Interpreting the ‘blind spot’: death, the self, the problem of imitation, and other things associated with it

Here are some thoughts I had involving a reaction to a situation I was in:

THE SITUATION:  THE ‘BLIND SPOT’

Recently, I had a problem that could of been serious.   Its details aren’t that important but I will mention that it had the possibility of cancer which, of course, may lead to death.  I shall refer to it as the ‘concern’.  Luckily, it turned out to be nothing at all.  To be honest, though, it scared the crap out of me.  The ‘concern’ created a great dark ominous cloud that hung over my head as it was being looked into.

I noticed that there was a particular quality about this fear.  I mentioned, on reflection, that I seemed to take to this fear too easily, way too easily.  I as if jumped right into it even though much of what led to it was founded on mistaken notions and misunderstandings.  Regardless, the fear was extensive.

But why did I react like that?

As I thought about it I felt that it actually reflected an earlier condition.  In other words, the fear was actually not over the ‘concern’ at all but something else that predates it.  The ‘concern’ only gave this earlier condition a target and a direction.  In this sense this earlier condition was ‘transposed’ onto the ‘concern’ making the fear bigger than it really was.

In addition, the more I reflected on it I, the more the fear seemed to reflect a ‘blind spot’ of some sort.  It was as if there was something about it that I could not see, that was hidden from me.  It seemed shrouded in darkness, inaccessible to me.  I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  This made me wonder . . .

THE THEME OF DEATH

Bewildered, I took a walk and a pattern of thought appeared in that walk that amounted to this:

  • I began by wondering about the ‘blind spot’ and what it was.
  • The first thing I mentioned is that the ‘blind spot’ was really a doubting.
  • I then went on to say that it was not the fact that I doubted something that was the problem but the act of doubting.
  • There was something more, I felt, and I began to mention that it reflected an inability to accept something, that I refused some truth or thing.  This inability to accept had the appearance of the act of doubting.
  • Almost immediately I knew what this something was:  an inability to accept pain.
  • I went on to say that pain was difficult to accept because, when one feels pain, it creates a strong sense of self.
  • I then went on to say that I didn’t like to feel my self too strongly.
  • I knew, then, that the ‘blind spot’ really reflected the fact that I had difficulty feeling my self-in-the-world.

The whole problem is that fear had to do with the sense of the self-in-the-world.

I tend to feel that the reason why the self-in-the-world bothered me so much is because it made me overly self-conscious.  This would mean that the problem really revolved around how I did not want to become too conscious of my self.

Its interesting that even when I thought about the prospect of ‘dying’ I found that what bothered me was the fact that “everyone would know” or that “everyone would watch me”.  This, it seemed to me, also created a sense of “why me?” which is another way of saying “I’m feeling myself too much, much more than other people, which doesn’t feel right”.  In this way, it shows an association:

fear>>>>death>>>>self-in-the-world>>>>self-conscious

To put it another way, the theme of death, and the fear it causes, creates an overly strong sense of ones self that is overwhelming.  It makes one become the “focus” of awareness.  It seemed, at least to me, that this was the real fear of death that I felt, not death itself.

It also created a new dilemma of the self-in-the-world requiring a new perception of the self that I did not have.  In many ways, it was a perception I was neither prepared for nor knew what form it should take.  How does one perceive ones self as “dead”?  This is a sense one normally does not have.  We see our self-in-the-world as “alive” and “living”.  To see ones self as “dead” is as if unnatural and goes against our natural tendencies.  Its no wonder why this creates a dilemma, it like going against the grain of everything.  In this sense it was ‘beyond me’, inaccessible.  I could not ‘grasp it’.  What this situation provoked is the question:  “how do I perceive myself as dead?” My response simply amounted to:  “I simply did not know”.  This not knowing created a sense of a ‘blind spot’.

I should point out that a person can “think” or “imagine” ones self as dead but that’s now what I’m talking about.  That’s only an abstract version, a primarily “cranial” or intellectual image that is created.  I am speaking of feeling ones self as “dead”, that ones self is “dead” as a fact, a reality, not something imagined.  But, of course, this has not happened yet.  In this way, one is trying to feel a sense that one does not have yet.  Or, to put it another way, one has not experienced it yet.  This creates a ‘gap of experience’ which leads to a sense of a ‘lacking’ which is really the ‘blind spot’:  I cannot know what I have not experienced.  This creates a whole conflict of “how does one create a perception of the self-in-the-world in relation to death?”  Really, one can’t.  As a result, it will always be incomplete and lacking.  There will always be a ‘blind spot’ in relation to ‘feeling’ death.  In this way, it seems that its the inability to perceive the self-in-the-world-as-dead that is frightening about death, not death itself, as an actual event.

So we can see that the sense of the ‘blind spot’ has many elements in relation to death.  This, I felt, reflected only some aspects of the ‘blind spot’ that I felt, but I felt there was another . . .

THE DILEMMA OF IMITATION:  WHAT ORIGINATES FROM WHOM?

The question of doubting brought up another point.  I knew the origin of this tendency to doubt (or, rather, the refusal to accept my self in the world).  I learned this attitude from someone who I shall call X, who is very close to me.  He basically ‘taught’ me the doubt I described above, of the inability to accept pain and the difficulty in feeling the self-in-the-world.  I know I learned it from him, as he displayed these qualities oftentimes.

Being close to X made me adopt many of X’s traits, as often happens.  I knew that I was only adopting X’s attitude in this doubting. This brings up the question:

Is the problem of my reaction my problem or X’s?

I knew the answer before I finished the question:  its X’s problem, not mine.   In effect, by imitating an aspect of X’s character I ended up adopting his problem.  But I didn’t have his problem.  Therefore, I developed a problem I didn’t have.  I called this ‘imitative inheritance’ meaning that we ‘inherit’ a problem we don’t have by imitating the qualities of another person.  In that way, it is an ‘acquired problem’.  

With ‘imitative inheritance’ I could see that the ‘blind spot’ was actually the fact that I did not have the problem.  Because of this, I could not feel an ‘intuitive connection’ to it, hence the ‘blind spot’.  It gave a sense of being unable to ‘grasp’ something or ‘put my finger on it’ and that something seemed ‘amiss’ with it all.

It seems, to me, that our living with this ‘imitative inheritance’, for a big part of our life especially, can make us appear to develop that problem.  It will appear genuine and real.  In addition, can be just as hard to get rid of as if we genuinely had it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is far more prevalent than it at first seems.  This would mean that many peoples problems are not their own!  Most likely, we all have a form of it and many of us may struggle with the effects of it all our lives even.

The Good and Bad of Imitation

Imitation seems to have good and bad aspects to it.  Keep in mind that we can inherit good traits and bad traits when we imitate.  Not only that, what may be bad for one may be good for another and what may be good for one may be bad for another.  What this means is that there are many variations in the effects of imitation.  This can go to such an extent that no one, probably, can even predict the outcome of any ‘imitative inheritance’.  In the example I gave above I spoke of of inheriting a problem as a result of imitation but, keep in mind, that this is only one reaction.

Some of the bad aspects of ‘imitative inheritance’ include:

  • It makes us NOT who we are.  This can impair growth and development.
  • It creates problems that don’t exist.  By imitating other peoples problems we inherit their problems which we may not possess.
  • It gives us bad habits and ways.
  • It can give us traits that conflict with who we are.

Some good aspects of ‘imitative inheritance’ include:

  • It makes people alike and similar.
  • It can help by giving direction.
  • It can give us a way to be.
  • It can give us good habits.
  • It can give us good traits we don’t normally have.

As one can see, there are many good and bad aspects of ‘imitative inheritance’ which make it impossible if imitation can be described as specifically good or bad in its effects.  Frankly, its both.  It also gives it many scenarios and manifestations in how it appears.  Perhaps the effects of imitation contributes to the great diversity in people and characters?

Searching for the ‘blind spot’

I often feel that the ‘blind spot’ of ‘imitative inheritance’ (the absence of an intuitive sense of its origin, as described above) is something that we all live with.  In other words, the natural tendency to imitation leaves in us a ‘gap’, an emptiness, a sense that we cannot put our finger on something, the ‘blind spot’.  Imitation, after all, creates an absence of experience for we are experiencing the traits and qualities of another.  This absence of experience is felt as a great lacking or absence in ones self.  As a result, imitation tends to lead to a dilemma of the self.  For some people this can become a problem and cause a life crisis.  For others it can lead to life and the discovery of themselves.

Some people tend to have a tendency to look into the ‘blind spot’, to see what it is and looks for what’s missing.  Its as if the ‘blind spot’ is like a big pool that must be looked into.  As a result, imitation, as a result of the ‘blind spot’, tends to make some people reflective.  In this way, some people will find ones self in the ‘blind spot’.  That is to say, by seeking what is missing in their self they find what their self really is.  In a way, they begin to delineate who they are and separate themselves from imitation.  Because of this, the ‘blind spot’ is spanned and bridged and their self is discovered.  What this means is that imitation can help create the self, not necessarily by creating a self but in making the person seek their self and find out what it is.  In this way, the ‘blind spot’ can reaffirm and support the self.

Imitation and the Modern World

Nowadays, in particular, imitation is becoming a little bit too prevalent.  In fact, I’m inclined to think that imitation has become so prevalent that we could very well speak of an ‘imitation sickness’ nowadays.  In other words, its actually creating problems for people.  This means a number of things such as:

  • The ‘blind spot’ , which is created by imitation, has become an accepted and continual presence and has become an integral part of people’s lives and self. 
  • Because the ‘blind spot’ is so prevalent, and accepted, no tends to look at it which means that no one looks for their self.  This shows a lack of seeking a self.
  • Imitation, and the absence of looking for a self, makes a person somewhat mindless and, as a result, creates a bunch of ‘human robots’. 

In effect, an excess of imitation tends to cause a general dehumanization of humanity.  It causes things like:

  • An alienation of self.
  • A mindlessness.
  • A lack of growth. 

In other words, it makes us less human and degrades the self.  But these types of facts are hidden because, in imitation, we are doing what’s ‘accepted’ or ‘what everyone else is doing’.  Because of this, imitation creates an illusion, that everything is OK and that people don’t have the ‘sickness’.  Why should they? . . . They are doing what everyone else is doing!  This is the ‘imitation illusion’.  This illusion, in many ways, defines the modern world:  everyone appears OK because they are DOING what EVERYONE ELSE is doing.

One of the reasons why this illusion is so prevalent is because there is a tendency for people to mistake imitation for their self.  That is to say, they think that imitating successfully is the equivalent to having a self.  This is because there is a belief that the self is rooted in imitating in the correct way.  As a result of this, the measure of things becomes ones ability to imitate.  This thinking creates what can be called the ‘imitative lifestyle’.  This is a lifestyle rooted, and based, in the idea that imitation is everything and what life is about.  One could say the modern world is such a lifestyle (I’ve written an article on similar things called “Thoughts on the ‘era of imitation’ – the ‘learning deception’ and the ‘imitative culture’“).

Imitation and Education

Education, for the masses, is rooted in imitation.  This is because education-as-imitation works well when dealing with the multitude.  It makes it easy for the teachers to teach and it makes it easy for the students to follow.  As a result, it now has become a defining trait of modern education.  This means, in effect, that education-as-imitation is a form of expediency and need, not one of practicality or wisdom.  To put it another way, education-as-imitation is a ‘cheap’ way of educating the throng and hordes of people that now exists in society nowadays.  In so doing, its actually not an education at all but has more the quality of creating what can be described as ‘robots’ who are “programmed to succeed” (I’ve written an article on a similar theme called “Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”“).

Imitation is so prevalent in modern education that it may be responsible for much of the ‘imitation sickness’ that we are now seeing.  This is because kids are thrown into an environment, beginning at an early age, requiring continual imitation.  This imitation appears in many varied ways and forms.  This goes on for hours each day, 5 days a week, for years and years.  In the end, most modern kids have spend thousands of hours in an environment requiring imitation predominately:  they “hear and repeat” (lectures), they “read and repeat” (textbooks), and they “do and repeat” (such as math problems).  As a result of this, the kids have had imitation drilled into their heads to such an extent that it affects their personality and self.  One could even go so far to say that a new ‘modern imitative character’ has been created as a result.  I would define this character as having traits such as:

  • A mindlessness.
  • Being robotic.
  • A hypocrisy and naiveness.
  • An artificiality.
  • An absence of self.
  • A lack of growth.
  • A tendency to do “what’s accepted”blindly.
  • An absence of originality and lack of genuineness.

In addition, the prevalence of imitation in education has created what can be described as an ‘illusionary genius’ in some people.  In effect, it has created a particular form of ‘cheap scholar’ which is increasingly permeating the education system, industry, and working world.  These are generally people who, because of their great ability at imitation, are able to do what the system requires and expects and what is accepted.  And because they do “what’s required”, they tend to be looked at highly and, as a result, tend to ‘get ahead’ and ‘appear’ to be the best people to do things.  In actuality, they are usually people whose main ability is the ability to imitate properly and in the way the system wants.

To go even further, things like grades, success, and prestige seem to have more basis in imitative ability than anything else.  If a person does not have any great ability at imitation then they will often have a hard time.  This means that imitation is becoming the “all-important trait” that is needed nowadays, not intelligence, not wisdom, not insight, not intelligence, etc.  Remember, imitation is not the same as common sense, practicality, intelligence, wisdom, and such.  The prevalence of imitation means that these other things are actually being undermined, eroded, and are disappearing.  This is what my observation is showing.  The schooling system seems largely involved with this.  Because imitation is critical in education, and determines who gets the best grades and score, it has made it inevitable that imitation becomes a critical and all-important trait.

Imitation and the Female Character

What I describe above appears to primarily reflect the male.  The female, having a different character, has a different orientation toward imitation.  In fact, my observation is that the female is primarily imitative in orientation.  That is to say, the female relies on imitation as part of their makeup of their self.  As a result, the female is more ‘receptive’ to imitation and appears to be ‘fitting in’ to this imitative environment better than the male.

I believe the imitative tendency, in the female, originates from the mother instinct.  To make a long story short, the mother instinct tends to create a tendency and need, in the female, of  ‘incorporating’ the child into her self so that it becomes a part of who she is:  this, in actuality, is motherly love.  This is the kernel, base, and origin of the female imitative tendency.  It creates a tendency for the female to try to ‘incorporate’ other people into their self.  Since its associated with the mother instinct it gets the power of the mother instinct as well.  This means that it is a powerful impulse, one which many females cannot fight and are basically slaves to.  In other words, the mother instinct makes the female so she has a tendency to become a “slave” to the imitative impulse and a “slave” to the need to ‘incorporate’ someone else into their selves.  Because of this, they “jump on” to imitation whenever they can.  This makes it so that they slavishly follow trends and fads, for example.

Because the mother instinct gives the female the need to ‘incorporate’ others into their selves we see that, for the female, imitation is deeply associated with the self.  But this is not in the same way as the male.  In general, the male uses imitation to FIND their self  (such as seeking the ‘blind spot’, as described above).  The female tends to use imitation to COMPLETE their self (follow trend, fad, etc.).  These are totally different orientations.  The male tends to develop a self-as-self.  The female tends to develop a self-in-relation-to-another.  This tendency in the female tends to create problems and dilemmas for the female.  In fact, the effects of imitation creates a number of dilemma’s for females such as:

  • They need to have another to complete them.
  • Their self is, in actuality, not an independent self at all but what can be described as a ‘dependent self’ or ‘relationship-based self’, one that stands only in relation to another.

The former tends to create a blind following.  The latter tends to create a mindlessness.  These qualities tend to create a particularly strong robotic quality in females nowadays that ends up enslaving and undermining them in the end.  As a result, just because the female tends to thrive in the imitative  environment does not mean that its what’s best for them.  In fact, I feel that its slowly undermining them nowadays and is eating away at the female hood in general.

In addition, because the female is so keen on imitation there is a tendency for the ‘imitation illusion’ to be stronger with them.  In other words, they are more inclined to think that successful imitation is what everything is about.  If they follow the trends correctly, if they follow the fads in the right way, then they are “with it”, so to speak, and have reached the ultimate of what a person can be.  This is what they assume.  Because of this, females tend to belief the illusion more extensively than the male.  Often, they will use it to justify their worth and value as a person.  But, we must remember, its all an illusion . . . they’re just imitating.

Imitation and Genuineness

The whole subject of imitation brings up the issue of genuineness.  Imitation basically degrades and erodes genuineness, destroying it bit by bit.  Because we are in an era of great imitation one could very say that we are in a ‘genuine poor era’.  In this way, one could say that the “cure” for imitation is genuineness.

Interestingly, what is often thought of as being genuine is often nothing but a form of imitation.  That is to say, in ‘acting genuine’ one is actually only doing a form of imitation of what the times thinks is genuine, which is usually based on what society, or a part of society, thinks is genuine.  This is a great dilemma nowadays and quite deceptive.  The philosophy of individualism, in particular, seems to promote this illusion.  This is because people act ‘individualistic’, thinking that they are being genuine and an individual but, in actuality, they are actually only imitating an accepted image of being an individual.  In this way, they are no closer to being genuine than when they started.  This is another example of the ‘imitation illusion’.

In many ways, because imitation threatens the genuine nature of the person one could say that the battle for genuineness is one of the great battles of this era.  Sadly, its a battle few are waging, at least from what I have seen.  The pull, and illusion, of imitation is so great that it has won many people over.  One reason for this, no doubt, is the fact that a person who is imitative tends to be accepted by everyone and tends to ‘get ahead’.  That’s not much of an incentive to try to be genuine.

Not only that, seeking to be genuine is not easy.  There are many aspects of being genuine that make it difficult to seek.  It entails many things such as:

  • A self inquiry.
  • A doing, experiencing, and living.
  • A way of life.
  • A cultural base.

Contrary what is often thought, genuineness is not rooted in the self alone.  This seems a common idea of individualism (which is prevalent in the U.S.), where the emphasis is what the “person alone can achieve”.  In actuality, it requires much more than that.  There appears a need for the other things listed above.  The first two points are needed from the person.  The two later points are needed in a persons environment or world.  The modern world tends to fail on the two later points.  This appears to be where the war for genuineness tends to fail.  The fact is that a person cannot be genuine without a base and a foundation in the world.  A way of life and culture supply these.  The lack of them tend to be impairing to the development of genuineness.  What this shows is that genuineness requires a base in both the self and in the world to be true. 

AFTERTHOUGHT

We can see that the situation which created the ‘blind spot’ showed multiple origins of this sense, not only from deep within (the idea of death) but socially, in relation to other people (imitation).  What this shows, in my opinion, is the great interrelationships that we have with the world and how any association with the world tends to entail two branches, one that goes within a person, to the seat of the self, and one that goes without a person, into the world.  This fact is even revealed in the nature of genuineness which requires a base in the self (such as self-inquiry) and a base in the outer world (such as a cultural base).   This is why I speak of the self-in-the-world.

Its interesting that these facts were brought out as a reaction to a situation that involved the theme of death which, in many ways, hits to the center of ones self and its association with the world.  Death, basically, ends this association making it the “ultimate” in self/world association.  It shows that the theme of death really revolve around the question of the self’s association with the world.

————

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Death and dying, Dehumanization and alienation, Education and learning, Imitation and the problems it creates, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, The male and female and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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