ‘half alien’.  This is where our “advanced” nature originates from . . . its not a human trait . . . the “alien gene” gave it to us.
  • Then there is the idea that we are actually descended from aliens who came here from another planet and inhabited earth.

These are all outrageous claims in my opinion, more on the lines of science fiction than a serious belief system.  But, amazingly, many people believe these things as fact.  We must remember that aliens are only an ‘idea’, a possibility . . . no one has seen them . . . they exist purely in the imagination.  But, yet, there has been all these claims about them that are treated as if they are fact.  In this way, aliens have been treated as fact and have become real for many people, even though no one has seen them.

But the idea of an ‘alien’ is really nothing more than a ‘blank canvas’ in which to paint anything one wants to.  In other words, anything can be painted on to the image of an alien.  One can create a good alien, a bad alien, and, if one wants, even a gay alien, and they have been painted in many different ways.  The examples I gave above have described good aspects that aliens are supposed to bring us but aliens have also been painted in a bad and even horrifying way, such as by bringing conflict and war, using humans for food or labor, and so on.  These bad images of aliens, though, do not bring the devotee’s as the alien-as-savior theme which is what the ‘alien issue’ primarily revolves around.


After many years of watching the ‘alien issue’ I can’t help but see another side to it.  From what I have seen it appears that what a lot of the ‘alien issue’ is about is the fact that people want to believe in the Divine (namely, god and religion) but are unable to for some reason.  The ‘alien issue’ allows a means for this need to be manifested and brought out and satisfied.  This condition is created as a result of a number of things, such as:

  • The failure of religion.  The conflicts, disputes, and drama of the religious issue, at least in Western society, has left much of the population with a bad taste in their mouth in regard to religion.  Many people don’t want to have anything to do with religion because of the problems it has, or continues, to cause.  This has created a tendency for many people to be unable to believe in any organized religion and, even, the idea of a god.  This frustration in belief has even helped cause an atheism in some people which, in reality, disguises a religious need that is unfulfilled (I have written an article on this called “Thoughts on how “atheism” reflects a religious need in people“).  In many ways, the ‘alien issue’ is another avenue of this same frustration with religion seen with atheism.  Basically, its religious need turned in a new direction that does not appear to be ‘religious’ but really is.
  • The coming of science as the new belief system.  With the failure of religion science has often been promoted as the ‘new savior’ and belief system.  Science is now promoted as the ‘truth’.  Because of this, it has become the ‘accepted belief system’ instead of religion.  As a result, any ‘truth’ must be related to science in some way.  This creates a need for science in any ‘truth’.
  • The failure of science as a belief system.  Despite all that science offers it does not satisfy the ‘religious need’ for the Divine in life that people have . . . people need to believe in more in life, and they need mystery in life as well.  In this way, science has actually failed as a belief system and a bringer of ‘truth’ (I wrote an article involving this called “Thoughts on how we are in the “post-science era”“).
  • The human need for the Divine in life.   Because science has become the current accepted belief system, it has made many people try to create what can be described as a ‘scientifically supported religious belief system’.  The ‘alien issue’ is just one of these belief systems, a half-scientific, half-religious belief system that satisfies the scientific explanation but, also, the religious need.  In this way, the alien becomes the new Divine being, that is, the new god.  In that way, aliens replace the god that ‘people of science’ are not permitted to have.  As a result of this, aliens take on all these mystical powerful and awesome qualities, becoming almost god-like.  The need for god appears in the alien-as-god, cloaked in all this ‘mystical magical power’.

The historical conditions that began these starts with the Protestant Reformation where Martin Luther broke from the Roman Catholic church causing a split in religion.  This caused much religious conflict, disputes, and arguments over the years, including many wars.  All this caused a doubting of religion which eventually created what is often called the Enlightment, which offered logic and science as the ‘new answer’ and the ‘new savior’ instead of religion.  The Protestant Reformation and Enlightment took place primarily from the 1500’s to the 1700’s and created a great dilemma and crisis in Western society that is still going on.  In many ways, we are only living in the wake of this dilemma.  In this way, the ‘alien issue’ can be described as a result of the conditions created by the Protestant Reformation and Enlightment that continue on down to today.  Because of this, religion and science permeate this point of view.     


I was often stunned when people seemed to think that the discovery of aliens will “change everything” and so on.  Why should it?  I tend to view this as people wanting a ‘revelation’ of some sort to give a grounding on their alien-based belief system.  They’re hoping the discovery will bring this about.  In effect, they’re wanting something to give an ‘absolute certainty’ to their belief system.  This is because, remember, they aren’t permitted to believe.  As a result, any belief they have (even in aliens) rests on uncertain and unstable ground.  The discovery of aliens will dispel this and create certainty, which they need, and science does not offer

Some people think the discovery of aliens will have drastic effects on human reality, as if some great truth will be revealed to us as a result.  Its as if the discovery of aliens will shake humanity to its very center.  Perhaps it will change us all?  This, in my opinion, is really showing the need for religion and the need for a spirituality.  What they’re speaking of is an ‘inner transformation’ that the spirituality of religion tends to cause.  They are unable to find it because ‘inner transformation’ requires a belief in religion . . .

I’ve even heard of many references to this idea that the discovery of aliens will show that “we are not alone in the universe”.  I’ve heard some people make a big deal about this.  Why is this so important?  Of course, I know that this is a reference to a spiritual loneliness . . . again, a reference to the need for belief.  The question of being “alone in the universe” really refers to this absence of a sense of god that ‘surrounds us’ and permeates everything (which is reflected in their idea of the “universe”).  In many ways, its like saying “I have no sense of god but want one”.

Personally, I feel that the discovery of an alien, though it may cause great commotion at first, will basically be no different than discovering a new ‘species’ of living thing, except now it is extra-terrestrial.  Like the moon landing, it will be big news at first but, after the shock disappears, it will probably be ignoredI have no reason to believe that they will come in space ships and be “advanced” . . . that’s nice modern thinking.  I am inclined to think that an alien is more likely to be anything from a single cell-like thing, to a plant, to a small creature rather than some highly “advanced creature” in space ships ready to “save” us.


As mentioned above, the ‘alien issue’ is rooted in the religion versus science dispute which has, as one of its elements, a belief in science or, rather, the modern world.  Because of this, the ‘alien issue’ has many references to the worship of science and the modern world.  As a result of this, behind a lot of the ‘alien issue’ is really a display of modern arrogance.  This is why aliens are often viewed as being part of an “advanced society” which has this uncanny resemblance to ideals of the modern world:  knowledge, advanced society, and such.  In this way, aliens are often viewed as representing the ideals of the modern world.  This fact shows how much the ‘alien issue’ is very much rooted in scientific discovery and modern inventions, showing its great connection with the scientific movement.

A good example of this arrogance are some of the explanations of the great achievement of the past, such as the pyramids.  There are often two themes associated with their explanation:

  1. Since science views the past as “primitive”, the people of the past could not of created these great achievements . . . something else must of created them (i.e. aliens).  This assumes that the people of the past are dumb and stupid and shows an arrogance and bias toward the modern world.
  2. Everything tends to be compared to our scientific and modern world.  The construction of the pyramids, for example, is looked at from the point of view of “how would we do it?”  It never seems to occur to anyone that maybe the people of the past found a way to do it that we are not seeing.  The fact is that, in the past, there are so many great achievement in the world that its quite apparent, at least to me, that we are overlooking something that was obvious to them.  No doubt, this is because of our scientific-biased point of view, which makes people think that they had to of used, for example, cranes, heavy machinery, and such . . . this is only how we would of done it.  Since they didn’t have them they couldn’t of done it.  In addition, if we cannot figure out how they did it then its assumed that they couldn’t of done it.  It must be something miraculous that did it (that is, aliens).  All points of view are based on our views of things now.

In this way, the aliens have become a way to explain the achievements of the people of the past that we cannot explain.  This, of course, supports their ‘god-like’ qualities (religion) and their “advanced” nature (science).

Unfortunately, its also treating our ancestors like a bunch of idiots who aren’t capable of anything, which reveals that behind the ‘alien issue’ is a poor view of our ancestors.  This point of view is common with science which tends to view the people of the past as ‘backward’ or ‘primitive’.  As a result of this viewpoint, the existence of the great achievements of the past have perplexed many scientists who view our ancestors as incapable of doing anything like that.  Because of this, the existence of aliens gives an answer to this perplexing question.


Do I believe aliens exist?

My stance is that “I’ll believe them when I see them.”  I do not discount their existence.  I’ll believe them only where there is something to believe in.  But, more importantly, why should I?  What purpose does it serve me?  Why should I care at this point?  To me, its like saying “do you believe that there is a rock out in space that, if you look at it at the right angle, you can see a profile of George Washington?”  Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t.  Does it really matter?  So, to me, its purely speculative and fantasizing.

I’ve heard many people say, “with all the planets out there, odds are that there are aliens out there somewhere”.   That sounds like good math and science but it still doesn’t mean that there is anything out there or that I should care.  To me, its like a form of ‘scientifically proven hope’, making hope mathematically possible . . . again, another example of the blending of science and religion (hope) that is such a part of the ‘alien issue’.

In addition, I would think that, if they had space ships, we would of seen definite proof somewhere by now.  With all the radar, photos, and such, I would think there would of been something definite.  All the accounts I have heard of about alien space ships are nothing but UFO’s . . . . unidentified flying objects . . . we don’t know what it is.  Nothing is definite . . . and this has been going on too long.  I don’t count ‘indefinites’ as proof of aliens.


It appears, at least to me, that much of the fascination and debate on the existence of aliens is really nothing but people wanting to believe in something ‘beyond human’, that is, the Divine or god.  It reflects, really, a religious need.  Aliens are a good avenue for this.  They are a mysterious entity that are ‘out there’ somewhere, much like the Divine or god.  Because of this, aliens have become somewhat equated with the Divine or god.  This makes it so that people tend to believe that aliens often have god-like qualities, ascribing them great power and ability.  In effect, they are only creating a new image of god, one that they can accept in their scientific world.  They are forced to do this because the society in which they are in, which glorifies science, will not allow them to believe in god.  The image of the alien as if remedies this situation by blending the scientific possibility of aliens with the idea of god creating a unique image of aliens.  In this way, aliens have no longer become aliens but ‘god-aliens’, an image of the Divine, for many people.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Other stuff, Religion and religious stuff, Science and technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More thoughts on ‘world worth’

Recently, I have spoken of what I called ‘world worth’ (see my article “More thoughts on “the male exodus” – the importance of a world that is worth the effort or ‘world worth’“).  This is a reference to an association between a person and the world.  To be more specific, it refers to the world being worthwhile to associate with.  In general, it is a ‘male thing’ and tends to reflect male psychology.  So far I’ve seen no trace of it in females.

‘World worth’ describes some interesting points:

  • It is an association between a person and the world.
  • It states that the world is something that needs to ‘draw us in’.  In other words, just because its there does not mean that we automatically want to associate with it.
  • The world needs to ‘do something’.
  • We also need to ‘do something’.

In effect, ‘world worth’ describes a situation where a persons association with the world is based in the fact that both must ‘do something’ to as if ‘draw each other in’ In this way, an association is created between the person and the world.  This describes a mutual association with each other.  In this sense, one could say that it describes the world as if it were someone who we ‘associate with’.  In this way, the world as if becomes a ‘person’.  As a result, we have many experiences with the world that are not unlike the experiences we have with other people:

  • We have a ‘love affair’ with the world.
  • We grow to hate the world.
  • We grow tired of the world.
  • We get disgusted with the world.

In other words, all the myriad feelings we feel with an association with another person we feel with the world.  In this way, the world as if ‘comes alive’ and lives for us, assuming that we give it its worth and associate with it.


This point of view tends to be different from the standard modern perception of associating with the world which tends to describe the world as ‘dead’ or ‘inanimate’.  This makes it so that one cannot ‘associate with the world as it is dead’.  This is one of the reasons why the modern point of view creates a degraded world relationship.  This is what I see nowadays.  In the world that I was brought up in the world is treated as something that’s just ‘there’ and something that we ‘use’.  I call this the ‘abandon-the-world point of view’.   It tends to do things such as:

  • Being that the world is ‘dead’ it makes it so that the individual person is all that’s left.  This is the ‘individual-only perspective’.  The world is inanimate and only important in relation to how it affects us.
  • The absence of a living world creates a particular type of loneliness.   This can be described as ‘world loneliness’.  In short, the emphasis on the individual person, as a result of the ‘deadening’ of the world, makes us all alone in the world . . . we’re the only ones there.

With this point of view the world often seems remote and distance.  This is particularly surprising as these people often tend to glorify being ‘in the world’, doing things like fishing, camping, mountain climbing, and such.  But, if one looks closer one can see that one of the traits of this point of view is that they primarily emphasize ‘doing things’, of some activity that THEY do . . . not an association with the world.  Its interesting to note that people who have ‘world worth’ tend to not do this.  This is because the emphasis is on the association, not on what they do.


But what all this shows is that there is an association that takes place and that it affects the person.  Its as important, and significant, as any other association we may have, perhaps the most important association we will ever have.  It describes the association between two main elements in life:

  1. A person.
  2. The world.

It describes this association as a very “real” and “legitimate” one, one that should not be looked on lightly.  In many ways, ‘world worth’ describes the effectiveness of this association . . . the more valuable the association the more worthIn that way, it is not necessarily saying that the world, by itself, has worth but that worth originates from the association between the two elements.


This association, though, is not a simple thing but something that has many forms and qualities.  There are two main forms of its association:

  1. Passive world worth.  This refers to taking what’s “given” or what the person or world naturally offers.
  2. Active world worth.   This refers to that part of the association that is created by the person, or world, of “making the association worth something”.

In other words, both of these described a particular quality that each element ‘gives’ to the association.  In actuality, for any ‘world worth’ both elements must give something in some way and in varying proportions.  Any situation where one or the other is dominant degrades ‘world worth’.  This shows that ‘world worth’ is a mutual collaboration, one that requires the participation of both parties both actively and passively.

There are a number of conditions in which ‘world worth’ is created.  These include:

  • What is given by the world or person.  If the person or world gives little then there tends to be little ‘world worth’.
  • What is created by the person.  In many ways, ‘world worth’ is something that is created by the person.  Its an act of creation . . . some one ‘makes it’ . . . it doesn’t just appear on its own.  Because of this, if there is no creation then there tends to be little ‘world worth’.
  • What is found by the person.  ‘World worth’ seems to be something that is often ‘found’.  That is to say, we discover it.  To put it another way, its not “immediately obvious”.  As a result, there is generally a searching for it.  This shows that ‘world worth’ is something that is ‘opened up to us’, a great revealing.  Its this condition that makes ‘world worth’ an ongoing and active thing, something that we must continually find all our lives.
  • What is transformed by the association.  For ‘world worth’ to have worth to us, as people, then it must have a transforming quality.  That is to say, it must change us and turn us into different people.  In this way, without transformation there is no ‘world worth’ regardless of what we do. 

When ‘world worth’ is not created or found there is a natural tendency to ‘world worth depression’, meaning that, if it is not discovered, for whatever reason, we tend to lose ‘world worth’.  That is, ‘world worth’ goes into a ‘depression’ or failure.  In some respects, one could say that life is nothing but trying to avoid the ‘world worth depression’.  We are continually fighting it.

Specific acts of discovering ‘world worth’ comes in a number of ways:

  • By experience.
  • By learning and being taught.
  • By ones ability.
  • By participation.
  • By ones failings.

One can see that ‘world worth’ is rooted in many aspects of life.  That is to say, there are more than one way but its only natural that we tend to follow the path best suited to us and our character.  Because of this, each one of us finds tends to try to find a path that works best for us.  For some people, this consists of many different qualities.  For other people, it is only a few.  This tends to lead to many forms of ‘world worth’ and many manifestations in how it appears in different people.


The healthy association with the world creates a deeper sense of ‘world worth’.  In so doing, the perception of the world (and, subsequently, of ones self) changes as a result.  It creates things such as:

  • There is a sense of sanctity.  In many ways, this sanctity shows this association has become deep and is, therefore, ‘beyond us’.
  • The world is viewed as ‘alive’ or as a living person.  This is best portrayed in the sense of ‘god’.  Its not uncommon for people to “speak to the world” as a result.  In many ways, this is prayer.
  • There develops a strong sense of ones self.  As the relationship grows one perceives a stronger sense of self and a self-in-the-world.  This is because one see’s ones self as a participant in life.

A significant aspect of ‘world worth’ is based in projection of ones self.  That is to say, one projects themselves onto the world which, in effect, makes the world a part of themselves.  This makes it so that the world is perceived as an extension of ones self.  One of the effects of this is that projection makes it so that our association with the world often becomes an ‘association with ones self’.  What this shows is that there are actually several different ways of associating with the world:

  1. The world as a separate entity . . . no projection.
  2. The world as an extension of ourselves . . . projection.

This gives our association with the world a varied quality.  In effect, it can range from associating with something separate from ourselves to an association with ourselves.  In this way, its like a demonstration of the great spectrum of associations.  This makes it so that the world becomes a great platform for life.  It becomes the platform for all levels of associations that we are capable of having.  Because of this, our association of the world is not only critical in our life but revealing about who we are.  To make the world ‘dead’ is, in many ways, like killing our association with life. 


As we grow older the image of the world changes.  As a result of this, we have to change to this changing condition.  Generally, as children, the world seems ‘all one’, as a single entity.  The world is ‘alive’ and we live in it.  As we grow older various things like experience, disapointments, frustrations, etc. tend to destroy that image.  As a result, the world tends to divide, primarily into two qualities:

  1. The ‘actual image of the world’.  This is the world ‘as is’, as it appears.  Oftentimes, this is associated with emotions like frustration and disappointment showing that these emotions created the division.  In other words, emotions like these help destroy the ‘one world’ of our childhood.
  2. The ‘mystical image of the world’.  This is a deeper sense of the world, that there is ‘more’.  In actuality, this is nothing but a continuation of the world of our childhood.

To live in the ‘actual image of the world’ is to see a ‘dead world’ and, subsequently, a low ‘world worth’.  In general, it appears that the ‘mystical image of the world’ is what actually creates a healthy ‘world worth’.  As we grow older this often seems to become particularly important.  But the ‘mystical image of the world’ cannot become healthy by itself . . . it has to be ‘tempered’ by the ‘actual image of the world’.  As a result, a ‘healthy world worth’ has to entail a balance between the two images.  But, the condition of life makes it so that these two images appear, at times, to contradict each other, or at least conflict with each other.  This can create great conflict and despair for some people.  Oftentimes, it will force a person to have to choose between three things:

  1. Having to choose which image of the world to follow while abandoning the other.
  2. Going into despair.
  3. Finding a reconciliation between the two.

This is a common choice guys have to make sometime in their life.  In some respects, it is a part of ‘male growth and development’.  In this way, we could very well call this the ‘male image of the world dilemma’.  The choice they make will depend a lot on many factors such as their character, their culture, their convictions, previous example, and so on.

The third choice is, by far, the rarest choice made nowadays.  My observation is that most guys will take one of the first two choices.  Some may even bounce around in their lives.  But, more importantly, the choice they make, and how they live as a result, is a determining factor in ‘world worth’.  As a result of this, this choice made as a result of this dilemma is very critical in the development of ‘world worth’. 

My observation is that the path that creates the best ‘world worth’ is reconciliation.  That is to say, the blending of the two images of the world and making them both ‘work’.  This can be quite difficult, though.  This seems to be because there becomes a battle between two elements:

  1. The culture/society.
  2. The individual.

This battle has many forms and manifestations.  What it shows, basically, is that there is a battle between the individual-in-relation-to-society . . .  what works for the society doesn’t work for the individual and what works for the individual doesn’t work for society.  This creates a specific dilemma for the male, of himself against society.  This, also, is a battle many males face in their lifetimes, some more than others.  Its so common that we could call it the ‘male-versus-society dilemma’.  Typically, the male must fight it out alone here.  There’s no one to help him.  In many ways, its this dilemma that helps him learn to be a person and have a self.  Accordingly, how the male deals with this dilemma greatly affects his view of himself, society, and ‘world worth’. 

So we see that the changing image of the world sets in motions various dilemma’s that the male must confront in order to maintain, and keep, a healthy ‘world worth’.


It seems to me, that the male needs to have two worlds in order to have ‘world worth':

  1. A world with the female
  2. A world without the female

Both of these are required and they both must be separate or removed from each other, treated as separate entities.  I spoke of an aspect of this in my article “Thoughts on “male suffocation” – the need for the male to be away from the female – a unique character trait in the male“.  The presence of the female has both a beneficial and harming effect on the male.  Too much of the female tends to suffocate the male, hindering his growth, and subsequently undermining his image of ‘world worth’.  As a result, the male needs to have a world away from the female to avoid this.


Many people suffer from problems of ‘world worth’.  We all suffer from these problems at least to some extent in our life.  As I said above, one could say that life is nothing but a continual battle against ‘world worth depression’ or, in other words, life is a continual battle to continually find ‘world worth’. It is not something that “just happens”.  In some respects, ‘world worth’ has to be ‘earned’ or ‘fought for’.

 As part of this process we have periods of success and periods of failure.  In fact, we need failure probably more than success.  In many cases, its through our failures that the full reality and value of ‘world worth’ is found.  As a result, appreciating our failures is often a sign of great ‘world worth’.

In addition, ‘world worth’ changes through the years.  As a general rule, we tend to see this pattern:

  • Our early years – we are creative, giving much ‘life’ to the world and, in general, a healthy association and ‘world worth’.
  • Our middle years – conflicts, failures, dissapointments, successes, etc. tend to create a ‘wavering’ of ‘world worth’.  In short, we feel threatened by its potential failure.  There develops the splitting of the image of the world with its resulting conflicts, as described above.
  • Our older years – we tend to lean toward finding a ‘world worth’, ‘holding on’ to meager ‘world worth’, we are ‘in the process of losing’ it, or we don’t have it.  Our later years, it seems to me, tend to reveal if we have attained a ‘world worth’.

This shows that the natural process of aging tends to cause various conflicts and dilemmas with each era or stage of life.

One of the things that tends to degrade ‘world worth’ are alienation and dehumanization.  The reason for this is simple:  they tend to degrade the self.  Since ‘world worth’ is strongly rooted in the self, anything that disrupts the self tends to disrupt, and often destroys, ‘world worth’.  As a result, a condition that tends to cause a low ‘world worth’ tends to be indicative of a condition that undermines the self.  Dehumanization and alienation is one of those conditions but anything that undermines the self tends to affect ‘world worth’.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, The male and female | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the ‘memory-based character’, the ‘memory-based education’, modern education, and other things associated with them

Here’s a thought I had:

After observing someone recently it brought back memories of some people I knew when I was a kid.  There were specific traits that I saw in these people.  As I reflected on them I began to speak of some interesting things:



I called the character I saw the ‘memory-based character’.   This is a particular character of person.  Some people develop it strongly.  Other people develop only small aspects of it. They are often described as ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ people.  Some are even viewed as far as a ‘genius’.  Their behavior seems to suggest it.  I, for many years, believed this to be true.  After watching them I began to see that there was another picture.

To begin with, they all seem to have a very good memory.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple even had photographic memory.  I was often stunned by what they could remember.  The memory seems very critical and, it seems, is the basis for the whole character and what everything is based upon.  Their whole stance, logic, and point of view are based in their memory.  Their memory can originate from many things such as what they see and hear, what they learn, what they read, lectures they heard (such as at school), and so on.  In this ‘information society’ the amount of information they can remember is extensive.  As a result of the proliferation of information in this this era this character type seems to be growing in number and force.

We must keep in mind that “memory isn’t just memory”.  It requires more than memory. Memory, as I use it, requires:

  • A good memory.  That is, having a memory that one can resort to.
  • The ability to five memory a place.  This means being able to give memory a ‘tag’, so to speak, so they can remember it.  Without this ‘tag’ its hard to use your memory as there is no way to retrieve it.  Even though a person may actually remember things very well, without this ‘tag’ they have no way of finding and retrieving it so they can use it.
  • The ability to observe.  What this means is that people need to observe things so that they have something to remember.  People can have excellent memory but if they don’t observe things there’s nothing to remember.

I should point out that not everyone has these abilities.  Generally, anyone with the ‘memory-based character’ has all abilities, and often to a high level.  It appears that to lack an ability tends to hinder the development of this character.

Memory is only the beginning.  In actuality, other traits are built upon it and stand upon it. In this way, memory actually “progresses”, so to speak, and helps the creation of other things and abilities.  In fact, it creates what appears to me as a unique learning style which I call ‘memory-based learning’.  It appears, to me, that there are four levels to this progression:

  1. Memory.  This refers to having the ability to remember things as described above.
  2. The ‘building block’ mentality.  This refers to the ability to use different memories to ‘build a picture’ of something.  Its as if the different memories are put together almost like ‘building blocks’ or even a puzzle:  one memory supports another which supports another until a picture of something is created.
  3. Application.  This refers to the ability to use the previous steps in a constructive fashion.  In this way, it is applied and used.
  4. The ‘next step’.  This refers to the ability to use the previous steps in such a way that one can create something totally new.  Typically, this is not something that is done continuously by a person.  Generally, this happens only a small number of times in a persons life.  In other words, this stage tends to be sporadic and make minimal appearances.

My observation is that as one moves further up the levels there are less and less people who can do it.  Many people can remember things, for example, but few can take the ‘next step’.  This shows that, as one goes up each additional level it requires abilities and skills which fewer and fewer people have so that the higher you go up the less people there are who have those abilities and skills.  My experience is that most people tend to stop somewhere in the first two steps.  Very few make it to the fourth.

But, we must remember, that all the later steps are based on memory.  In other words, memory is the basis of everything else.  Without memory, the other steps fail.  Its because of this that I speak of this as being memory-based.

Problems . . .

Because of the growth of this learning and character, in this information society, we are seeing that it is becoming increasingly dominant.  The emphasis on learning, information, and knowledge is making it a necessary and dominant element in peoples lives and, in so doing, it is starting to dominate many peoples lives.  This domination appears in many different way creating several versions of this character:

  • The natural ‘memory-based character’.  These are people who have a character that predisposes them to this character.  These people will display this character even if they weren’t in an information knowledge-obsessed society.
  • The casual ‘memory-based character’.  This consist of people that normally wouldn’t go into this character but, because of its prevalence, tend to develop it.
  • The learned ‘memory-based character.  These are people who turn into this character because they learn to take on its traits.  Often, what teaches them is the school system and society.
  • The forced ‘memory-based character’.  These are people that do not have this character but are forced to develop it by the school system and society.  Generally, it does not stick but they may reflect aspects of it.

This shows that people react to this character differently.  In other words, its not reflective of human nature in general.  As a result, the growing dominance and prevalence of this character is more reflective of a conformism than a reflection of a persons natural tendencies.  Most people do not reflect this character but develop it, to varying levels, because they are conforming.  As a result, this gives it a quality of an illusion.  For example, many ‘smart people’ (that is, the people with the ‘memory-based character’) are not really smart.  They are only acting in the way they are taught to, which is to ‘act smart’ (that is, display the ‘memory-based character’ traits, which they may not have).  Its not uncommon that many people learn to develop what can be described as a ‘smart persona’, which is literally a ‘play acting’ of the ‘memory-based character’.  In fact, this can be done so well that it deceives themselves and other people.

I should point out that this tendency is actually based on a natural learning process.  In fact, one could describe it as an “exaggeration of a form of normal learning”.  But we must remember that there are many forms of learning.  This  character reflects only one form (that is, memory-based).  Because of this, it is sort of like a one-sided form of learning.  In that sense it describes, in actuality, a warped form of learning . . . incredibly one-sided.  Its like a person, say, thinking that math is everything and all that should be taught.  As a result, all they teach the kids is math.  Sure, you end up having all these kids that can do math but that’s all they can do . . . they are actually lacking.  One could say that this whole learning process is a warped one as a result.

A common trait of this character is that people tend to become slaves to their memory and ‘memory-based learning’.   It tends to dominate them and takes on a controlling element in their life.  It starts to control their world conception and reality.  The ‘memory-based learning’ begins to control all their views of things.  It becomes the basis of their whole living.  Though it may be great for memory-based things it neglects their selves and life in general.  One of the reasons for this is that memory-based learning is based on an abstract reality and, as a result, tends to be unhuman and mechanicalAs a result, it creates an unhuman and mechanical-like person.  This is because their whole basis of life is based on their memory and what it produces.  This gives little emphasis on their self, their growth, or life.  This can go so far that, for some people, it can even become their ruin as I, myself, have observed.  I was stunned when I first saw this.  It took me a while to figure out that it was the character traits that were doing it, that the ‘memory-based character’ actually had a damaging side to it, it has a tendency to destroy or undermine the person. 

One of the things that demonstrated this that I noticed, when I spoke to these people, is that there is a lack of things like:

  • Insight.
  • Intuition.
  • The self.

This shows that there is a complete lack of ‘self-connectedness’.  They seemed removed from themselves, alienated.  Many couldn’t even understand their own feelings no less who they are.  There is often very little self-reflection as well.  Typically, their whole perceptions of themselves, and who they are, has a basis in their memory and what it produces.  Any “self-reflection” is really a “pondering of memory”.  In actuality, they do not ‘connect’ to their inner side.  As a result, they do not develop insight, intuition, etc. nor have any connection with their self.  In this way, one finds that it hinders the person and the persons growth which, in my opinion, makes it more of a disease and ailment than anything else, regardless of any ‘good’ it may produce. 

When one speaks to them one primarily hears them repeat things from their memory.  If they have good memories they can remember details of things that they read, saw, or heard, decades ago.  They recall it like its nothing.  This gives many conversations with them a quality of a “recital”, much like an actor recites their parts in a play.  Many people, including themselves, mistake this ability to remember with ‘intelligence’ and ‘smarts’.  In many cases, they appear no different than a computer, say, repeating things in its memory banks and making associations between them . . . the ‘building blocks’.  If one watches some people closely one can see them use their memory of different things as if they were building blocks, in order to create an observation . . . you can practically see them do it in their faces and manner of conversation.  Its like they take different memories from different places and, treating them like building blocks, put them together in a way they can understand.  This memory supports that memory, another memory supports another, etc.  This is the ‘building block mentality’.  Some people are very good at this and can create very ingenious things this way.  I believe there is a skill to do this and that some people are naturally good at it.  Typically, though, it lacks any insight and intuition when they do this . . . its almost mechanical.  As a result, they will often believe anything that “makes sense” to them or in which they can fit in their ‘building block world’.

As a result of this “tendency of believing anything that makes sense to them”, and their lack of ‘self-connectedness’ (which helps promote it), they tend to have a tendency to have things like:

  • Very narrow views.
  • Very shallow views.
  • Very simplistic views.
  • A naïve way at looking at things.

When I first saw this I was stunned.  You got these people that can do things like quantum physics and calculus, which appears to be ‘impressive’, but when you take all the ‘memory-based learning’ away from them they have an almost child-like view of things.  In fact, in many cases, their viewpoints are almost ridiculous and asinine, I’ve found.  The observation of this fact put “knowledge” and “education” in question for me (as I describe below).  It made me feel that things were not quite what they seemed.

To begin with, I began to see that the ‘memory-based character’ tends to create a ‘front’.  That is to say, it tends to creates a shell around a person that is actually deceiving in that it ‘hides’ the person.  Its as if their memory, and the fabrications it creates, builds a wall around the person.  This is one reason why the self becomes neglected.  I speak of this as the ‘memory-based shell’.   Its not uncommon that it becomes very strong.  In fact, it can be so strong that it is practically insurmountable.  I tend to believe that one reason why the ‘memory-based shell’ develops, and grows so strong, is because this information society puts too much emphasis on this character.  In this way, it promotes the shell so that it takes on a dominating quality.  In normal conditions, I feel, I don’t feel the ‘memory-based shell’ would be particularly strongThis more or less means that the society is very much involved in promoting it.

The growth of the shell tends to create things like:

  • It stunts growth
  • The person and self fades and disappears.
  • It creates an artificiality.

In effect, the shell tends to alienate people from who they are.  They mistake themselves for the fruits of the ‘memory-based learning’. I’ve seen people who actually “think” they are the same as their memory.  In other words, they equate their selves with their ‘memory-based learning’.   As a result, it creates a distorted view of what selfhood is.  They think everything stems from their ‘memory-based learning’ and that they are as if ‘centered’ in it.  But ‘memory-based learning’ is not their self nor is it who they are.  As a result, what they are is nowhere to be found.  This is another reason why they display no intuition, insight, and self, as described above . . . there’s none to display.

In the end, we see that when this character trait grows, and the ‘memory-based learning’ becomes too dominant, there is a tendency to loose ones self in it all and forget who one is.

Pride and Ego

As I mentioned above this information society tends to foster this character and style of learning.  This society tends to create this condition because it does things such as:

  • It worships knowledge.
  • It has created a lot of information to use.

These tend to help its growth and development.  It has developed particular strength as it has become associated with social prestige (success, intelligence, etc.) and money (business, progress, etc.).  This has given this character much ‘social clout’, so to speak.  The result of this is that it creates a condition where there is a horrible pride and ego associated with this character type and learning style.  My own observation has shown that this can get quite extensive and extreme.  In addition to pride and ego it often creates an exaggerated intellectual pride to the point that they think they ‘know everything’ which I have seen many times.  Some people will build their whole life around this intellectual pride.

But the pride and ego tend to hide a dark side.  As I said above, this character type tends to have a degraded self.  One of the ways they deal with this degraded self is to exaggerate their pride and ego, as if to compensate for its loss.  In this way, it becomes a way for some people with this character type to deal with their degraded self problems.  In other words, its a way to ‘hide’ from their problem and get an illusion that they are someone important.  To put it another way, pride and ego become a “substitute self”.  In this way, pride and ego, really, just become another addition to the ‘memory-based shell’ and the many illusions of this character type. 


With the information society we are in it has created a condition where the ‘memory-based character’ proliferates, as mentioned above.  In addition to this, this information society has created a condition where ‘memory-based learning’ proliferates.  In other words, it promotes the ‘memory-based learning’ style, as described above.  much of modern schooling, that all kids must go through now, is actually a form of ‘memory-based learning’.  As a result, what has been created is a ‘memory-based education’ system.  Because the ‘memory-based education’ replicates the ‘memory-based learning’ it tends to replicate the problems of the ‘memory-based character’ in the general population.  In other words, it makes it so that many kids have similar problems who would otherwise not have it.

What this shows is that modern education has become somewhat unhealthy and damaging to people.  This tends to be overlooked, nowadays, in our great commitment to create what I often call the “machines of the economy”, people who “learn” so they can get jobs and maintain the economy (I’ve written an article on this called “Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”‘).  In America, this is even associated with national pride giving it even more clout.  This is not surprising as, if one looks at education, nowadays, it doesn’t take a genius to see that its intent is not to “educate” but to create a bunch of “robots” or “machines” and its intent is almost exclusively job related.  In other words, education is no different than programming a computer to do something.  It does not teach anything ‘human’ like belief, morality, right/wrong, etc. which has been a part of “education” the world over since the beginning of time.  This condition further accentuates the self alienating quality that this ‘memory-based learning’ creates.

The amount of time kids are spending in this type of learning is amazing.  Literally hundreds and thousands of hours, almost every day, is spent in this style of learning.  This time is spent in doing things such as:

  • Being given endless amounts of information.  This is done by reading hundreds of pages in books, hours of lectures, watching hours of documentaries, etc.  I often spoke of this as “being spoon fed knowledge”. 
  • Having to continually repeat things.   Much of schooling or “education” is nothing but repeating what you’ve heard, read, or seen.  In some cases, you repeat by doing what you’ve seen.  In reality, this is not a whole lot of different than “monkey-see, monkey-do”.

If we look at this closer what we see is that the bulk of what kids do is doing what other people have done or created.  We must also remember that this is being done to the tune of thousands of hours in their lifetime.  If they are successful, or do good, then they “take the credit” for it all even know most of  what they have done is repeating what someone else did.  As a result, many kids are being deceived in what they are actually doing . . . its being made out bigger than it is.  This tendency of “taking the credit” for what others did I speak of as “standing on the shoulders of other people”.  This has become a major element in education nowadays.  In fact, modern education primarily consists of this “standing on the shoulders of other people” in my opinion. What it does is create a condition where people can take all this material, originating from other people, and put it in one mass.  In this way, it gives the illusion that they are “all that”.  Its like reading a bunch of books and saying you have done the equivalent of all the work the people who wrote the books have done.  In actuality, all you have done is repeat what they did . . . you have NOT done the work they have done.  Its all an illusion.

In addition, this tendency of “standing on the shoulders of other people” helps create the “robot” quality I so often speak of with people nowadays.  People, in repeating what others have done, take on an artificial quality of a “robot” . . . they are not doing “genuine” work, their work, but repeating what others have done.  Because of this, I often associate the modern education with “turning people into robots”.  In actuality, this “robot” quality seems to stem from several qualities based in the ‘memory-based education’ such as:

  • The creation of the ‘education shell’ (which is the same as the ‘memory-based shell).  In short, education or knowledge becomes a ‘front’ that hides who they are.
  • The tendency to lose ones self.  This emphasis on this shell creates a loss of self, as described above.
  • The fact that they are “standing on the shoulders of other people, as described above.

In my opinion, these qualities go against, and destroy, “education”, at least as I believe it.  In general, I believe that “education” is really a ‘molding of ones self to a specific ideal’.   In other words, it is a transformation of ones self through various means, such as:

  • Learning things
  • Following examples
  • Doing things
  • Discipline

These show that “education”, at least as I use it, is something ‘deep’ and hits to the depths of a person.  It changes a person and makes them different.  Educations intent:  to live and view life in a ‘correct’ wayNotice how its NOT to get things like a job or to have social prestige.

Modern education does not do things like that.  The reason for this is that modern education is not intended to transform a person, nor to live ‘correctly’, but to create a “robot”.  In other words, modern education is primarily intended to create a “machine of the economy”, someone who will get and do a jobThis, to me, is NOT education.  To me, that’s no different than learning a trade.  I, myself, learned, and practice, a trade:  drafting.  I see it as a trade, an occupation, a job . . . and that’s all it is.  I do not make it out as some great thing and my being able to do it does not make me this fantastically intelligent person . . . its just a job.  All the “education” everyone is doing is primarily doing the same thing, be it a mechanic or a surgeon . . . its all a trade, its just a question of complexity.  There is no transformation of self here.  There is no ‘living correctly’ here.  This shows that modern education is, in reality, nothing but a form of ‘fancy trade knowledge’.

Its no mistake, though, that the ‘memory-based education’ fits so well with the ‘fancy trade knowledge’ of modern education . . . they both create a “robot” type of person.  In other words, the tendency, and prevalence, of ‘memory-based education’ supports the “machines of the economy” intent of modern education.  In some respects, one could compare it to a ‘programming of people’.   In short, the ‘memory-based education’ makes it easier to ‘program’ the future “machines of the economy”This is why this style of education is becoming so prevalent nowadays.

But, for me, a “real education” involves things this society can no longer provide, such as:

  • A culture
  • An authority
  • A way of life
  • A belief system

It is from these that transformation originates and strives for.  They dictate how one is to transform, to what shape, and what it is intended to do.  It gives the example, the meaning, and the worth of it all.  Without these an “education” cannot happen, and this is the problem we face today.  Being that none of these exist makes a “real education” an impossibility nowadays.  It poses a great dilemma.  Because of this, the question of “education” is no longer one of “information” or “learning how to do something”, as we saw in the past, but more on the lines of “what authority?” or “what belief?” or “transform to what ideal?”  So what that I know the scientific name of dinosaurs . . . so what I know how to do calculus . . . so what I have a degree.  Who really cares?  These are tidbits compared to an “education”, in my opinion . . . almost laughable.

Because of the lack of culture, authority, belief, etc. one can say that the people who really seek “real education” have now become a people of desperation.   In other words, “real education” has become an issue of desperation and not one of certain attainment.  Its become a matter of striving for something that isn’t there, of grasping for smoke.  As a result of this, I tend to associate people who truly seek “real education” as people who are desperate and striving . . . its like a defining trait.  This is because they are desperate and striving to seek the authority, the belief, the culture, etc. that isn’t there.  If all they do is seek information or an ability, and are satisfied with it, then it turns into modern education . . . a “robot”.  They might as well take a class, take a test, get their good grades, and prance around with their degree’s.  Whoopi . . . maybe they can make some money!

Because of this desperation and striving there is a continual ‘unrest’, that sense of ‘always looking’.  In some ways, this fact shows that “education” is rooted not in knowledge, ability, or anything like that but in what can be described as a ‘passion’, as that is the base of it all (whereas ‘memory-based education’ is based in memory).  In this way, the “educated” are those who have a ‘passion’Everything else, like information, knowledge, ability, etc. follows.   This makes sense as the purpose of “education”, as I said above, is to ‘live correctly’ and ‘passion’ is nothing but a desire for life properly.  This shows that ‘passion’ is first and foremost.  Learning, ability, knowledge, etc. are all means for the ‘passion’ and are, therefore, ‘vehicles’, so to speak, of ‘passion’ . . . this makes them secondary in importance.

I’ve often said that I tend to view that “real education” has three qualities:

  1. The self/self-in-the-world.  This refers to ones self and its development and growth.  It refers to the self individually and its association with the world.
  2. Intuition/insight.  This refers to that ‘inner sense’ of things that often can’t be explained and often cannot be learned.
  3. Memory/1+1=2.  This refers to the ability to remember, do logic, analyze, etc.  This is often a result of learning.

The base of these three qualities is the self/self-in-the-world.  The other two qualities rest on this.  This is because, without the self/self-in-the-world there is nothing and no “education”.  In other words, any “education” that forgets the self/self-in-the-world is no “education” at all.

Any “real education”, in my opinion, tends to entail an emphasis on all three qualities.  In other words, they tend to try to develop all the qualities.  With modern education we see the absence of the self/self-in-the-world and intuition-insight . . . the primary focus being in memory/1+1=2.  This is because memory/1+1=2 is the basis of the ‘memory-based education’ and is a significant element of the “machines of the economy” mentality.  


What all this shows is the importance of our character, learning, and information and how it affects our growth and self.  In other words, it shows that what information we choose to remember, how we use it, the way in which we make it affect our life, and such, play a far greater role in our life and self than we think.  Normally, we are taught as if information, knowing, and such, are “automatically good”, that to learn anything is a good thing.  My observation is that this is not the case.  Remembering, knowing, intelligence, etc. are all major elements in our association with the world.  As a result of this, there is a tendency for there to be ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ ways of doing these things.  That is to say, they have such impact on our self and life that how we manage these things is far more critical than we may realize.  In fact, the managing of these things may be considered more important than attaining them!  Letting our ability at memory dictate our world view or thinking intelligence is everything is, for example, can be worse than being “blatantly stupid”.  Personally, I think it is.  This shows that there is a need to ‘manage’ information, learning, and what we remember so that they maintain a healthy lifestyleIn many ways, this is what “real education” is, at least as I use it . . . a singling out of the important things in life and leaving the rest. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., Education and learning, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A speculation on the origin of the sword in the stone legend

The story of King Arthur and the sword in the stone has always mystified me.  It describes how there was a sword in a stone that only King Arthur could remove.  No one else could do.  Because he was the only one who could remove the sword it made him the “chosen King”.  The original account of this comes from “Le Morte D’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory, book 1, chapter 5:

After the death of Uther Pendragen the Archbishop, on the advice of Merlin, asked for the Lords of the realm and Gentlemen of Arms to come to London before Christmas to pray for a new King.  After praying for some time there was found in a churchyard, against the high altar, “a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone, and in the midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that saiden thus: – WHOSO PULLETH OUT THIS SWORD OF THIS STONE AND ANVIL, IS RIGHTWISE KING BORN OF ALL ENGLAND.”  Many tried to pull the sword out but could not. 

Then upon New Years Day they were having tournaments where Sir Kay and little Arthur had come and Sir Kay was made a knight.  As they were riding to the tourney Sir Kay realized he had forgotten his sword and asked Arthur to get it at his fathers house.  When he got there everyone was gone so Arthur went out to the churchyard and grabbed the sword from the stone.  He then rode on to the tournament.  Sir Kay recognized the sword and went to his father telling him he should be King of England.  His father made him swear where he got it and he finally said he got it from Arthur.  After inquiring of Arthur he said he had removed it from the stone.  They then went and put the sword back in the stone.  No one could pull it out once it was in.  Only Arthur could pull it out.  As a result of this, it was accepted that Arthur should be King of England. 

Where did the idea of a sword in the stone come from?  And where did the idea originate from where a certain person, a “chosen” person, was the only one who could remove the sword from the stone?  But, as I’d find out, this was not the only account of these ‘choosing by a stone’.  There are many others.


All through northwest Europe there are various accounts of sticking an item into something only to have a specific person be able to pull it out.  Here are some of them:

The “Volsunga saga”

King Volsung had a great hall built.  In the middle of this hall was the trunk of a great tree.  This tree was called Barnstock.  One day, a one eyed man came into the hall with a mottled hooded cape, barefoot, and linen breeches tied around his legs, tall, and gray with age (its generally considered to be Odin).  He carried a sword and walked up to barnstock and plunged it into the trunk all the way to the hilt.  He then said, “He who draws this sword out of the trunk shall receive it from me as a gift, and he himself shall prove that he has never carried a better sword than this one”, and walked out of the room.  Everyone came and tried to pull the sword out but no one could.  Then Sigmund, the son of King Volsung, came and easily pulled it out.  

“The Saga of Hrolf Kraki”

Bjorn had three sons.  He told their mother, Bera, that she should bring them to a cave “because of their strange and uncontrollable natures”.  She will find three weapons imbedded in the rock.  Each son shall have a weapon intended for him.   When one of them tried to pull the weapon out that was not intended for him he could not do it.  A sword was meant for Bodvar, who became the champion of King Hrolf Kraki of Denmark.  An axe was meant for Thorir Hound’s foot, who became King of the Gaut’s.  A short sword was intended for Elk-Frodi, who became a man who attacked travelers, killing for money. 

“The Life of Edward the Confessor” by St. Aelred of Rievaulx, chapter 33

Archbishop Lanfrac accused St. Wulfstan of being too simple and inexperienced and should be deposed as Bishop.   As proof that Edward the Confessor had chosen him to be Bishop, and to remain Bishop, St. Wulfstan stuck the staff into the stone above his tomb.   He then asked Lanfrac to come and pull it out.  He could not.  Many others tried to pull it out but no one could.  Everyone was amazed.  St. Wulfstan then called on Edward the Confessor and said, ” . . . if your original opinion of me remains yet [that is, that he should remain Bishop], return the staff to me, or if it has changed, reveal to whom it should be passed.”  He then gently tugged on the staff and it came out easily.  They then agreed that St. Wulfstan should remain Bishop.   


I’ve always wondered where this idea came from, of a stone choosing a King.  One of the speculations I have is that it is Danish in origin.  In chapter 1 of the ‘Danish History’, of Saxo Grammaticus, it states:

“The ancients, when they were to choose a King, were wont to stand on a stone placed in the ground, and to proclaim their votes, in order to foreshadow from the steadfastness of the stone that the deed would be lasting.”

As near as I can tell this is probably the first reference to a stone being used to choose a King.  In this case, though, the stone appears to only represent a ‘solid vote’, so to speak.  It did not, by magical means, choose the person.  Its possible that, perhaps later, this was ‘mythicized’ into the stone choosing the person, leading to the many ‘sword in the stone’ stories, but its difficult to say for sure.

The ‘Danish History’ shows, of course, that it was used, and probably first mentioned, in Denmark.  In addition, some of the accounts appear to show Danish associations:

  • Volsunga Saga – there is an account in the “Danish History” (book 2) which tells of King Frode who has a similar experience to Sigurd the Dragon slayer as described in the Volsunga Saga (could he be the origin of Sigurd the Dragon slayer?)
  • Hrolf Kraki – he was King of Denmark
  • Edward Confessor – was descended from the Danish royalty, both from the original settlers, and through later intermarriage.

As a result of this, I often wonder if this idea originates from Denmark.

I should also point out that Denmark’s islands were apparently viewed in a somewhat mystical way.  I’ve made mention of this in my article “Thoughts on the myth of Gefion, King Gylfi, Odin, the Danish/Swedish rivalry, and the Viking invasions” of how the islands may have been viewed in an ‘otherworldly’ way, and not considered a part of the ‘mainland’ giving these islands a religious quality.   If this were the case, the “stone” in the ground (referred to in the “Danish history”) may refer to this special significance, the “stone” being a reference to the religious significance of the ‘otherworldly’ islands of Denmark ‘choosing’ who is to be King. 

Its also interesting to point out that there appears to be an association with Odin and the Danish island (also mentioned in my article above).  Snorri Sturluson has, in several accounts, said that Odin once “lived” in Denmark.  There is also a town, still existing, in Denmark called Odense, supposedly meaning the “temple of Odin”.  In addition, there are accounts of great sacrifices that took place in Denmark every nine years, which are associated with Odin.

Not only that, it was the custom for Norse Kings to claim descent from him In other words, Odin is associated with Kings and Kingship.

These seem to describe an association:

King > “stone” > land > Denmark > Odin

If this were the case, it may show that there is a long-lost aspect of Kingship, particularly in Denmark, which may very well be the case.  The accounts that we have, then, may only be some remnants.

There may even be more to the “stone”-land-King association than what it may seem.  The King was viewed as being King of the land.  He was not perceived as King of the sea, which is one of the reasons why the Vikings proliferated on the high sea’s . . . there was no King’s law there.  Once a King left his land, or went on the sea, he was often viewed as no longer being King.  This shows that there is a definite association between the land and the King.  This suggests that the idea of the “stone” choosing the King, then, may actually refer to the land, or Kingdom, “choosing” its King . . . the “stone” being a representative of the land.


Though the stone is most prevalent, and what’s become popularly known, this is not mentioned in all accounts.  The accounts describe a number of variations:

  • A stone.
  • A tree.
  • An anvil.  It’s interesting that the original Sword in the Stone account of King Arthur states that the sword is actually stuck in an anvil “naked by the point”.  That is to say, the sword goes all the way through the anvil with its point sticking out the other end.

I’m inclined to think that the “stone” is probably the original item.  The others were used to fit the situation.  The use of the stone may be for a number of reasons:

  • The idea of the ‘firmness’ of the stone, as described in the “Danish History”.
  • The associations with the islands of Denmark in ‘choosing’ the King, as I described above.
  • The idea of the “stone” being a representative of the land, as I described above.
  • The ‘mythical beings’ found in stones.  For the stone to ‘choose’ it may be assumed there is a ‘mythical being’ in the stone that chooses.  Even in the account of Edward the Confessor it was considered that it was he who would allow the staff to be removed.  There is also an account of Kings and ‘mythical beings’ in stones that are interesting.  In the ‘Ynglinga Saga’ it states how Svegdir, King of Uppsala, wanted to search for the gods.  He travelled far and wide to find the gods.  At one point he saw a dwarf who was standing next to a stone.  The dwarf asked him to go into the stone if he wanted to see Odin.  He then jumped into the stone where it immediately shut up after him.  It was believed that the giants (or, probably, trolls) had snatched him away when he jumped in the stone.  Again we see an association of stone-Odin-King, as I described above.  It also hints at the idea of ‘mythical beings’ in stones.  Because this theme is not mentioned all that much I am inclined to think that it plays little part in the sword in the stone stories.

In addition, its not always a sword that is in the “stone”.  The accounts describe some variations:

  • A sword.
  • A short sword.
  • An axe.
  • A Bishops staff.

The accounts seem to show that what is stuck in the stone is a representative of the persons particular quality or duties.  This appears in the fact that only they can remove this item from the stone.  Once its removed from the stone the power of the stone seems to be no more, except when the same item is put back into the stone where only the same person can pull it out again.

It appears that the type of item stuck in the stone seems to portray the persons function:

  • A weapon apparently represents a warrior.  In addition, the type of weapon sometimes shows what type of warrior he is (as shown in the “Saga of Hrolf Kraki”).
  • A Bishops staff represents religious authority.

Because of the more specific specifying of peoples of authority its possible that these stories may of been created to ‘justify’ the more specific types of authority that began to appear in the Viking era.  As a result, it did this by creating these many stories of people pulling things out of stones to justify their authority.  It gave their authority a mythical stance and justification . . . and makes for good storytelling.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Mythology, Vikings - Odin, Thor, the Norse, and such | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”

Here’s a thought I had:

Recently, I found myself calling the kids of today “the machines of the economy”.  I found myself stating this as a result of watching how everything associated with kids, nowadays, tends to revolve around certain specific subjects.  Basically, what I began to notice is that nothing is about “life” and “living”, or even being a human being.  It seems that everything is about, in the end, work!   The parents, adults, and society seem to be trying to turn the kids into little “machines of the economy”.  The whole orientation for children is for this end.  I first began to realize this when I told someone ” . . . the next time someone speaks of their kids and mentions the word University I’m going to scream!”  You can’t talk about kids without hearing the word college or University or how ‘smart’ the kids are or, later on, how great their jobs are.  Its like this country has become fixated on this single idea.  The whole orientation for children, as layed out by the adults and society, is to become a “machine of the economy”. 


My observation is that this orientation is not, necessarily, motivated by greed and personal ambition alone.  This more personal point of view seemed more prevalent in the older generation.  These later “machine of the economy” generations are different.  They appear to be more socially oriented, motivated by social conditions and pressure than by personal ones, which is what we saw in the previous generation.  This gives it a whole new context and point of view.  In fact, society seems to of caused it overall.  It almost appears as if, over many years, the society created an organized concerted effort to create the “machine of the economy”.   There has been a great campaign for this that has gone on for decades.  It has support from the government, the schooling system, the media, society, and the parents, just about everything has become in league with it over the years.  It has so much support that it has now become so extensive and encompasses all the kids life that one could say that a “machine of the economy” lifestyle has been created.  A whole way of life has been created to this end, to turn the kids into “machines of the economy”.

This lifestyle requires, and demands, tremendous amounts of time, energy, and effort from the youth.  Remember that we are now demanding decades of children’s lives, countless hours of effort, and such.  To demand this from everyday kids, on this scale, seems unprecedented to me.  I’ve always pointed out that primitive people, who live in the middle of nature, don’t even require that much from their children.  In effect, at least in my opinion, this lifestyle is demanding too much.  It has now become a dominating and powerful influence in kids lives, one which they cannot escape.  It has become so powerful that it has created an orientation that is basically replacing culture, religion, and the belief systems which have defined human society since the beginning of time.

Other cultures teach their kids a way of life, tradition, belief, and so on . . . a more balanced and human lifestyle that encompasses a great deal of life.  The “machine of the economy” lifestyle does not do this.  It is not balanced and its not really human.  The main purpose, and intent, is to create a bunch of machines for the economy, a bunch of ‘educated’ people to maintain the economy.  This is its focus and its direction.  Because of this it leaves a great gap in the kid’s lives (though I think few are aware of it), of a lifestyle incomplete and lacking.  In this way, it creates a bunch of people who are incomplete and lacking.


I tend to feel that national pride is very much involved with the “machines of the economy” lifestyle.  This whole movement appears to be a remnant of the cold war and oozes of cold war mentality.  Part of this mentality is pursuing the ‘greatness of America’ and emulating its values.  And, as I’ve watched it over the years, I can’t help but notice how, behind all its fancy talk, it looks like nothing but an attempt to ‘prove’ America is a great country by ‘showing’ that the kids can become ‘educated’ and get ‘great jobs’ . . . the glory  of America!

But it wasn’t just for glory.  I can remember when there was a fear that America was ‘getting behind’ the rest of the world.  People thought the kids, in the U.S., weren’t being ‘educated’ very well, which would mean the U.S. is slumping and would weaken the U.S.  It’s probably no surprise that it was after this fear appeared (I recall it in the 1980’s) that we began to see this effort begin which created the “machines of the economy” outlook (which began to grow in the 1990’s).

What all this means is that the kids have become an ‘instrument’ of the nation and national pride.


This new orientation of this lifestyle creates an emphasis on specific things:

  • A child’s achievement and abilities.  The kids are often pushed, and often forcibly, to develop abilities and achieve, achieve, achieve!
  • That they will be educated.  This generally is going by the assumption that education somehow ‘improves’ a person.  My observation is that all it does is make people informative about certain things, and this generally absorbs years of their lives and energy to do it.
  • The money they will make.  This surely shows America’s greatness . . . money, money, money, success, success, success!
  • The glamour their new job will entail.  There is often a belief that there will be great glamour in their new job, that it will be this great and wonderful thing.  Of course, most just find that it becomes nothing but a “job”, assuming they can find one they are trained for.   
  • That it reflects what THEY want to do.  There is a belief that one can ‘choose’ what they want to be . . . a great American ideal.  Therefore, in making this decision of what one wants to do, and fulfilling it, is a sign of America’s greatness.   The basic flaw in this is that it assumes that people know what they want to do.  My observation is that most people don’t know what they want to do and, therefore, ‘choose’ things often on passing whims and interests, much like choosing which magazine to skim through while waiting at a doctor’s office.
  • That technology, science, and such, is what everything is about.  Of course, these are nothing but the fruits of the “machines of the economy”.   It makes sense that a “machine of the economy” would worship the fruits of the “machine of the economy”.  Because of this, they assign all this ridiculous and asinine importance to anything technological.  As a result, they think anything technological is great and better than anything else.  I’ve seen people who think that if a kid reads something on a computer its better than reading it from a book!  I’ve seen cases where if a school does not have enough computers then they think the kids can’t learn anything.  I can recall one instance where a school acted like the world was going to end because they didn’t have enough computers!  Its like technology has a ‘Midas touch’ and will solve all their problems.  Utterly ridiculous.

One can see that the ‘new emphasis’ is that EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, is about going to school and getting a job.  I’m just a bystander to all this, for crying out loud, and I find this unbelievable.  I found it very revolting and appalling.  One of the reasons for this is that this point of view treats kids like their objects, something I disapprove of.   In this way, I see it as a form of degradation of people.  Not only does it degrade people but it creates a degraded lifestyle.

I recently saw a thing that appalled me, a “kid’s job fair”.  What?  We’re talking about grade school kids who don’t know anything about life yet and they are already trying to groom them to be “machines of the economy” . . . their just kids!  Unbelievable.  Maybe we should have grade school kids work at a different company, with a different occupation, every week?  Maybe we should start teaching a second language in the 1st grade and calculus in the 4th grade?  This way, when they reach high school they could be doing quantum physics and learning their fifth language?  Utterly ridiculous.  They’re treating kids like they are a bunch of machines and this is the general orientation of the “machines of the economy” lifestyle.

The “machines of the economy” lifestyle tends to turn ‘emphasis’ away from things like:

  • A meaningful life
  • A useful life
  • A personal life
  • A family life
  • A married life
  • A cultural life
  • A life of belief

These are things that have been a part of human life for centuries.  None of these things are seen in the ‘machines of the economy’ lifestyle.  How can it be? . . . the kids are being turned into “machines of the economy”, not human beings.  In effect, the “machines of the economy” lifestyle has created a condition of moving away from a “human life”, which is exactly what I’m seeing.  The endless and continuous attempt at turning kids into “machines of the economy” is really nothing but a neglectful forgetting about life and being a human being.  Instead, they get to have endless worthless information stuffed into their heads for 15-20 years, to turn them into a ‘better grade of person’ (that is, educated), and, to prove America is great, they will hopefully get a ‘great job’.  And once they get a ‘great job’ they are, supposedly, at the height of life.  But, in the process of doing this, not only have they forgotten about a large part of life but much of their life has been absorbed with pursuing the ideals of this lifestyle.  With this new lifestyle, kids are not being shown any aspects of a human life.  In fact, they’re being deprived of it. 

Under these conditions many human things, and institutions, simply cannot work.  Remember that, in this lifestyle, children are groomed, from little kids on, to focus on schooling and work as the ‘main thing’ . . . everything else is minor.  It creates a very focused outlook that can be described as a tunnel vision.  As a result, this tunnel vision tends to make it so that, though they focus on schooling and their jobs, they neglect many other aspects of life (which are often more important).  Because of this, many other aspects of life, such as marriage and the family for example, are treated as ‘second’, ‘third’, or not considered at all.  In this way, the “machines of the economy” lifestyle has an undermining quality to human society. 

In addition, the “machine of the economy” lifestyle is a lifestyle that absorbs so much time and energy of the person that there is little left for anything else.  Their youth is wasted on it, and their adulthood is wasted on maintaining it.  As a result, we see that many human things simply don’t work.  They’ve made a whole life revolving around schooling and work as if it is all there is in the world.

How can a marriage work?  The husband and wife, to fully play out the ideal of this lifestyle, have to have degree’s and a high paying job that absorbs all their time when their young and all their time when they have a job.  Really, what’s the point of marriage?

How can a home exist?  Almost everyone is away from home for most of the time.  Husband and wife are at their jobs all day long, playing the ideal of the “machines of the economy”.  The kids are at school, learning to be good little “machines of the economy”.  A home requires that there is a focus and center of the home in the people’s lives.  But, with the “machines of the economy” lifestyle, the focus and center on the home can’t compete with schooling and a job.  It’s not uncommon that, as I drive around the place and look at people’s homes, I can’t help but think to myself “those are just places where people sleep at night”.

How can a family work?  Both husband and wife are at work, absorbing most of their time.  There’s not that much of a family there.  Because of the power of the “machines of the economy” lifestyle there is no one to even raise, and take care of, the kids.  As a result, people put their kids in child care and, later, in the public school system.  In this way, the “machines of the economy” lifestyle has, in a way, created a substitute family because the family can’t work under these conditions.  As a result of this, this lifestyle as if feeds upon itself . . . destroying the family, but creating a substitute family, that only destroys the family even more. 


As I’ve watched this lifestyle over the years I have been appalled by the blind sheep mentality that’s behind this.  People blindly follow it.  To be frank, this is sort of scary to me.  This whole lifestyle does not create the free-thinkers, as it likes to think, but a bunch of people who do nothing but ‘follow the crowd’ . . . a bunch of blind sheep.  In many ways, this observation was the first sign that there was something wrong with all this.

The kids are blindly following what their told to do, without consideration, without thought.  The best example of this when I began to ask kids if any had inquired about job opportunities in the field they were studying . . . so far, not one has!  So we have thousands of kids blindly going into the University or College, committing thousands of dollars, years of their lives, and a great deal of stress, without so much as looking for job opportunities!  As I once said, “this fact puts this whole generation in doubt to me” . . . and it does.  It reminds me of an incidence that I was told about when I took Hunter Safety many decades ago.  The Instructor told us he flunked a whole class because, when they did the target shooting at the end of the course, a guy had got up to change the target while everyone was still firing.  Not one person stood up and said, “stop shooting!”  They all ‘passed’ the tests and everything but had forgotten the basic lesson of the course.  In a way, its sort of the same thing with the generation . . . they’re not getting the big picture . . . they’re too busy being blind sheep.

The worst blind sheep, by far, are the females.  I once heard someone mention that they had a discussion with their neighbor about what their daughter was going to do.  Almost immediately I said, “She’s a female.  She doesn’t have a choice.  She HAS TO go to the University.”  Females go to the University not for much different reasons than why they wear the latest fashions.  Because of this, they HAVE TO GO, whether they want to or not.  And, sure enough, she HAD TO GO, even though she had no interest in anything.  A perfect blind sheep.  Way to go younger generation!!!

The “machines of the economy” lifestyle turns kids into blind sheep and that’s exactly how they behave.  In fact, this is so prevalent a theme that I have begun to equate the “machines of the economy” lifestyle, as well as much of these later generations, to being blind sheep, meaning sort of mindless people.

At this point, I’ve seen very little to prove it wrong.

Another aspect of the blind sheep mentality is the creation of a particular quality of “sycophant”.

And what is a “sycophant” you say?

Well, it’s basically someone who ‘sucks up’ to other people (who usually have some power) in order to get ahead.   With the “machines of the economy” lifestyle it has a quality of a blind sheep who ‘sucks up’ to get ahead usually be doing whatever everyone else is doing or the system says.  As a result, it gives them a quality of ‘following along’ or ‘sucking up’ to the system as required.

This “sycophant” attitude is very prevalent with the “machines of the economy” lifestyle.  In fact, I’d say that, in many ways, the “machines of the economy” lifestyle is nothing but a form of “sycophant living”.  This is not surprising as the whole lifestyle is based in ‘getting ahead’ in some way by ‘sucking up’ to authority in some way in order to get there (namely, education and a job).   In this country, this “sycophancy” is disguised under the mantle of many forms of American idealisms, making it appear somewhat patriotic and a virtue.  Some of these American idealisms include:

  • Individualism.
  • The value of work.
  • The importance of achievement.
  • The worship of success.

Hiding behind these idealisms, it makes this “sycophancy” seem a desirable quality, something to be cultivated.  Accordingly, one can see that this is exactly what happens with this lifestyle.  More than once have I described these generations as ‘social climbers’ or ‘suck ups’.   I once almost told a kid:

“All you’re doing is playing along with the system to get ahead . . . you could care less about what you’re learning or doing.  You’re just hiding behind this blind obeying of everything and, when it works, you think you’re successful.” 

Many will ‘play along’ doing whatever the system says and tells them to do.  They will follow what it says, learn what it says, and do what it says.  In this way, it gives many kids of this lifestyle an almost robotic inhuman quality.  So here we can see that this blind sheep attitude, this “sycophancy”, this robotic attitude ,creates a tendency to be not be genuine with themselves creating a quality of artificiality


The “machines of the economy” lifestyle, with its requirement of ‘education’ has, at least in my opinion, caused a degradation of knowledge.  It has primarily devalued it, creating what can be described as ‘cheap knowledge’ (many years I wrote an article on this called “Thoughts on ‘cheap knowledge’“).  It does this a number of ways:

  • It has turned knowledge as a means to an end . . . namely, work, success, money, etc.
  • There is little or no convictions or belief in knowledge. 
  • One seeks knowledge as a means of blind following, of doing what you’re told to do in order to get ahead.
  • It has made knowledge “common” . . . anyone can learn it, and at any time.
  • There are no values that surround knowledge.  In many ways, the defining trait of ‘cheap knowledge’ is its lack of values.
  • There is too much hype when someone learns something.  Just because someone learns something does not mean that they are ‘educated’ or intelligent.
  • There are serious flaws in the ‘measurement’ of learning.  The whole grading system is in error and does not do what it professes to do.  I wrote an article on this called “Thoughts on how grades really don’t measure anything“.
  • Knowledge is used too much as a ‘weapon’ or a means for something.

The “machines of the economy” lifestyle all foster these qualities that, in the end, make knowledge cheap and, in a way, worthless.  In this way, it has created a form of ‘new education’, of being educated, and passing all the requirements (perhaps appearing to excel) but without being educated. This is the ‘educated uneducated’.  Its created people who have done nothing, really, but ‘pass the course’, and because they have ‘passed’, they are supposed to be ‘educated’.  The problem is that most aren’t ‘educated’, they just ‘passed’.


The “machines of the economy” lifestyle has taught me a lot about things and life.  Basically, its taught me what NOT to be and do.  Recently, I’ve found myself saying things that are a result of observing this lifestyle.  Some of these statements include:

  • I don’t want my life to revolve around work.  I want a life beyond work.  Work, to me, is a part of life, it’s not all of it.  I went on to emphasize that I do not want to spend too much time at work, as it robs me of time living.  I also mentioned that I do not want a job that has too much responsibility (or stress) as it drains the energy out of me.  I want energy to live.
  • I do not want my life to be measured by how much money I make.  I do not want my life to be measured by how expensive my car or house is.
  • I do not want my life to revolve around achievement and what I accomplish.
  • I want my life to focus on simple human things, not on the seeking of glamorous fantastic things that’s primary purpose is to impress either the system (to get ahead) or people.
  • If I learn something I want it to have a meaning and worth, not just something to remember for a test.
  • I do not want to be a blind sheep to society, blindly following every latest thing.
  • I don’t want my life to be a ‘sucking up’ as a way of life.
  • I want to live a genuine human life.
  • I don’t need to have the system approve of me to make me someone or ‘successful’.  I want to live apart from the system without its judgement’s to determine who I am and what I am.

These are all traits to avoid the “machine of the economy” lifestyle.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Education and learning, Modern life and society, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the historical progression of the image of Odin . . . the creation of a “conglomeration god”

Here is a thought I had about Odin (as with everything involving prehistoric religion it is primarily speculation):

To me, it seems that Odin is a god whose image has progressed through history.  As a result of this, he has developed many different traits as a result of going through many phases in history.  This means that the image of Odin is actually a conglomeration of different aspects and conditions that have appeared throughout Norse history.  In this way, we could describe Odin as a “conglomeration god”.  That is to say, he is a conglomeration of the many conditions in history put together in one.  In this way, he as if become something like a repository of much of the cultures history.


It seems, to me, that the image of Odin changed primarily in response to the changing conditions of Norse society.  At this time, it seems that this progression of history describes a period of time of at least 700 years but could even be a thousand years or more.  The origin of Odin, of course, is shrouded in mystery.  But we know that the progression of Odin’s image ended with the coming of Christianity and the subsequent organization of society that followed.  This took place in about 1000 A.D. or thereabouts, depending on what area you’re looking at and even how you look at it.

One of the things the progression of the image of Odin shows is that Norse society did, in fact, change quite a bit from some time after the birth of Christ to about 1000 A.D.    It did not remain static but altered form, in some ways, somewhat rapidly, going from a hunting tribal society, with a sparse population of people, to an organized social hierarchical agricultural and warring society.

With the changing of society the image of Odin changed with it making it so that Odin altered to fit the social conditions.  In other words, there is a direct association between the conditions of society and the image of Odin.  This, more or less, makes Odin a direct representation of the society he represented.

I see the progression as follows:

The hunting tribal society

This society is primarily a hunting society.  It would be made up of small scattered groups of people.  They may even be nomadic.  In fact, its possible that the Norse began to inhabit northern Europe as part of these nomadic migrations.  It’s also very likely that they may have resembled the American Plains Indians.  As with many of these tribal societies, the shaman would most likely be a major influence . . . and there are many references that Odin may have shamanistic origins.

Phase 1) Odin’s origins.

The earliest origins of Odin are unknown.  We will probably never know this.  One of the reasons why is that, at this phase, his appearance would be totally different from what we know him today.  He would not have many of the traits that appeared later and which makes up the image of him as we know him today.  More than likely he had a different name, totally different worship, and functions.  At this phase, I see no evidence of what he could have appeared as at this time.  This is, no doubt, because there are no written accounts during this time.

There are hints, though, of what he might of been in the mythology.  The Norse mythology give Odin a quality where he is described almost as a generic ‘creator god’.  He’s spoken of as the “all father” for example.   This point of view is seen in the ‘Gylfiginning’ of the ‘Poetic Edda’.  In this image of Odin he is portrayed as a “god”, removed from humanity.  That is to say, he is the creator of the world.  It’s possible that, at this phase, he was viewed as a god of nature and a creator of nature.  As a result of this more impersonal perspective, his worship and rituals were probably more formal.  In other words, he did not develop the more personal qualities he would later develop.

In addition to being a creator god it appears that Odin was probably associated with hunting.  One hint of this is Odin’s association with a spear, which was probably used in hunting as it appears that the bow and arrow was something brought up later from southern Europe.  This may account for the reason why a spear was often used to pierce people on death in order to consecrate them to Odin.  In addition, later on the spear was thrown over an opposing army to consecrate the war dead to Odin.  The spear became a symbol, in effect, of the ‘bounty’ and ‘blessing’ of the nature creator god who supplies the peoples food.  This gives the spear great symbolic meaning and value.

Because of Odin’s association with hunting, he may of become associated with sacrifice at this phase.  In other words, sacrifice was associated with the killing of animals in hunting.  More than likely, they performed sacrifice to guarantee a good hunt or as a result of a good hunt.  If this were the case it would show that Odin was associated with sacrifice probably from the very beginning which may show that he can be described as a ‘sacrificial god’ or a god greatly associated with sacrifice.

I’m also inclined to think that, in this phase, the religion was a more generalized belief system primarily enforced by the elders of the tribe.  In other words, it was primarily a traditional belief system. It probably consisted of rituals and such.  There were no doubt shamans at this time, as there usually are in these societies, but their emphasis were probably with the ‘lesser gods and spirits’ at this time.  It appears, though, that the shaman would grow to have growing importance and make a lasting influence on the image of Odin in the next phase . . .

Phase 2) Odin as shaman or a shaman god. 

Many of the accounts of Odin describe him as being associated with shamanism.  In fact, he is so associated with themes seen in shamanism that it hardly escapes notice.  This leads me to feel that he is more than just reflecting shamanism but intimately bound with it.  Some of the reasons why include:

  • The word “Od”, which his name appears to originate from, seems to be associated with the word “frenzy” or “frantic”, suggesting shamanistic tendencies.  I speak of the shamanistic tendency of ‘journeying’ and trance which can be compared to a frenzy of sorts.
  • There are also accounts of Odin being able to separate from himself and travel around.  These are claims of shamans in their ‘journeying’.  In the ‘Ynglinga saga’ is states:  “Odin often changed himself;  at those times his body lay as though he were asleep or dead, and then he then became a bird or a beast, a fish or a dragon, and went in an instant to far-off lands on his own or other men’s errands”.  This sounds very much like shamanistic ‘journeying’.
  • Norse mythology describes a great world tree called ‘Yggdrasil’.  This means “Odin’s horse”.  It’s a well-known fact that, in many cultures, shamans often describe the idea of a world tree which they will often climb in their ‘journeying’.  Therefore, the idea of “Odin’s horse”, as something he “rides” may refer to this same theme.
  • Odin seems to often describe a more philosophical bent on existence and experience.  I’ve described some of this in my article called ” Thoughts on how Odin may be a representative of existence“.

Because of these things it appears to show that the Norse religion is taking on an active form, where it is believed people are actively participating with the gods and vice-versa.  I call this condition “active religion”, which I believe is a significant part of shamanism.  I have written an article about this, as well as shamanism, in an article called “Thoughts on defining shamanism: an ‘active belief system’“, if you’re interested.  It’s this quality, of being “active”, that may have made the god Odin, in this phase, more powerful than the god Odin from phase 1:  there was an active participation.

In this way, it appears as if shamanistic elements have begun to merge into the image of Odin as described in phase 1.  In fact, more than likely the shaman was already there in phase 1 but, it seems to me, that, at one point in Norse history, the shaman grew in influence and power bringing in a very ‘personal’ quality to Odin making him almost representative of the shaman.  I’ve often wondered why this happened.  I see several things that could have happened:

  1. There was a blending of “gods”:  the “god” from phase 1 and a shamanistic “god” that appeared.   With this, Odin took on two qualities, a ‘generic god’ and a ‘specific god’ used by the shamans.
  2. Its even possible that there was a blending of the “god” of phase 1 and a “powerful shaman”.  It wasn’t uncommon that some shamans were perceived as particularly powerful to the point that, even after death, people feared their power.  This may be the reason why Odin is often remembered as a real person (which is referred to by Snorri Sturluson).  This may hint at a truth but its difficult to say.   I’ve referred to a similar concept of this as an ‘intermediary god’.  I’ve written an article about it called “Thoughts on the ‘intermediary god’ and the gradations of god“.

Because of the new shamanistic element I wouldn’t be surprised if the name “Odin” began to be used during phase 2.  This would mean that it completely replaced the older name of phase 1 showing that this shamanistic related god was viewed as being more powerful.

I’m also inclined to think that, if the shamanistic element became more powerful than the god of phase 1, it would mean that the religion became more organized in the society, as well as more powerful, which is probably why the shamans became more powerful.  In other words, it was no longer just a generalized belief the elders enforced in the tribe as in phase 1.  It suggests a more organized, and powerful, religious structure has developed, probably headed by shamans or shaman-like people.

The agricultural tribal society

In this type of society the people become established, and implanted, to the land by agriculture.  As a result, the people became more stationary.  The emphasis of things changes from hunting to farming.  Because of this, the religion tends to become ‘passive’ and the ‘active’ element tends to start to wane (see my article above about ‘active religion’).  This causes a whole shift of mentality, emphasis, and importance of things.

Phase 3) Odin as god of magic, spells, divining, etc. 

In this phase, Odin probably would have become more ‘static’.  That is to say, he would become a more defined “god” with definite formal customs and worship.  The active association with him, as done by the shamans in phase 2, would be waning or would have disappeared.  More than likely, the shaman would begin to disappear and probably would have disappeared in this phase.  Because of this, the Odin religion would become more rigid and formal.  There would develop more ‘defined’ ways of associating with Odin.  Basically, the ways of ‘passive religion’, where the association with the god is formal and defined, would begin to take hold.  As a result, we’d see things like:

  • Specific rituals and worship.
  • Sacrifice as a ‘generic ritual’.
  • The use of songs, poems, and prayers.
  • The use of runes.
  • Magic.
  • Divining.

With the fall of the shamans these “duties” would of increasingly be associated with the general population probably.  They may have started to build temples and had specific places of worship as well.  We may see the coming of priests, even, at this phase.

One of the things that appeared to be developed during this phase is the use of runes.  Though many people seem to think that “runes are just runes” (that is to say, they were a thing unto themselves) the accounts seem to show that they were associated with and in conjunction with other things.  In a previous article (“Questioning the meaning of Norse “runes”“) I have questioned that runes were just magic symbols by themselves but were actually part of a greater process.

It appears that there was an association between these things (which are stated in the ‘Havamol’):

  • Runes as a symbol.
  • The use of sacrifice.  These are often referred to as “staining the runes” (that is to say, staining with blood).
  • The use of poetry, song, or spells.  It also mentions the use of “spells” (which is probably the same as song or poetry) which was associated with the runes that Odin “caught up”.

These, apparently, were used as a means to affect some quality (such as protection) or change (such as someone’s downfall).  It’s possible that this technique was developed by shamans as an ‘active association’ with the gods.  But, in this phase, they began to be used by the general population in a ‘passive’ way, meaning more rigid and formal rules.  This may have given runes its mechanical quality, which is what we see with them in the later Viking years, of just “carving a rune on something” for protection, etc. . . . the personal active quality of the shaman has disappeared.

With the fall of the active association (or shamanistic orientation) we begin to see the rise of ‘witches’, the ‘prophetess’, and such, as well as the extensive use of magic.  Though males did this, it appears that these things were primarily female.  It seems to me that there is a reason for this.  History shows that when the shamanistic orientation, disappear there is a tendency for females tend to come in to fill the gap created by its absence.  In so doing, it creates people such as witches, at least for a while.  This creates an ‘era of witches’, so to speak.  It seems that this is often a sign of a change from an ‘active religion’ to a ‘passive religion’.  This phase seems to suggest this scenario.  Typically, these people will take the function, or try to take the function, of the shaman of the former era but generally in a more formal ‘generic’ and ‘passive’ way.  Because of this, they do a “modified form of shaman” often consisting of things like trances, incantations, spells, magic, and such.  This is exactly what many of these females did in this era.  As a result, they are seen in the accounts at this time.

The established social hierarchical society

With this society there develops a strong social hierarchy.  Things like nobility and rank begin to appear and become very established.  There also develops a class-like system with the poor and rich.  There develops great social organization which leads, more and more, to a more ‘passive religion’.  This society seems to show that the agricultural society has become firmly established.  Because of this, the qualities of phase 3 would often grow in strength.  One of the reasons for this is that the society is now a growing society with more and more people in it.  As a result, there is a growing of things like:

  • Control and organization.
  • The ways and customs become established.
  • Things become more rigid and defined.
  • There develops a rebelliousness in people.
  • There develops social tensions and disputes.

This era seems to be right before the Viking era but I cannot say how much earlier.  I’m inclined to think it developed in the centuries following Christ’s birth.

Phase 4) Odin as a god of sacrifice.

With the growing society, the lack of ‘active religion’ (as well as shamans to perform it), and the increasing social tensions the Norse appeared to entrench themselves further into a specific form or manifestation of ‘passive religion':  sacrifice.  They seemed to do a lot of sacrifice.  This seems common in Denmark and possibly in Sweden.  They not only sacrificed animals but men (and some women).  There is evidence, such as in Denmark, of many sacrifices that were held, such as those bodies found in the peat bogs.

This phase seemed to of just begun only to be eclipsed by the next phase . . .

The warring society

The growing population, and the discovery of the ease of gaining wealth on the sea’s through piracy, created a society that began to increasingly use war and violence.  This is the Viking era.

Phase 5) Odin as a god of war.

It appears that the sacrifice of the previous phase, and the coming of war and violence, quickly turned Odin into a god of war.  One thing that seems to of led to this is that war was considered a form of sacrifice.  As a result, the Vikings began to associate Odin with war and death (I’ve written an article about this called “Thoughts on how the Norse god Odin’s association with sacrifice, and historical circumstance, turned him into a ‘war god’ and a ‘god of the dead’“).

Because the accounts of Odin are primarily from the Viking era, he tends to be portrayed as predominately in the image of this last phase, as a god of war.  The earlier phases tend to be eclipsed by this later phase.  It appears to do this because of a number of factors such as:

  • It was something in peoples recent memories.
  • It was recorded.
  • It was dramatic.
  • There was something ‘defined’ to record (such as tales of Viking hero’s).

These qualities were all lacking in the former phase’s making them somewhat ‘forgotten’.  As a result, it has given an illusionary quality to the image of Odin, making him appear only as if here were in the later phase.

But the myths, in particular, describe other qualities of Odin that do not match this idea of a ‘god of war’, such as his association with creation and poetry.  What these tend to show are earlier phases of his development.  And so, what we see is a god that has many traits reflecting different aspects of the phases he has gone through . . . a ‘conglomeration god’.

(I have written of similar perspectives of this in an earlier article called “Some thoughts on the possible origin and development of the Norse god Odin“, if you’re interested).


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Mythology, Religion and religious stuff, Society, Vikings - Odin, Thor, the Norse, and such | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment