Thoughts on some origins of many ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality – the ongoing effects of WWII, Cold War, and the Vietnam War era, fear, and on how the U.S. is living in the past

Here’s a thought I had:

Over the years, the American mentality has become increasingly ridiculous to me.  To be frank, its actually embarrassing.  This got me to thinking about this nonsense and I began to speak about certain things that, I felt, were great truths about the American mentality that, I think, needs to be said and so I will vent them here.  I know that I have already stated similar ideas in other articles but I’ll restate them here as they are on my mind.  Not only that, I have some things to add.

I should point out that these ridiculous attitudes are not seen in everyone.  I would say that these are attitudes seen in what I’d call the “mainstream American”, people who cater to popular American ideals rather strongly.  Interestingly, I’ve talked about these attitudes with many people and most of them have had similar feelings that I have.  In other words, there are many people who notice these ridiculous attitudes and, like myself, have become sickened by them.  In fact, I think this is a growing number of the population that has largely not been noticed at this time.  It seems that this growing group of the population is becoming disillusioned by America, its ideals, and its principles and, accordingly, is losing faith in America because of these attitudes.  Its because of this that I tend to think that the persistence of these attitudes are destructive to America.

I cannot say how much of the population is sickened by these attitudes or can be called a “mainstream American”.  I think it varies with where you’re at in the country.  I’m getting the impression that the “mainstream American” is more prevalent in larger cities, in the north east, and on the western coast.  I actually think the people who reflect this attitude are a minority but, because of their complaining and claims, they appear to be a large part of the population (as the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”).

Many of these attitudes seem to based in the fact that, overall, many Americans seem to be insecure, paranoid, frightened, and unhappy people deep down.  This insecure nature can be so bad that, sometimes, I feel like I have to walk on tip-toes around some of them.  More than once have I compared some particularly bad Americans as “paranoid schizophrenics”.  Because of stuff like this, I would not say that Americans, as a whole, are not a “great people” as many profess.  Instead, they strike me as a people with many unresolved issues and problems which they are struggling with.  Many of these problems are hidden behind “high cause” and “high ideals”, making it appear, at least to them, that there are no problems.  This makes it so that many Americans seem to think that the country has no problems.  In this way, the American sense of “security” is actually based in a self-deception.  This is one of the reasons for my saying, “Americans like to think they are”, which means they like to think they are without problems or think they’re happy, and so on, but they really aren’t.

Much of this ridiculousness, it seems to me, originates from its past and the effects past events have had on the U.S. . . .

THE VIETNAM WAR ERA CONNECTION

Many of the ridiculous attitudes I associate with the Vietnam War era protests, and hippi movement, of about 1970.  To me, the attitudes primarily seem to come from that era.  This is not surprising as, in my opinion, the Vietnam War era hysteria is the most significant event in U.S. history since WWII.  We truly live in a post Vietnam War era and its effects hang over us like a dark cloud.  Much of our attitudes, points of views, and such actually have origin there.  In this way, the hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War era has not ended and is still continuing on.

The Vietnam War era was so instrumental in U.S. history for a number of reasons:

  • A “release”.  The hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War had a quality of a “release”.   What it released were the tensions caused by WWII and social problems caused by the change in society after WWII.  In short, it was a “release” from WWII and its effects (see below).
  • A “unification”.  Various forms of media, such as music, movies, and the news, caused a prevalence of opinions and feelings that “appeared” to create a unifying effect in the U.S.  But what it created was actually an “apparent unification” of the country. What I mean by this is that it only “united” everyone in a specific media-based point of view and condition, which was primarily hysterical and sensational in context.  The country was not united under an authority, culture, or belief system.  In this way, the U.S. was “unified” by the fact that they watch the same TV programs, listen to the same music, and so on and are ongoing the same sort of problems.  This “apparent unification” of the country seemed to unify the country but it really didn’t.  This is one of the illusions of this era.
  • A “rallying call”.  The Vietnam War hysteria brought up a “rallying call” of worry, concern, panic, or anxiety.  This primarily seems to be a result of the fear caused by the threat of nuclear annihilation during the cold war.  In this way, the fear and panic as if “woke everyone up” to a worry which gave an illusion of a “cause”.  Really, people just become more aware of a condition.

As a result of these the Vietnam War era created something like a “boiling pot” for all the problems, tensions, and feelings that the U.S. had after WWII. Because of this, it as if “harnessed” the whole country into one mass with a unified awareness of itself and its problems.

But the issues brought up during the Vietnam War era are still largely unresolved.  In my opinion, the Vietnam War era did not solve anything but, rather, only brought out problems and issues that are still outstanding.  In a way, all it did is unify the country in an awareness of a condition of issues and problems.  This unification and awareness did nothing to solve anything, as many people seem to think.

It seems, to me, that some of the reasons for these problems being unresolved include:

  • The absence of authority.  Without an authority there’s nothing to solve anything.  There’s no authority as the ideals of the U.S. tend to undermine authority and prevent any from developing . . . its a democracy remember!
  • The “apparent unity”.  The absence of a “real unity” prevents any sort of a unity in a solution or resolution.  As a result, the U.S. is plagued with too many points of views.
  • Too broad of ideals.  American ideals are so broad (that is, it thinks it has the solution to the worlds problems and all the problems between people) that it is unable to focus enough on something in order to solve it.  For example, according to the American ideology everyone must be treated the same and so any solution must be a solution for everyone.  Since this cannot happen nothing gets solved.

Most of the supposed solutions to the issues brought out by the Vietnam War era tend to be based in these things:

  1. Nationalistic ideals – freedom and democracy
  2. Christian-based beliefs and principles peace and love

None of these worked.  One reason why is that, in both cases, they are principle-based. That is to say, they are based in abstract and idealistic thought and not real world reality. Though the abstract idealistic thought sounds good to the masses, it does not work well in actual real world functioning, particularly in a non-unified mass of people with no authority.  It tends to develop a marked gap between “idea” and “what actually happens” which causes a problem in trying to solve things.

The Vietnam War and liberalism

Much of the attitudes of the Vietnam War era have carried over into liberalism.  It seems to me that it is primarily through liberalism, and its attitudes, that the issues of the Vietnam War era have been kept alive and kicking.  In fact, the ridiculous attitudes of America are primarily a result of liberalism.  In this way, this article is really speaking about liberalism and its ongoing effects.

Because modern liberalism has taken so much from the Vietnam War era it has, in a way, kept us in that era . . . it has kept us in the 1970’s as if we are stuck in that time with the same issues, themes, and solutions.  The problem is that it is now almost a half a century later.  The Vietnam War era, and the liberalism it effected, are now out of date.  Its prevalence keeps us stuck in the 1970’s and keeps us out of date.  In this way, the U.S. is hampered, in my opinion, and having difficulty growing and “moving on” because of it.  I view this as impairing to this country.

Some of the themes that liberalism uses to keep us stuck in the 1970’s include:

  • Various social and political issues.  These are issues coming from that era, or descending from it, such as race, government power, freedom, environmental damage, animal rights, etc.
  • An unrealistic and often unjustified or unrealized fear.  This fear often promotes paranoia, conspiracy theories, assumption of hatred, and such that do not exist.
  • The supposed “solution” to the problem.  This is, as I said above, usually nationalistic or Christian-based, and which don’t work.
  • A self-righteous cause.  Liberalism tends to think it is the answer to the countries, and often the worlds, problems.  My observation is that the liberals tend to think that they are the representative of America, freedom, democracy, and peace.  Anyone who opposes them is against these principals.  In this way, they tend to be “pig headed”, “high and mighty”, and unwilling to change . . . they are “right”.  As a result, they press their point, good or bad, but its always good in their eyes.  In so doing, they persist these attitudes and keep them going.  In many ways, its the self-righteous attitudes of modern liberalism that is the problem.

Its no surprise that many of these themes can be seen, or are associated with, the the ridiculous American attitudes.

THE WWII CONNECTION

I tend to see the Vietnam War era mentality as the result of WWII and its effects.  In other words, the Vietnam War era attitudes actually originate from WWII, the horrors it created, its victory, and its subsequent effects on the U.S. There are many things that WWII has created that have contributed to this effect.  These include:

  • The knowledge of Hitler, the Nazi’s, the Holocaust, and the Jews.  This brought on the theme of race and hatred that figures so prominently in the Vietnam War era and which still persist in the U.S.  These themes were particularly seen in the “great cause” of the Civil Rights Movement.   In a way, the U.S. turned the Civil Rights Movement into a small “American Holocaust” in imitation of the Nazi’s. 
  • The horrifying weapons of war.  This includes tanks, airplanes, bombers, etc. but most especially the nuclear bomb.  This brought on the theme of fear.
  • The Cold War panic and fear of a nuclear war.  This refers primarily to the threat of nuclear annihilation in a WWIII and war with the Soviet Union.  Because we were fighting a political/economic theory opposed to ours it caused the theme of self-righteous cause.   Being related with destruction it also contributed to the theme of fear.
  • The growing prevalence and growth of the media with its tendency to mass hysteria.  This brought on the theme of being quick to panic and quick to judgement as well as a tendency to being gullible.
  • The post WWII economic boom which upset the whole social structure.  After WWII the U.S. went into something of an economic and innovation boom.  This ended up causing great stresses and conflicts in American society, many of which are still existing and unresolved.  Things that were upset include social structure, the traditional ways of doing things, belief, and so on.  This caused the theme of doubt about society and doubt about authority.  These eventually figured prominently in the Vietnam War hysteria and are still issues today.

In many ways, the effects of these implanted something like a virus in the U.S. that is as if eating away the inside of the U.S.  Its because of this that I have always stated, and still maintain, that “the greatest threat to the U.S is from the inside”.  In other words, the attitudes and mentalities, that the U.S. has within it, are its greatest threat.   It seems, to me, that many of these attitudes and mentalities originate from WWII.    In some respects, this means that the U.S. only appears to of won WWII . . . its actually still fighting its effects!  

THE ISSUE OF FEAR

If one looks closely one can see that one theme that is prevalent, as a result of WWII, is a fear and its a fear in many forms.  This fear was not an overt fear but a deep lying fear.  You don’t see people running around screaming, for example.  It is an unconscious quiet fear that many people are not even aware of.  One could, perhaps, call it the “quiet fear” as a result.  Despite it being “quiet” it had great effect and motivated many things, even though people may not of been conscious of it.  Much of the effect of this “quiet fear” would lead to the issues and hysteria surrounding the Vietnam War.

It seems, to me, that Americans had a many predispositions to fear that existed before WWII and which have contributed to why the U.S. is struggling with its effects.  Some of the causes seem to be:

  • Christianity.  This taught us that we are all sinners and, accordingly, are “bad”, as well as the fact that there is an “evil” streak in humanity.  It also tended to create a naive and innocent nature in people making them prone to being easily frightened.
  • The absence of authority.  This is because, in a democracy, the power is in the “people”.  This absence of authority tends to cause a sense of instability and insecurity which predisposes one to fear.
  • The emphasis on individualism.  This tends to put enormous pressure on the individual causing a tendency to stress and despair which causes a tendency to being easily frightened.
  • The reliance on machines and technology.  This tends to make people less a part of things and, in a way, made us more distant from the world.  Because of this, it makes us us feel removed from the world and causes a sense of having no control.  The effect of this is ,that there is a predisposition to fear.
  • The mass hysteria nature of the media.  The growing media, and its effects, would have great impact on the culture and people of the U.S.  Its prevalence made it so that people easily believe what comes out of the media and easily succumb to any fear that it may state.  In short, then, the media created a gullible people that are easily frightened.

In addition to being frightened, the post WWII years also entailed attempts at defending themselves against the fear.  Some examples of the ways they defended themselves include:

  • Christian-based principles.  This includes things like love, peace, understanding, the condemning of hatred and war, and the moaning of the evil of humanity.  It also tended to create a self-righteous attitude and an idea of a “high cause”, which figures so prominently with liberalism. It also created a the creation of Christian-based communes and societies such as the Diggers, the Beats (beatnicks), and the Hippi’s which would figure so prominently during the Vietnam War.
  • The American Constitution and political/legal theory.  These were literally thrown at any problems that appeared almost as if it was a cure all.  As a result of this, everything was turned into a political and rights issue.
  • NationalismSince much of the fear became associated with the Cold War and Soviet Union there became a glorification of American political and economic theory and ideals.  In this way, America became the “answer”.

The Vietnam War era, in particular, created a generalized attitude of fear, as well as its defense, that became something like a culture that still exists.  Perhaps we could call it the “Vietnam War era culture of fear”.   This became a way of life for some people, particularly as a result of the hippi movement who, in a way, are the inventors of the culture.  This seems to be a result of the fact that the hippi movement is based in living a certain way of life.  Its general attitude would be transferred to many of the people, particularly the younger people, in the late 1960’s.  Over time, this “culture of fear” then spread to liberalism, politics, and even the general social opinion.  In these ways, the “culture of fear” maintains, and keeps alive, a fear caused by a war that’s already over.  Because of this, the attitudes above reveal that many Americans are still frightened, and defending themselves, against a fear caused by a war that ended decades ago!  

Talk about living in the past!!!

THE FEMALE INFLUENCE

My observation seems to show that female is instrumental in a lot of these ridiculous attitudes.  In fact, it seems that they are greatly involved in keeping them going.  They tend to maintain the attitudes of liberalism which figure so strongly in its continuing.  This, of course, does not mean that all American females are this way but a great many are, at least to some extent.  I can’t say how much of the population but my impression is its something like 2/3 of the female population.

They seem to particularly emphasize a number of things, such as:

  • Being too easily frightened, offended, or upset.
  • A prevalence of the “victim mentality”.
  • Conspiracy theories and paranoia.
  • The abuse of political/legal theory and the Constitution.
  • A tendency to hysteria and blowing things out of proportion.

After being around many females it doesn’t take a genius to see that the world image that many Americans females have created is one with the qualities described above, a world that can be described as one of “blind fear, a preoccupation with being victimized, conspiracy theories, hysteria, and the use of political theory and self-righteous cause as a defense”.  That, from my experience, is the general stance of many American females.

My observation suggests that if the females would cease expressing these things then most of the panic, hysteria, and fear, that we see in this society, would probably fade away.  I’m under the impression, though, that the female is just going to continue these attitudes.  I see no evidence that they are going to change their attitude or point of view.  In this way, the female is actually contributing to keeping the U.S. in a frightened state, stuck in the past, and unable to progress.

Females seem particularly prone to these points of view, it seems to me, as a result of a basic problem of the female identity that is going on in the U.S.  Its for this reason that I often speak of many American females as the ‘failed sex’ meaning that the female identity has failed (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘failed sex’ – how many female traits have failed – a hidden crisis of the American female“).  This creates a great insecurity in many females that often leads to the qualities described above.

That’s how it looks to me anyways.

THE U.S. AS OUT-OF-DATE

With all the above it makes it appear that the U.S. is truly living in the past and is acting as if its in conditions that no longer exist.  This is why I often speak of the U.S. as being “out of date”.  More and more I keep saying things like “uh, the 70’s are over” or “we’re not in the Vietnam War era anymore”, and such, as I continually see mentalities originating from that era.

Some of the things that keep the U.S. out-of-date include:

  • The conflicts, issues, and problems after WWII which are unresolved.
  • How many mentalities, such as liberalism, keeps the U.S. stuck in the past. 
  • The “apparent unity” that was created after WWII.  This gives an illusion of a unified people and country but is actually an absence of unity.
  • “Cold war glory”.  The fact is that WWII, and the Cold War, was a period of time of great pride for the U.S.  Because of this, many Americans are not all that willing to let that sense go.  In this way, they keep the U.S. stuck in the past and out-of-date by national pride.
  • The lack of authority Without authority there is no leadership to move the country out of the past.

EXAMPLES OF RIDICULOUS ATTITUDES

Here are some of the ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality that are caused by the issues above:

  • The prevalence of conspiracy theories.  The “mainstream American” is becoming a person of conspiracy theories who seems to think that everyone is conspiring against everyone else.  They see conspiracies in every problem or issue out there.  For example, if something does not go the way they want, or they don’t like something, they assume conspiracy, that someone else is deliberately going against them.  In many cases, the government, any form of authority, and the male (especially the white male) is often viewed as the originator of the conspiracy.  As a white male I have been utterly appalled at all the supposed conspiracies we have been supposed to of done.  Apparently, we are all against females and/or minorities and have created all these institutions to degrade and enslave them in some way.  From what I’ve heard, we must be pretty bad people. But I will say that I have never, in all my life, seen any evidence of any conspiracy against another group of people nor do I see any plotting.
  • A paranoid attitude.  Many Americans have a paranoid viewpoint of things.  It can reach the point of being delusional in some people.  I’ve even heard Americans say that the whole world is plotting against them.  In many cases, if there is some problem, such as they didn’t get a job, they assume its because people are “against them”.  This attitude is often hidden behind claims of “oppression” or “rights violation” and similar political/legal themes which makes it appear to be legitimate (and which fools most people).  In fact, my observation is that when political/legal themes are brought up its usually hides paranoid delusions.
  • They have a “victim mentality”.  Many see victimizing coming out of the woodwork.  Some people have even developed a “victim worldview” where their whole view of the world is in the context of them being a victim.  This viewpoint is particularly bad with females, some of who has made a life out of it.  This worldview also figures prominently in liberalism who have made a whole cause out of this imagined “victimizing”.
  • Fabricated threats.  Because of the conspiracy theories and paranoid attitudes, many American create threats that don’t exist. As I always say, “They see threats where there are no threats.  They see enemies where there are no enemies.  They see hatred where there is no hatred.  They see plots where there are no plots.”  This seems particularly prevalent with females and black people.
  • The assumption that everyone hates everyone else.  Every time I turn around Americans are assuming that people are doing things out of hatred.  I’ve seen cases where an everyday event, like a traffic accident or being pushed to the side in a crowd, is interpreted as being caused by hatred.  And if someone does something that is hate-related they blow it out of proportion, almost like the world is going to come to an end. My observation is that many Americans are too quick to jump in assuming hatred in things and quick to blow it out of proportion.  In this way, many things are made out worse than they really are and a simple minor thing can be turned into a horrible event.  This mentality also gives the illusion of conflict between people that, in actuality, does not exist.  In this way, the supposed condemning of hatred actually ends up promoting hatred.  In other words, the people who state they are against hatred are actually the cause of it.  This tends to exaggerate problems and keeps them going.
  • They are too easily offended.  Many Americans get too easily offended.  In fact, they get so easily offended that you have to be careful what you do, what you say, how you behave, and even what you think around some of them.  Once offended, they tend to blow it out of proportion, often using conspiracy theories, paranoia, and such to explain it off.  They are usually easily offended because they assume “sinister” motives behind it . . . a reflection of paranoia.    
  • They blame and villainize innocent people.  All these conspiracy theories, paranoia, and assumption of hatreds, make many Americans blame and villainize innocent people.  I’ve often said that “Americans have become a people of blame and accusation”.   They are quick to find someone to blame.  They also tend to put words in peoples mouths and intentions in their actions.  I’ve been utterly appalled by this behavior.  Its like watching people twist things around so that people appear “bad” when they’re not.
  • They look at things in the worst possible light.  For some people, no matter what happens, its assumed to be the worst.  Not only does this involve problems but it even goes down to simple things such as what you eat (causes cancer or make you fat), a stomach ache (obviously cancer), and even getting mad (obviously hatred).  
  • They use political/legal theory, the Constitution, rights, etc. as a cheap justification and defense against everything.  A common saying I hear people say is “everything’s a rights violation”.  If it isn’t then they can make it so.  They quote the Constitution, and such, like its the Bible and ultimate authority.  Some people use it like a weapon.  Sadly, this is often done to get their own way.  This is because people seem to think that if you quote the Constitution it automatically makes them right. What this has done, for many of us, is undermine and destroy the believability of the American Constitution, law, political theory, and such.  In my opinion, the excessive use of the Constitution and America’s political ideals has become an abuse and has damaged the principles and ideals of the U.S.  I would almost venture to say that it has damaged it beyond repair.
  • They are self-righteous and always assume that America is the answer.  They tend to over value themselves and view themselves too highly.  I’ve heard many Americans talk as if the world “wants to be American” and that the U.S. has a monopoly of all that is good in the world.
  • They are moaning and groaning about everything.  Everything seems to bother and offend them . . . you name it, they moan and groan about it.  Its always amazed me how the people who are claiming they are the wealthiest and most advanced country in the world complain so much about everything.  In actuality, Americans are an unhappy people.  I’ve learned that you don’t come to America to be happy.
  • They seem to believe whatever they are told.  As a result of this, they believe things like the news media, social media, gossip, and such dishes out.  I know people who accept these as a “source of whats true in the world”.   This type of attitude makes it so that many Americans have a quality like “the blind leading the blind”.  In addition, it makes them prone to a hysteria and a tendency to blow things out of proportion.  This is further complicated by the fact that most Americans have no “authority” to look up to as a source of “truth”, such as a religion.  This makes them impulsive to believe whatever is “convenient” and “popular”.  In fact, I would even say that, for many Americans, “truth” is primarily based on “popular opinion”.
  • The lack of appreciation of peoples roles and social hierarchy.  I have been stunned how little respect many Americans have for any form of a “role”, such as a mother, father, etc.  May act like any role is an “oppression” or something and sometimes treat it with contempt.  With so little respect for human institutions I often wonder how the American society continues to exist.  To me, this attitude is like spitting on human nature and human society.  It also is like a denial of nature and the way things are.

AFTERTHOUGHT

What all this really reveals is the incredible impact WWII had on the U.S.  It had such an impact that the U.S. is still gripping with the effects of WWII over 70 years later.  In this way, the U.S. is as if “stuck” in the post WWII world, especially the Vietnam War era.  Because of this, the U.S. doesn’t seem to of progressed along all that much since then and remains out-of-date and stuck in the past.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Current affairs and events, News media and the news, Personal gripes, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The military and war, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “hate myth” and the forgotten importance of threat

Here’s a thought I had:

THE “HATE MYTH”

I have always felt that hatred is used as an explanation for far too many things. Its almost like hatred has become an overly simple “blame-all” of problems between people.  To me, it always seemed that there were more to things than hatred in problems and people.  There are many more important issues and themes that are left out and not even mentioned.  In many cases, hatred may not even be involved.  But, to them, its all caused by hatred!  Its because of stuff like this that I speak of the “hate myth”.

Because of this, I believe many situations are misunderstood by the “hate myth”.  In fact, I think it has even given a misunderstanding about human nature in general and peoples association with each other.  In this way, I tend to feel that the “hate myth”, overall, is more destructive and deceiving than anything else.

Some examples of the things I consider reflecting the “hate myth”, and are misunderstood as a result, include:

  • That wars are caused by hatred
  • That the Holocaust is caused by hatred
  • That the “race problem”, in the South of the U.S., is caused by hatred.
  • That Middle Eastern problems are caused by hatred.

I think that there are a little bit more to these problems than “hatred”. . . and these are only the tip of the iceberg.

Origins of the “hate myth”

I tend to believe the “hate myth” originates from a number of sources, such as:

  • Christianity.  This, of course, preaches love and peace.  The opposite of these, its generally assumed, is hatred.  Therefore, in this point of view, problems between people obviously do not entail love and peace.  Its often assumed, then, that these problems are caused by hatred (or some other malicious intent).  In this point of view, the solution to these problems is not “hate” but “love”.  Since this “message” is perceived as god-ordained, Christianity gave the condemning of hatred a self-righteous and Divine cause.  The religious aspect of this also gave it a “moral condemnation” quality.  These attitudes dominate the “hate myth”.
  • The horror of war as a result of the World Wars and Cold War.  The horror of war, that WWI and WWII displayed, as well the threat of nuclear annihilation of the Cold War, have all contributed to a need to “explain away” these horrors.  Since war is a conflict between people it made it so that hatred became an easy explanation of why they happen and to condemn its horrors.  In this way, war is often automatically assumed to be a result of hatred.
  • The Nazi’s and Holocaust.  The attempted extermination of a mass of people have horrified many people.  As a result, hatred became an easy way to explain why people would do this to another group of people.  It seems to me, that the Nazi’s and the Holocaust have made the greatest contribution to the “hate myth” as it has caused the greatest horror in people, reflecting the extreme of what problems between people can do to each other.  In some, the Nazi’s and Holocaust has caused a need to easily “explain” these horrors, regardless of its truth, simplicity, or narrow-mindedness.  In the U.S. the horror of the Holocaust would be as if turned into the Civil Rights Movement, and its association with slavery.  I jokingly call this “America’s holocaust” as the U.S. basically turned it into essentially the same thing.  As a result, the Civil Rights Movement – “America’s Holocaust” – would bring the horror of the Holocaust home and make it more personal.
  • The Vietnam War era protests.  I tend to believe that the Vietnam War era protests united all the above qualities into one “philosophy” or point of view.  In this way, one could say that the Vietnam War era protests created the “hate myth”. 

Because of these, hate became an all too easy explain-away that “seems” to explain the problems even though hate, in reality, reveals nothing about why they happened.  Its association with Christianity also gave it a “righteous” quality and, therefore, the explanation of hatred gave a “high and mighty” explanation.  Because of this, there becomes no need to go further than to say “its caused by hatred”.  In effect, this “righteous” quality tends to cause a “dead end” to any real inquiry into these matters.  The net result is the creation of the “hate myth” that seems to explain it but really reveals nothing.

Because of the “hate myths” association with the world wars and Holocaust, it became particularly necessary when there is any form of violence involved.  This reveals that the “hate myth” is really rooted in a horror of the effects of war and a need to explain this horror away.  In this way, the “hate myth” is associated with an emotional reactionary tendency that has a tendency to distort things, which is exactly what it has done.  

What all this means is that specific events of past history are being used as a basis to judge, condemn, and explain away problems between people.  The problem with this, of course, is that current conditions do not match the past conditions.  Because of this, the “hate myth” tends to be “disconnected” with current history as it is based in specific events in past history.  Its because of this, in particular, that hatred-as-an-explanation tends to be “disconnected” with current conditions and, accordingly, it tends to distort things.

Forms of the “hate myth”

The “hate myth” tends to appear in different forms:

  • As an explanation.  Here, it is primarily used as if was a legitimate explanation of why things happen but usually reveals nothing.
  • As condemnation.  Here, it is used to condemn people, usually with a “self-righteous” or “moral” right.
  • As villainizing.  Here, it is used to make people look bad.  In many cases, this is done as a form of “moral outrage” more than anything else.

These forms are primarily reactions to dealing with something that is feared.  This is because, as I said above, the “hate myth” is rooted in the horror of war and the Holocaust. What this reveals is that the “hate myth” is used more as a means to deal with fear than as a real explanation of whats happening.  This gives the “hate myth” more of a quality an “explain away” than anything else.  In this way, we can see that the “hate myth” really reveals nothing about hatred itself.

THE “THREAT REACTION” – THE POWER OF THREAT

If we cease to look at hatred in the context above (as condemnation, villainization, etc.) and look at the behavior spoken of it seems that most of what people call hatred is a form of “threat reaction”.  This is basically a reaction to a “perceived” threat.  In other words, they are reacting to something which is viewed, by them, as a threat.  In other words, people aren’t just reacting this way for “malicious” and “sinister” reasons, which is what the “hate myth” usually implies or states.

This “perceived” threat can appear a number of ways:

  • A real and actual threat
  • An imagined threat
  • A combination of the above

One must keep in mind that a “perceived” threat is viewed as an actual reality and, as a result, instigates a “threat response” . . . whether it is real or imaginary does not matter.  It just has to be “perceived”.  The important point about this is that noting that the threat is imagined or false does not mean that the response is “bad”, “malicious”, “sinister”, etc.  Regardless of this, any “perceived” threat, regardless if it is real or imagined, still receives a genuine response from the person.  This point must be understood.

A “perceived” threat, by nature, instigates a “threat response” which is a reaction to the threat.  This response often has these qualities:

  • A sense of uneasiness or insecurity.  This can range from a mild uncomfortable feeling to a feeling that ones life is in jeopardy.
  • A need to rid oneself of the “perceived” threat.  This could range anywhere from getting away from it to attacking it.
  • In some cases, a violent reaction to the threatening element takes place.  This often creates a predisposition to violence toward the threatening element whether provoked or not.
  • A need to respond.  As a general rule, the “threat response” can be described as a reaction to a condition of potential harm in which one MUST RESPOND.
  • It tends to be impersonal.  The “threat response” often has the quality of a reflex action.  Because of this, it often appears “inhuman” and can behave in an inhuman way.  In this way, the response tends to be impersonal and cold.

This potential harm can appear a number of ways:

  • A harm to ones physical body.  This is like being shot at with a pistol.
  • A harm to ones ability to live or condition of livelihood.  This can be compared to an economic depression which upsets the economy and ones ability to make a living.
  • A harm to ones sense of security and safety.  This is like a war that makes one feel insecure and unsafe.
  • A harm to ones social reality.  An example of this is like having a new culture or belief system come in and upset ones whole social structure, lifestyle, and belief system.  This could happen when another culture, country, or religion invades your country.  It can also be caused by an event that upsets society such as some forms of change.
  • A harm to ones personal  inner calm.  It can also be perceived as something very personal, that hits ones self deep down, and which does not bother anyone else.

Its not uncommon that these forms of potential harm often instigates a response from people, sometimes very severely.    Often, the reactions to the threat follow a pattern similar to this:

  1. Avoidance or ignoring.  This is one of the earliest and most common reactions.  In many cases, just ignoring a situation can diffuse a situation or let the threat diffuse.  Its because of this tendency, I feel, that more things do not get out of control.  In other words, if everyone reacted to every threat we’d be in perpetual conflict.  This is why, in any conflict, the first thing to do is “calm down”!
  2. An uneasiness or nervousness.  This is the beginning of a sense that “something is wrong”.
  3. Stress.  This is when the threat is realized which causes a sense of something “weighing upon us”.  This is often what forces a person to try to react.
  4. Acts to try to remedy the situation.  These often start as “honest” and “good-natured” attempts.  When it doesn’t work it tends to lead to the next phase.
  5. Acts of desperation.  Here, people can do all sorts of weird responses, even to the point of that it appears hard to understand or bizarre.  They may do things such as develop conspiracy theories, plot against things, and so onIn some cases, an act of desperation is nothing more than an intense form of one of the earlier forms, such as ignoring or stress.
  6. A violence of some form.  In many cases, violence is the result of desperation that failedOften, the first act of violence is toward ones own self, such as when one “eats ones heart out”.  In many ways, suicide is this form of violence toward ones self as a reaction to a feeling of some threat.  If the threat comes from without then the violence tends to end up being outward though.

Keep in mind that not all threats go through phases such as these.  Some threats are so intense that the immediate response is violence, such as being attacked by someone.  This shows that there are a number of forms of reactions, depending on the nature of the threat:

  •   An immediate threat.  This is when the threat is about to happen, such as being attacked.
  • An immanent threat.  This is a threat that is not about to happen but could be a threat at any time.  This is like the possibility of losing ones job.
  • A long-standing threat.  This is usually an immanent threat that has not been realized over a long period of time.
  • A historical-based threat.  This is a threat that has caused a reaction in the society past but has become so long-standing that it has become part of the culture.  In many cases, people are reacting to a threat from the past but that does not exist at the moment.

Each one of these has variations in the reactions phases of reactions described above, such as:

  • An immediate threat.  This often causes a tendency to violence.
  • An immanent threat.  This often causes stress, acts to try to remedy the situation, and desperation but could become violent in some situations.
  • A long-standing threat.   This often causes an uneasiness, nervousness or stress
  • A historical-based threat.  This often causes an uneasiness and nervousness.

What is particularly interesting is that the long-standing and historical-based threat tends to show that the sense of a threat can lie passive and dormant not only within a person but in a society.  Perhaps we could call this a “dormant threat”?  This form of threat can appear a number of ways, such as:

  • It is unconscious and unknown.
  • It appears in patterns of interpretation of events and life.
  • It appears as attitudes. 

In these ways, a “dormant threat” often creates a “threat-based worldview” in a person or society.  In other words, a “dormant threat” tends to mold a person or societies perceptions of things and the world and in how the world is interpreted.  As a result of this, the “dormant threat” can have great impact on things and is not something to look at lightly.

In addition, it seems that a “dormant threat” often tends to predispose a person or society to an over-reaction to a threat, even a mild one.  Often, this entails an easy, and often over-willing, tendency to violence.  As a result, a tendency to easily become violent is often a sign of a hidden “dormant threat”.  Depending on the situation this “dormant threat” can range from a personal threat (such as the result of being abused as a child) to a historical or culturally based threat (such as the threats caused by a war).   What all this shows is that many people are living with a “silent threat” within them. 

HATRED AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH THREAT

As I said above, hatred is a form of a “threat reaction” and, as a result, has many qualities described above.  Its seems, to me, that hatred is a unique form of “threat reaction”.  In particular, hatred is when there is a “threat response” but no threatening element.  To be more precise, the threatening element is lacking.  The “threatening element” is the thing that provokes the threat . . . it causes the “threat response”.  In other words, without the “threatening element” there is no threat to respond to.  It can be a number of things:

  • Some thing, living or inanimate.  This could be an animal, person, or a building falling on you.
  • A condition.  This could be something like poverty.
  • A situation.  This could be like an accident or a war.
  • A mental idea.  In many cases, our greatest threat is the ideas we have about things.  In fact, many threats are mental non-existent fabrications we’ve created in our own minds.

The “threatening element” often seems lacking in a number of ways, such as:

  • It is not seen – the threat is not overly demonstrable or observable.
  • It is not perceived – the person senses no conscious threat.

In other words, they are acting to a threat when none is seen and/or perceived.  In this way, its not really a reaction to something.  Instead, it seems more of a self-instigated impulse.  Because of this, hatred is more of a psychological matter of the person feeling the hatred. Since the threatening element is lacking the “threat” comes from somewhere within.

Being based in the psychological makeup of the person reveals that hatred is often really an expression of an unconscious threat and fear.  Hatred, then, tends to be based in more personal and deeper issues that has origins in things like:

  • A belief system.  Some belief systems can promote or cause a fear (such as Christianity’s fear of satan).
  • An experience.  A bad experience can make a person hate to be in that situation again. A traumatic experience even makes it more so.
  • A condition.  Being poor or the “bottom man on the totem pole” are good examples of what can make a person feel threatened.
  • A thought pattern.  Some patterns of thinking can make a person feel threatened.  In some people this thought pattern can become like a habit, influencing their thoughts and behavior.
  • A psychological issue or problem.  Various psychological problems can, of course, cause feelings of being threatened.
  • A long-standing condition.  Having feelings of  threat for a long-standing duration can cause an unconscious fear.
  • A culture-based fear.  As described above, some cultures a threat-based mentality that affects some people more than others.
  • A mixture of the above. 

One can see that these are really aspects of a “dormant threat”.  In this way, one could very well say that hatred is a manifestation of a “dormant threat” within.  We could then speak of hatred as an “internal threat” whereas the normal “threat reaction” is an “external threat” as the threat is seen externally.

Being that hatred is internal-based it tends to be detached from the outer world.  This is what gives hatred some of its unique qualities, such as:

  • It often does not seem to be connected with the situation and is often out-of-place.
  • It tends to be over-reacted and over-played.
  • It tends to get out of control.
  • It tends to be very directed to specific things.
  • It is felt deeply and personally.
  • It overwhelms the person and can dominate a person to the point that it can “eat you up”.

My own experience with hatred is that it has these qualities  I would describe hatred in this way:  “Hatred is a strong overpowering and fierce reaction to some ‘thing’.  This reaction seems out-of-place and disconnected with thingsWhat’s even more interesting is that its so disconnected that I do not consciously or overtly feel a cause, or threat, for this feeling.  The hatred just exists.  I only began to see the cause, or threat, only on reflection.”

THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THE “THREAT REACTION” AND HATRED

The “threat reaction” and hatred are closely related in nature.  Because of this, they are often blurred together and can easily change from one to the other.  My observation is that most hatreds originate from a legitimate threat, and “threat reaction”, that has been turned into an “internal threat”.  It does this because the “threat reaction” tends to “simmer” slowly turning it into hatred.  Some of the ways this happens include:

  • A prolonged conflict.
  • An unresolved reaction.
  • A reaction that does not take place.
  • A philosophy that intensifies or prolongs the threat.
  • Psychological problems.

There are many conflicts, such as wars, which are caused by a “threat reaction” initially.  If it remains unresolved it will often slowly turn into hatred.  In other words, a threat that becomes apathetic tends to turn into hatred.  As time goes on, and the threat simmers even more, hatred often turns to something like a “dislike”.  This is like hatred but without the “oomph”.

Interestingly, its not uncommon that hatred is confused with contempt.  They are totally unrelated though.  Contempt is more like an “outrage”, so to speak, and is not threat-related.

THE THREAT TO CULTURAL IDENTITY

The condemnation of hatred has only misled us about what causes it.  Most “hatred” is caused by some form of a threat, not by some “malicious” or “sinister” or “evil” cause.  Some examples include:

  • Most wars are caused by some form of threat, usually a threat to ones way of life and a fear of being taken over.
  • That Holocaust is caused by the Nazi’s feeling threatened by the Jews (as a result of a philosophy they developed) when their way of life and identity were threatened after WWI.
  • The “race problem”, in the South of the U.S., is actually caused by a threat to the identity of the South, and way of life, by the North.  The so-called “hatred” toward blacks was just a contempt . . . the real threat was the threat to the identity and way of life of the South.  This means, more or less, that the real issue of the American Civil War was not slavery, as is often supposed.
  • Middle Eastern problems are caused by long-standing conflicts between people which threaten their way of life, culture, belief, identity, etc.

We see one interesting theme here:  cultural identity.  What we find is that some of the greatest “perceived” threats, and which causes some of the deepest responses, is the threat to cultural identity.  There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. It hits a person on a social level
  2. It hits a person on a personal level

As a result of these two reasons, the threat to cultural identity tends to particularly hit deep within a person.  This is one reason why the threat to cultural identity is so impactful and causes such a reaction.  In fact, it seems that the greatest reactions to threat, that we have seen in history, tend to involve threats to cultural identity.  As a result, threats to cultural identity are nothing to look at lightly.

Oftentimes, though, the threat to cultural identity tends to sit and simmer for a number of reasons:

  • The threat never happens.  The threat never materializes but its threat hangs over them.
  • The threat happens but is not resolved.  A country, for example, is invaded and taken over but nothing happens to them so the threat simmers.

When things, such as these, happens the threat simmers and eventually turns to hatred.  This, and its deep-rooted  nature, means that threats to cultural identity tend to turns into hatred very easily.  This is seen in a lot of the world.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THREAT

Overall, it seems that we have forgotten the importance of threat in our lives and have forgotten to appreciate its power.  All we do is condemn its effects.  Its far more prevalent than people realize and has tremendous impact.  It is so prevalent, in fact, that I’d say that many forms of behavior in life are threat-related.  Certain facts are clear:

  • There are many threats in life.
  • There are many forms of threats.
  • We all react to threats.
  • Sometimes, the reaction to threat is not good.

These are things, it seems to me, that need to be acknowledged, accepted, and appreciated and not continually condemned.  They are natural human reactions and must be looked at from that angle.

Interestingly, the “hate myth”, as well as the condemnation of hatred, is based in the same threat-based mentality that causes the “threat reaction” and hatred . . . people feel threatened.  In this way, the people who condemn hatred, and endorse the “hate myth”, are really not all that different from the people they are condemning.  Its just appearing differently.

LOOKING AT THREAT IN LIFE

I often think its good to think about what we feel threatens us in life.  My experience is that most of what we think is a threat is not a threat after all.  In this way, we are reacting to a threat that doesn’t exist.  There are a number of reasons for this, such as:

  • We assume its a threat.
  • We reacted to a previous threat but the reaction went was unrealized . . . it lies dormant.
  • Psychological problems.
  • Social problems.
  • We convinced ourselves its a threat in our mind.
  • The threat is based on a philosophy, belief, or point of view.

One thing that I found is that we tend to “hold onto threats” and don’t let them go.  It seems to me that we tend to “hold onto threats” because it gives the illusion of control.  Why is this?  A threat means that there is potential harm to oneself.  This causes a response to end the situation.  In order to end the threat we must “control” the situation.  As a result, a threat tends to make us want to have some form of control.  Since a threat is often dormant, unrealized, simmers, as described above, one has nothing to “control”.  Despite this, there is still a tendency to want to control the situation.  By “holding on” we get the illusion of control.

I have found that I recognize things as a threat only on reflection.  In other words, I do not recognize threats as a threat as they happen.  I tend to feel that there are a number of reasons for this, such as:

  • The response to threat is instinct-based.  As a result, it tends to be unconscious and is not part of our abstract conceptions of things.
  • Civilization has suppressed the instinct-based response. 
  • Society gives the illusion of safety which we use as a basis for a life.
  • Many threats are not that dramatic to be noticed.

In these ways, the threat reaction tends to be “silent” and unconscious.  As a result, we are not all that overtly aware of threats.  Its because of this that I often discover a threat on reflection.

Some of the ways to find a threat include:

  • A tendency to avoid something.
  • A tendency to ignore something or pretend its not there or happening.
  • Something that makes one nervous or stressed.
  • A dislike for something.
  • Something you hate.

Like I said, many of these are not recognized as a threat when experienced but often have the quality of an “irritation” or something “bothersome”.  They are usually discovered as a threat on reflection.  Because of this, they are really describing what can be called a “subtle threat”.  That is to say, they are not all that dramatic (like being attacked by a bear).  Despite this, they are reactions to a threat and entail the same themes.

When one looks more closely one finds that each one of us is filled with many forms of “subtle threats”.  In fact, they are everywhere and in everything and in varying degree’s.  Some are particularly strong and some are so subtle to barely be noticed . . . but they are there.  What this all reveals is that threats, and the reactions to threats, are a big part of life, whether we are aware of it or not.

Just as we look at what threatens us, and how we react, its good to also look at how other people feel threatened as well as their reactions.  What I’ve found is that people are also feeling threatened by many different things and, accordingly, are reacting to threats.  This is happening all around us and in many different ways.  Common reactions include:

  • They ignore things and are indifferent.
  • Nervousness and stress.
  • Anger.
  • Violence.

Many people react to threats we all feel and understand.  But there are people who are feeling threatened by threats most of us don’t feel and, accordingly, are reacting to it.  This can cause some weird or dramatic reactions.  Some of these reactions can be so severe such as war, extermination of people, violence, and so on, that they are horrifying.

THE CONTINUATION OF THREAT

It seems, to me, that many things in life are caused by feeling threatened.  Many people react to a threat in normal ways that are not threatening to others.  But, sometimes, these reactions can be extreme, such as entailing various forms of violence, which threatens other people.  This causes them to find a way to defend themselves from it.  One form of defence is the “hate myth” where people are condemned and villainized as being motivated by hate.  This point of view appears particularly justified with the righteous cause coming from Christianity and its view that hatred is “bad”.  But all it does is foster more sense of a threat but nothing is solved.  Its just an easy explain away.  In this way, a supposed solution to the reaction to threat – the “hate myth” – actually keeps the feeling of threat alive but, in actuality, solves nothing.  This is the irony of the “hate myth” . . . they think it answers the problem but they are actually continuing a sense of threat. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on blog writing after 800 articles . . . questioning the value and meaning of ideas

This is my 800th article in this blog (and there over 600 drafts yet to be finished at the time I’m writing this).  Its also my 7th anniversary of writing blogs on this site.  Since I have written so much it has made me think a lot about writing, what its all about, and why I do it.

QUESTIONING THE VALUE AND MEANING OF IDEAS

Oddly enough, one of the greatest impacts blog writing has has had on me is that it has shown me how little value ideas really have.  This is the opposite of what you’d expect. You’d think that writing ideas would make ideas important and give them value.  But, to me, its done the opposite.  Because of this, it has made me question the value of ideas and the purpose of writing them.

Social aspects and the “ideas matter” belief

On a social level, I have always questioned if ideas are really that beneficial or if they really mean anything (by “social” I mean that ideas influence other people).  To be frank, I have little proof that ideas have that type of power.  In fact, in my whole adult life I have never really seen much proof that ideas have much influence on a social level.  Very seldom does an idea, by itself, influence people or make things happen or determine things from my experience.  What seems to “makes things happen” are not the ideas themselves but other things, such as:

  • Various conditions that exist at the time.  This refers to realities that dictate the times.
  • Various powers that exist at the time.  This refers to the different forces that influences and often dictate things.

It is things, such as these, that as if causes an “appeal” to certain ideas as well as give certain ideas a power and meaning.  In this way, ideas tend to “follow along” these conditions and powers and follow their lead.  As a result, many ideas are basically a reaction to, and correspond to, the current conditions and powers.  Ideas, then, are not the great power they often seem to be, nor are they as “new” or “novel” as it may seem, as they are only reacting to existing conditions and powers.  This means that most ideas area actually secondary in nature and gain power, not in and from themselves, but from existing conditions and powers.  In other words, ideas don’t seem to be the great power, instigator, creator, or originator of things as much as it may seem but, in actuality, are a reaction to existing conditions and powers which it relies on to make the idea important.  This makes me tend to feel that ideas, by themselves, mean very little . . . and this is what my observation shows.

Ideas need some form of power behind them to have any real value.  What this means is that ideas are only a means for some forms of power, a medium for this power to function.  It does this a number of different ways:

  • They are a statement of the power.  Here, the idea is as if noting the power and no more.  In other words, the power does not rely on the idea.  Good examples of this include many beliefs, opinions, and points of views.
  • They accentuate the power.  Here, the idea makes the power even stronger.  In other words, the power is supported by the idea.  A good example of this is the ideas required to know how to change a tire or make spaghetti.
  • They are the means of the power.  This means that the power needs ideas to give it the means to demonstrate its power.  In other words, the power relies on the idea. A good example of this is the ideas used in making a decision (this form seems to only be influential in certain situations and quickly lose power once the situation changes).

Most ideas, it seems to me, are of the former “statement” form, which is also more constant in life.  The later “means” form seems more rare and also tends to be transitory. The middle “accentuate” form is somewhere in the middle of the other two.  In this way, it makes something like a spectrum, from common and constant to uncommon and transitory.

I should also point out that ideas are only a means of power for some forms of power, not all forms. Power is manifested through many means and ways . . . ideas are only one form.  Because of this, ideas have a limited influence and importance, in actuality, which is quite surprising.

Much of the belief that “ideas matter” seems to be largely a result of the enlightment (primarily the 1700-1900’s in Europe and the U.S.) which placed a lot of emphasis on “ideas”, theories, and such, particularly if they are “new” or “novel”.  This point of view gets its justification from the achievements of the scientific movement, industrialization, and invention to make it valid for, probably without these, the “ideas matter” belief probably wouldn’t of gained much hold.

Much of the importance of “new ideas” seems to have origin in the reaction to the dilemma of Christianity, whose belief and power was waning during the enlightment.  The “new ideas” as if gave an alternate to the failing Christian dogma and belief system and, accordingly, gave something new to believe in.  Its no doubt this association with Christianity that has given the “ideas matter” an almost religious attitude with it.  Because of this, many people staunchly believe that “ideas matter”, and hold to it strongly, with almost religious conviction.

During the enlightment a “new idea” did mean something (as they were the source of science, industrialization, invention, etc.) but they don’t mean much anymore.  We are no longer in the enlightment . . . science, innovation, and invention have done their thing and had their day.  As a result of this, the era of the “ideas matter” seems to be waning.  This, to me, seems quite evident.  Its become particularly apparent after writing in this blog, which made me look at things from a different angle.  This includes things such as:

  • I took conversations with people, as well as the expression of ideas, more seriously (as many articles in this blog have origin from conversations).
  • I looked around and watched how various ideas affected people.
  • I looked out how ideas affected me (see below).

The end observation of all this was the discovery that ideas did not matter all that much.

My observation and experience is that, at least here in the U.S., no one really cares that much.  I see very little evidence of that.  They may say they care and even be “interested” but its short lived.  In the U.S., interest in things tend to be measured in days, hours, and sometimes minutes . . . then its forgotten.  In other words, Americans seem to “think” ideas are neat only temporarily and then forget it in a flash.  As a result, the belief that “ideas matter” is really an illusion.

I can see that a lot of this not caring has a lot to do with the problem of power in American society.  To put it simply, much of American ideals tend to undermine power.  In so doing, they undermine any form of power, including the power of ideas.  This is why, it seems to me, that there is a tendency to not care about anything here.  The ideas that do matter, in this country, tend to require certain types of power to be often be considered.  Often, this power is more like a “base power”, such as money or social fad, which usually has no real depth.  Without this “base power” there is no hope of any idea coming to anything much, I’ve found.  What this means is that the “inherent truth” of an idea generally is not the power behind ideas.  As I said above, the idea follows some existing condition or power and it is this that gives the idea power.  In the U.S. the conditions and power tends to favor any idea that is involved with things like money and social fad or trend.  As a result, any idea involving these tend to have power and “truth” and gains a foothold.   Any that don’t have these have no power or “truth”.  After watching this over the years its quite clear that ideas are the handmaiden of existing conditions and powers.

All this is complicated by the fact is that there are so many points of view and opinions out there that any new idea or opinion is doing nothing but add to the great static of statements, opinions, points of view, etc.  My writing this blog only adds to that endless static.  I’ve thought a lot on that:  should I continue?  I don’t know.

Not only that, it seems to me that ideas and opinions have become “overdone” and “overplayed”, as a whole.  The last several centuries has seen an explosion of ideas.  Its like ideas are wore out, used up, and have become like a worn out record.  And everyone has an idea . . . they are a dime a dozen.  In a way, ideas have become so “commonplace” that they are boring.

Its because of things like these that, many times, I have thought about ending any new entries.  What, really, is the point?  But there is a power in these ideas I write but it is not social in origin but because of the personal power they give to me and that, I guess, is the secret that keeps me going . . .

Writing for myself, seeking whats behind the idea

After writing 800 articles I can see that I am really writing for myself, for my own inquiry, for my own purpose,and for personal reasons.  In this way, it is really a personal record of thought, something like a journal.

But it makes me wonder:  is that even worth a blog?  I can’t say.

But I often like to write and its not uncommon for me to get into “writing moods”.  When I sit and write it helps me to think and organize my thoughts.  It also sets my thoughts down in a way that I can see it and often formulate it into a more defined form.  Its probably because of this single reason, more than anything else, that I continue to write.  I do it for myself, to organize my thoughts, and to turn it into a form.  After all, I am the only one who really cares about it.  Not only that, I’m probably the only person who really understands it.

After I finish writing an article I find that I can’t help but press the “Publish” button.  God only knows if it any of it has any value.  I simply don’t know.  Perhaps that’s the appeal . . . not knowing?  But I also think that publishing it somehow “completes” the thought and, in that way, gives it a “substantiation” or value or meaning.

Being that these articles are written for myself its not all that surprising that I have a unique personal style in writing.  I often thought that many people may find it silly, awkward, stupid, or whatnot.  That wouldn’t surprise me.  But it works for me and helps me think . . . that’s what matters first and foremost.  I also feel this awkward style deters many people from reading it, people I don’t want reading it, such as people who are wanting “easy answers”, wanting to find something to complain about, people that are bored, or that blindly surf the web.  To be frank, the people I would want reading this blog are people who look at things more seriously.

As I said above, one of the great dilemma’s that has come about from writing this blog is the meaning of ideas to me.  Its become clear, to me, that ideas are not the “end” nor are they what I seek.  In other words, I do not seek the idea but what is behind the idea or, rather, what motivates the idea, the “passion”, as I call it.  Its for this reason that I often call the ideas in this blog the “footprints of my thought”, they only reveal where my thoughts “have been”, so to speak.  They do not state where I’m going or how I’m getting there nor the destination.  In this way, the ideas in this blog are more like a record of a journey, so to speak, much like travel photography.

Because I seek what is beyond the ideas I’ve found that the ideas in this blog are increasingly taking on a “back burner” quality.   That is to say, they are not at the for-front of my life and intentions.  As I look more and more for what is beyond the ideas I find that I find less and less a desire to write . . . its like its becoming a hindrance.  I’ve noticed that the desire to write is starting to wane.  Perhaps my “writing phase” is ending?


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Life in general, Other stuff, Philosophy, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on inequality as the natural order of society

In a recent conversation I said something interesting:

I was mentioning how I was noticing an increase in the extremes of society.  I speak primarily of how much people make.  Just where I live I know guys in their 40’s and 50’s who are making $13.00 an hour, which is practically a non-survivable wage.  Elsewhere where I live I am seeing people with million dollar homes, and people driving Ferrari’s, and so on.  In fact, some of the display of wealth I am now seeing is absolutely disgusting.  I said “here we are in what is supposed to be the most wealthiest country in the world, which is supposed to be for the people, and I’m seeing a horrible inequality in the population”.  Of course, this observation is not new.  What was different was what I said about it.

Normally, people display contempt or a disgust at it or they try to offer some “solution”, as if its “not supposed to happen”.  But I said that, according to my observation of history and all that, it seems that a spectrum of inequality in society, from rich to poor, is the natural order of society and that there is nothing you can do about it.  In other words, there is always going to be an inequality between people no matter what you do.

THE QUESTION OF NEED

This tendency to inequality suggests that the inequality is something like a manifestation of a “tension” in society.  The tension seems to describe a conflict of need versus availability.   More specifically, it is the need or want of something, within a body of people, but in which there is not enough to satisfy everyone.  For example, there are only 10 cars at the auto dealer but 30 people want them.  This creates a naturally appearing inequality . . . there will be those that “have” and those that “have not”.  There’s not much you can do about it.  This creates a perpetual “tension” that exists in society and which never goes away.

In this materialistic society people tend to think need is all about wealth or materialistic things but it seems that the need tends to be either one of two things or a mixture of them:

  1. Material – what money can buy.
  2. Social – status, prestige, and acceptance.

I think that many people underestimate the power of the social form of need.  In many cases I’ve observed I’ve found that people don’t just want material things for the sake of having them but for the social significance they stand for.  In this way, a lot of “materialism” is really a form of social needIn this way, my observation is that most of the “tension”, caused by inequality, is social in origin . . . people want what can be described as “social wealth”, which basically means that they want to be viewed highly in the society.  In most societies, most of the time, this is what everyone is clamoring for.

It seems, to me, that “social wealth” has caused a lot of misery in the world.  In fact, I would even venture to say that most of the misery caused by inequality in the world originates from the striving for “social wealth”, not by actual poverty or starvation or being destitute.  What’s interesting, and tragic, about this, is that “social wealth” is not a matter of life or death and is not as important as it seems.  That is to say, a person can live without “social wealth” and live happy content lives (in fact, most people do in the world).

Because “social wealth” is not as important as it seems, and causes such misery, it reveals a lot about the power of need.  Its not that people actually need it but its the power of need that causes the misery.  In other words, its the power of need over us that is the issue.

THE POWER OF NEED AND ITS DISGUISING BY CIVILIZATION

In many societies peoples needs are basically satisfied.  They are not starving, are taken care of, and there is often not a lot  of clamoring over “social wealth” but, yet, there will be an inequality and people will be in misery.  To be precise, my observation is that people will find something to need (which is often a form of “social wealth”) and, as a result, an inequality will all-of-a-sudden appear.  The result:  an undue and unnecessary misery will appear.  In short, the power of need is often what causes inequality and its misery, not actual need.

This power of need, in my opinion, is a result of how all living creatures are “wired”, so to speak.  When you go out into the forest, for example, and see all the animals scurrying around, bugs flying, etc. what do you think they are doing?  Are they just leisurely roaming around, taking a tour of the forest?  No, they are seeking for food.  All living things are “wired”, so to speak, to seek something and that this is pretty much a constant force in life. 

Humanity is no different.  But the illusion, and conditions, of civilization make it appear as if we do not need to continually seek something.  In a way, civilization makes us lose sight of, and forget, that we are living creatures too and are “wired” to perpetually seek things and are, accordingly, in continuous need.  As a result, on one hand, we need to seek and, on the other hand, we are wrapped up in the illusion of civilization . . . and one had doesn’t know what the other hand is doing.  As a result, this continual need appears “out of place” or “doesn’t fit” from the civilization point of view.  In actuality, the power of need, which is the perpetual need to seek, is a very big part of life and, in actuality, dominates life.

Because of civilization, it seems, to me, that humanity has lost its “seeking origins”.  That is to say, civilization has made us lose touch with what we are actually seeking.  It has detached us from the need to seek for food, for shelter, for the support of a tribe, for a mate, etc. that is so prominently displayed in older societies.  What they seek is “basic”.  There’s nothing dramatic about it.  There’s no fancy mansions, no Ferrari’s, no great social power, etc.  Civilization has made us forget that what we are needing and seeking is “basic”.  Its as if civilization has detached us from this sense of the “basic” and, instead, given us these fancy and grand civilization-based images and wants.  In this way, we could probably say that the nature of civilization has caused much of the misery of inequality by making us not want what is “basic” but other grander things. 

ATTEMPTS AND TRYING TO SOLVE INEQUALITY

Interestingly, there have been numerous attempts to try to solve the problem that inequality creates.  So far, nothing has worked.  As I said above, I believe that this is because it cannot be solved as humanity is always in need and will always be in need.

Interestingly, much of these attempts at a solution, in Western society, are Christian in origin and are rooted in Christian mentality and belief.  In fact, the attempt at trying to solve the problems of this inequality seems to be a Christian quality as very few other societies have tried to solve it.  This is not all that surprising as Christianity began during a time when there was conflict between the Roman Empire and smaller cultures.  As a result, it tried to be an “answer” to problems between people, emphasizing many Christian traits, such as:

  • An emphasis on all the people.
  • Peace and love.
  • Charity or giving things to people.
  • Organization.  Because of the very organized nature of the Catholic Church in Western society, its not surprising that the idea of an organized system to solve the problem were viewed as a solution.  Examples include democracy and communism.

Some of the attempts at solving inequality, based on Christian mentality, include:

  • Democracy
  • Organized charity
  • Capitalism
  • Communism
  • Socialism
  • The idea of “equality”
  • Many of the ideals of America

None of these have worked all that much.  About all that they have done is to put a band-aid on the problem.  It may work for a time, but the inequality always ends up appearing again.

In some ways, they may have even contributed to the problem or created other problems.  Charity, for example, makes people dependent on it . . . “equality” creates an unfair distribution of things . . . organized systems, such as communism, only create a controlling system, etc.  About all that works, it seems, is a case-by-case daily helping of people who have problems.  So far, no large scale effort or system has worked or been effective.

MISTAKING SOLUTIONS WITH TRANSITORY CONDITIONS

Its easy to confuse what appears as a “solution” with transitory conditions that exist at the time.  In other words, when an idea of a “solution” appears, which happens to coincide with a condition that lowers inequality, people often mistake the two and believe that the lowering of inequality is because of the “solution”.  For example, after WWII, the U.S. went into an economic boom.  Many people have claimed that it is a result of “democracy and capitalism”.  But it seems, to me, that it was a war that caused this economic boom.  In this way, the post WWII economic boom is more a result of the conditions of war than on the American political/economic system.  As time went on the inequality reappeared . . . the condition caused by the war was wearing off.

THE IMPORTANCE OF “CLASS MENTALITY”

It seems that one of the ways people deal with the inequality is by developing what can be called a “class mentality”.  This is an acceptance of the conditions that one lives in, regardless of what it is.  There develops a sense of “us”, a sense of being part of group or a “class”.  What this sense does is make it so that people accept or deal with the conditions they are in.  In this way, it makes it so that people live with, and are content, with what they have.  In addition, they have the support, security, and identity, of that group.

ILLUSIONARY POVERTY CAUSED BY COMPARISON

Contrary to popular belief many people, who would be considered “poor”, are often the happiest of people.  This is seen in primitive societies, for example.  In other words, I find that being “poor” is not necessarily as bad as it seems . . . many people can be considered “poor” who are happy.  But people can become unnecessarily miserable, and feel bad, because of various conditions, such as:

  • The idea that everyone should “be the same” in a society.  In a sense, the idea of a “classless society” presupposes some people to become miserable particularly when they see other people who are benefiting.
  • The association with other classes.  Seeing the conditions of other people, who may be in better or worse situation than one is in, can make one feel bad.
  • The fall of “class mentality”.  The fall of being part of a specific group makes one lose the security and belonging of that group.  As a result, one feels miserable.  In this case, one could say that the misery caused by the inequality is not really in being “poor” but that there is a fall in the “class mentality”.
  • The demonstration of wealth.  Seeing displays of wealth can make one feel :”poor” and bad.
  • The appeal of consumer products.  Many consumer products make one want them and the inability to have them makes one feel bad.  Consumerism, in many ways, have probably contributed a lot to people feeling “poor” and miserable as a result.
  • The need to support a family.  Having to support a family causes great burden on a person and can make one feel miserable and “poor”.  A family puts great stress on a person to have to follow societies norms and ways.  As a result, ones “standing in society” plays a great role.  I’ve always thought the responsibility of a family is responsible for causing a lot of a sense of being “poor” and is responsible for a lot of unnecessary misery.

In these cases, we see that the misery of being “poor” is not necessarily in being “poor” but is when a person stands next to someone else who has more or see’s something they want and can’t have.  This makes one look and feel “poor” and miserable, even though one may not be.   In this way, we could speak of several forms of being “poor”:

  • Material poverty.  This is “actual poverty”, when one is in actually in need.
  • Poverty of comparison.  This is an “illusionary poverty” . . . a person appears “poor” because other people have more or one wants something one can’t have.  In this condition, one can survive well, and be happy, if they really wanted.  Its a matter of how a person responds to the comparison and if one takes it badly.

THE CONTINUAL FLUCTUATIONS OF INEQUALITY IN A SOCIETY

There are many fluctuations in inequality that happens in the society.  For example, there are situations in history where more of the population will be poor or where there may be more rich people.  Its like history fluctuates from one side to the other.  Regardless of this, the inequality is always there but the amount of people in each group fluctuates from time to time.  This gives illusions of “improvement” and “degradations” of the economic condition of society.  Many economists, it seems, will ascribe it to success or failure in various programs or systems.  It seems, to me, that its more the natural ebb and flow of fluctuations of society.  Sometimes, these are instigated by programs or systems that are implemented.  Sometimes, they are not.  Either way, they tend to even out after a while.  This is because, it appears that in normal conditions there is something like an “even distribution” between rich and poor.  This is occasionally upset by new and unusual conditions which instigates an unevenness . . . there may be more poor or more rich.   And when there is more poor or rich people it tends to be transitory and eventually equals out over time.  This more or less means that things like “bad times” are a result of conditions that, over time, will “even out” . . . they don’t last forever.

AFTERTHOUGHT

This automatic fluctuation of inequality, and its automatic balancing, would mean that there is no solution to inequality.  Any attempt at a solution is transitory and balances out over time.  This is because of the power of need in humanity, which endlessly creates need, which leads to inequality.  As I said above, its not uncommon that much of this need is illusionary creating unnecessary misery in the population.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how a lot of research I do is to avoid being deceived and to maintain personal integrity in the face of “mass mentality”

Here’s a thought I had:

Many people think that a persons interest in a subject is a result of that person being “interested” in it as the motive.  Interestingly, I have found that a lot of my interest in specific subjects is not a result of being “interested”.  A lot of the subjects I have been interested in are more to ward off being deceived.  In other words, there is a sense, in me, that I am being deceived by people and society.  As a result, it has made me pursue my own personal inquiry into things so that I am not “led on” to believe this or that.  In this way, I have sought out what is important and relevant to me and to not blindly believe in things.

These subjects that have received great influence include:

  • History
  • Society
  • American mentality and character

In all these subjects I maintain a continual inquiry and observation to establish what I feel is going on and to have an idea of what seems to be going on.  I do not want to “blindly agree” with things, what people say, the media says, or even what “educated people” say.  Instead, I want to know from personal inquiry.  The main point is to find what I feel to be correct and what my “gut” tells me is true.  I don’t what to be told what is true but to discover it for myself.

It appears, to me, that this feeling of being deceived is a result of conditions in the U.S. after WWII which have created a sense of “being perpetually deceived”.  These conditions include:

  • The media.  The media, with its overwhelming prevalent presence, throws just about everything at you that is within its grasp.  This includes a multitude of opinions, information, gossip, advertisement, etc.  Its like a continuous ongoing noise that never ends.
  • Education. Schooling, frankly, has a similar effect of media.  Its more specific though, revolving around specific subjects.  Regardless of that, it is just a proliferation and demonstration of this or that opinion, information, etc.  It can go on endlessly.
  • The prevalence of different opinions and point of views.  All my life, I’ve heard of nothing but opinions and points of view.  Every time I turn around there is another opinion or point of view.  Its become a confusing mess.
  • Of the endless bouncing around of what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”.  I find it hard to believe a society that continually changes “right” and “wrong”.  One minute what was “right” is “wrong” and what’s “wrong” is “right”.  I just can’t believe in a place like that . . . it puts great doubt in me.
  • The absence of authority.  The U.S. has done everything in its power to destroy authority.  As a result, this destruction of authority has caused an absence of something to say “this is correct”.  What this is done is to turn everything into an opinion and that’s what everything is, an “opinion” which basically means it has no authority and meaning.  As a result, everything has become “this and that, this and that”, with no meaning and authority to the point that America has become one big society of an endless ongoing “blah, blah, blah”.
  • Various social problems, particularly those that surfaced during the Vietnam War protests.  These problems caused a big conflict in the U.S. about various social issues that are largely unresolved.  Everyone has their point of view that they view as “right”, of course.  In some respects, it has tore the U.S. apart, one group thinking this, another thinking that . . . God only knows what’s right or wrong.

Basically, listening to this society is like a perpetual and endless contradiction in which “everyone is right and no one is right”.  This leads to the logical conclusion:  “I can’t believe anything”.  And I don’t.  Because of this I have had to do my own independent inquiry and come up with my own viewpoints.  Sadly, because it is so ingrained in the society it has forced me to do a solitary and independent inquiry, not depending on or leaning on anything that originates in this society.  Because of this, I have become set apart and removed from this society.  I always say “I have one foot in and one foot out” of this society.

Interestingly, I’ve known about this since the 1990’s but have only realized its significance recently.  The fact is that much of my life has been spent in avoiding being deceived by American society.  Its become clear now, after all these years, that I do not trust American society, what it says, what it produces, or most of its people.  That is something hard for me to say but its the truth.  I believe, though, that it is founded on real-world reality and conditions.  What this means is that American society has forced me to put reliance on myself, not on society, which is normally the case.

Its also become clear that much of the conditions above adds up to a “mass mentality”.  In other words, American society is “mass mentality” in nature.  It follows and moves to whatever the masses say and want.  It does this whether the masses are right or wrong.  In this way, American mentality is like a big lumbering beast that, once it moves in one direction, it all moves in one direction because its so big it can’t stop its movement.  This has always scared me about the American mentality:  it is dictated by the movement of the masses, not by a wisdom.  The absence of wisdom in the American character and society has always worried me and puts doubt in me.

Because the American mentality is a “mass mentality” it means that, to be a part of it, one must have a “mass mentality” point of view.  This means that a person must accept the “mass mentality” as lord and master.  In other words, one gives up ones self to the “mass mentality” and accepts its dictates, whatever it says.  This means a loss of self and ones integrity as a person.  In short, “mass mentality” tends to destroy or undermine “personhood”.  As a result, not only did I do research into things to avoid being deceived but to maintain a personal integrity in the face of “mass mentality”, which is all around me.  In this way, American society has become something of a threat and much of my research is to avoid this threat.  This has always bothered me as its basically saying that a person must defend themselves against the society.  It seems, to me, that society should be helping you but that’s not what it looks like to me.  If I completely followed this society I would become a “mindless nobody that believes whatever its told”.  As much as I hate to say it, that’s what a lot of American look like to me, especially the girls.  To me, it seems sad and I think this is one of the problems of large civilizations.

This defending yourself against society, it seems to me, is commonly seen in large societies.  This is why many people go against society, rebel against it, and need time away from it.  Even the other day I was saying that when people have to “get away” (such as in a vacation) it is a subtle way of saying that the society has become a threat to them.  I said that stuff like this “is often a sign of a society that has become too large”.  I do think the U.S. has become too large and is having the problems of being too large, one of which is the response I have spoken of above.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Modern life and society, Stuff involving me, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on aging: “the great truth of life”, everydayness, a dream interpretation, and discovering the “old self”

Here are some thoughts I had:

REFLECTING ON MY LIFE

As I turned 50 years old I thought a lot on my life.  I seem to do this ever time I go into a new decade.  I did this when I turned 30 and 40 as well, for example.  Basically, what I do is reflect on my past life and what I feel about it.  I think of what I’ve done, if I have lived the way I want, if I am on the correct path in life, and so forth.  Typically, my general conclusion seems to be:  “I played the cards that were dealt me”.   To put it another way, “I made do with what I had.”   What this is more or less is saying is that I played along with the conditions that life has given me.  In addition, I tried to play the conditions to my favor the best I could at the time, or at least as much as I was able to, or to the best of my understanding at the time.  Naturally, looking back on things, I can see that there were times I should of done this or that or that I may of done things stupidly.  I feel, though, that this is the normal condition of life.  Everyone plays that part whether they think they do or not.  My life has shown that all we can do is play the conditions that life give us . . . we don’t really have that much control and we never have as much as we think we do.  Life deals the cards and we play it.

As with most people, the conditions of life did not give me anything dramatic.  There wasn’t anything particularly bad and there wasn’t anything particularly good.  It is like an even mixture of everything and nothing was particularly extreme.  In this way, life was an “even temper”, perhaps even monotonous.  Again, I think that this is typical for most people.

In this way, I experienced what most people experience and reacted similarly to how other people reacted.  In other words, my life was not a whole lot of different than other peoples . . . my life has been rather “normal”.

BECOMING “50”

But the age “50” has this particular image or quality to me.  When I turned 50 I thought I would be different than I am now.  I guess I thought I’d be “older” (actually, I feel about 30).  I thought I would be gray haired with a lot of physical impairments, but I’m not that way (though some has appeared but not that much).  All this made me think a lot on what “50” means.

One thing that I said is that “50” means a new phase of my life has begun:  I am approaching old age.  That is to say, youth is waning . . . it is passing by.  Because of this, there is now a sense of something new, a new phase, a new season, and a new world.  It seems, to me, that I am on the threshold of a new condition of life.  I feel, in a way, as if I am walking into a foreign country for the first time not knowing what to expect.  In this way, there is a sense of a change in who and what I am.  “50” means more than a change in ones physical state (that is, getting old) but a change in ones self.

“GETTING OLD”

I seem to think that a big part of “getting old” is a realizing, whether conscious or not, of a number of things, such as:

  • The failure of “thought-created conceptions”.  This refers to the awareness that our ideas, opinions, beliefs, etc. (the “thought-created conceptions”) are really not as important as they seem.  In fact, in many ways, they are an illusion.  We begin to discover, from experience, that what we think is great is not the great thing we thought it was.  In addition, what we thought was “right” is not as right as we thought.  In addition, what we think is going on isn’t as important as it seems.  Because of this, we often lose an interest in the “affairs of the world”.  We find that “having an opinion” isn’t that big of a deal either.  All in all, all these conceptions we have of the world, how it works, what’s right, and such, actually slowly fade in importance.
  • The failure of experiences.  We find that things, such as having fun and seeking experiences, is not as important as we thought.  There is generally a lessening of a desire to seek experiences and doing things.  In this way, there is a tendency to just “want to sit” or do simple things, like walking or gardening.  All the fun, experiences, and “doing stuff” we craved in our youth isn’t that important anymore.

What these reflect, in my opinion, is a growing sense of a “constant” in life that appears in “old age”.   Because of this, something like a new awareness appears, what I jokingly called “the great truth of life”.  This is the awareness of the fact that life is actually “mundane” and “everyday”, with a great “sameness”, and that this is the base and foundation of life.  Everything else is actually minor or insignificant or “just another thing”.  In fact, one could say that it becomes apparent as one gets older that a lot of life is actually nothing but”fluff” and, because of this, it is often illusionary to the point of being empty and meaningless.  In some respects, one could say that in youth we are deceived by all this “fluff” and that the discovery of this deception is, in a way, a trait of “old age”. 

“THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

“The great truth of life” creates a sense of a “continuous everydayness” in life.  This sense, naturally, is not all that glamorous and is full of “sameness”, which makes “old age” seem “draby” and “dull” to many people, especially the young.  It also makes it hard for older people to accept old age.  In fact, “the great truth of life” is seldom overtly recognized, it seems to me.  For most people it remains an unconscious sense that remains unconscious.  Many people, though, will refer to it from time to time.  They’ll say things like “I’ve found it really doesn’t matter what you think is going on”, or “Its best to not get too involved in things”, or “You go out and play soccer, I’ll just sit and watch”, and so on.  It reveals a “movement to sameness”, deep down, but its not overtly acknowledged.

Another common form of the awareness of “continuous everydayness” is in the statement that they are “tired”.  In many ways, this feeling of being “tired” is more like saying “all those things I took so much stock in during my youth aren’t that interesting to me anymore . . . but I won’t admit that to myself”.  In this way, a part of them wants to believe in the qualities of youth but another part of them has moved away from it.  This creates something like a tug-of-war in their mind and eventually a sense of being “tired”.  Another way to express this, perhaps, is that they are “tired of trying to be young”.

The awareness of “the great truth of life” also causes a great reorientation of ones perspective, stance, attitude, motives, and such toward life.  As a result, a person tends to look at life more differently.  This makes a person interpret things differently, see things differently, remember things differently, and have different priorities.  This can make people in “old age” seem weird, bizarre, out-of-touch, and so on.  To the young, this may make the older people seem to not be “with it”, unreliable, or even stupid.  My own experience is that many older people are usually “with it” but just in a different way, looking at things from a totally different angle.  In fact, I’ve learned, from experience, that you listen to older people and what they have to say . . . they generally reveal more insightful things than the young could ever even imagine.

One effect of this great reorientation to life is that there is a tendency for certain things to take place, such as:

  • Things are remembered differently.  When one gets older a person has seen and experience many things.  As a result, there develops a “monotony” in things and experiences . . . they almost blur together.  Because of this, its not uncommon for things to be “overlooked” more easily.  For example, a person may see something and then forget what they saw just moments before!
  • As I said above, ideas and thoughts tend to lose their value.  Because of this, a person is less “thought motivated” than in youth which causes a devaluation in the importance of thought and its effects.  For example, a person may think “I need to go into the other room and get a pencil” but when they go into the room they can’t remember why they went in the room!

Things, such as these, tend to cause what appears as a “memory loss”.  Both of these I have experienced quite a few times even to the point that I wondered if I was suffering memory loss.  I don’t believe I am.  I felt it was a change in reorientation in life as a result of getting older which is common with older people.  I see it all the time in older people who have excellent memories.

THE ILLUSION OF YOUTH

As I said above, one could say that “the great truth of life” refers to the discovery of the illusion of youth.  This is not to say that youth is all an illusion or deception.  Initially, it has great value and worth, such as these things:

  • Youth takes us above life and transcends life.
  • Youth gives us value and meaning in things.
  • Youth places us in the world. 

It is through these things that youth as if “sucks us in”.  This is because “youth is what implants us in the world”.  This is because youth is something that must be “discovered”.  In this way, youth often has a great exciting quality to it.  It becomes an avenue of the discovery of our selves and the discovery of the world.  This is a great event in our life and often tends to have great impact on us as people.  In fact, its often so impactful that people won’t let it go.

But, as time goes on, these qualities of youth fade and lose their importance.  This is because, once we become “implanted in the world”, the qualities of youth lose their value and importance in life.  As a result, youth ends and a new phase begins, which is “old age”.

But there seems a transition phase from youth to “old age”.  This is an age where the youthful qualities are fading but their remembrance still has an impact on us.  As a result, we tend to maintain it and want to keep it going.  Deep down, though, their value is ending.  This “maintaining the qualities of youth when the youthful qualities are fading” is the phase when youth becomes and illusion and a deception.  In this way, we could say that there are three phases from youth to “old age”:

  1. Youth as having meaning to us – it is valuable and necessary, it “implants us in the world”.
  2. Youth as losing importance but its maintained – youth slowly becomes a deception and illusion.
  3. “Old age”, when we start to let go the illusions of youth – we begin to discover “the great truth of life” and that life actually rests on “everydayness”. 

What all this shows is that youth and “the great truth of life” of “old age” are in opposition and contradict one another.  In this way, they are actually incompatible.  Its really no wonder that there is often great conflict between youth and “old age” and why it is often hard for some people to get old.

REACTING TO “THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

This sense of “the great truth of life” seems to naturally appear in people but it gets many different reactions such as:

  • They deny it, which generally is a denial of aging, and they often have great problems as a result.
  • They fight it, generally by trying to stay young or by being “active”.
  • They ignore it, and will often refer to it, but they don’t get to the point that they are really aware of it.
  • They become aware of it and follow its lead.

It seem to me that the awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance of “the great truth of life” is critical in healthy aging and in growing old.  To not accept it makes a person “stuck in the illusion of youth”, unable to move on in life as a person.  This, from my observation, actually puts great stress on a person, makes them age quicker, and turns them into “grumpy old people”.

THE IMPORTANCE OF “THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

“The great truth of life” is an awareness of the “everydayness” of life.  This is critical in life as “everydayness” is the base of life, the foundation.  Everything is built upon this truth.  All that one does, think, believe, and do is based on “everydayness”.  One could compare it to the earth which is a continuous constant.  Everything else, such as youth, experiences, the “thought-created conceptions”, and such, are all built upon it . . . they are like the tree’s and animals that come and go.  Its almost as if, when we’re young we as if “live” in the area above the earth in the sky with the birds.  As we age we as if slowly “sink” closer to the earth.  We first move away from the birds and become closer to the squirrels and the animals.  And then, in “old age”, we become close to the earth which is the “great constant”.  Another way to look at it is that “the great truth of life” refers to the constant of life.  The youthful qualities refers to the transitory qualities of life.  In this way, life is actually a movement from transitory to constant.

Interestingly, much of the comparison of old age and youth display this contrary quality.  This is reflected in a saying I have often said:

“In youth one learns . . . in old age one unlearns.”

This shows how youth is primarily a learning of things, about the world and about ones self.  We are as if “absorbing” everything in youth.  But, in “old age”, the opposite happens . . . we unlearn things.  In this way, its as if we are abandoning all the unneeded things we’ve learned in our youth.  We forget things, don’t care about things, and so on.  In this way, “old age” is like an “about face” from youth. 

THE DREAM ON MY 50TH BIRTHDAY AND ITS INTERPRETATION

The night after I turned 50 I had an interesting dream:

“I went to an old neglected house.  I was with several other people.  We went in and found it abandoned, a mess, and in shambles.  I went downstairs and saw a mess.  I noticed some thing, a creature of some sort, that seemed to be crawling along the floor.  It scared me.  I noticed that it walked on four legs and that it had huge cloth bandages around its snout and behind its eyes, around its head.  It seemed to be a rhinoceros.  It was as if the horns and ears had been cut off.  I was very frightened and asked one of the person upstairs, who I was with, to hand me my rifle.  As I did this someone’s dog came down and started to sniff the creature.  I felt that if this dog doesn’t do anything it can’t be a dangerous animal.  Eventually, the dog didn’t do anything, so I assumed the creature is not dangerous and went about looking around the basement.  I found myself starting to clean up the place but thought it was weird that I was the only one doing it.”

The next day I reflected on this dream.  I said that the basement is an aspect of myself that is neglected and forgotten.  It refers to “old age” that one neglects and forgets in ones youth (one could say its neglected because “old age” isn’t considered in ones youth).  The rhinoceros seems to come from the “rhino” character which is seen in the comics of Spider Man.  I do not anything about the character but a relative of mine said that the way it was portrayed in one of the superhero movies was incorrect . . . they showed the “rhino” as a mechanical suit worn by a man which, he said, is not the case.  Actually, I do not know if this is true or not and it is this, really, that is the meaning of the rhinoceros:  it refers to something in which I do not know its origins and don’t know anything about it.  In this way, the rhinoceros is really a reference to an “old self” which I know nothing about.  This “old self” was “damaged” and neglected by the ideas of youth (much like the neglected house).  It has been so neglected that it has had significant parts of it removed, such as its horn which, in a way, is what makes the rhinoceros what it is and gives it its frightening quality.  In this way, I said that the rhinoceros, with its horn especially, is a reference to a power that resides in the “old self”.  In other words, there’s a power in old age that is only found in a self that old age creates, the “old self”.  My starting to clean up the basement shows that I have begun to search for my “old self” and its power.  My finding that I’m the only one doing it shows that this is going to be a solitary endeavor.  My initial fear of the creature shows that there is a fear of old age and what it is . . . it scares me, which it does.  The dog sniffing the creature suggests a need to “search” for this “old self”.  In this way, the dream is as if saying:  “There is an aspect of ones self that has been neglected but in which one needs to seek.  It is another self that old ages creates.  It may be frightening at first but have patience and search and seek it out . . . it must be discovered in order to find its power.  If one does not find this power one will suffer a ‘death’ in old age.”  This ‘death’, it seems to me, is a hindering of ones growth and self by perpetually trying to remain in the youthful self.  In many respects, this ‘death’ is “getting old”.

After I said all this I began to speak that a new quest has begun . . . the hunt for the rhinoceros, the “old self”.  I can feel this as something that needs to be search for and found.  In other words, “old age” requires a discovery of a new self that one has within:  the “old self“.  This need to discover a new self, associated with age, isn’t new.  After all, isn’t this what we did when we were young?  When we reach adolescence, in particular, we are seeking to find who we are and what we are.  What we found, at that time, is the “young self”.  Much of our youth is spent in finding this “young self” . . . it takes decades.  It is the success of this hunt in our youth that makes one “live” and find “fulfillment” which is what makes youth so wonderful.  I felt that this is true of old age as well, that there is a time when the “young self” needs to be replaced by a new self.  The problem is that most people tend to think that there is only one self, the “young self”, and that this persists through ones whole life.  As a result, there is no seeking of the “old self”.

I felt that there are some things associated with this question of the “old self”.  This includes thins such as:

  • That “old age” is not a continuation of the “young self”.
  • That “old age” is a discovering of a different self, an “old self”.
  • That the “young self” must die in order for the “old self” to be discovered and live.
  • That the “old self” goes in a different direction, often opposite, of the “young self”.

In other words, it seems to suggest that, in older age, our “youthfulness” is as if shed like an old skin so that a new skin can appear.  If one does not do this then one remains in a “wore out young self”.

And so, on the eve of moving into old age, I can feel that a new quest has begun for me, like the quest for the holy grail, a seeking of life, a new life, and in a new way.  Interestingly, the way in which youth and “old age” is opposed to each other may be why its so important to discover the “old self”.  Its like a “new way” or “new person” that is oriented to a new condition and reality of life.  Its like a new phase, a new direction, which requires an abandoning of the way one was.

I seem to feel that if I do not find the rhinoceros, or the “old self”, I will slowly become an old bent over man who feels alienated and detached from life, as if life has left me by.  I will age and my body will not work as well.  I will become grumpier and angrier as I get old.  In other words, I seem to think that the discovery of the “old self” is critical for a persons health, both physically and mentally. 

INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE QUALITIES OF THE “OLD SELF”

I do not know what the “old self” is yet (as I’m not that old) but I seem to see some qualities, such as:

An awareness of ones limitations

In youth one is discovering and finding what they can do, and we always find that we can do things we didn’t know we can do.  In this way, youth often has a quality of a “surprise” of our abilities.  In old age, this is often not the case.  Instead, we have a growing awareness (or should be) of our limitations and must modify our lives to fit it.  For example, we become aware of our physical endurance, what type of stress we can endure, what we are not good at, etc.  As a result, in old age we change our lives around our limitations.  The more we do this, the better our life will be.  In this way, we could say that “in youth we discover our capabilities . . . in old age we live around our limitations”.

A “regression”

I seem to think that an older person should not seek “youth”, which is commonly done.  Instead, a person should try to  become more childlike.  This makes a point that there is a difference between youth and being childlike.

“Youth”, to me, is associated with things like:

  • Sexuality.  To me, there is a close association between “youth” and sexuality.
  • A strong sense of being-in-the-world.  A big part of the power of “youth” is in this placement of ones self in the world, actively participating in the affairs of the world, and being a part of it.

These qualities give “youth” its “oomph” and power, making it very influential in our lives.

Childlike qualities, though, do not reflect these.  One could say that it predates them.  In this way, “youth” is definitely not the same as being childlike.  To be childlike is really a reference to the “spirit of innocence” a person had when they were a child of 7 or thereabouts.  It does not mean becoming like a child or acting like a child.

The power of being childlike is that it has a “spirit of innocence” which has, within it, an “inner life”.  This “inner life” hits deep into ones self, and in ones past.  Its a source of life that lives with us all our life and is always there.  It seems that, as the power of youth fades in old age, its life fades.  If a person relies on the life found in youth, which is dying in old age, one also dies within . . . and one really grows old.  The “spirit of innocence”, on the other hand, has been within us all our life, even though we may of forgotten it, and hits deep within us.  As a result, one of the best sources of life, in old age, originates from this “spirit of innocence” that is found in being childlike.

I would say that most of the happier older people I see have this childlike “spirit of innocence” quality.  Many even have a quality of being “children” though they do not act like it.  It seems to have an invigorating, enlivening, and stimulating quality.  Because of this, it seems that it would be good to develop this quality.

Finding joy in “sameness”

It seems, to me, that a lot of “old age” is associated with “sameness”, as I said above.  Because of this, finding a joy in this “sameness” is critical for a joy in old age.  Many older people “find themselves in sameness” and remain as if disoriented in it.  Other people will try to continue the activity of youth (Interestingly, many people have this image of retirement as a continuation of the years of youth . . . they will fish, golf, travel, etc.  In short, they think they will be active like in youth).  But finding a joy in “sameness” is much harder, perhaps one of the harder aspects of old age.  My observation, though, is that people who are more content in “sameness” and “don’t need to do this or that” tend to be happier and more fulfilled in old age.

As I was reflecting on the themes of this article I was surprised that I had referred to some of these themes before, in previous articles, such as:

“Revelation of an Old Man”

Thoughts on memory loss – the “relaxed memory”


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Advice, Dreams and their interpretation, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “era of the dissolution of knowledge” – revealing the importance and loss of worth in knowledge and the need for “human relevance”, with remarks about belief

Here’s a thought I had:

It seems, to me, that we are in what I have been calling the “era of the dissolution of knowledge”.  I’m finding that knowledge means almost nothing anymore.  Its as if knowledge has lost its “oomph”.   It seems that knowledge is becoming more and more “dissolved”, “diluted”, or in a disarray.  Its got to the point that any knowledge, really, is just another “statement said”, “another opinion”, “another fact”, etc. to add to an already too large collection.  To me, its as if everything has become nothing but an endless “babble”, a continuous statement of facts, opinions, information, etc. that has no real value and which eventually leads nowhere except the illusion that we “know” more.

Because of this dissolution, I’m finding it harder and harder to find someone to talk to.  In fact, it was during conversations with people that I began to notice the problem.  When I talk to people I notice a number of attitudes that have appeared particularly recently:

  • That nothing has any real value.
  • That no one listens.
  • That things are not viewed as “sacred” or having any deep meaning.
  • That there’s always another point of view.
  • That everything can be proven wrong.
  • That knowledge is treated as “trivial”.
  • That any “knowing” has become nothing but a game of “who knows the most” . . . the one who remembers the most wins!

Because of these things I’ve almost given up talking to people about things anymore. What’s the point?

I should note that by “knowledge” I mean the combination of these two things:

  1. Information.  This refers to what is known, the “matter” of knowledge.
  2. Worth.  This refers to how this information is taken, the “meaning” of knowledge.

To me, knowledge consists of these two things, not one or the other.  What has happened recently is that there has developed a great over emphasis on information (the “matter” of knowledge) and a devaluation or absence of worth (the “meaning” of knowledge).    But to truly be a “knowledge”, and have any value, any knowledge must have both.  This is because they both work together and support each other.  The way in which they compliment each other can be stated this way:  worth is the real value of knowledge but it needs information as a means for that worth.  This means that by destroying worth we destroy knowledge, literally, and turn it into “matter” – information – which has no real value.  Once knowledge becomes information it becomes nothing but “this or that, blah, blah, blah”.  This, it seems to me, is what is happening today.

The dilemma, then, is that we are losing worth in knowledge, not information.  Knowledge, in general, is becoming nothing but a mess of endless information and facts.  In some respects, never have we had so much information but, at the same time, never has information been so worthless.

Some of the causes of the growing worthlessness of knowledge include:

  • Lack of unity . . there are too many points of view.  Everywhere you turn there is some new point of view, opinion, or what have you.  This causes a lack of unity, consistent belief, and fosters doubt, confusion, and uncertainty.   What this reveals is that in order for knowledge to have worth there must be consistencyYou can’t have continuous contrary, new, and conflicting information.
  • There is no authority.  Recently, we have lost our religion, culture, social structure and other forms of authority.  This has made a dramatic hit on knowledge.  The fact is the worth of knowledge originates with authority . . . when there is no authority, there is no worth.  Therefore, in these times of continuous undermining of authority, the worth of knowledge is also undermined.
  • There is often no real care or concern about the “meaning” of knowledge . . . its looked at superficially.  I’ve noticed a complete absence of this idea of a “deeper meaning” in things recently.  Knowledge has become “mundane” without any special revelation or meaning.
  • Knowledge is used only as a means to an end.  A common “end” that is seen nowadays is that knowledge is used as a way to get a job, and hold it.  Without the influence of a job there would probably be no real interest in knowledge at all by most people!  Other “ends” include social status, intellectual pride, and such.
  • There is a lack of “humility”.  One could say that the humble attitude of a “student”, of someone who doesn’t know, and knows it, has become a rarity.  A “student”, nowadays, is someone without humility.  They are only waiting to hear the information so they can remember it.  Once they do this, they assume that they are now experts as a result.  In this way, there is a lack of an attitude of “actually listening”, of sitting oneself down “as a student” and listening.  Everybody is too much of an expert to do this (remember that, nowadays, people have seen in a documentary, read it in a book, taken a class on it, heard about it, or whatever).
  • Its too accessible . . . you just “read it”.  In fact, you can just “google” it and find any information you want.  Knowledge is now something that is just read it or heard.  This devalues knowledge.  It also makes it so that people don’t “listen” . . . they can access it any time.
  • Knowledge is a matter of memory . . . you don’t work for it.  Most knowledge, nowadays, is nothing but finding out what someone else said or did.  In this way, knowledge has become a matter of “standing on the shoulders of other people”.  A person doesn’t really do any work to discover it on their own.  I have always believed that “knowledge is better earned than learned”.
  • There has become too much information.  The mere quantity of knowledge that has appeared just in these 50 years has been too much to “digest” . . . its become a blur.  In this way, the excessive quantity of information has had an effect of devaluation of knowledge. 
  • The quest for “scientific truth” has taken the “inner human meaning” out of knowledge over the years.  We must remember that scientific thinking became pitted against religious thinking, particularly beginning in the 1800’s.  The society before that time took a primarily religious form of thinking.  What amazes me is that people tended to forget that the original “religious truth” was never meant to be a “scientific truth”, of explaining things abstractly.  “Religious truth” can be stated as a truth where the things in life are made to have “inner human meaning”.  “Scientific truth”, on the other hand, tended to be a cold, abstract and distant form of meaning which often did not cater to “inner human meaning”.  But, as the 1800’s progressed, and into the 1900’s, this “scientific truth” began to supplant “religious thinking”.  This, it seems to me, was a critical event.  Basically, the moving of knowledge into the cold, abstract, and distant scientific thinking these past 200 years has been instrumental in the devaluation of knowledge . . . it began a pattern of looking at things without “inner human meaning”.  This caused a destruction of the worth in knowledge and the growing prevalence of information.  In fact, one might even be able to say that science began the dissolution of knowledge.

One of the qualities that seems to appear in these things can be described in the words “humanly relevant”.  In other words, this whole problem really revolves around the “human meaning” in knowledge.  Basically, there are now too many things that are detracting, destroying, or undermining the “human relevance” in knowledge.  Really, all the above examples are different forms of the degradation of “human relevance”.

With this, we see this pattern:

  • The worth in knowledge is based in if it is “humanly relevant” or not. 
  • Information is knowledge that is not “humanly relevant”.

The prevalence of the information point of view shows how there is a loss in our “human relevance”.  In this way, it shows that the loss of worth in knowledge is a sign of our growing dehumanization and detachment of “human meaning”.  This loss of “human meaning” has given knowledge a cold almost dead quality.  Personally, I think that quality reflects people nowadays.

Some aspects of this appeared in a recent conversation I had with a guy about 30 who was working on his masters degree.  In this conversation it became clear that I took the “old school” point of view, when knowledge, particularly University-based knowledge, was viewed as having “great meaning”, almost to the point of being sacred.  This point of view, I realized, originates from the period of Christianity, when Christian belief dictated much of the attitudes that surrounded knowledge at the University (which is why its viewed with such “deep meaning”).  He asked me why I dropped out of the University and some of my replies revealed this thinking:

  • I said that I did not want to be an appendage, handmaiden, or marionette to the system.  It became clear to me that this is what the University expected me to be.  In fact, my passing depended on it!  This meant that my conforming to its dictates is what was important, not the meaning in it. 
  • I said that I had to believe in what I learned.  I can’t “learn it to just pass the class”.  I found that difficult to do, almost sacrilegious.  This shows a sense of depth in knowledge, that it had to hit me “deeply”. 

Looking back on it now I could see that I dropped out of the University because it no longer reflected those “old school” Christian-based principles seen in the original Universities.  Interestingly, even when I dropped out (about 25 years ago) I can recall stating that the University has ceased to be a University and it has become what I jokingly called the “trade school a la Grande” . . . people were there only to learn what was required to get a job!  Instead of learning to weld or be a mechanic, as in a trade school, they learn “bigger trades”, such as being a surgeon or a lawyer.  This is way it is a “trade school a la Grande”, because they learn a more involved trade.  It was no longer a “University”.  I can recall making a big point out of this back then.  I can see now that I was actually defining a University in that “old school” way, based in Christian principles reflecting the importance of meaning in what was taught and a meaning that hit deeply into a person.  This sense, evidently, has been lost now.

He, on the other hand, treated knowledge as dead information, a means to an end, and in a cold, abstract, and distant way.  He saw no “inner meaning” in any of it.  He learned it, whether he agreed with it or not, in order to pass the class and get a job.  There was a complete lack of “personal meaning” in any of the knowledge.  In addition, there was a lack of a general “human meaning” in any of the knowledge.  In short, he did not see knowledge in a greater context.  Knowledge was treated almost like money, a means to “buy” something, so to speak.

Its because of things like that it seems that there is a crisis of knowledge nowadays.  Its become nothing but information and without any real value or worth.  It seems that knowledge is going through a great dissolution and breakdown, losing meaning and worth.

In actuality, what this is really referring to is a failure in belief . . . things have become dead information, nothing is really believed.  And so the “dissolution of knowledge” is really a dilemma of belief.

I tend to feel that the reason why belief is so important is that it “implants you in the world”.  It does this in three ways:

  1. It makes the world relevant.
  2. It makes you relevant.
  3. It makes what you do in the world relevant.

In other words, the more a person believes  in something the more you and the world become relevant.  When a person does not have belief there is an absence of relevance and people become “detached” from life.

I should point out that when I say “belief” I do not necessarily mean religious belief . . . it primarily refers to a belief in “something”. Typically, though, the best form of belief tends to be religious-like in orientation.  That is to say, it is a belief that there is “more” to things than we think.  In this way, we could say that there are two forms of belief:

  1. Positive belief – a belief in something that is known and defined.
  2. Negative belief – a belief in something unknown and undefined (that is, that there is something “more” that we don’t know).

To truly have belief a person must display both, in my opinion.  Interestingly, contrary to what is often supposed, many forms of religious belief are actually a form of positive belief, without negative belief.  They tend to believe in a “specified dogma and god” which is completely delineated and defined.  In this way, they are not really a “complete belief” but more of a strict, rigid, and narrow belief system.

The overemphasis on knowledge, such as is common nowadays, tends to enforce a positive belief orientation . . . its only what you know that matters.  This tends to create an orientation that has qualities such as:

  • It tends to be “dead”, rigid, and detached.
  • Its illusionary (that is, knowledge gives the illusion that you have a grasp on things).
  • It has little or no relevance.

These are qualities that are taken when things become nothing but “information”, as I said above.  This suggests that positive belief is comparable to “information” and negative belief is comparable to “worth”.

This is quite significant as it shows that worth is not found in “knowing” something.  In other words, the fact that you “know things” does not automatically make or give them worth.  There must be more.  This means that all this learning, remembering, and such, which goes on so much nowadays, does not necessarily lead to a worth in knowledge.  In other words, learning, by itself, tends to undermine the worth of knowledge, which is exactly what we’re seeing.

Negative knowledge, and its association with positive knowledge, tends to display itself in several interesting ways such as:

  • Discovery – For many people, the “power” of knowledge is not in “knowing” (which, of course, is positive knowledge) but in the “discovery”, so to speak, of something new.  In other words, its not the “having of knowledge” but the condition of “just about to find something new” that is appealing and influential.  In this way negative knowledge is displayed.  This is because, in “just about to find something new” they are looking at the unknown and undefined.
  • Applying – The applying of positive knowledge in ways that are unknown initially also demonstrates the unknown and undefined quality of negative knowledge.  Here, people have to “figure things out” which means that they “don’t know”.

In both of these cases, we see that the “power” of knowledge is not in “knowing” by itself, but in having knowledge to use (positive knowledge – something definable) and having to discover something about it (negative knowledge – not defined).  In this way, we see how these two forms of knowledge actually complement and work with each other.  Truly, it is in associations, such as these, that we see the “power” of knowledge.

Positive knowledge tends to be defined.  That is to say, it has a quality of “localization” . . . it is “this” or “that”.  In other words, positive knowledge tends to cause a “narrowing down” in perspective. For example, when you look in the sky and see the clouds you cease to see the clouds and, instead, see cumulus clouds.  It takes it out of the entirety and narrows it down to, usually, a word or concept.

Negative knowledge, on the other hand, tends to be more general.  It see’s things in the respect of the greater context of things.  In other words, negative knowledge tends to be holistic.  The sense that “there is something more” makes one look “beyond what is obviously there”.  This requires the deeper aspects of ones self to do, in my opinion.  In this way, the negative knowledge orientation as if forces one to “pull out deeper aspects of ones self”, often revealing aspects of ones self that a person didn’t even know they had.  In addition, being more holistic this orientation tends to place ones self in the greater context of the world.  In so doing, it places one in-the-world as a reality (which is lacking in the positive knowledge orientation).  With these qualities its no wonder that the negative knowledge orientation contains worth, which causes relevance, which causes meaning.

People who take the more “information” orientation of positive knowledge tend to lack these qualities . . . not only does knowledge become “dead information” but they, in a sense, become dead inside and in relation to the world.  Since this orientation is so prevalent nowadays it has turned knowledge into something “dead”.  This quality of knowledge being “dead”, as well as the people who learn it, has caused a breakdown in the worth, meaning, and relevance of knowledge which is the “dissolution of knowledge” that I am speaking of.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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