Thoughts on my statement: “Intellectualism is a dead end road” – aspects of intellectualism and its dilemma

Some time ago I said something interesting:

“Intellectualism is a dead end road”

This is a growing feeling in me.  Being brought up with the “intellectual ideal” it has caused great conflict in me.   If its a dead end road then where do I go now?  This is the dilemma I now face.

THE “ERA OF INTELLECTUALISM”

The “era of intellectualism” seems like it is over to me.  This is because of things like these:

  • There are too many points of view
  • There is no unity in culture and in authority
  • There is no belief for the intellectualism to stand on
  • With all the information out there everything is becoming a blur

I’d say that the “great era of intellectualism” was from the mid 1800’s to the late 1900’s.  There are a number of reasons for this.

  • Everything was new and exciting causing a great optimism which made it appealing
  • There was a unity in the authority because there was a unity in the culture . . . people tended to agree with the discoveries because it reflected Western European culture which they were a part of
  • Intellectualism had a use and had value
  • There was great communication which made it easy to “work together” and develop things

You could say that there were other great era’s previous in history, which there most certainly was, but I’m speaking of the most recent version.  In many ways, this last great era created what we call the modern world.

INTELLECTUALISM

When I speak of “intellectualism” I mean “knowledge with an authority”.  There is a lot of knowledge but most of it has little or no real authority (see “knowledge” and “information” below).

To me, intellectualism is different than knowledge in that it has an almost “god-like” authority with it.  This, I believe, is because intellectualism is a product of Christianity.  There is a close association between the rise of Christianity and the rise of knowledge, primarily through the discovery of Greek and Roman classics, as well as other things from the Middle East, during the Crusades.  This newly discovered knowledge, coupled with the authority of a growing Christianity, gave great authority in the knowledge and basically created intellectualism.

So what we see is that intellectualism, at least as I use it here, is more than knowledge but it encompasses an attitude that surrounds this knowledge.  This point must be understood.  Much of this attitude that created intellectualism originates from things coming from the Crusade era include:

  • The growth of Christianity as a power
  • The sense of the authority of god and church
  • The growth of belief
  • A sense of a cause
  • The novelty of the new ideas
  • The glorification of achievements
  • The unification of Europe

These attitudes became the foundation of intellectualism.  They made “knowledge” more than knowledge but meaning much more.  They would give intellectualism a quality similar to Crusading knights, in many ways, as a great Divine cause in European history.  You could probably say that intellectualism went through four great phases through the centuries:

  1. The Middles Ages
  2. The Reformation era
  3. The Enlightment
  4. The modern era

Each era had its unique qualities and effects.

Many of the attitudes these era’s created continued and were still strong into the 1900’s.  Since the end of the cold war, in about 1990, these attitudes had largely fallen or disappeared.  In the fall of these attitudes is the fall of intellectualism.  Because of this, intellectualism has turned into “knowledge” and “information” . . .

KNOWLEDGE

When I speak of “knowledge” I mean “knowledge with some or minor authority”.  Nowadays, the “some or minor” authorities seem to be:

  • The authority caused by practical valueThat is to say, if it has some use or value it has an authority by virtue of that.  Science would fit in this form.
  • The authority caused by personal valueWhen something has a meaning and value to you then it has an authority.
  • The authority caused by social value.  When something has value to society, social trend, social ideals, etc. then it has an authority.
  • The authority caused by trend and mania.  Nowadays, there is a lot of trends and mania’s going around and anything that supports them has an authority with those who follow it.

None of these authorities have the great “god-like” authority of intellectualism and Christianity.  Despite this, they still have an authority and this is their value.  What this means, more or less, is that knowledge no longer has a “great” authority . . . it has a minor authority.  This means that knowledge isn’t as great or important as it used to be.  This is exactly what my observation has shown.

INFORMATION

Nowadays, some knowledge is just information.  When I say “information” I mean “knowledge without authority”.  This means that it is just “stuff”:  facts, figures, statements, etc.  They often have no real value to anyone.  A lot of times they are stated and forgotten.

It seems, to me, that there are whole industries whose sole purpose is to create information that really don’t mean anything.  These include:

  • Some studies
  • Some research
  • Some books
  • Some forms of media
  • Some things associated with things like social media and the internet

This, it seems to me, is becoming far more extensive than what it seems.

A lot of things is nothing but information that appears to be important and have authority.  In fact, it seems that more and more things are slipping into information.  In other words, I see a degradation in knowledge . . . its becoming more and more worthless.

WHAT THE FALL OF INTELLECTUALISM REVEALS

The fall of intellectualism shows a number of things:

  • A fall in Christianity
  • A fall in Western European/American culture
  • A fall in belief
  • A fall in unity
  • A fall in culture
  • A fall in authority

These show the effect of these things:

  • Modernization
  • Globalization
  • Overpopulation

These are all traits of the later 20th century and 21st century.  In other words, it is a reaction to the conditions of the times.

WHATS NEXT FOR AN INTELLECTUAL?

As a person who was brought up with intellectualism, and its attitudes, its fall creates a dilemma as it has undermined a whole belief structure.  I was brought up that intellectualism is the “great answer” which shows the Christian influence, that its more than knowledge.  But now that intellectualism has been degraded to knowledge it has undermined its whole value.  This means that learning, thinking, thoughts, etc. have no real great value anymore.  This is what my observation has shown.

I think this is a dilemma many people face, though they may not be aware of it.  Many people brought up with this ideal find that something is missing but “hang on” by playing along with things.  They go to school, get a job, learn stuff, and think they are neat for doing it.  But its really an empty quest.

As a reaction to this, I have found that much of my thought and motive is now based in the authority of personal value.  In other words, what is important is what has value to me.  This is now what I seek.  That’s what has authority with me.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT AUTHORITY AFTER ALL

What all this shows is that the whole issue of intellectualism was never about what intellectualism created, such as science, but the question of authority This brings up questions about the importance of authority.  Looking at it now one can see that authority is what everything is about.  Previously, we were all “wound up” with the fruits of intellectualism, completely disregarding the importance of authority which is what it was all about to begin with.

It seems, to me, that there are a number of aspects to this authority:

  • The importance of authority in intellectualism is closely related to what I call “tribalism”.  Intellectualism reflects a “tribe” which is a unified group of people that see themselves as distinct and unique in the world.  The “intellectual tribe” seems to of originated in the Church.  As I said above, intellectualism was a product of the growth of Christianity and the new discoveries of knowledge, such as the Greek and Roman classics.  This began to take place in the early middle ages.  Much of this knowledge began and grew in the Universities.  In fact, one could say that the Universities created intellectualism.  In this way, the Universities created the “intellectual tribe”.  As a result, the intellectual became a specific group in the society, a separate “class”, a “tribe”.
  • This sense of a “tribe” became, it seems to me, more prevalent in the Germanic countries reflecting, most likely, the more Germanic tribal mentality.  This would mean that intellectualism is a product of Germanic culture and their sense of a tribe.
  • We must keep in mind that many intellectuals of the Universities were theologians, or were studying theology and, accordingly, are closely associated with the Catholic Church. As a result, intellectuals were associated with the authority of the Church and, accordingly, the “authority of God”.

In many ways, the authority was a manifestation of social and historical conditions.  Of course, these conditions are now gone.

But what it shows a number of important things about the significance of authority in intellectualism:

  • The sense of belonging
  • The sense of unity
  • The justification of God

In a way, these were the “power behind intellectualism”.  Many of these qualities were carried over into the more recent qualities of intellectualism, such as science, though in a modified way.  With the loss of these things intellectualism has become nothing but facts, figures, opinions, and such and nothing more.

THE PROBLEM OF INTERPRETATION

The problem of intellectualism shows a problem with interpretation nowadays.  Basically, there is no longer a unifying culture to interpret things in a unified way.  A different point of view causes a different interpretation.  Nowadays, there’s a million different points of view causing a million different interpretations.  With intellectualism it was more unified with a more unified authority.  It shows that interpretation is really about unity than truth . . . a “unity in truth”.  What matters is that everyone interprets things the same way.  In many ways, this is what strengthens societies and makes them endure, not truth.  Nowadays, there is no unity causing a weakening of societies.  To me, that is what I am seeing in the world today.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Education and learning, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Science and technology, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how thoughts don’t mean as much as they used to as I get older

I wrote this some time ago:

I’ve found that, as I get older, thoughts don’t mean as much to me.  Ten or twenty years ago they were a big part of my life.  Now . . . they seem to be waning in power.  I think that there are a number of reasons for this:

  • I’ve discovered that they don’t have the ‘power’ I thought they had.  I used to think that knowing this or that was this great thing and have this great impact on my life.  Experience has shown otherwise.
  • No one cares.  Though, occasionally, someone may “like” or “agree” with my thoughts I’ve found that no one generally cares.  In general, I’ve found its a waste of time to say too much about things.
  • They don’t really do anything.  A lot of thoughts as if ‘go into air’, disappearing into who knows where.
  • It takes too much effort for what you get out of it.
  • There are other ways and things to do in life.  Thoughts, frankly, only encompass a small part of living.
  • Life consists of much more than thoughts and that becomes more important as you get older.
  • I’ve thought so much that I’ve become sort of “overthought”.

All these have contributed to making thoughts a minor thing.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Aging and getting older, Life in general, Philosophy, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I do not believe the Constitution says . . .

I wrote most of this some time ago.  It still seems relevant:

Recently, I have greatly emphasized the importance of what I often call the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” (see my articles:  Thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: distortion “in the name of the Constitution” and More thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution – the ‘frigid war’, ‘the re-enactment of the American Revolutionary War’, and the ‘historical shadow’).  In my opinion, the cold war era has distorted not only the Constitution but American society as a whole.  In other words, the cold war turned the Constitution into something far bigger than it is which has distorted things as a result.  In some cases, its been so overvalued that it borders on a religious document “written by God”.

Some things that caused this “cold war distortion of the Constitution” include:

  • It was the only “all-encompassing social power” that could be cited in the country which made it the only main means of authority.  This made the Constitution have great authority much like the Bible (frankly, too much authority).
  • The Constitution was used as a means of national pride and feelings.
  • The emphasis on the Constitution turned it into a basis for life.
  • The Constitution was used as a defense against fear and paranoia.
  • It was heavily abused, particularly by certain people who found a use for it.
  • The emphasis on the Constitution and “freedom” tended to cause an abandoning of other things (such as identity, belief, morality, etc.) creating a one-sided point of view.

Overall, the Constitution became a “rallying cry” during the cold war which made it the basis for everything “American”.  But, in actuality, it really only reflects an era’s interpretation of things.  The era that it reflects is the era of about 1970 where a number of things were prevalent:

  • Vietnam War protests
  • The Hippie movement
  • Civil Rights
  • Paranoia, fear, and panic coming from the Cold War

Two common traits of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” point of view are:

  1. It assumes that there is hatred between people and that we are threatened.  This means that this point of view tends to create and find hatred and threats which often don’t exist.
  2. It assumes the Constitution will save us and is the only answer.  This means that this point of view tends to want the Constitution in our everyday life and the model of how we should live.

It creates a mentality that goes something like this:  “we all have to act, behave, and speak in the correct way so that nobodies precious American rights are violated as everyone is threatening everyone else because everyone hates everyone”.  Being around some people with this mentality is not much different than being around an obsessive compulsive paranoid schizophrenic person.  

Now that this era is decades past I think its very evident that its point of view is out-of-date and incorrect.  But most Americans still promote the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” because, during that time, it was heavily associated with patriotism and America.  In this way, the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution”, with all its distortion and nonsense, has become part of the American identity.  This is one of the main reasons why this point of view has qualities such as:

  • It is a common point of view
  • Its hard to get rid of
  • It is automatically assumed to be correct

These conditions will probably remain for some time as there’s nothing to oppose it at this time.  As far as I know, I’m the only one to oppose it.

There are many things the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” says that I do not believe.  Some of the things I do not believe the Constitution says include:

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a model for life 

It was not meant to be the basis of how to live ones life (see my article “Thoughts on how political theories do NOT reflect human life – the insufficiency of political theory as a model for human life“).  In this way, it should not affect my everyday life nor should I have to change my life to fit its dictates.  I believe the Constitution was only meant to be a model  and guideline for government, not of society or life.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to infiltrate everyday life

The Constitution is a political/legal document.  It should stay in the political/legal domain.  In this way, I consider normal everyday life as “out of bounds” for the Constitution.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be imposed upon people

The Constitution was intended as a political and legal guideline.  It was not meant to be imposed and forced upon people.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to undermine human institutions, beliefs, identities, etc.

Any document (whether political, legal, religious, etc.) that undermines human institution, beliefs, etc. isn’t worth following.  The “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” has undermined and destroyed many social institutions which is one reason why I tend to doubt it.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a religion and a basis to the deeper aspects of life

It is not the Bible and should not be treated in that way.  This means that you don’t go around quoting it as an authority in life and talk like it has some deep meaning in it.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be the “only answer”

The Constitution is a political and legal theory only.  It is not the “only example” of government or human society nor is it the only “right” . . . it is just theory.  It was not written by god and should not be treated that way.

I do not believe the Constitution was meant to be a defense against blind paranoia and fear

As I said above, much of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution” is based in paranoia and fear.  In addition, the Constitution was viewed as a defense against this.  I do not believe that the Constitution was meant for this type of thing.  The Constitution should not be used to defend one self from blind paranoia and fear as is being done in the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution”.

 

As a result of the “cold war interpretation of the Constitution”  it has caused the Constitution to become far more extensive than it should.  It has caused a tendency where there is a tendency to make politics too much an issue in life, it has greatly exaggerated politics, and has unnecessarily applied it to everyday life.  Because of this, it has done a number of things such as:

  • It has given a distorted view of humanity
  • It has given a distorted view of human life
  • It has created many imagined conflicts that don’t exist
  • It has caused many unnecessary problems between people

In my opinion, what people really need is a good view of life again.  Political theory, and paranoia, is NOT a good source of this.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Government and politics, Law and legal stuff, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on some aspects of art – creativity, imitation, and other things – going beyond art

Here’s a thought I had:

Many years ago, in the 1980’s, I used to draw a lot and was very interested in art.  I was also around a lot of people who was involved with art.  Over time, there began to be a great questioning of art not only by me but by others.  Some of the reasons that caused this include:

  • There became a question of what, exactly, is “good art”.  I had many conversations with people about it.  The debate over “good art” often had a quality, and seriousness, of a debate over whose religion is right.  I began me to wonder about it.
  • We often went to art competitions and couldn’t believe who would win.  I had many conversations about this.  I began to feel that an art competition is ridiculous as there are too many points of view about art to say who wins.  My observation is that most winners of art competitions win because they can “imitate the style the judges like the best”.
  • When I was going to college, I often carpooled with a friend who was studying art.  I often went into the art area and looked at peoples art.  I also discussed art with people.  I began to have this notion that art schooling actually destroyed many peoples artistic ability.  This started me to question art even more.

This questioning of art was  something many of us did.  It started many debates and thoughts about it.  For me, I began to wonder about the nature of art and what art really was.  This put me onto another path than most people, it seems.  Most people looked at art as something that’s supposed to please them (that is, the preoccupation and obsession of whether its good or bad).  I seem to see something more in art.  I didn’t see art as just an art form, such as “painting” or “sculpture”, but a display of some deeper ability and awareness.  Art is one way this came out.  

I tend to believe that this point of view was based on my own experience drawing.  It seemed that there was something “more” behind doing art . . . there was a joy in creation . . . it satisfied some deep inner primal need.  I could never determine what this inner need was and no one seemed to inquire about it.  The concern was primarily over whether it looked good or bad.  To be frank, as I look at it now, the obsession of having to make the drawing “look good” is one reason why I quit drawing.  I couldn’t stand the endless nitpicking about it.  I often felt that this preoccupation and obsession of whether a drawing is good or not actually destroyed art.

As time went on an image began to form in my head about some aspects of art.  It went something like this:

TWO VIEWPOINTS OF ART

It became clear that  art can be looked at from two viewpoints:

  1. From the point of view of the artist where creation is important
  2. From the point of view of the observer where if it looks good or bad is important

Oddly enough, I found the artists point of view rare, even among artists!  Most everything, at least that I saw, was viewed from the perspective of the observer.  This seems to be because of things like these:

  • An observers desire to be pleased by art.  I often consider the joy of looking at art, for some people, is an “observers artistic expression”.  Or, to put it another way, the joy of looking at art is a form of expressing artistic qualities for people who don’t do art.  In that way, looking at art, and enjoying it, can be considered an “art form” in itself, an “artistic expression without doing art”.  This is why I think its good to appreciate art and develop this sense.
  • The social aspects of art.  This refers to how art somehow sets a person in society in some way.  This is usually done for some benefit of some form, such as money.  This is the most prevalent form that I saw and still see.

This later social aspect, I found, plays a large role in art.  Basically, it all revolves around social acceptance and the benefits this brings . . .

THE QUESTION OF ACCEPTANCE

It became clear that most art is not really creative but, rather, an imitation of “accepted styles”.  When a person learns art, or goes to art school, they are not learning how to be creative but, rather, how to imitate a style that society accepts.  Its not uncommon that many people in art, including myself, would experiment with different accepted styles of art in order to find the one which one has the greatest knack doing.  Once that was found, the tendency is to stick with that style.  By staying with that accepted style, and becoming good at it, we would be viewed as “good artists” not only by others but also by our self.  We would think we were all good but, in reality, we took the path of least resistance and with minimal creativity:  we found an accepted style that people like and which we had a knack at doing and imitated it.  Really, we really aren’t artists . . . we’re imitators of style!

What this seems to show is that learning art, or going to art school, actually tends to suppress creativity for most people . . . but it makes good imitators of style.  Art school, really, does not teach creativity but styles of art.

My observation, though, is that imitation is what most people want in art.  They want the acceptance an “approved” art style gives.  There’s a number of reasons why acceptance is important:

  • Approval from people and society
  • To make one feel that one is good and get the satisfaction that offers
  • For some form of prestige
  • To somehow get in or remain in some power structure, such as a position
  • For money and profit

So we see that a person tends to gain something with imitating accepted styles.

Creativity, on the other hand, is something that tends to happen spontaneously and is often new.  In that way, it hasn’t time to be “accepted”.  This shows that creativity, by its nature, tends to not be noticed because it is simply too “new” to be accepted.  This means that most creativity goes by unnoticed and unacknowledged.  As a result of this, there is not a lot of gain in just being creative.  

This shows that acceptance, and not creativity, plays a major role in art.

THE SPECTRUM

All this reveals that creativity and imitation play a big part in art.  The role they play, of course, is different.  In fact, I tend to see these as polarities of a spectrum that goes something like this:

Creative—————————————Imitation

To me, these extremes are opposing polarities and contradict each other.  This shows that art is not just “learning how to paint” but involves a more complex association between two different and opposing qualities.  Because of this, there are different ways art appears and manifests itself.

Creative

The Creative tends to have qualities such as:

  • It “appears naturally”
  • It often comes spontaneously
  • It does not necessarily follow an established style 
  • Is usually is not learned
  • It tends to be more personal in orientation
  • It is generally new

To me, the Creative tends to be more mysterious, primal, and satisfies an inner need.  In that way, it as if reaches deeper into ones psyche.  Because of this it has a mysterious unknown quality about it.  It can be almost religious-like in quality and I do believe that the Creative does touch upon the religious side of our nature.   Its probably not surprising that a person who displays the Creative tends to be religious in character, or so it seems to me.

Imitation

Imitation tends to have qualities such as:

  • A person follows a style or technique that is already existing
  • It is usually a socially “accepted” and “approved” style
  • It is generally learned
  • It tends to be social in orientation

Being social in orientation, Imitation tends to be more shallow than the Creative, at least in my opinion.  It doesn’t quite hit deep into ones psyche.  But, by being social, Imitation can unite people and be a source of identity as well as express the character of a people.  This, probably, is one of the most powerful aspects of the imitation quality.

The Three Groups of the Spectrum

One could, for simplicity’s sake, say that there are three groups in the spectrum:

  1. The Creative group.  This consists of people who are primarily creative with little imitation.
  2. The Creative/Imitative group. These are the people in the middle of the spectrum.  This consists of people who display a mixture of both.
  3. The Imitative group.  This consists of people who are primarily imitative.

My observation is that most people are in the Imitative group.  There seems to be a number of reasons why, such as:

  • It is the easiest path
  • It guarantee’s societies approval
  • Being social, there is more support

It seems that the closer we move toward the Creative the less and less people we see.  This seems to be because of things like:

  • It is harder
  • There needs to be a personal drive . . . it takes more commitment
  • There is no social approval and support, a person is on their own

Basically, the Creative seems to require a more individualistic character than is seen in the Imitative group.  This means, more or less, that to be Creative a person must find personal satisfaction in what they do, regardless of what other people and society says.  

THE APPLICATION OF IMITATION

Very few people are strictly imitative in art . . . there’s always some degree of creativity.  Its the extent that is the issue.  Many people are primarily imitative in art and the bulk of their creativity is in the application of imitation.  That is to say, they learn a style and apply it to varying situations.  This can appear a couple of ways:

  • They learn an existing accepted style and imitate in different situations.  For example, they learn the “Marvel style” of drawing super heroes and use it as a basis to draw super heroes and other characters.
  • They discover a “personal style” and replicate it over and over again.  Many artists will do this.  Typically, their “personal style” is derived from an existing and accepted style.  When they are developing their “personal style” they often display great creativity in its creation.  But once they have developed their “personal style” they replicate it over and over again and tend to lose their creativity as a result.

These tend to be somewhat easy to do and with effective results.  As a result, it is very prevalent.  I’d say that most of the art I have seen in art competitions are of the former group with some in the later group.

he application of imitation is very common in the Imitative group.

IMITATION AS A GUIDE FOR CREATIVITY

Its not uncommon that imitation can become a “framework” or guide for the Creative.  In this way, the creative and imitative as if blend together and help each other out.  For example, a person learns a style and imitates it.  As they imitate the style the Creative comes out through it.  In this way, imitation becomes a platform or springboard for the Creative.  Some people need imitation to help bring the Creative out.  Without it, their creative side would never come out.  With other people, the Imitative accentuates the Creative and gives it means to grow and flourish even more.

In my opinion, this creates the best art because it has a blending of the imitation of an accepted style plus the newness of creativity.  It is often not easy to achieve this though.  Some people have a knack at it.  Other people have to be continually working at it.  Some people achieve it only occasionally.

Using imitation as a guide for the Creative is often a defining trait of the Creative/Imitative group.

FORCING CREATIVITY

I often think that the turmoil of many artists is because they are trying to “force creativity”.  There are a number of reasons why, such as:

  • They are trying to force creativity for the benefit of acceptance and its benefit (approval, money, etc.).
  • Some people feel the deeper sense of creativity in their art and can’t stand to see it disappear so they are always trying to force it.
  • The need to be creative is part of the learning process and being an artist so they try to force it to happen.
  • There is a dilemma in that creativity doesn’t necessarily take the form of accepted styles or ways, which is the way most people want it.  As a result, the Creative is not appearing the way they want it to.  Its like trying to force a round peg through a square hole.
  • There just isn’t any creativity anymore.
  • They don’t know how to be creative.

I often think that some people get so much pleasure from creativity that they as if depend on it.  As a result, they fear losing it or feel that they can no longer achieve it.  This often happens, I think, after a particularly strong “successful period” of great creativity.  It can cause great despair, depression, and anguish.  It seems, to me, that when a person starts to “force creativity” one has lost hold of creativity.  

The “End Result Dilemma”

It seems that there is a common dilemma in creativity in that, particularly after one is successful, there is a tendency to emphasize what is created.  This becomes the focus of ones intentions and thoughts.  In so doing, there is a tendency to forget the Creative quality, the source of creativity.  The result is that a person keeps looking for the end result of creativity thinking that it will cause creativity, but it doesn’t work.  This causes great frustration and anguish in creativity.  I often call this the “end result dilemma” as the emphasis is on the end result of creativity, not creativity itself.  This more or less means that creativity is found in seeking the Creative quality, not the end result.  This means you must look toward the source . . .

WHAT IS THE CREATIVE?

One of the big questions I asked is:  since creativity is new, is not accepted, and not reflective of a style how does one determine what creative is?  We cannot use the same standards as seen with the imitative styles as its not imitating anything.  In other words, the Creative has no precedent or nothing to measure it with.  How, then, do we determine the Creative?

In the fewest words I’d say that the Creative means “it came from out of nowhere and works in some way”.  To go in more detail I’d say that the Creative has qualities such as:

  • It has a newness or originality.  This means that it is not imitative.
  • It is often unexpected.  It often appears “out of the blue”.
  • It is often entails no planning.  A person does not think of what they are going to do.
  • It has practical use and fulfills some purpose.  A lot of creativity is functional in orientation.  Because of this, it tends to be looked at simplistically.
  • It causes a personal satisfaction.
  • It fulfills a need.  I tend to think it fulfills a deep primal need.
  • Its is often prompted by a “pressure” of some sort.  There is often a need, condition, or situation that prompts it.  In other words, something causes the Creative to happen.
  • It is not necessarily “leisurely” or pleasant.  That is to say, it is not necessarily associated with “pleasant images”, scenery, flowers, etc. nor motivated by it.
  • It entails an innate ability.  A person typically either “has it or not”.  In many cases, it cannot be learned.
  • There is usually a degree of imitation and learning but not a whole lot.  This is basically the imitation as guide described above.
  • There is a process of “drawing out”.  A person must have some means to make it appear.  If they don’t then it as if “stagnates” inside of them.
  • It goes beyond specific art fields.  That is to say, it doesn’t always appear as drawing, painting, sculpture, and so on.
  • It is sporadic and uncontrollable.  The more imitative art is the more it can be replicated and controlled, which is one of the powers of imitation.  The creative, on the other hand, “comes when it comes” and can’t be controlled.

Sometimes, it can be miraculous or amazing but, generally, it isn’t.  In fact, my personal feelings is that most of the Creative appears in various aspects and ways in everyday life and does not entail an art form, such as painting, sculpture, etc.  What ends up happening is that the Creative in everyday life is then as if “projected” onto a specific art form.  Because of this, most of the Creative actually goes by unnoticed.  Its as if a process takes place from Creative to art:

  1. Everyday life develops the Creative tendency
  2. There develops a need to express the Creative
  3. This is “projected” onto a specific art form
  4. Art is created

This means that the Creative is actually very broad encompassing the whole of everyday life.  Only aspects of it are expressed and “projected” into an art form.   Imitation, on the other hand, is narrow, limited to style and accepted ways.  In this way, it shows that there is an inherent condition where the more imitative art becomes the more narrow or limited the Creative becomes.  Looking at it the other way, the more Creativity there is the less it is associated with an art form.  This shows an interesting quality about art, that the Creative goes beyond any art form.  It as if art transitions from art to “non-art”.  This, I always felt, is one of the qualities that gives mystery and depth to art.

GOING BEYOND ART – THE “ARTISTIC QUALITY”

If art goes into “non-art” then what makes the “non-art” akin to art?  It shows that “art” can be used as an expression that describes a particular quality in life, not necessarily an art form.  What is this general “artistic quality”?

To me, I associate this “artistic quality” as having traits such as:

  • A harmony where things work together
  • It gives meaning
  • It serves some purpose
  • It satisfies some inner need
  • It reaches to the depths of ones psyche
  • It “draws out” hidden inner qualities

I tend to view “art” as a quality one has, an attitude, a point of view, a stance.  In this way, “art” can be a perspective on life.  That is to say, one can look at life “artistically”.  Some examples of how “art” appears in life include:

  • Religion
  • Belief
  • Mythology
  • Culture
  • How one conceives how the world works
  • How a person solves problems and dilemma’s
  • The attitudes one has for life, people, events, and conditions
  • How one perceives ones self

These, too, are artistic expressions but of a different sort.  Any one of these can entail as much ability and skill and “art” as any great sculpture or painting, if not more.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Art, artistic expression, and things related with it, Education and learning, Imitation and the problems it creates, Inspiration, free association, and intuition | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how the 21st century is a reaction to the 20th century – the ongoing effects of the “dramatic century”, with remarks about “historical disruption”

In a recent conversation I said:

“A distinguishing trait of the 21st century is that it is primarily a reaction to the 20th century”

In many ways, the 21st century is an era which is trying to “come to terms” with the 20th century, what it created, and what happened during that century.  This has made me call the 20th century the “dramatic century”.   It was so dramatic that we are still trying to react to it.

THE “DRAMATIC CENTURY” – THE 20TH CENTURY

What makes the 20th century so dramatic?  To me, it is primarily these two things:

  1. The problems of overpopulation.
  2. New means of doing things

1-Overpopulation

Overpopulation has caused a great tension in the world.  Its effects, I think, are far more important than it seems.  Many of the problems of the past several centuries are nothing but overpopulation problems.  Its now so influential the the effects of overpopulation is somehow involved in many things that happen nowadays, in government, in business, in consumerism, etc.  In many cases, it basically determines what happens.

Overpopulation has caused a number of problems such as:

  • Problems sustaining the multitude of people
  • Problems in keeping a control of all the people
  • Problems in organizing all the people
  • Problems and disputes between people
  • A destruction of things, such as the environment and culture
  • Various social problems
  • Tendencies to mass hysteria, mass panic, mass mania’s, etc.

These have given overpopulation a quality of a great burden on the world which has caused much stress and strain.  In some places, it has strained society, and the government, to the limit.  In fact, there are many places in the world that can’t deal with the overpopulation problem.

I often think that the burden of overpopulation has caused something like a “scramble” in many countries . . . basically, a scramble to deal with it as best as they can.  It seems that many people confuse this scramble with progress, development, innovation, and such, which is really an idealized image of the situation, as if “we’re just bettering ourselves”.  In actuality, its a scramble.  Overall, I’d say the whole world is scrambling over this problem, in one way or another.  I would even venture to say that overpopulation has now become a determining factor in the decisions and happenings of things in the 21st century.

2-New means

Many new means of doing things were developed or refined in the 20th century.  These appeared in many ways and forms.  They include things such as:

  • Technology
  • Organization
  • Government
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Consumerism
  • Trade

One could say that the new means of doing things encompass so many things that, all of them together, has created something like a system.  I often call this “systemism”.  I often define “systemism” as a conglomeration of things that keep an overpopulated condition in control and stable.  This is exactly what the new means has created.  To me, the “modern world” is a form of “systemism”.

Many of these new means have been very new, innovative, influential, and amazing.  They are often viewed as “great achievements” (such as the moon landing).  Its given the 20th century a quality of a “glory time” when great achievements and things were done.  As we will see below, many people are trying to reenact the “glories” of the 20th century.

Interestingly, the development of new means of doing things is often in response to overpopulation problems.  In fact, the new means of  doing things has helped alleviate overpopulation problems.  I believe, though, that there is an illusion in this.  Though the new means have helped alleviate overpopulation problems they do not, in actuality, solve them . . . the overpopulation, and the problems it causes, still exists.  This means, more or less, that the new means do not solve overpopulation problems . . . they only temporarily alleviate them.  That, to me, seems a very important point.

In some respects, the new means of doing things have greatly extended and amplified humanities effects and influences on humanity and the world.  One could say that it has greatly amplified it.  In this way, the new means of doing things has aggravated humanities presence in the world and upon itself.  Its given humanity an “in your face” quality.

The overall effect

Both overpopulation and new means have contributed to each other and help sustain each other:  population fosters new means which fosters population, etc.  Its like a vicious circle, one becomes dependent on another, making the other grow, and they both grow more and more dependent and bigger and bigger.  This ends up creating something like a vibrant, energetic, volatile and potentially explosive situation, which is exactly what the 20th century was.  That is why it created the “dramatic” century.

In my opinion, the 20th century was so “dramatic” that it became a destructive and damaging century overall.  I say this for a number of reasons:

  • It has destroyed many things.
  • It has undermined many things.
  • It offers only one solution and way to go . . . the modern world . . . which dominates everything.  There are no alternatives.
  • It has created an inherently destructive system as the world dominating and only system.

But that’s how it looks, to me, from an overall perspective.  If we look at it closer it becomes apparent that the “dramatic” century, and the situations it has caused, has had both good and bad effects, such as:

  • It has improved the situation of many people
  • It has adversely affected many people
  • It has caused great destruction, such as deforestation, pollution, garbage, etc.
  • It has created means to solve the destruction, at least to some extent
  • It has created horrible weapons of war and destruction
  • It has caused means to prevent war and destruction, through better government, treaties, etc., at least to some extent

So we see that the “dramatic” century is dramatic because it has caused incredible good effects and horrible bad effects and at the same time.  Its because of this that I don’t think that a person could say that the “dramatic” century is all good or all bad . . . it is both.  The “dramatic” century is dramatic because of these things:

  • It is both good AND bad.
  •   This has had impact on a number of people that is unprecedented in history. 
  • This was on a level never before seen in history.

I would say that this phenomena has caused several qualities that are defining traits of the 20th century:

  • The effect of the good qualities
  • The effect of the bad qualities
  • That we are struggling with the tension these opposing good/bad polarities have caused  

The good and bad effects has had such an impact that it has caused two groups of people to appear in the society, almost like two “cultures”.  This, I believe, has had great impact on the character of the 21st century . . .

TWO “CULTURES”

The conflict caused by good and bad effects has had an impact on society.  It has created something like two groups in the society:

  1. The “reenactor culture” – A group of people who are trying to “cash in” on the glories of the 20th century by reenacting them.  This culture consist of people who are trying to replicate and repeat the glory of the 20th century and to reenact its achievements.  For example, people want to invent fancier machines in imitation of what was created in the 20th century (such as the “technology craze”), they want to do all sorts of the same or similar achievements (such as with their career or sports), and so on.  All these are basically imitating the 20th century and the glory of what it did.  This has made the 21st century the “reenacting century”.
  2. The “paranoid culture” – A group of people who have problems dealing with the conflicts and horror the 20th century has created.  This culture is in continual fear and are always complaining about problems that originated in the 20th century.  There is fear of war, pollution, hatred, and so on, to the point of paranoia, panic, and mania.  This has made the 21st century the “paranoid century”.

These two group has split the society in two, at least to some extent.  That is, people often tend to fit in one group or the other (for example, they are trying to achieve something or are paranoid about something).  Its created something like two separate “cultures” in the society, living side-by-side.  Usually, though, they do not oppose each other.

But these two “cultures” has caused something like a tension in 21st century society, primarily by their existence in the society and how they have become overwhelming and controlling.  I would even describe them as an obsession:

  • An obsession to reenact the 20th century
  • An obsession of paranoia and fear

Both of these have caused problems in the society.  There are a number of ways this this happens, such as:

  • Problems caused by their obsessive nature.  They become overly dominating and controlling.  Many peoples lives are literally being controlled by these obsessions.
  • Being based in the last century, many people are not living in the “here and now” and are like living in some other world.
  • The “paranoid culture” brings great panic and fear into the society that is totally unnecessary and uncalled for.  This stirs up conflict, and many bad feelings, that really have no basis in anything.

This tension caused by these two cultures have, I believe, even figured prominently in the 2016 Presidential election and the Trump presidency.  In many ways, it defines it.  This more or less is saying that all the commotion, ruckus, disputes, etc. of the Trump presidency is really nothing but a continuation of the good and bad tug-of-war created by the 20th century:  there is the desire to revive the glory of the 20th century (“Make America great again”) and there is fear and panic (all the commotion about how Trump is supposed to be against females and minorities and sided with the Russians, etc.).

HISTORICAL DISRUPTION

Some aspects of the 21st century has the qualities of someone reacting to a traumatic event.  This would mean that the 20th century has qualities of a traumatic event.  I do believe that there is truth to this, at least to some extent.  To say it is “traumatic” is a little extreme, though.  A better word might be “disruptive”, which is what I’ll use in this article.  I will use the word “disruptive” in the context of:

  • A situation in which there is a form of an upsetting 
  • Where there are problems reacting to it
  • Where the problems the situation created remains unresolved

This does not necessarily mean that the situation was horrifying or a painful event.

Overall, the 20th century was a very disruptive century.  This disruption had a range from minor to horrifyingly disruptive.  Its caused a major disruption in society, cultures, beliefs, ways of life, and the world in general.  It has upset, destroyed, and undermined many things.  This disruption has, overall, been so severe that it has caused difficulties in reacting to it and in resolving the problems its created, not only as a society but as individual people.  Because the disruption happens in a historical context I will call it “historical disruption”.

As history progresses a culture suffers various forms of “historical disruption” and to varying degree’s.  They may be minor.  They may be major.  It can be caused by things like:

  • War
  • Failure of economy
  • New ideas or beliefs
  • New ways of doing things
  • Some event of nature, such as a hurricane

Typically, a culture that has been “disrupted” has to have a period of time to “heal”, so to speak, or “come to terms” with it (see below).  This suggests that “historical disruption” has qualities like a mental illness.  This can range from mild, such as being irritating, to severe, as something traumatic.

The “dramatic” century was “disrupted” in different ways such as:

  • It was a century that has so many new things with it that many people could not “grasp” it or relate with it.  This caused a lot of alienation and confusion.
  • Many peoples lives were changed too rapidly and they had problems adapting.
  • Many people found themselves having no choice and being forced to do things.  This caused a helplessness and contempt.
  • There is a fear and horror of many things that it created.
  • Many people were adversely affected by it, often permanently, causing frustration and anger.
  • Nobody knows whats going on or whats going to happen so it causes anxiety.

As near as I can tell, none of these problems have ever been resolved but continue in the society.  What this means is that the society that the “dramatic century” created – the 21st century – is “disrupted”, to some extent, and suffers from the effects of the disruption.  I think there is truth in this.  It shows a problem with “historical disruption” . . .

Problems reacting

The nature of “historical disruption” is that it seems to cause a difficulty in reacting.  As a result, the “issues” remain in the people as individuals because they cannot resolve them.  The reason for this difficulty in reaction seems to be because people are not reacting as individual people but as social beings.  This means that “historical disruption” is a phenomena of society.  When people act as social beings they follow society.  When society is disrupted they are disrupted.  But since society can’t react, they also can’t react.  As a result, they remain disrupted.

It seems, to me, that the 20th century created a particularly strong problem in reacting because what it created was so new and dramatic that people basically don’t know how to react to it socially or as individual people.  This is one of the reasons why it was so disruptive and why it was so unique.  Its like humanity became a “fish out of water”.  Of course, this is not what people tend to say or think.

Many people seemingly seem to “agree” with the 20th century, and what it created, but I tend to feel that, even though people may intellectually “agree” with the 20th century, there is an overall “don’t know how to react” quality in their mentality.  My general feelings is that most people can’t relate with the 20th century and what it created.  This has created a quality of  “staring into something they can’t understand” that I see a lot in the 21st century.

I think this inability to react commonly appears as a tendency for people to blindly pattern their lives in “response to the conditions of the times” much like blind sheep.  Basically, the times control their lives and dictate their lives.  By blindly following the conditions of the times they get the illusion of control in a world they have no control of and which they can’t relate to.  I call this tendency a “yes man to the times” and I believe it is a common way for people to deal with the conditions of the 20th century.

“Coming to terms” with the “dramatic century”???

Like any disruptive event there must be a time to “come to terms” with it.  In some respects, the 21st century seems like it is a period of time where the world is trying to “come to terms” with the 20th century and what it created.  In actuality, “coming to terms” really refers to finding a way to adequately react to the situation.  This means that 21st century is trying to find a way to react to the situation caused by the 20th century.

As near as I can tell no one is really “coming to terms” as an individual or person and no  one seems to be resolving it.  In other words, this “coming to terms” seems a social phenomena, not an individual phenomena.  But how does a society “come to terms”?  My general feeling is that a society does not “come to terms”.  It seems, to me, that what is actually happening is that when a society “comes to terms” it is actually waiting for the generations that was “disrupted” to die off.  This is similar to when Moses let the people wander in the desert for 40 years so the generation that made the exodus, and created the golden calf, die off.  I seem to think that this is a common occurrence in society after a disrupted event (such as a war).  This means that most of the people never “come to terms” with it and die with the disruption unresolved!  In this way, the generations affected by it continue to display the effects of the disruption to the day they die.  Some of the ways this appears include:

  • An uncertainty and lack of faith
  • An alienation or feelings that one doesn’t belong
  • Feelings of frustration and anger
  • A contempt of things
  • A tendency of apathy or indecision
  • A desire to reenact or imitate the glories of the last century
  • A blind hope in the “new things” that are being created (worship of progress)
  • Agreeing with everything (“yes man to the times”)
  • An intellectual acceptance of everything
  • A tendency to complain
  • Paranoia
  • A tendency to panic and hysteria
  • Fearing hatred and dislike between people

The persistence of “disruption” in a society

Oftentimes, the attitudes and mentalities of the disrupted generations becomes so prevalent that they become part of the culture.  In this way, the “disruption” lasts for generations, even hundreds of years.  This phenomena is very prevalent in cultures.  It makes the past history of the culture intimately associated with the current culture.  But what it does is make the culture “living in the past” and living in conditions that aren’t existing at the moment.  I sometimes think that some culture have so much of these that they literally alienate themselves from the world and strangle themselves to death.

I’m under the impression that the “disruption” of the 20th century is becoming a part of the culture and, accordingly, will persist into the later generations not affected by it.

I tend to feel that, oftentimes, disruption build over disruption over time in a culture to the point that they practically blend together.  I tend to believe this has happened with Western society.  Here’s a simplistic “disruption progression” that I see with Western society:

  1. The Christian conversion and its disruption of belief and culture
  2. The Crusades and the religious mania that followed
  3. The Protestant Reformation and the religious conflict that followed
  4. The overpopulation problems of the 1700’s and into the French Revolution era
  5. The Industrial Revolution and its effects
  6. WWI, WWII, the horror of war, and the horror of the Holocaust
  7. The cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation
  8. The growth of consumerism and mass communications
  9. The technology mania
  10. The forced unification of the world

In many ways, the “disruption” of Western society have a base in religion, namely Christianity, which seems to be the “first disruption”.  This means, more or less, that the Christian conversion was disruptive.  I believe this to be the case, and on many different levels, such as forcing belief on people, disrupting cultures, and violence.  As a result, Christianity as if set the tone and has left its mark on subsequent disruption.  If you look closely you will see that many subsequent “disruption” in Western society have Christian qualities about it, such as:

  • The quality of “damnation and hellfire”, the worlds coming to an end, and a dark view of life
  • The view that “humanity is evil”
  • The belief that if we “love one another” it will often solve all our problems
  • An emphasis on “peace”
  • The attitude that “all the world must be converted to our way”
  • The belief that the answer is in the “people”, usually referring to democracy (this originates from the belief that the people are the “body of Christ”)

These all originate in the Christian belief system and are seen a lot in 21st century society showing that a lot of the mentality of today is a remnant of Christianity.

Unfortunately, with the growth of communications, the technology mania, and overpopulation the “disruption progression” of Western society was as if “forced” upon the world.  Many cultures were as if “pulled” into this conflict.  This has caused a whole new set of conflicts for those cultures.  In this way, many non Western societies are getting two trauma’s:

  1. The disruption of having a system forced upon them and the disruption this causes the society
  2. The disruption inherited from Western society that is not theirs

Overall, the world in the 21st century seems a world in disruption, having been upset and undermined by a multitude of things, and struggling to find a reaction to it.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Science and technology, Society, The 'system' and 'systemism', The 2016 Presidential election and things associated with it, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on “impressionistic descriptions” – a seeking of inspiration

There is something which I call “impressionistic descriptions”.  I compare it to impressionistic painting where the painter paints what they see at the moment, and usually quickly.  Frankly, that is how I write most of what is in this blog.  In some respects, one could say that most of the articles in this blog are “paintings” of a situation or condition but using words and description instead of paint.

DESCRIBING WHAT?

Writing is a way of describing.  But what is the source of this description?  Where does it originate from?  I would say that my descriptions begin from one of these things:

  • An observation.
  • An experience.
  • A thought.
  • A continuation or elaboration of previous thoughts.
  • A feeling.
  • A sense or “gut feeling”.  This can be quite vague at times, almost imperceptible.  But, in the process of description, one can sometimes discover what the sense is about.
  • A previous description.  Its not uncommon that, once a description begins, it becomes a source for other reactions and descriptions: one description leading to another. This can go on and on. In fact, many articles in this blog are just that, one description leading to another leading to another and so on.

Basically, descriptions are a reaction to something.  There seems to be a process in this reaction:

  1. Something happens
  2. This prompts a reaction
  3. The reaction cannot be reacted to properly and interpreted
  4. Description becomes a means to interpret it so it can be reacted to properly

What this shows is that descriptions reveal a failure of association, or “disconnect”, between reaction and mind.  By description an association, or connection, is established between the reaction and the mind.  The reaction is then interpreted so it can be “grasped” by the mind.  This shows that many reactions are “forgotten”, or disregarded, simply because they are not interpreted or reacted to and, as a result, no connection is made.  They end up lying dormant in the depths of our mind.  Oftentimes, in “impressionistic descriptions”, these forgotten reactions are brought up and revealed.

ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

I believe that “impressionistic descriptions” is a form of artistic ability, much like painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.  In that way, it is a form of artistic expression.  Because it is artistic this means that it often requires an innate ability, though it can be learned and developed to some extent.

Because its a form of artistic expression is that it requires something to be expressed.  Personally, I believe that many people aren’t good at anything artistic not because of ability but because they have nothing to express.  A person must have something to express!  Of course, what is being expressed, exactly, is often not something even the artist is aware of nor will ever be aware of.  What is expressed is often unclear and a mystery.

For me, at least, I tend to think that what is expressed is not an “idea”, a “point”, a “belief”, or anything like that.  It seems that the need to express is a form of relating with the world for some people.  In other words, artistic expression describes a relationship, not a thing to be expressed.  It is an act, a doing, and that is what is important.  It is also something that seems unique for some people.  Not everyone finds a relationship with the world by expression.

WRITING “OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD” – THE IMPORTANCE OF RHYTHM

I often describe “impressionistic descriptions” as writing “off the top of my head”.  This means that I am “writing as it happens”.  This means that there has to be something like a rhythm developed.  The rhythm allows things to flow out easily and often without thought . . . it just happens, and often quickly.  Sometimes its a struggle to keep up.

Two forms of rhythm have to be developed:

  1. Rhythm in thought.  The thought that appears through writing must “flow out”.  If one has to “think about it” then the rhythm has been lost.  My best writing, I think, happens when it flows out effortlessly.
  2. Rhythm in writing.  One must become so established in writing that it “just happens”.  This means that a person must develop a personal style.

Both of these rhythms take time and practice to develop.

One could say that developing rhythm is one of the artistic attributes seen in “impressionistic descriptions”.  I see several important qualities it creates:

  • A beat
  • A movement
  • A form
  • A style
  • Its ability to “draw out” ones thought

In some respects, its like poetry but with a very descriptive quality.  Much of the poetic rhythm in “impressionistic descriptions”, though, is not conveyed to the reader in the writing.  For me, the poetic rhythm of “impressionistic descriptions” is felt as an interior experience by the person writing.  This fact shows an important quality:  that “impressionistic descriptions” is written for the person writing, not for anyone else . . . it is a personal act.  In this way, one is really describing things to oneself.  I believe that this is very important and critical.

THE IMPORTANCE OF “FORM”

“Form” refers to the description having qualities such as:

  • A unity.  This means that there is wholeness in the description.
  • A mass.  This means that the description has meaning and value, which gives it a weight.
  • A shape.  This means that the description has a pattern and direction.
  • A style.  This means that the description is unique.

For the description to be successful the description cannot be fragmented individual thoughts.  A person must at least sense the description as describing something as a whole.  In many cases, the “form” develops as the writing goes.

To me, the “form” is really something a person feels.  This is then conveyed through the description.  I often don’t consider an article completed until I sense that the “form” is established.

THE PROCESS

There are several things that one must do before one begins:

  1. Be aware that, in reality, one is actually dumb and doesn’t really know what’s going on.
  2. Have no pre-determined motive.
  3. Feel a desire to express.
  4. Seek to discover things for oneself, not for others.
  5. Find the “something” the moves or affects you.

As for the actual process, it seems that it often goes something like this:

  1. Follow the “something” with ones mind. 
  2. Write what comes to you and let the thoughts flow out without hindrance.
  3. Establish thought and writing rhythm.
  4. Watch for the “form” and see it develop.
  5. As one writes, see the truth in what you write as it comes out.  Its very important that your mind sees a “truth” or meaning in what is written.  If one does not do this then “impressionistic description” is as pointless as fishing in a sand dune.
  6. Feel a satisfaction in the expression.  I tend to think that the process of “impressionistic descriptions” are never completed until you feel a satisfaction in doing it.  It is my belief that a “genuine satisfaction” is not in the idea, or what was written, but in the act of expression . . . there is a joy in doing.

In the end, what is created can be described as “thoughts without thought” or “ideas without an idea” . . . they just “happen” and as if appear out of nowhere.

I should point out that I generally do not write these articles in one sitting.  It can take days, weeks, months, and even years, to finish an article.  Typically, I start by finding the “something” which prompts me to write.  It usually exhausts itself out after awhile so I quit writing.  I then don’t take up writing on it again until I feel the “something” again.  This could be a long time.  I have found that I cannot write unless I feel the “something”, nor do I try!  This shows that “impressionistic descriptions” is a reaction to the “something”.  That is how important it is.  The reason why the “something” is so important is that it reveals something . . .

THE REVEALING OF ANOTHER MIND

“Impressionistic descriptions” seem to reveal that there is another mind within ones self.  It as if “thinks on its own”, independent of you, and which you are unaware of.  In many ways, I find it has qualities that are lacking, missing, or of a different nature than in our normal conscious mind.  This includes things such as:

  • Awareness
  • Insight
  • Intuition
  • Knowledge
  • Wisdom

Personally, I think it knows more than me (that is, my conscious mind).

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTUITION

What leads “impressionistic descriptions” is, in actuality, intuition or, perhaps, “gut feeling”.  In many ways, “impressionistic descriptions” is the creation of intuition.  It is not created by logic, analysis, thought, and such.  If one “thinks about it” then its not “impressionistic descriptions” but, rather, thought.

One could say that intuition is the conscious minds sense of the “other mind”.  As a result of this, by following the sense of intuition the conscious mind finds the “other mind”.  This is why the ability to follow ones intuition is critical in “impressionistic descriptions”.

The following of intuition seems to entail a number of things, such as:

  • An “inner sense” or an ability to sense something “within oneself”.
  • A humility.  The ability to be aware that ones conscious mind doesn’t know everything.
  • A desire to look and inquire deep within.
  • An ability to interpret.
  • The ability to find use in the intuition.

I have always thought that there are three main difficulties in intuition:

  1. Sensing intuition.
  2. Interpreting intuition.
  3. Utilizing intuition.

All these pose their unique problems and dilemma’s.

THE NEED TO NOT RELY ON ESTABLISHED WAYS – SEEKING UNIQUENESS

I tend to believe that the more a person relies on established ways of doing things, thinking, points of view, etc. the more they are hampered and the less revealing they are.  In my opinion, if a person relies on established ways then they are really just imitating.  In actuality, most people are imitating.  They are imitating or, rather, replicating these things:

  • Information or knowledge
  • Patterns of thinking

Imitation, used in a new way, gives the illusion of something new and unique but its really not.  One could say that most things are restatements or saying the same thing, but in a new way.  Its easy to get deceived by this.

It seems, to me, that in “impressionistic descriptions” one needs to seek to find a uniqueness in what one does and not just imitate.  The quality of uniqueness is something that should always be sought for.  My experience, though, is that finding uniqueness is not as easy as it sounds, making it an achievement, and is not as prevalent as one may think.  

THE IMPORTANCE OF HONESTY

“Impressionistic descriptions” need great honesty to work.  But I have found that being honest with ones self is not that easy . . . its very hard.  In some respects, honesty is like tearing off ones clothes layer by layer.  In other words, to truly be honest is like stripping yourself naked.  This tends to create a reaction of hesitancy and reluctance.  This often appears in “impressionistic descriptions” and can bring it to a halt.

Overcoming the sense of nakedness caused by honesty is very critical.  In many ways, the purpose of “impressionistic descriptions” is to “lay oneself bare” and to make one naked.  Its critical to overcome it.  There seems to be stages in this:

  1. Admitting things to ones self
  2. Coming to terms with these things
  3. Accepting ones relationship with these things 
  4. Stepping into the unknown . . . being naked

To become naked is very much like stepping into the unknown.  One is absolutely bare and vulnerable . . . what will one do and what will happen?

Another thing that makes honesty difficult is that it means that you have to accept things that may be difficult to accept.  Personally, I think most people “twist” their logic and points of view to make them “acceptable”.  In this way, they are distorting what they think or view things.  The need to accept is very critical in “impressionistic descriptions”.  If all a person is going to do is make things sound acceptable then its worthless to do.

Things that are difficult to accept include:

  • Aspects about ourselves
  • Aspects of how we view others
  • Aspects of how we view situations
  • Aspects of what we believe

I tend to believe that one of the great values of “impressionistic descriptions” is that they bring these things out.  They can often initiate and create conflict and dilemma’s.  This makes one look even deeper into oneself.  Eventually, one finds that they are not what they think they are.  In this way, “impressionistic descriptions” can become a means of self discovery.  It also forces us to accept certain things and to develop more of a sense of acceptance and understanding.  

THE NEED TO HAVE NO ULTERIOR MOTIVES

Ulterior motives tend to cloud the “impressionistic description” process. Examples include:

  • Don’t care what others think
  • Don’t seek money with it
  • Don’t seek or care about acknowledgement, praise, or approval

In short, its important to do things for ones self alone, for that is what its for.

SEEKING INSPIRATION

“Impressionistic descriptions” is really a form of seeking inspiration.  I would describe inspiration as a “deepening of awareness”.  In effect, one uses “impressionistic description” as a means to find that “other mind” mentioned above.  This
“other mind” is the source of inspiration.  In this way, we can see that ones normal conscious is a hindrance to inspiration.  One must “turn away” from it.  “Impressionistic descriptions” is a means of “turning away” from the conscious mind and is done a number of ways:

  • By making the conscious mind dumb and without motives
  • The process of “impressionistic descriptions” brings up the “other mind”
  • Becoming aware of what the “other mind” says
  • Feeling satisfaction in expression

In many ways, inspiration could also be described as the transformation of the normal conscious mind with the qualities of the “other mind”.

I do not believe inspiration is making the conscious and “other mind” one mind.  To me, they are distinctly different and separate and will always be that way, almost as if they are two separate organs in the body.  In some respects, in inspiration we are trying to get the two minds to better associate with one another instead of being far apart, as they usually are.  This, it seems to me, is a continuous process that never ends.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Art, artistic expression, and things related with it, Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Inspiration, free association, and intuition, Poesy - seeking a state of mind, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on a remnant of feudal society: “legalism”

Here’s a thought I had:

I have often said that we are still in a reaction to feudalism.  But, to be more precise, its not really feudalism we’re reacting to but an aspect of it:  legalism.  This is something that has had great impact on Western society.  It has caused things such as:

  • It has justified injustice and unfairness
  • Revolutions and conflicts have been a result of legalism
  • Solutions have been found by using legalism
  • It has kept an order
  • It has created a condition that is rigid and unchanging

So we see that legalism has both good and bad qualities.

LEGALISM

By “legalism” I mean the effects of using law, the legal system, and legal theory in such a way that it creates a rigid and unchanging condition.  This has helped to hold things together and keep order but it can also cause conflicts.

Legalism consists of things like:

  • The use of legal documents
  • The use of signing and other forms of “sealing” agreements
  • The use of a rigid and defined legal theory
  • The use of people trained in law, such as lawyers
  • The use of legal proceedings, such as courts
  • The use of some form of authority as justification and right

I should point out that legalism, as I use it here, is not the same as “law”.  To me, legalism is a specific way of using law.  Qualities of this include:

  • Its very organized.
  • It has great authority.  In many ways, law has more authority than royalty and even religion
  • It tends to view itself as infallible.
  • It tends to rely on pre-established and documented ways.
  • It is very controlling.
  • It tends to be dictatorial.
  • It is very rigid.  In fact, the problem of legalism is that it creates a rigid and unchanging condition . . . this made it almost impossible to change anything.  By the 1700’s this reached a crisis (see below).

These qualities seem to describe that legalism is a product of an authoritarian self-righteous society.  This society is, in actuality, the combination of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church . . . the society of the Christian conversion.  This created the basic tone and qualities of legalism but I do not think it established it in the society.  It appears, to me, that legalism became established as a system in society as a result of feudalism.

THE BEGINNINGS OF LEGALISM – ROME AND CHRISTIANITY – THE “LEGAL CONVERSION”

Legalism is closely associated with the Roman Empire and Christianity.  It was brought up north by the Christian missionaries who brought up Roman law along with it.  In this way, legalism is part of the process of the Christian conversion.  The use of Roman law would lay the foundation for legalism.  In this way, the Christian conversion was not only a religious conversion but a “legal conversion”.

It appears that the use of Roman law reflected Christianities early attempts at modelling the new Christian world on the Roman Empire.  As a result of this, Christianity often modeled its organization on the Roman Empire (such as the creation of a Pope in Rome, much like the Roman Emperor).

FEUDALISM AND LEGALISM

Initially, feudalism was a social structure that was in response to conditions of war by a limited farming community.  It was based in a defined social structure with defined roles.  It needed people to do specific things to work to keep the society going.  It ended up creating a strong aristocratic and peasant society.

Much of the structure of the feudal system was based in legalism and needed it to hold it together.  For example, people would sign or mark legal documents of fealty that were so binding that they were practically sealed in stone (some being binding for centuries after words!).  This is why I often say “feudalism is legalism”.

In the early years feudalism worked and is, in many ways, responsible for holding Europe together during those difficult times.  But, later, as conditions changed, the social structure of feudalism didn’t work as well.  The legalism of feudalism, though, continued because of its rigid, binding, and unchanging character.  This kept many qualities of feudalism going for years after it lost its value.  Something like a tug-of-war happened.  On one side was the changing conditions.  On the other side was a legalism-based feudalism that was rigid and unchanging.   It created a condition where things couldn’t change.  One of the things that couldn’t change include many laws associated with the nobility and aristocracy.  Basically, everything was in their favor, by law.  These became an obvious abuse by the mid 1700’s.  But the inability to change these laws caused many conflicts from the late 1700’s and well into the 1800’s. These conflicts include:

  • The French Revolution
  • The idea of democracy
  • Growing legal theory and practice

These conflicts basically created the modern world.  One could very well say that the creation of the modern world was greatly a result of the rigidity and unchanging qualities of legalism which had to be “broken”.  

But, oddly enough, the legalism that helped caused the conflicts would grow and grow in the 1800’s but in a new form.  In the late 1900’s they’d grow even more.  As a result of this, Western society has become a “legalistic society”, based in the legalism established by feudalism.  Remember that the legalism of feudalism became an abuse because of its inability to change.  In the same way, “legalistic society” has also become an abuse, but in other ways.  We are all familiar with the “legal crisis”, of ridiculous lawsuits, laws, lawyer corruption, etc.  These are probably following in the footsteps of legalism and describes a trait that seems inherent in legalism.  This means, more or less, that legalism often has a tendency to become an abuse after a while.  There seems to be a progression:

  1. Legalism is used to deal with a specific situation or condition.
  2. Legalism works well under those conditions.
  3. When the conditions change, the legalism is too rigid to change with the new conditions.
  4. The legalism becomes disassociated from the new conditions but persists.
  5. There becomes a conflict between the rigid legalism and current conditions.
  6. Legalism becomes an abuse.

This abuse can do a number of things, such as:

  • A medium of corruption
  • Continues an injustice or injustices
  • An incentive to change the law

LEGALISM AND POLITICS – THE INFLUENCE OF ROYALTY

Legalism was greatly utilized by royalty.  In many ways, royalty established legalism as a power and force in society.  In fact, it seems that royalty, in association with feudalism, introduced legalism into politics.  It appears that royalty used it for similar reasons as Christianity.  Being the rulers of the land, royalty wanted to create a new Roman Empire and used it, and its laws, as a model.  They ended up using it quite extensively.  It has now become integral to Western government, the state, and legal systems.  The effects of this have continued down to today.

EXPANDING LEGALISM – THE INFLUENCE OF THE UNIVERSITY

The rise of the University, and the inquiry into Roman law that followed, caused some changes in the law.  It created a new form of legalism, an “intellectual legalism”.  It caused things such as:

  • It turned law into an overly intellectual and “cranial” affair.  It turned law into an endless “nick picking” that continues to this day, of an obsessive concern over details, trivialities, wordings, documents, as well as this, that, and the other thing.
  • The University turned law into a world unto itself with its own logic and interpretation of things.  Because of this, it became removed, detached, and alienated from life.
  • Law became difficult, if not impossible, to understand by common people
  • It made it so that law is something exclusive to a small group of people (that is, people of the legal profession).
  • It made law even more rigid.
  • It made law difficult to change.
  • It gave law more authority and power.
  • It gave more avenues for law to become tyrannical, corrupt, and abusive.  I always thought that if legalism had the influence of a government it probably would of created a very tyrannical and controlling system, probably surpassing any government.  But we are saved in the fact that legalism is a limited element in society with a specific function.
  • It turned law into an ultra-organized system.
  • It made law more effective, useful, and broadened its value and function.

LEGALISM AND AUTHORITY

Legalism seems to be based in an “assumed authority”.  In other words, it seems vague as to the origin of its authority . . . its just “assumed” to have authority.  In the past its often been associated with Christianity, Royalty, and eventually government or the state, as described above. These really describe an “association”, not necessarily a “source” of its authority.  This suggests that legalism, by itself, has no authority.  Its authority does not originate from itself but from what its associated with.

Some things that make it an “assumed authority”, and needing an authority to be associated with, include:

  • Its based in an attempt at creating a new “Roman Empire” and is as if using it as authority.  Remember that this was after the Roman Empire fell and is based in the  idea of recreating it.
  • The use of Roman law was implemented, and placed upon society, by a small minority of the population. The rest of the population had no hand in it nor agreed with it.  In this way, the Roman law these minority of people placed on society was not based in any authority the people acknowledged.
  • Its foreign in origin and not based in cultural belief and authority.

LEGALISM AS SOMETHING FOREIGN

It seems, to me, that legalism is something that was forced upon Western society.  In other words, it is not something that is indigenous to Western society and does not reflect its culture and character.  It came in as part of Christianity, which was also forced upon Western society, and is foreign to its culture.  This, I always felt, is one of the reasons why legalism seems so removed and detached from society.  To me, a lot of legalism seemed out-of-place in this society . . . it just doesn’t seem to fit in.  Its like some other world, with its own detached understanding and view of the world, that no one understands.

LEGALISM TODAY

Legalism is as strong as ever, perhaps more so than during the era of feudalism.  It has changed, though. For example, democracy is nothing but a new form of legalism based on the feudal based legalism and the reaction toward it. One could probably very well say that Western society is a ‘neo-feudal legalism’.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Government and politics, Historical stuff, Law and legal stuff | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment