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A thought on Culture as an Integral Part of the Conditions of Existence

by Norman Pilon

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon, philosopher and revolutionary

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. Karl Marx, 1852

The concrete totality as a totality of thought, as a thought concretum, is in fact a product of thought and conception; but in no sense a product of the concept thinking and engendering itself outside or over intuitions or conceptions, but on the contrary, a product of the elaboration of intuitions and conceptions into concepts.’ Karl Marx, 1859

What is the problem of History? It is, as Marx puts it, that we do not make our history, be it personal or collective, under circumstances of our choosing.

What are these circumstances?

To describe them and the manner in which they seize hold of us, never again quite to release their grip, consider what happens to a child born into a specific society, in a particular place, at a particular moment in time:

Before anyone is ever born, on the eve of one’s birth, assuming that one does not come into the world in a moment when everything is a matter of war or utter chaos, but even to a high degree under those circumstances, men and women are already highly organized, one could say ‘fixed,’ into definite patterns of social existence.

Already, there are customs and rituals being observed; expectations about how men and women are to behave in contradistinction to one another; specific technologies of production to which are wedded specific social relations, i.e., individuals who, being part of a system of production, assume specific functions within that system, as peasants or mechanics or engineers or plant managers, and so on. A state may rule over the people, governing through a host of overseeing bureaucracies and institutions, adding other layers of imbricated social complexity to the original and underlying mix, further elaborating the overall division of labour of society; part and parcel to all of this is an ideological dimension, itself subject in some respects to the phenomenon of specialization, since professions or specific roles within the overall system of production and oversight help to produce not only goods and services but also to cast mindsets into very specific molds, since work habits do not become established but by also becoming the conditioned reflexes of the minds of the people who acquire and manifest them.

All of this taken together comprises what we can call a society, and this society, of course, interacts with its natural environment, itself very much an aspect of this social system that both conditions and is conditioned by that system, since a society cannot but change its natural environment, and that change in turn must impact the practices of the society – the rituals, the activities of production, the social relations therein embedded, entrenched opinions and beliefs, and so on – since either a society adapts to its incrementally or rapidly impacted natural environment or it begins to disintegrate.

A child, then, is born into a world that, although always changing, sometimes quickly, but mostly incrementally, is from her standpoint already fully formed and stable if not exactly static.

Willy-nilly, the child will come to conform to a high degree to the practices and beliefs and attitudes that are widespread and common in her society and that saturate and structure her experiences; thus the child inherits, through the pressures of enculturation and environmental conditions, as many modalities of the ambient culture(s) as she is exposed to and internalizes.

Therefore, it is as if an element of fate is at play: the child does not pick and choose or invent which practices and beliefs and attitudes will eventually become her own, or to the degree that she does, she will only manage it within a very limited scope of tolerance for self-expression or idiosyncrasy. She will at some point and for a while and in most respects be very much the product of her cultural environment, and for most, this condition obtains into and throughout their adulthood. This is the case not just for each child, but for all children, without exception.

Since all children are in this fashion enculturated, since they are molded into the persons they become by the ‘conditions of existence,’ which includes all aspects of culture, they cannot possibly be responsible for their enculturation, for the cultural habits that eventually become the sum of their individual practices in body and mind as adults; and we can add to this that in this way culture – which is inherited somewhat like a genetic constitution, uncritically assumed because it must be assumed by everyone in the course of their childhood, as a thing for which no one is really responsible – consequently has a life of its own, so to speak, independent of the will or desires of any one individual, and that also as a consequence, may be spoken of as being in effect a ‘force of nature,’ a ‘material force’ that molds the character of all men and women.

Louis Althusser somewhere suggests (I forget where for the moment) that what Marx took over from Hegel, what he took to be the nub of rationality in Hegel, was that history was a process without a subject. [1]

Hegel saw culture as the divine emanation of God in the world and called it Spirit; he understood that culture seemed to evolve quite independently of men’s collective desires or aspirations. But he believed that cultural change, in the dimension of ideas, of articulated cultural or academic consciousness, happened first in the sequence of historical change and that then all of the other modalities of social life, that is, the rituals and practices of men, followed in its train.

For Marx, however, inverting Hegel’s thesis was a better approximation to what Marx then deemed to be the reality: change did not by and large happen first in the thoughts of people, and especially not in the minds of academics or philosophers, but tended to occur first in the material circumstances of life, be it in the natural environment or in the independently, unconsciously evolving cultural conditions or dimensions of society, forcing men to alter their practices in an attempt to adapt to what was largely beyond their control, into contriving this or that very specific strategy of mitigation. Only after such new mitigating practices, hit upon by trial and error, had successfully materialized or become customary, did the thinking emerge which delusively claimed itself to be the cause and raison d’être of these now institutionalized practices.**

So, for example, the tenets of the discipline of ‘political economy’ were not first created in the heads of people like Adam Smith and David Ricardo as the projected bases for a new society that was subsequently to be developed into what today we call capitalist society. Rather, the structured whole that we call capitalism was already up and running by the time it began to be formally theorized and explained, and reasons concocted to justify its existence, by people like Smith and Ricardo. The effect of their efforts was not to urge and inspire men into bringing capitalism into existence, but to legitimize by theorizing an already existing (or almost fully fledged) system of juridical, political, and economic relations and practices.

Insufficiently self-aware, theoretically uncritical or innocent of its own epistemological stance toward its object of inquiry, the ‘political economy’ of people like Smith and Ricardo, as an intellectual discipline, becomes yet another layer of culturally induced cognitive reflexes further entrenching and stabilizing the social relations of capitalist society by providing an additional array of rationales for the presumed natural necessity and indisputable legitimacy of those relations.

So we have in the examples of Smith and Ricardo and, yes, even in Hegel, as well as in most all other intellectuals of Marx’s day and even of our own, a mode of theorizing society that merely decodes or maps out what already exists in practice, and thus Marx is able to suggest that the contents of the minds of men, as a general rule, even as they struggle to arise to a condition of lucid contextual awareness, is more a passive mirroring and acceptance of what is, of the world as it is already embodied in its immediate and structured material effects.

This mindset, Marx might have argued, is the conditioned, conservative and unreflective mindset of the status quo; as such, it is the most prevalent and dominant outlook of a society, and being inherently unreflective, is incapable of critically distancing itself from the reality in which it is submerged. The social reality which exists, of which it is the offspring, is from the standpoint of this mindset what should exist if only because it is what in fact exists.

Of course, not everyone who is an ideological product of his social circumstances — and everyone is — is in this manner unreflectively conservative and a born cheerleader of things just as they are, although such people tend to be far and few between, even among those who may be ill served or roundly abused by their circumstances.

All societies and social circles have their non-conformists and dissenters, people who in spite of themselves notice problems that tend to be played down or entirely ignored by the ascendant and blinkered orthodoxy.

They notice things like poverty and hunger and war and oppression, and wonder why these things might be happening and how they might be stopped, and in their wonder, they reflect, and in the course of their reflections come to recognize patterns in the way that they themselves think or have been taught to regard the world around them and their place in it, in the way that some of these patterns are common to their peers and others not.

And then their awareness of who and what they are, of the degree of their own unwitting complicity in the miseries and horrors they cannot discount, begins to shift and augment, and soon they are talking and even behaving differently than once they did, becoming a disturbance in the complex unity of all established and accepted social practices, which include, among a great many others, political practices (spontaneous or formally organized) and ideological practices (which affect the consciousness of men and thereby, at least potentially, how they might behave – practices, that is, whether of a kind that is

. . . religious, political, moral, legal or artistic . . .” Louis Althusser, 1963

And herein lies the hope of our future, I think, that reflection — in this day being prompted by the reality of increasing dislocations and misery — itself may become an endemic social practice in its own right, thereby multiplying the odds that we collectively arrive at an accurate understanding of those social relations among us, in which we ourselves are implicated, that make for domination, dispossession and oppression, that we might on the basis of this awareness develop other sets of organized social practices whose end is the effective disruption and eventual quashing in our society of the exploitation of man by man — to echo Frantz Fanon, as he put it in addressing the issue of racism:

“…I, the man of color, want only this:

That the tool never possess the man. That the enslavement of man by man cease forever. That is, of one by another. That it be possible for me to discover and to love man, wherever he may be.

The Negro is not. Any more than the white man.

Both must turn their backs on the inhuman voices which were those of their respective ancestors in order that authentic communication be possible. Before it can adopt a positive voice, freedom requires an effort at dis-alienation. At the beginning of his life a man is always clotted, he is drowned in contingency. The tragedy of the man is that he was once a child.

It is through the effort to recapture the self and to scrutinize the self, it is through the lasting tension of their freedom that men will be able to create the ideal conditions of existence for a human world.

Superiority? Inferiority?

Why not the quite simple attempt to touch the other, to feel the other, to explain the other to myself?

Was my freedom not given to me then in order to build the world of the You?

[. . .] I want the world to recognize, with me, the open door of every consciousness.

My final prayer:

‘O my body, make of me always a man who questions!’

Frantz Fanon, 1986

**(In my opinion, Marx’s inversion of Hegel simply consists in the recognition that ‘society’ is a complex ‘whole’ or ‘totality’ that includes the natural environment as well as every other aspect of ‘human existence’ that you care to isolate or objectify; nothing could ever be as simple as Spirit – ideas, intuitions, concepts – being the causa sui of history, although to be sure, ideas and concepts most certainly do affect the course of history, but within narrow limits, as merely parts of a very complex and dynamic whole.)

Footnotes:

[1] Pertaining to this claim that I make: “Louis Althusser somewhere suggests (I forget where for the moment) that what Marx took over from Hegel, what he took to be the nub of rationality in Hegel, was that history was a process without a subject.”

While I still can’t remember “where” I read “that” in Althusser’s work, I did come across this in something that I am in the middle of reading at this moment, which proves that I’m not imputing “ideas” to Althusser that he did not in fact hold (and with which I happen to agree):

Last year, in a paper I read at Jean Hyppolite’s seminar, I showed what Marx owed to Hegel in theory. After critically examining the dialectic of what may be called the conceptual experiment carried out by Marx in the 1844 Manuscripts, where Feuerbach’s theory of the alienation of the Human Essence underwent a Hegelian injection, precisely the injection of the process of historical alienation – I was able to show that this combination was untenable and explosive, and in fact it was abandoned by Marx on the one hand (the Manuscripts were not published and their theses were progressively abandoned later), while on the other it produced an explosion.

The untenable thesis upheld by Marx in the 1844 Manuscripts was that History is the History of the process of alienation of a Subject, the Generic Essence of Man alienated in ‘alienated labour’.

But it was precisely this thesis that exploded. The result of this explosion was the evaporation of the notions of subject, human essence, and alienation, which disappear, completely atomized, and the liberation of the concept of a process (procès or processus)without a subject, which is the basis of all the analyses in Capital.

Marx himself provides evidence of this in a note to the French edition of Capital (this is interesting, for Marx must have added this note three or four years after the appearance of the German edition, i.e. after an interval which had allowed him to grasp the importance of this category and to express it to himself). This is what Marx wrote:

The word ‘procès’ (process) which expresses a development considered in the totality of its real conditions has long been part of scientific language throughout Europe. In France it was first introduced slightly shamefacedly in its Latin form – processus. Then, stripped of this pedantic disguise, it slipped into books on chemistry, physics, physiology, etc., and into a few works of metaphysics. In the end it will obtain a certificate of complete naturalization. Let us note in passing that in ordinary speech the Germans, like the French use the word Prozess (procès, process) in the legal sense [i.e. trial] (Le Capital, Editions Sociales, t.I, p. 181n.)

Now, for anyone who ‘knows’ how to read Hegel’s Logic as a materialist, a process without a subject is precisely what can be found in the Chapter on the Absolute Idea. Jean Hyppolite decisively proved that Hegel’s conception of history had absolutely nothing to do with any anthropology. The proof: History is the Spirit, it is the last moment of the alienation of a process which ‘begins’ with Logic, continues with Nature and ends with the Spirit, the Spirit, i.e. what can be presented in the form of ‘History’. For Hegel, quite to the contrary of the erroneous view of Kojève and the young Lukács, and of others since them, who are almost ashamed of the Dialectics of Nature, the dialectic is by no means peculiar to History, which means that History does not contain anywhere in itself, in any subject, its own origin. The Marxist tradition was quite correct to return to the thesis of the Dialectics of Nature, which has the polemical meaning[3] that history is a process without a subject, that the dialectic at work in history is not the work of any Subject whatsoever, whether Absolute (God) or merely human, but that the origin of history is always already thrust back before history, and therefore that there is neither a philosophical origin nor a philosophical subject to History. Now what matters to us here is that Nature itself is not, in Hegel’s eyes, its own origin; it is itself the result of a process of alienation which does not begin with it: i.e. of a process whose origin is elsewhere – in Logic.

(Source: Lenin before Hegel, Althusser, 1969 [– you will want to scroll down almost to the bottom of the page].)


112 Comments

  1. Came across an article published by The Baffler which relates, not to Karl Marx, but to the recent history of culture marginalizing. If someone on the Admin staff could take a look at it and possibly re-blog it. It’s quite the reminder of how Afro-Americans were depicted in what is thought now to be an unenlightened era, but at that time, as the article and the film demonstrates, was widespread.
    Tried to submit it through your submissions option, couldn’t get a response of any sort, the link just wouldn’t work. Apologies if this is not the correct approach, but although I have re-blogged it with credits, I won’t get any hits and I really would like to see it on OffG where it will have an audience.
    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/outsmarted-perlstein?utm_campaign=Newsletter&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=43987620&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–o4LuHVlPOf2hJzfyc7ol-0fb7l1nRDuOB-K1h6kRWPUz4XaeNl7vJXIcd_nOuMlx9Q1xbz85IS9tBj7bZktlBQprZmam6aVGow1ctgBBjJTavLaY&_hsmi=43987620

    Like

  2. I don’t usually click links without context – but I do have context of the conversational thread and I’m glad to have read what you shared. I don’t generally use the word lucky any more – unless to bridge to those who must believe in it. The underside of human consciousness is – as far as I see – universal – for the topside is ‘made’ upon its being pushed down. The lack of consciousness of those in triggered reaction is a dissociated loop of consciousness – blind to all else but the imprint of the dissociation itself.

    The saying ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ has a true pointer – but can so easily becomes the worship of the evils of the past as if to protect from allowing it to ever happen again. It doesn’t seem like worshipping evil – but the abused thus becomes abuser – perhaps in justifications made reasonable by evils set apart from true re-membering.

    Unwillingness to perpetrate abuse – (masked or in the raw) – opens willingness for a better way, in this step and one step at a time. So I thank you for your honesty – free of appeals for sympathy or blame – (ok the class issue – but you didn’t set everything exclusively in such a frame). My sense is that your willingness attracted true support that you recognised, hung in with and grew in the culture of. The extension of a true sense of worth is priceless because a lack of worth costs everything true.

    The term ‘support is often used for a propping up of an established pattern of identification – but I mean a solidarity with who you truly are (and unfold as the discovery of) – rather than confirming a mind made and set in fear, guilt, anger and powerlessness. (True) Culture is sown and grown by what we accept and act from as true of us. The awakening of this freedom to respond truly is effectively denied by the tyranny of our own convictions of worthlessness (or investment in a false sense of worth; same thing). Thus Life may extend by invitation – but cannot make anyone accept it now. However a gift truly given may be recognised at a later timing. Including the gift of a stark experience of recognising who we are not.

    As I see it – unresolved issues not only repeat (in unseen opportunity for true acceptance), but backlog into mounting crisis that manifest a sense of powerlessness in the face of overwhelming challenge as the demand to be addressed. The past we fantasize as having escaped – is just outside the bubble reality kept ‘alive’ by sacrifice of true to such narrative identity. And yet everything changes when we no longer run away or hide from our fear or hate. Perhaps because looking at it – breaks the spell of running from it and opens a conscious perspective where there had been none before – so it is NOT the same – and calls forth new eyes to see truly. Because a truly conscious perspective is not just ‘thinking about’ the past and future or even the present – but participates within an actual presence – that cannot be communicated within the terms of a ‘communication breakdown’ adaptation. But who we accept ourselves to be, communicates through everything we think, say and do – whether we notice and accept this or not. Not everything below the radar is of a negative or fearful agenda. Freud bequeathed us his ‘Unconscious’ of suppressed and feared self without addressing his own, but the true impulse of living is a wellspring that then is coloured and adulterated by the denial it rises through. Not that there aren’t pure thoughts of inspiration and appreciation – but unless we recognize, hang in with and grow in the culture of their qualities, they pass us by as a moment unrecognised. Like you and your father’s moment of seeing – and yet not seeing – in that moment.
    I don’t see dissociated consciousness as justification for anyone’s acts or responsibility for their own life-choices – but nor do I see projection of guilt as more than feeding the shadow of the past with the sacrifice and loss of presence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a saying that we use only n% of our brain. I hold that we always use 100% intelligence but structured in such a way as to believe and experience we only use n%.
    Self-limitation can be a way of excluding so as to give focus – and yet if we believe our own reflection, we feel limits put upon us and seek to escape them – and yet only reassert them in different forms.
    Clearly the we of 100% is forgotten amidst the attempt to operate within a n% reality filter.

    When we try too hard we get in our own way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A well-thought-out meditation, NP! It’s a wee bit too “Structuralist” for my taste, perhaps, but as vivid with intelligence and philosophical introspection as anything I’ve read for quite a while. A second installment (he pleaded) might turn more attention to Culture as the result of the struggle between a polity’s inertia and the goals of those in charge of the polity (picture my favorite dynamite-truck-careening-down-a-winding-mountain-road analogy); that is, no modern population clamors, naturally, for War… yet there is plenty of War, and: how can anyone explain a “Global Crash” if the world’s economy is a closed system (unless we’re secretly doing business with Mars)? In other words, Culture is a queer amalgam of organic growth and polished artifact, the two halves fused by deceptions. I’d amend (in all caps) Marx’s quote this way:

    “Men IN CONTROL OF SOCIETY’S INSTITUTIONS make AND THEN SPIN their own history, but they do not make it as they ENTIRELY please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past, INHERITED FROM THOSE IN CONTROL OF THE PAST. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living RULERS WHO WORK TO ESTABLISH CONDITIONS AMENABLE TO THEIR OWN WANTS AND NEEDS.”

    ….for example, the long struggle of Crypto-Occult Intelligence Agencies to overthrow the longstanding Control Organ of Christianity (along with the Hereditary Aristocracy which had adapted Christianity to its uses)… to this day we can see signs of the Old and New Garde as they fight between themselves and within each other for dominance; like a Drugged Maiden being fought over, we are Spectator, Victim and Prize. Our history is largely unwritten. “Our” Culture, largely, an Intervention. To home in on the vehicle metaphor…

    If we believe that the juggernaut is steering itself, unconsciously, or that it’s a train on immutable tracks, we’ll be slower to change than if we realize that there are generational human drivers/ navigators/ engineers who must, first of all, be removed before a new course can be plotted. We must understand that the vehicle itself was designed and maintained by Them. The vehicle (“History”) is not an organic development; it’s wholly artificial; we have no idea what the “real” version would resemble.

    We must, to step away from the vehicular metaphor, realize that Revolution (in the “modern” sense) has always required money, lots of money and so an “anti-Capitalist Revolution” is a contradiction in terms. Every “Revolution” that we look back upon with radical nostalgia was, in fact, funded by Capitalists (even before the term existed)… just as they are today; there were never “Revolutions”…. there were always Renovations. Eg: 1917 was a “Color Revolution” controlled from outside of Russia. The romantic dream of riled Serfs with torches and pitchforks, routing the Aristocracy, is just as much a fantasy as The Beatles (or anyone) getting World Famous based entirely on hard work, talent and charm. A wonderful fantasy… a pacifier.

    We need a new model! A new “History”, too.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I’ll have to slap you later. I’m too tired right now. So I’ll come back when I’m more alert. I want to make sure I’m going to be slapping your occultism(s) and not mine.

        Liked by 2 people

    • “We must [… ]realize that Revolution (in the “modern” sense) has always required money…”

      According to Vicky Nuland, apparently, the going rate is about 5 billion.

      Liked by 3 people

    • “Men IN CONTROL OF SOCIETY’S INSTITUTIONS make AND THEN SPIN their own history, but they do not make it as they ENTIRELY please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past, INHERITED FROM THOSE IN CONTROL OF THE PAST. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living RULERS WHO WORK TO ESTABLISH CONDITIONS AMENABLE TO THEIR OWN WANTS AND NEEDS.”

      Marx would entirely approve. Because that is also and exactly what he had in mind.

      Do you know from what work that quote comes from?

      It comes from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

      So Marx understood perfectly well the preponderant effects on people’s lives of the secret machinations and Machiavellian schemes that were always in play at the highest levels of governance.

      When he suggests that Capital is rooted in The State, what he means is that capitalist society exists by virtue of a monopoly over (criminal) violence and secrecy, that the State is nothing if not in fact an apparatus of murderous repression.

      It seems to me, then, that your “new model” — your new “History” — has already been written . . . oh, roughly one hundred and sixty five years ago. It’s just, I think, that you haven’t had a chance to read it, yet.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “So Marx understood perfectly well the preponderant effects on people’s lives of the secret machinations and Machiavellian schemes that were always in play at the highest levels of governance.”

        Norman, thanks for engaging on that one! But I didn’t mean to imply that that concept is new or that a New History would feature it; nor that “They” don’t admit, quite openly, that it is so. I meant only to adjust that quote as a response to your piece, which (as I said), felt a little too Structuralist. Marx’s internal contradictions (from the standpoint of what he wrote) are enough to fuel all sides of a debate on its meanings.

        Liked by 1 person

        • BTW: you are only reading one of two replies since the second is still being held up in “moderation” for having more than two links. But you will notice once it comes out of “moderation” that I do give a nod in the direction of your reply, alluding to “the sanitized academic version of what Marx was about,” which is as you rightly point out, very much the tone of my piece . . .

          Liked by 2 people

      • I noted the same when reading of Cyrus:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_Cylinder

        The capture of the mind – via the institutions of allegiance – operates subjugation without resort to the expense and drawbacks of using occupying armies.

        The power structure of an established ruling class or system can thus be subverted and re-contextualised to subjection in the guise of their own culture.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yes. It’s not by any means just military subjugation. There’s the element of hegemony, to be sure, in the Gramscian sense. But force is always in the background, never too far away, in the last instance, as a last resort.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes the use of force and threat of force, terrorise behavioural compliance and subjection.
            The body can be conformed to enact fantasy associations – but without a true relationship – is a hollow that no amount of stuffed ‘culture’ can fill.
            A culture that identifies fulfilment upon the body – as the forms of relation assigned false narrative, enacts the fantasy of such narrative identity – and fights for primacy within it.
            A culture that recognises fulfilment in Spirit – of true communication embodied as relational being, has no need to coerce or deceive in order to share in fulfilment.
            That bodies can be used as weapons (and extended through technology) is the mind that seeks to weaponise in order to get – or get back.
            But once such a mind is accepted and identified as self’ – subjection to narrative outcomes precludes qualities of being that have been effectively sacrificed to effect a possession and its defence.
            Indeed such a mind cannot think outside the terms the body sets – and yet these terms were first imposed by mind to the body – but hidden.

            In mythic-symbolic or religious terms, ‘war in heaven’ precipitated a ‘Fall from Grace’. Likewise the ‘disobedience’ of Eden. In psycho-emotional terms it can be said we do first unto ourself what then we experience being done unto – but as the act of another, or the result of a past over which we have no control.
            Divide and rule operates first in the mind vis:

            “Self-judgment is an obstacle that need not be.
            When you see the mind choosing to judge itself,
            remember that the mind is defining you, and then judging what it has defined.
            In other words, it is declaring an idea to be reality, then judging the idea it has made.
            Step back from this process, and notice this ‘doing’ in the thinking mind. As you observe this doing,
            you observe the mechanics called ‘ego’. ” (from a ‘channelling’ of ‘Holy Spirit or intuitive perspective).

            Culture can be the balancing of within and without as a shared consciousness of worth – and as indicated above its forms can be subverted, mimicked and made artifice.

            Fake reality is fake mind seeking validation and reinforcement. Fantasy seeking support. Without support it cannot pass off as true – and so very deeply laid defences operate to enforce such support. However, a fake reality is not itself Creative – and operates the plundering and exploitation of the creative nature and being – under ingenious thinking that seems to redefine and redistribute psychic-emotional conflict in more complex ‘instruments’ of obfuscation.

            Yet the only true culture renewal rises from honestly accounting one’s own participance – and re-aligning to a true currency of being – rather than clever thinking that seems to offer power as ‘narrative control’. Not that thinking hasn’t a right time and place – but that a creative relationship is not a coercive set of demands and conditions. If we live not from such a freedom – how would we begin to honour and nurture it in each other – and become discerning of – and thus immune to the baiting of fear and guilt-loaded manipulative intent?

            The idea of a better future is usually a reaction to and thus extension of a ‘past made in anger’. The willingness for a better Now is in some respects a release of narrative control to a fresh curiosity – rather than an oppositional narrative that may seem justified against a perceived wrong – but operates the same underlying usurpation of being as ‘mind-in-conflict’ or ‘identity-assertion’.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Merely to follow on, there is the sanitized academic version of what Marx was about, and then there is what Marx would have had you understand about the difference between the public face of respectability and humanitarian concern that Capital puts on and the “reality” beneath that appearance, namely, that there is no atrocity that you can conceive that has not been or may even now be being committed by humans against other humans as sanctioned by capitalist ruling class: if there is a profit to made into the sadistic bargain, you can be sure that it is happening somewhere to someone.

      As Marx once quoted in a footnote a certain T.J. Dunning,

      “Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated.” (T. J. Dunning, l. c., pp. 35, 36.)

      source: see footnote # “15.” here — (and incidentally, reading that short excerpted chapter from Capital where that footnote appears is very much apropos.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Is capital tangible and intangible possession as in a cultural inheritance of land, water, food, materials and the skills and abilities of living and working them? Originally a felt ‘belonging to’ rather than ‘possessed?’

        Is it the abstracted representation of legally defined and protected assets appropriated and possessed by private ownership denying the rights of the whole to the exclusive or ascendent rights of the legal owner?

        The flow of such investments of ‘ownership’ in a financial construct set up and run by financial insiders who effectively own and control the system itself and thereby exact tribute and subjection by structural bias as a redistribution of ‘ownership’ and debt that dispossesses others of their cultural and individual freedoms – while ‘marketing’ substitute identities of fake choices as the mitigation of such isolation and loss while conditioning the herd to diversion in division.

        For me the cultural crux is identity. Loss of identity or self-doubt in fear of loss leads to investment in getting away from the feared loss of self – whilst getting validation and reinforcement for an assertive persona – operating a masked agenda under a sense of threat. Of course this operates to undermine others to get a sense of power or dominance and takes every kind of strategy. So within the fear of loss of self – believed true and acted as such – is every intent and attempt to get it back, deny and defend against others, use others as assets or allies to one’s sense of power and perceived worth or status. And the investment of psychic emotional capital in this is intensely charged as survival itself – and fleshed out in war and pain and death under hope of victory or defiance.

        The saying comes to mind “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
        What you appreciate, appreciates, but an investment in a fake reality grows an abundance of fakery that costs even the little spark of Soul that thought to make its home in fantasy associations.

        Clearly material reality CAN be appreciated within the context of a genuine relational communication. Wealth CAN be harnessed wisely. But such willingness can only be individually lived as a cultural witnessing to a like quality in others. So for me true willingness is our greatest recourse – for through it comes all else and by its covering over is everything skewed and lost to fear and division. I would also call it true will or sovereignty – but it has to grow from a little willingness – through which Life Happens of a different order than mind-rules – yet not destructive or demonising of such.

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        • Hi, Binra,

          I find your reply interesting and will reply, but it will have to be later because I got to bed way too late last night, and I absolutely need to get a wink so as to able to think. But I think I’m getting the sense of what you mean and mostly agree. But let me sleep on that and I’ll see how it all fits together when I return.

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        • You raise two questions about ‘capital.’ For Marx, ‘capital’ was one of capitalist society’s distinctive cultural delusions. ‘Money,’ as such, is not peculiar to capitalist society, but it does play a central role in the epochal ‘delusion’ of capitalism. Roughly speaking, the delusion (or ‘fetish,’ as Marx liked to refer to cultural ‘mystifications’) is that ‘money’ is a ‘thing’ with ‘a dual purpose’: on the one hand, it is wealth, tout court, that is to say, a claim on a part of the overall stock of goods and services (commodities) collectively produced by society, but for the purpose of being traded for its universal numerical value-equivalent, i.e., ‘money;’ and on the other, it is also a ‘thing’ that under the right conditions transmutes itself into a greater ‘quantity’ of itself.

          In a nutshell, ‘that’ is the crux of the pivotal delusion and insanity of capitalist society, or if you will, the hypostatized and reified ‘object’ which goes by the name of ‘capital’ and to which Western civilization is enthralled.

          This simplification is misleading, however, because once you begin to ‘unpack’ its implications, where you end up is pretty much where Marx ends up, namely, with an analysis which at its most condensed is roughly equivalent to the whole of Capital: Volume One>.

          If you haven’t already delved into it, you really should. It is a fascinating journey into the phenomenon of ‘culture’ and the multifaceted ways in which we really are prisoners to collective illusions and projections which, because they are collective, have a life of their own, that is, until we begin (collectively) to recognize them for what they are.

          And if you aren’t already somewhat familiar with that particular tome, might I suggest by way of a preliminary introduction, two very short introductions or primers that I’ve written for the layman, to help anyone unfamiliar with Marx to begin to acclimate to his view of things: a) Reading Marx: Where Does Profit Come From? (And Why The ‘Rate of Profit’ Must Fall); and b) A Synopsis of Marx’s Concept of “Value” and how “Abstract Labour” Determines the Magnitude of all “Exchange-Values” in a Non-arbitrary Way – at least according to Norm.

          And so yes, our predicament is, as you obviously know, largely the result of collectively shared ‘ideas’ or ‘fictions’ having become our masters rather than, as they should have remained, our slaves or tools. Indeed, it is all about identity, about the manner in which we “substantialize” ourselves into “notions” of what and who we are.

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        • Well said Elenits. I particularly like the fact that you are able to ask the questions that I cannot frame and elicit responses that I can understand. Many thanks.

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            • I don’t think they are. Whilst I am no expert, their style of proffering argument and responses are similar in that they can both clearly understand the fundamental credentials in the article and the merits of both sides, they approach it from the same angle but express it in different ways. If you remember I asked Binra to do a “dumbed down” version so that I can follow. Binra did try and succeeded, even though he/she said dumbing down was not possible, whereas Elenits is much more straightforward in his/her comments. Besides which, I don’t think Binra would use two accounts, it would be deemed slightly dishonest if I read him/her right. I could be wrong though, I often am.

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              • I don’t know Elenits – but my sanity rests in unified purpose – so indeed I would not pass off as different personae at the same time. In fact the compartmentalisation or fragmentation of consciousness is what I read when I read Jesus met a man called ‘Legion’ – and instead of being afraid and avoiding – took a sure path upon which the man met him – and was truly met instead of being reinforced with hate, fear and exclusion (which at some level may have been his own wish if running away from or covering over, un-resolved self-conflicts.

                To my perspective, the mind-in-conflict cannot see or hear any message from unified purpose – but filters Everything in the narrative distortion of its ‘self-protection’ (racket).
                Jesus says so many simple and profound things that have true awakening power if recognized… but the forms of which which have been re-purposed to run a re-loaded version of the same old religion of sacrifice under guise of guilt masking as the wish, intent or trying to be ‘loving’.
                One may lead to water, but cant make to drink – and attempting to change another is the guise and symptom of not accepting oneself be transformed. It may be tempting to set up shop to shepherd the ‘sheeple’ – as if they are here to be directed and marketised to serve a private agenda. Fighting over the narrative isn’t power struggle so much as Tweedledumming down to operate only in terms of struggle.

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                • “Jesus says so many simple and profound things that have true awakening power if recognized… but the forms of which which have been re-purposed to run a re-loaded version of the same old religion of sacrifice under guise of guilt masking as the wish, intent or trying to be ‘loving’.”

                  The same can be said about a great many people. I don’t think it’s always a matter of inner psychic turmoil, though to be sure, sometimes it’s that exactly, or that it’s necessarily because the dominant orthodoxy is feeling threatened and thus feels it must go on the offensive and distort and misconstrue, though sometimes it’s also that exactly, but sometimes it just comes down to the ‘fact’ that we cannot enter into another person’s mind to read it directly, but cannot do without the mediation of ‘signs,’ whether gestural, verbal or written, which at bottom always comes down to “a best guess at” what our interlocutor “intends,” and then “that,” too, can be problematic, since often a person is overtaken by the “sign,” by its “syntax,” by an already pre-existent freight of “meanings” that end up obscuring form the interlocutor himself his very “intention.”

                  It’s complicated. But now I know that “Binra” is not “Elenits,” and that seems to be clear, and yet, and yet . . .

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                  • The highest communication medium is a synchronicity of being. Discernment isn’t so much a translation into concept as a translation to being – that then finds word or phrase as needed.
                    Psychic-emotional conflict or ‘separation trauma’ is lidded over most of the time in most of us and the narrative mind is employed as the lid. No one wants to relive trauma – but such is altogether pre-rational – pre-verbal – beneath the foundations of the acquired self in the world. Yet such world IS this denial pattern overlaid on an intimacy of being – being experienced as if it had nothing to do with our mind excepting as a means of perceiving and interpreting.

                    (I just found this unposted after having writ the same meaning to another of your recent posts in more expanded terms)

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                • Question for you to answer honestly – which you always do, but may hold back more than is good for me. Do you believe I manipulate either an argument toward my own agenda? I try to elicit responses in what I believe is an attempt to understand their position, but if I have understood what you are saying, my attempts are, possibly, a subliminal means by me to bully. If so, I would rather be told that – nobody likes a bully and I certainly don’t. By now, you probably understand me better than I do myself and as such I would listen to your advice just as I would Norman Pilon’s – because I trust you both.
                  M.

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                  • But it hasn’t occurred to me to read you in such terms. My sense is that I learn through the living or the doing and not by thinking about in rehearsal. When you notice coercive intent – notice also the emotion behind it – and just be an honesty of acceptance to THAT you are currently feeling what you feel, but you are also free to respond to that in ways that align more truly in yourself. I hold that what you give out, you get back. If pushing on or coercing others is meaningful to you – then you will perceive and experience others behaving thus toward you whether they intend it or not.
                    I read to discern the willingness in others – and the nature of what is being brought forward. Your trust is placed better in your own core self-honesty. And if that is the basis of your extending it – thank you and yet don’t forsake that quality in yourself no matter what. I can’t substitute for your own will and nor would I want to.
                    If you go looking for trouble – what do you think to find?
                    I don’t know that bullying gets anywhere in this sort of exchange. Others ignore or avoid what they don’t relate to – or react to what they hate in themselves. Or perhaps reach through in a willingness to join in a clearer place that doesn’t need to be defensive. In other words freedom to engage or not. However a hurtful or belittling intent will be felt and may or may not reinforce such currency of self-belief in others – whether they react or not.
                    Noticing what is currently going on is what I mean by self-honesty. The mind runs all kinds of narrative reality that we may not pick up on. No one can change what they do not first own.

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                    • thank you for your reply, it was both helpful and informative, For once I understood all of it in the first reading and it is something I can take with me in the future. I appreciate your honesty and patience.

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              • Dear Susan,

                There is a misunderstanding between us, and it is entirely my fault. I should have been more careful to qualify the second reply I left for you over at my blog. I’ve tried to amend it with some additional commentary. I hope that you will read it and that we can further engage, that I haven’t upset you to the point where further communication between us is now impossible.

                At any rate, I do apologize, and I now see how what I wrote could be read as you read it. But I did not intend what I wrote to be interpreted as though I was seeing you as an “evil trickster.” It’s not what I intended, but what I wrote does come off as though that is exactly what I intended to say. I guess that I, too, am not perfect, at least not in my exposition.

                Sincerely,

                –N

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          • You don’t have to believe me – but I simply ask or open within as an extension of trust – and write as I am then moved. And of course learning by doing. Feeling as I go.
            So the meanings that we use to make sense of our world as if we know what they really are – often represent disconnected realities – that may be imaged thought but not truly felt. The spin of mind is a seeming capacity to conflict, fragment and become dumped in humpty-land – where all the king’s men can never put together again.
            Setting a narrative identity in terms of polarised conflict – ensures the protection of the conflict – by any and all attempts to resolve it in such terms. No one wants to lose. Fear of loss operates as if one has in fact lost. Recognizing this is a basis on which to question the loss of power, or love or whatever – upon which the personality structure is built to protect. A framed identity theft is a phishing attack.
            In an olde book on angling (fishing) one gentleman complained to another of losing a catch after 30 minutes of sport and struggle – whereupon the other says “but surely one cannot lose what one has never actually had”.
            That insight returned to me after ‘losing my daughter’ – for the terms of our identity are so deep set we think we are the possessors of that which is gifted us to share in and release. For “who would seize unto himself a joy – doth the winged life destroy” ~ William Blake.
            Whatever cultural definitions ‘take’ will set the pattern of what can then unfold and embody therefrom. The attempt to fake this with mind-capture is the defiance of a dead paradigm to its renewal and expansion. But feared as its death and loss of power. Fears can be brought to awareness – or they can shut awareness out in driven and conditioned reaction. But the latter doesn’t seem to be as I described until brought to awareness. Which is different from thinking about.

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            • Binra: “Setting a narrative identity in terms of polarised conflict – ensures the protection of the conflict”
              Now I am worried about what kind of person I really am. Does the comment you gave refer to me? If it does, can you explain where I have done this? (You can copy and paste from my comments to demonstrate an example). I don’t want to be this person you refer to and I want to be aware of what I might be guilty of. If it is my true nature, then I must adapt but I can’t do that without awareness. I trust your integrity and am not looking to pick a fight so feel free to enlighten me. Who knows – maybe I can avoid the mistakes or reconsider my faults – if I understand them. Consider it a useful critique and I really don’t care who else is seeing this, so no worries there.

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              • Sorry, i don’t mean to intrude, but it’s difficult not to read comments that are posted in plain view and that get one’s attention, so to speak.

                You say you worry about what kind of person you are, and then you ask another (Binra), whom you presume is in so many words describing “the sort of person you are,” to proffer up examples of things you wrote that “confirm” him in his judgement of who you are.

                I don’t know, but it seems to me, then, that you are less worried about the kind of person you are than how ‘others’ may perceive you to be.

                I’m not saying there is anything wrong in that, but that is the structure of your pleading as I am reading it in this very instance: you are looking to get a sense of how ‘others’ perceive you presumably to adjust the appearance of yourself to them (i.e., how they interpret your behavior) to better conform to the ideal of who you take yourself to be, so that they will see you as you see yourself or perhaps how you would like them to see you — and this is a source of concern, even worry to you.

                How revelatory of how people (in general) construct themselves, that is to say, their self-image or sense of self. Even that “notion” of who we are is a product of social encounter and interaction: I am aware that I do not see myself as others do and that somewhere between “what I think I am” and “how others see or experience me” is the “truth” of who I “really” am. And by this process of inquiry, by asking others how they perceive me and comparing that to how I see myself, I seek to grasp the true objectivity” of “the sort of person I really am” in order to make adjustments of either an underestimation or overestimation of myself, in my image of myself or the manner in which I behave.

                This isn’t anything that is peculiar to you, of course, Mohandeer, but it is to my mind illuminating of what is involved in creating and maintaining a sense of “self,” a sense of “me,” of what “kind” of a person I am.

                I wonder what happens if one can learn to let go of that particular “need,” to get past the “worry” of it, that is, of holding fast to what is in effect a “negotiated” (wholly constructed) image of the kind of person one is?

                My hunch is that the result would be to attain to a certain kind of freedom, a certain kind of grace and self-possessed contentment.

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                • “How revelatory of how people (in general) construct themselves, that is to say, their self-image or sense of self. Even that “notion” of who we are is a product of social encounter and interaction: ”
                  No it’s not that I concern overly with how others perceive me as a person, but that I am utterly thoughtless in how I frame my assertions and pronouncements. I can be a bully – but not in a nasty way, because I blithely speak my mind without due consideration of the harm I may be inflicting. My father was a spiteful, small minded and mean spirited creature and as a girl of sixteen I resolved that I would never be that which I so despised. I need to be critical of my own nature lest I do indeed become the person I would hate to be. Other people’s perception of me through my words, if they would speak the critique, lend me the view that I want to know, it’s not about whether they like me, I’ve never cared much what people think of me since I don’t go out of my way to impress and they can judge me any way they like, but if I am the person they perceive me to be, are they correct in their observations? I don’t want to be a bully, small minded or a mean spirited person and it does no harm to try and be the best I can be. If someone else can show me in quoting by example, where I have failed myself, I’d rather know and reflect, then resolve to change and adjust in accordance with what I would wish for myself. So it’s not so much their perception but the insight it gives me about traits I am not aware of which lessen who I want to be. It’s not about pleasing them, I want to be pleased with who I am most especially if I am in total denial or oblivious and it’s not about conforming either. I do not want to be the product of a pleasing delusion and I have worked for over 40 years at trying to curb many traits that over time I have mastered in the main, or so I thought. Perhaps if other people took a step back and saw what or whom they had become Hitler might have realized that he was the product of his own social encounters and that would not have been a bad thing.
                  Am I making any sense? Should I abandon my quest to be content in who I am rather than strive for what might be considered a lost cause?
                  My conundrum is that I really don’t know the answer. But if you think you are packing me off to a shrink – forget it, I’m not that far gone – I don’t think. Well I might be depending on just how delusional I am. I don’t want to be sectioned or wearing a straight jacket, I’d look truly pasty in white.

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                  • “So it’s not so much their perception but the insight it gives me about traits I am not aware of which lessen who I want to be.”

                    “…but the insight “it” gives me . . .”

                    What is the “it” that is giving you the insight into the traits that you have that you are not aware of?

                    Presumably “it” is how “others” perceive or experience you through what you say or do.

                    So you are searching for an “objective” perception of yourself that you presumably do not have on yourself but that you presume “others” to have.

                    But what if “others” are just as subjective and mistaken in their perception or experience of you as you are in your own possibly mistaken assumptions about yourself?

                    People misread other people all the time, don’t they?

                    So why would another person be in a better position to appraise your “traits” than you yourself if perception of another cannot but be both highly interpretive and subjective?

                    Well, okay, there is a point at which bullying does become apparent, as does abuse and things that are much worse. But then that sort of thing tends to be obvious not only to others but to the offender as well.

                    What you are worried about is that you may be giving offence without intending to.

                    Isn’t that an unavoidable hazard of interacting with others?

                    I offend people all the time without intending to simply by speaking my mind honestly. Is Seraskier not a case in point? Should I not be worrying on the basis of his/her reaction about what kind of person I am?

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                    • “It” is indeed as much to do with a perception that can be skewed. I am a subscriber to continued evolution and removing myself from what could be viewed as an inevitable consequence of genetic predisposition. It is that I contend with more than anything else. I need not be my “Fathers daughter”, but what if I am? Have I inadvertently, in my attempt to disassociate myself from that which I learned to despise, found a different route to assail others with those same traits but in different form? If enough people make the same observations and they are all approaching the subject from varied and unrelated viewpoints, does that not in itself suggest a consensus which could offer guidance? I have no wish to be perfect, there is no such thing, but I do want to confront any bias toward a certain type of “attitude” if the underlying root cause is ignorance on my part of that bias. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, if it is broke, then an attempt to mend faulty wiring is desirable. I’m not saying my wiring is faulty, but that my understanding and interpretation of my own actions could well be. If I can’t discover the fault because I’m too close to the problem(can’t see the wood for the trees) then I can’t begin to assess and question my motivation or orientate my own perspectives.
                      I challenged St. Aug and he challenged me back and through our interaction I begin to see through his eyes another dimension to my perceived “righteousness” which was indeed lacking. I have made a great many adjustments and even though I am still me, I am not bound to follow a pre determined path as though it was always my fate.
                      Catte has suggested that I am contentious and she is correct – sometimes it is deliberate but other times it is thoughtlessness. I don’t want to be an empty headed twit, I want to understand what led me to where I arrived at.
                      What is so wrong that I request others to help me if they can lead me to a greater understanding of self awareness? That’s what Hegel and Marx were trying to herd us towards, thinking on a multi dimensional platform.(Well that’s my “perception”). I read your blog because you seem blessed with an astute mind and a degree of self awareness that I could only wish for and in reading your words, you challenge me to take the hurdles in my stride.
                      Questioning my thinking and reasoning(second guessing myself) without finding answers is frustrating and I want to hone my critical thinking to include myself, not just others.
                      I’m not making any sense…… yet again.

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                    • I’ll engage your reply in more depth later as I have to attend to a day of rare sunshine and company. But I do want to make this remark: you seriously underestimate your intelligence. I had you in column of people I envy for their astuteness.

                      Later.

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                    • Susan,

                      You write:

                      “Dear Binra. This is a purely personal comment and extremely self serving(I got over it). I have just read the comments you posted on Norman’s blog, one in response to him and one in response to me. ”

                      Binra has never commented at my blog, but he might well have been capable of writting what was written. The comments to which you refer were posted by me and were directed at you — just to be clear.

                      And indeed, I’m pleased that you are beginning to “see” or “discern” that much that we worry over about the “self” that we are is “imaginary” if also fateful for the quality of how we experience the “self” that we take ourselves to be.

                      A caveat: the second comment is intended to “illustrate” how conditioned psychological reactions are open to interpretation, and how “interpretation” completely changes or alters the “meaning” and hence the amplitude of the effect of the conditioned reaction. I’m telling you this now in case you decide to go and reread the two comments now knowing that they were from me and none from Binra, or at least none that I’m aware of . . .

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                • Yes to opening such consideration – as it pervades and underlies all else we think and say and do.

                  Reflecting each other, includes drawing out qualities and responses – there is nothing like meeting the living for the opening of the unexpected! But then an attempt to define, predict and control life makes agreement or sets conditions under which communication of a positive regard is allowed or withheld and changed to attack or denial if they are not met. Validation is thus culturally defined and the trading in and presenting in it operates a sense of personally and socially defined self. While some of this is within the surface consciousness, the most of it operates subconsciously – with the aversion to a sense of rejection, exclusion, invalidation etc that is kept unconscious by the maintaining of the personal or narrative identity – which operates a sense of psychological self-survival within a denied or invalidated sense of natural being.

                  This identity operates reversal where something we made, then becomes the basis of defining and dictating who we are (allowed) to be (without incurring penalty). The unconscious agreement is of hiding and not meeting the pain of and loss of self – that is associated with guilt, failure, inadequacy, and unworthiness – and operates the deflection of such experience to the guilting of others in blame, betrayal, rejection etc. Everyone learned the false flag tactic as a small child, and indeed the false alarm tactic as the leveraging of attention amidst feelings of self-frustration.

                  Entering or engaging the human experience is a complex balancing focus in which an ego or personality structure is developed through which to participate – as a seeming autonomy within nested and conflicting collective reality agreements that have grown as aversion and evasions to negative conditioning, not least of which is the desire to get for oneself a special attention or attain validation in special conditions associated with winning, success or fame of self-importance and due attention.

                  This conditioning runs a mind within and at expense of awareness of natural being and is indeed the Human Conditioning – in which outcomes of thought and act of communication and result generate a ‘mapped reality’ through which consciousness experiences itself in filtered distortion.

                  This is like the child who goes forth to adventure in play – and acts out a seeming independence rooted in the Mother/Father of whom sense of self was first received and given form and being. Yet the sense of self itself is a psychological function within and at expense of natural being. And its core set of psychological functions operates within and beneath every encounter thereafter – until and unless they are raised from the sub/unconscious to a truly conscious appreciation of being in which the reversal is reversed – such that the psychological self, personality or ego, becomes a willing instrument of natural desire or free willing being.

                  Instead of the driving/driven experience of getting – and defence against being taken from – is an unfolding of recognition within a reintegrative sense of self – upon the pause of the reactive self-defence to check in with natural being – that Is its own wholeness of communication, guidance and support – but which the ‘mind alone’ obscured/eclipsed and seemingly usurped in the attempt to take control under the fearful belief of self-blame, betrayal, rejection, exclusion, invalidation.

                  The liability with the term ‘psychological’ is its distancing rationalisation. I prefer psychic-emotional as a more energetic sense of participance and transformation – but such is the distancing and dissociative rationalisation OF the mentally defended ‘independence’ from natural being – that I chose bridging terms. For any communication has to reach within the conditional in order to expand or restore the channel of communication. But its core nature is of natural being – or it would not be communication so much as a reversal of form defined meanings.

                  A moment’s reflection on the treatment of natural being under the aegis of ‘civilisation’ reveals the global effect of an assertive personal ascendency under manipulative intent – presenting a positive spin over a driven or subjected self-sense – that believes such slavery is freedom – and defends it to the last against exposure – for that is its prime directive in every determination to NEVER open or allow this to happen again! And we see this reassert itself in every trauma as the re-lidding over the issue with programs and rules that actually operate the revers of their surface intent. For what is denied is empowered with the force of its denial to operate beneath consciousness, unchecked and unrecognised and therefore helplessly re-enacted, over and over again.

                  This is in the theme of thought on culture as an integral part of a shared existence – for I am in relation with my brother, and world – and as i give out so do I receive – and this ‘conditions’ or sets the condition of my acceptance of self and reality. To ‘un-natural being’ the natural seems dissonant and alien – and takes on such meaning by association. But un-natural being is a contradiction in terms. There is no actual presence – but there is an active blocking of the awareness of presence – as the cultural agreements or mutual definitions of a mind set in its own fear and guilt of Existence.

                  I see no accident in the fouling of our own nest and the undermining of our own Good – and even survival in our world – for it but reflects the nature of the consciousness – or should I say unconsciousness of assertion of denial and sacrifice as the ‘self’. As the driven who know not what they do. If there is a truly positive harvest to the human experience – it is truly recognising ourselves in act of recognition and reflection and knowing its is ‘Good’ – as a synchronous and shared worth in being. For it takes one to know one.

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                  • “…. To ‘un-natural being’ the natural seems dissonant and alien – and takes on such meaning by association. But un-natural being is a contradiction in terms. There is no actual presence – but there is an active blocking of the awareness of presence – as the cultural agreements or mutual definitions of a mind set in its own fear and guilt of Existence…..”
                    Don’t know if I have this right so here is an example. It will be entirely wrong and out of context or it won’t.
                    A group of children in a playground. One is taller than the rest, he has Downes Syndrome. The other children, one copying another and so on, begin taunting the DS child. The Downes child begins crying and waving his arms. The adults stop the “playtime” and in a room above where the children are playing one woman (Cruella De Ville) among others watching says something along the lines of “Well he’s a (a word used many years ago to describe Downes syndrome)so he would behave like that, wouldn’t he.” It’s not so much a question as an accusation (hence the lack of a question mark to end the sentence) and an ugly appraisal. Some of the other adults look uncomfortable but make no move to distance themselves from her. One woman – much younger than them,(T1) storms out of the room slamming the door behind her. A few minutes later, the lone woman(T1) is joined by another who says, “Don’t mind her, or any of the others who think like that, they’re not worth your tears” and leaves.
                    The tears the lone woman sheds are for the DS child, not just because he is afflicted, but that he is as he was born, unsullied and beautiful in his own right, with little ability to process what is happening to him and can only express himself in the most natural way available to him, The tears are also for the stark realization that this is what the future holds for this gifted and equally blighted sole’s future – at the mercy of those who would condemn, despise and betray and of those who will not defy the mutual definitions she(Cruella De Ville) fosters in her vapid, contemptuous dismissal of the DS boys existence.

                    To the tearful one, who has no authourity or standing, (she is a failure, in her own eyes only, if she did but know it) she is angered at her inability to change what is and at a loss as to what she can do to help or even protect him from what he must endure.

                    It isn’t just the paragraph I highlighted, but applies perhaps to much of what you have spoken of with regard “being”?

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                    • If we adapt to a loveless world by masking off from what the world attacks or rejects, then that mask enacts that pattern as its persistence or ‘survival’.
                      Those who fear powerlessness and shame may choose someone they feel they can seem bigger in comparison with. Those who fear handicap and physical limitation can blank out what they cant bear by adopting justifications for not looking. Those who fear they have no voice – retreat in self reproach while assigning it to the others. Those who have a voice but wont challenge or eneter what feels like a conflict situation feel a need to bring it outside in confiding sympathy. Those who feel unprotected and exposed to the pain of love’s rejection bleed for everyone who reflects this back to them.

                      My point is that each sees through the lens of their particular conditionings – with perhaps some or perhaps no awareness that that is so. It is necessary to adapt to the world in order to function within it – and yet the degree of masking may be different and in different ways. But also – the entanglement of mutually reinforcing roles and triggers is such that there is little free awareness in which to notice – once any kind of reactions are triggered.

                      There is always another way of looking at something but there is not always willingness to let this in.
                      Symptoms of something out of true are generally seen as something to ignore or get rid of until a willingness to allow the messenger in and open what is being communicated in being.
                      War on change is the grip of a fixed sense of identity in fear of loss – that becomes destructive to life in attempt to ‘survive’ within its own terms.
                      The mask was supposed to be a guardian – not a prison guard.
                      Downs people are without guile but no one is really only what our perception brings us and no one comes into the world but they meet challenges and choices. A major ‘defence’ against pain has been the limiting of the capacity to feel and know – as if at least to escape its disturbance – but false solutions only redsitribute the psychic emotional energy in different configurations that only seem to work a while and then shift all the chairs again. It may seem that life breaks our heart – but perhaps it breaks the mask that is equated with the self as its protection. But the feeling being is denied by the rationalising, distancing, domineering need to control. And no less denied by the emotionally manipulative neediness that plays counterpart.
                      The crucifixion of the innocence of being is the basis on which the mask of power in the world is raised.
                      The denial of the feeling of being is the basis in which to hide in fig-leaf thinking as a pretence given priority and kept secret. Opening to the movement of being is opening to fear and guilt and conflict – if still holding onto the intent to force outcomes. Re-learning trust and balance is the art of being.

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                    • Many thanks again, Binra. This last one took me ages to work through but I think I have grasped the nettle.
                      “Downs people are without guile but no one is really only what our perception brings us and no one comes into the world but they meet challenges and choices. A major ‘defence’ against pain has been the limiting of the capacity to feel and know – as if at least to escape its disturbance – but false solutions only redsitribute the psychic emotional energy in different configurations that only seem to work a while and then shift all the chairs again. It may seem that life breaks our heart – but perhaps it breaks the mask that is equated with the self as its protection. But the feeling being is denied by the rationalising, distancing, domineering need to control. And no less denied by the emotionally manipulative neediness that plays counterpart.”
                      The tearful one is a) by glowering at Cruel Devil, storming out of the room and slamming the door behind her, is in effect, trying to manipulate others and bully them into accepting her “take” on DSB’s plight.
                      then b) the tearful one is in fact crying for herself and her unresolved issues hiding behind a mask? Tearful one does or doesn’t really care about DSB because she weeps for herself? And finally c) she identifies with DSB only in as much as how his plight relates to her own past? So in essence she isn’t weeping for him, she only thinks she does because she wallows in victim mode, while DSB, who, because of his condition lives only in the moment, but she cannot?
                      We learn as children very early on, how to manipulate not only others because it elicits sympathy from them, but even manage to “con” ourselves into believing what we perceive “others” pain as opposed to our own?
                      Why then, does tearful one, still wonder how DSB fared over the many years since, or is that too, an unwillingness to throw away the mask and thus will always be imprisoned by it?
                      If I have understood correctly then a simple yes will do, since it must take time and effort on your part.
                      Thanks.
                      Susan.

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                    • Yes AND… there is always more to see – so don’t over invest in a stepping stone once it serves purpose and be vigilant with regard to blaming… what – with hindsight – you NOW know.
                      When we are in a freedom of being we extend compassion rather than react with sympathy.
                      If we are in dissociative reaction – we re-enact the old script without recognizing we have choices – or even consciousness in which to see. Writ large is the world that cannot ‘wake up’ because it is identified in reaction in the belief it is freedom or safety – over and against the evils that have hidden shadow correspondences.
                      In order to undo the guilt-mind – one cannot use it.
                      If one uses it – one is used by it.
                      Aligning in joy opens the perspective in which to see more. But self-guilt will sabotage or deny your worth – or subvert a joy to a self-inflation (mind-trip) by which to then restore ‘normal service’. Joy is a vast spectrum of feeling being. There are no words for who we are (but are taken to means something else).
                      In a situation of challenge – it may be the willingness NOT to shut down or react that simply notices a lot more of what is going on – even if not apparently doing as a mind in rehearsal might fantasize. Growing awareness is not a fixation on issues so much as a desire to be free of the recycle of the pattern we know we don’t belong in and yet find ourselves repeating. If that desire is real – then grow it by living it in the moments when we do notice and do have choice. Just because that is who you are – and not in order to change anyone else. If you truly change – your whole relational world changes with you – and in ways that were not available to the previous persona.

                      Everyone and everything is much more than we perceive – and our perception is not hardwired.
                      I kept it sort of short!

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                    • Indeed. Another good one. The ghosts of the past remain, I can choose to let them rule my waking thought, conscious or sub c. or I can lay them to rest and reboot or restart. I should have known so much of what you and Norman have been saying, I observe so much of it every day in my own animals. Gracie(my canine pal)lives each day “in the moment” she carries very little baggage in terms of past conceits, constraints or adopted guilt or pain and while she is kind and caring, she does not carry the burden of other’s with her, she merely performs according to her species, breed and particular personality and meets each day as she left the previous one.
                      I am not a dog of course, but Gracie’s instincts serve her well and I could do worse than see the world, in part, through her eyes with the added good fortune (or curse) of an intellect that can reason and a lifespan that affords me the opportunity to make use of that intelligence. An oversimplification, probably, but a good place to start.
                      Thanks again.
                      :)Susan.

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                    • Ah you did know it – but your ‘head’ was too engaged to listen in the heart’s knowing.
                      You are welcome.

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                    • Can’t quite remember when I first started digging the hole I became entrenched in, but as the years went by, I dug it so deep I lost sight of the light of day.
                      I think I may have an understanding of why Cruel Devil despised DSB so much. His very existence was anathema to her, because he was evidence of all that she was not and never could be. T1 saw him as someone who should be protected(because that is what she would have wanted for herself) whereas Cruel Devil despised him and redirected the others present with her comment as a means of deflecting their pity of him in case they too should see what she, possibly sub c. instinctively knew. Pity is for a perceived victim rather than what he was – content with who he was for the most part.
                      For most of us, each day can be either full of promise or joy at living or fear of what it might bring, without the satisfaction of just accepting the challenges and surmounting them. For those of us who focus only on what is wrong, we will fail to observe all that is right, like the birds at my feeding station outside my window, or enjoy the walk with my dog, that is the means by which I lift myself out of the depressed state, albeit fleetingly.
                      I sound like I take no joy out of living which is not true, but I do react to all that I see as wrong armed with the tools and kevlar acquired from the past.
                      I no longer feel pity for DSB, that was arrogance on my part and misplaced, but I do feel pity for Cruel Devil (however misplaced).
                      I’m still going to get an awful lot wrong, but thanks to your patience, some of the chains of the past are falling away.

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                    • Reacting to wrong with the past is the conditioned loop of the repeating past – but opening present relationship as you indicate is not so futile and therefore depressing – and life rises naturally to be infilled. But the past can’t be pretended away – so much as re-visioned.
                      My sense of ‘wrong’ is a dissonance of self or indeed an incoherent reality. Yet this too serves the growing need for sanity and coherence… in time. We can but act with and grow the integrity we are currently able to access – whether we be ‘right or wrong’ – it is an honesty of being from which we grow and learn by living. The results of persisting in a false or faulty belief are pain of one sort or another. Others may also be in error – but the way we approach them may compound the error rather than create the conditions in which correction dawns on another as a benefit and a release – and not an invalidation.

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                    • Understood and yes, can see where I could make things worse rather than better. Confrontation is an invitation to battle, whether it is an individual or as we are seeing now…. war.

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              • In this case your ‘worries’ are the conflicted sense of a narrative identity. Of focus in or upon what you think – or think others think – you are. In the ‘about me’ profile of my twitter account I put “I used to think I was who I thought I was”. Though that sounds absurd – the capacity of the mind to define itself and believe it true is what I call ‘mind-control’. I have not sense of playing any role in judging you whatsoever – but you may of course be assigning such roles to others including me.
                Whilst a deeply personal sense may intimate our being, the persona operates a personal and social adaptation to a world that largely denies or conforms being to its own rules, mores and cultural expectations. I see it as something to operate through – but a loss of awareness of being becomes an identification with the persona or mask as if that is who and what we are. A deep rest – or engaging in centring or joyful action allows a reconnection and rebalance from thinking led thinking.
                If you are guilty of engaging in guilt thinking – then the loop is closed. But its up to you where you place your attention. Guilt is the lever of mind-control. If you would be curious as to who you are and what is real – you will soon see that guilt-thinking frames everything and blocks or distorts all communication.
                When I say I ask within and trust the movement that I feel – I am saying that I don’t ask my thinking or engage it – for the MOVEMENT of response – but I use the same principle to feel out the phrasing of that response.
                There is no evaluation of your person – you are the freedom of being you – and that’s your life – not mine.
                Now maybe there are threads or points in this that are helpful or maybe you read them in a light that makes you even more uncertain, conflicted or judged against. It is for you to be clear with yourself as to where you are coming from that determines the way you interpret anything. I might say ‘don’t give your power away’ but even that could induce you to persist in giving power away in worry and self judgement as to how or whether or why you do. So I instead say – why give your power away? What purpose does it serve? What do you get out of it?
                If you just look, you see. But if you think about it in order to think some more – you choose not to see.
                Reading ‘between the lines’ is the field or spacious quality of a communication. Not coded messages of secret meaning – but an open handed willingness. But the mind in defence may ‘read’ all kinds of ‘meanings’ that are not there – and the mind in guilt looks for and finds them with masterful assurance.
                ‘Seek and ye shall find’ operates equally for the Spirit as the ego – depending which is accepted as one’s self or guide in any particular moment. As this page is related to the idea of culture, I ask if we lose our cultural inheritance to the mind that is trained to seek and find what is wrong as if to generate a right from it, instead of living the right to seek and find the worthy – and grow in it by sharing it.

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                • Many thanks Binra. Had to re read your words several times before I understood. I think my friend Norman is trying to tell me the same thing,, but some of the observations you gave me did hit home.”If you are guilty of engaging in guilt thinking – then the loop is closed. But its up to you where you place your attention. Guilt is the lever of mind-control. If you would be curious as to who you are and what is real – you will soon see that guilt-thinking frames everything and blocks or distorts all communication.” is but one of them. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your insights and the “In the ‘about me’ profile of my twitter account I put “I used to think I was who I thought I was”. ” is not absurd at all, it pretty much defines where I am at now – you overcame it I lack the faith in myself that I obviously need. Good friends of mine gave me a plaque as a present which reads “Never ask permission to be yourself” – perhaps they were onto something. Will take on board your words and although I may never be free in the real sense of the word, because there always seem to be constraints, perhaps I can stop worrying whether being who I am is such a bad thing after all. I once, whimsically drew up a link between the French verbs Avoir and Etre and amused myself with “I am is to be”, it works equally well as “Being means I am”. Funnily simplistic but perhaps just a hat tip to the obvious. I’ll ponder some more and muddle through, I might even come to the conclusion that my thoughts are my own and what I do with them is who I am. If only it were that simple.

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                  • The thought you accept as your and act from are your own.
                    Your friends are friends indeed. We need neither permission nor apology to be ourself. But a truly receptive (open to true) doesn’t override others in ‘self’ assertion.

                    When it comes to the ‘ego’ – I see that anything I say into its ‘domain’ – can and will be taken and used against me.
                    Because that’s what it does for any who use it as guide and protector – within their own particular circumstance.
                    Thus words can be used to limit and deny communication – perhaps with just n% left open.

                    Is the n% (see parallel post) that point of permission to think (in its true and living sense) that CAN accept and understand and change? – With the cascading stylesheet of such change unfolding not from a top down dictate – but a willingness of the apparent control – to truly receive and abide with the apparent uprising against being controlled? To the point of a true communication where the outcome reflects a significance of hearing and speaking?

                    Hearing requires the putting aside of fear and prejudice. Speaking requires the willingness of heart to extend to true witness in place of seeking to mask in assertive self-justifictions. That’s an impossible call to the subjected sense of conditioned self – as is opening true relation with the dissonance of what seems violating or attacking the established order. But in an impossible situation – where existing resources cannot hope to address the need – needs must!
                    True need reconnects with natural being as a need to pay attention at a much deeper level of self-honesty than comfort would allow – and yet in an alignment that knows itself by living from such honesty of being.

                    If we seem to lack faith in ourself – it is only because we are investing faith in fearful and guilted self-definition – an not recognising the result of such investment as a gift to ourself. Hence I differentiate thoughts that arise within awareness from thoughts that embody and unfold who I am.

                    There is a quantum model of a Universe of infinite probabilities (all already Now) within which the focus of consciousness shifts as its unfolding gift of experience unto its Self – for it is the Child of All That Is – as the desire to ‘know Thyself’ (through the act of creation or put differently – through the acceptance of thought within the Creative).

                    ‘My thinking’ tends to operate the possessive sense of control that limits, filters and distorts the Creative – while operating the lens of ‘my thinking’. So an expansion to a quality of true self reflection initiates the balancing integration and alignment of the local reality within conscious embrace and inclusion. Hence the ego projection of fear onto (and usurpation of) the hive – or collective. It can only compute in terms of power over – for that is its ‘father’ and cannot truly feel with and within the power of Life – because it is a defence made in fear of Life.

                    It cannot – but you can. In feeling truth is the separation from the idea of separation as salvation. This is NOT the same as trying to rejoin the fragmented under any kind of group identity. The oneness of Life is ‘hidden’ in diversity and uniqueness – as a richness and scope of feeling, thought and reflection – which is our true inheritance – held in trust – while that we thought to run off with runs its course.

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                    • Dear Binra. This is a purely personal comment and extremely self serving(I got over it). I have just read the comments you posted on Norman’s blog, one in response to him and one in response to me. I want to share this with you (and Norman – because it will please him no end). Among what I believe are pearls of wisdom, there were certain paragraphs which struck a chord with me. Nothing immediately that jumped out at me but almost within my grasp. I made known to Norman on his article regarding his own childhood something about my own, which I believed to be true. Something I have concerned myself with to the point that it has instilled in me a sense of fear and loathing. After over 40 years, simply by reading and understanding your observations I am totally gobsmacked. Norman, if he has read the comment I left him, will perhaps recall, that I have lived in fear of becoming “My Father’s Daughter”. Although you may not have directly hit the nail on the head, you have led me to a revelation. My father was a spiteful, cruel, vindictive and petty man and he made the lives of two of his children a hell on earth. So much so, that I vowed I would never be him, never once did I ask myself the simplest of questions. The answer came to me a short while ago reading your comments…… I am not my father’s daughter, I never could be my father’s daughter because I was none of the things I most hated about him (you’ll have to take my word on that – can’t offer up any proof) so how in my delusional mind could I ever evolve into something I was never meant to be? It may seem a paltry thing to you, but for me it is a huge weight off my mind. One of the prisons I have occupied has suddenly had the door and the walls removed. That is what Norman and you, Binra, have done for me – you gave me the keys to realization and now I’m free of that self imposed prison I can finally see what several friends have been trying to tell me, many times. In essence “why fix what ain’t broke”.

                      It set me to wondering just how many misconceptions of my perceived failures I have made myself a victim of. So….
                      I also realize that I have worth far exceeding the meagre portion I allotted myself, I am most decidedly not an Einstein, but I DO have a fair degree of intellect and I am not a bully – I just let my zeal run away with me.What a quaint way of putting it, but hey, I’m not perfect. I’m not perfect.

                      What surprises me is how I ever got to this state in the first place. I am who I am and while striving to be the best I can be is not a bad thing – going for gold and perfection is probably a deviation bordering on idiocy.

                      I’ve always based my convictions on due process of the knowledge and experiences of that which I have encountered and it has served me well insofar as I am not a bigot nor any of the things my father was(still can’t get over the fact that I didn’t realize something so obvious) but given the bigotry and wrong headedness of some people’s thinking I can’t help wondering how many others have hijacked popular opinion in substitution for their own reasoned and knowledge based understanding. Which is why I asked you about “hive” mentality. Thanks also for the reply you gave me on that matter.

                      Oh Binra, forty years I have been fighting a battle that never existed except in my own mind. How many years would I have continued pursuing an imaginary foe if I hadn’t come across you and Norman?

                      Thank you.

                      Susan (O’Neill)

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                    • Thankyou for cocreating this living example of a shift in perspective releasing baggage to a clearer appreciation of being. No matter by what route you came – here you are.
                      Another description for your father might be a man who didn’t uncover the truth of his being and live it. However, the true of you has not been absent while you struggled with yourself – but was in a sense kept out by the attempt to escape a fear – that was given belief.

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        • “For me the cultural crux is identity. Loss of identity or self-doubt in fear of loss leads to investment in getting away from the feared loss of self – whilst getting validation and reinforcement for an assertive persona – operating a masked agenda under a sense of threat.”
          Because of my particular studies I find it difficult to relate on a human level, but the comment I have repeated here is almost suggestive of a hive mentality. Although dominated by pheromones and not thought process, is the human mindset in terms of it’s ability to dismiss that which is harmful to it in order to assimilate within a perceived group think a similar distortion of our cognitive assertions and predications? Sorry if I’ve lowered the tone of this conversation but trying to understand the machinations of group psychology and cultural acceptance of considered norms, is probably too subtle for me to interpret on equal terms.

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          • The irony is that the hive of the human egocentricity is a negative cooperation. A joining in form to shut out the formless and lock down fixed meanings of a ‘command and control’ directive. The forms may include a humungous variety of ‘choices’ within proscribed limits. And so the collective sacrifice (individually paid) is held as the foundation OF an ‘individuality’ of identikit assertions given state rights – within proscribed limits.
            Relationship, communication and solidarity of worth may exhibit a true movement of individuals in aligned purpose – but this is exactly what ‘opens’ a market for the marketising and weaponizing intent.
            True movement of being is embodied form. But artifice masks in forms that pass off as real to those who are not paying attention and are ‘seeing’ what they think is true as if it is so.

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            • I’ve never thought of my self as a non conformist but I do and always have, questioned the why’s and wherefore’s (it drove my mother crazy). So my question here is, do I also subscribe in an unknowing way to the “hive” mentality, or have I done enough to ensure that I will not be swayed by what others believe I should accept?
              Will you please give me a title related to a book I should read which might advance my understanding of who I am. I can be contentious and whimsical but am I more than just mischievous in a way that should put me to shame? As I have previously alluded to, I do not possess a qualitative intellect and tend to let my fingers do my thinking on the keyboard – I just type what I am thinking, Norman knows this and he is generous of spirit and non-judgmental, I doubt he’d give me the time of day if he thought I was malicious or ill intentioned so I must have some saving graces. I doubt that many of us could hide from you(what kind of person we really are)so it is to you I look for answers. You were kind to me once before with your subjective analysis, will you try again?

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              • How about rephrasing this in terms of mutual agreements and definitions – rather than hive mentality?
                We each and all operate according to such agreements – and our consensual ‘world’ is the construct by which we broadly share such a ‘reality’. Without a significant agreement – one cannot operate in human society or perhaps function and survive in physical form.
                I say agreements – yet by far the most of these are unconscious – pre-verbal and by induction or indeed part of our unique individual expression as to the life we embody and experience. They run as conditioning, patterns or habits – until they are brought to awareness. Now they are a choice – for what you have owned is no longer running you – but part of who you choose to accept and act out from as you.
                So my focus is in restoring or awakening true freedom as the living choice of aligning truly – rather than making a ‘self’ out of becoming free from conditioning put there by ‘them’.
                You say you let the words type themselves – well why not let that continue – but pausing to reflect – for what you write reflects you and allows you to notice things about your own thought and feeling – that change you by noticing – and so the writing is edited or adjusted to better state the clarity of now – and doesn’t get posted from un-owned emotional reaction.
                It is my experience and my conviction that the willingness to know or to learn or grow – is never left unmet by synchronicity. The mainstream society runs on the attempt to effect this from the outside in and the top down. But that to me is mostly artifice over the fear to know or change and grow from a different foundation than fear itself. I feel Life as from within – extending out – and recognising and growing self through reflection.
                Who you are is never absent from you – and so it is a matter of the focus of attention and intention. There is no definition that can substitute for who you are the being of – but any definition you accept as you will operate the lens for a living appreciation or a dead substitution. So what are the presumptions and assumptions of self and reality that are active in any situation becomes the mindfulness – as the release of mind-reaction to free awareness in which to notice directly – rather than as framed by past learning. One can reevaluate core beliefs and definitions as one can a posting. Noticing in-act – is the freedom to act from the recognition of who you prefer to be. If I were to notice ‘telling you who you are’ in my offering here – it would flag up as a lack of honouring your own freedom and ability to uncover and accept – and that is not who I choose to give or receive and make currency of.
                Culture is an integral part of my experience of existence – what I give out I get back. Beneath all the clever distortions of thinking this is my inescapable reality. But why think of escape from the capacity and function of giving and receiving? Why sacrifice the living of being for the a-tempt to get that generates a sense of lack or loss in a mind for-getting?
                You have the ability to feel resonance with what enlivens and inspires you and to act from or align in this in whatever ways you can – in the moment at hand. You are the Book! But if books are part of what serves and opens permission to be – then you won’t be able to not find them in due timing – unless of course you are afraid of missing your appointment – and don’t recognize or follow your own prompts as a result of trying too hard.
                Hiving off in secret and making collective agreement to do so, under a seeming to be somewhat loving or respectable or capable and validated in such presentation is far from the original sense of hive as a wholeness of parts. Symbols can be used to different purpose. A clash of symbols indicates a conflict in purpose. I hold that a true part-whole relationship – heals the incoherence of a fragmented self seeking validation as a restoration of communication and relationship. But that doesn’t mean getting anyone else to change. It will mean withdrawal of support from the ideas and definitions that I recognize I am NOT. Cultural transformation is being somewhere with new eyes (willingness) rather than seeking to manipulate our reflections as if to get the result as an add-on to an unchanged set of terms and conditions.

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                • Now this particular reply I comprehended in the first reading and it is very revealing and more helpful than I can express. That I could identify with what you were saying and “knowing” in the context you gave the response did clear some of the fog that clouds my vision and thinking. Thank you Binra, again, much appreciated.

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                  • It is felt very difficult within struggle to release it and open perspective. But once we start to see that the definitions are part of setting up the conflict – the desire will become the clear checking in of what is really being said or meant or thought – rather than pushing ahead with the existing mindset.
                    Thanks.

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    • St. Aug. I know we are at loggerheads at the moment on the other OffG article(Climate Change) but do you have a blog? If so, would you let me know, because despite being on the wrong side of each other, I actually find your comments here, quite insightful in their own right, as they have been on previous OffG articles. I’d just as soon bury the hatchet if you will(preferably not in my head). If on the other hand you don’t have a blog, why not try one?

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      • Easter (my former nickname for St. Aug) most certainly does have a blog. Just left click his name, and it should re-direct you to his blog or a link to it.

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        • Thanks. St.Aug gave me the heads up but I really wanted to read a blog of his. He’s got his head screwed on tightly so am going to be on the lookout.

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            • Don’t think I’ve got the energy to take on a toyboy(good looking chap mind you). In case you haven’t already figured it out, I’ve fallen madly, deeply and whatever the rest of the title was in the film, with you. There’s no limit to my imagination or my lust. passion and……hang on while I try to remember what the other thing is. Darn it, I wish my brain would keep up with things, how am I supposed to pull my poster boy when I can’t remember why? Back to the drawing board I suppose. I wonder if St.Aug will understand my wacky humour?

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              • Ah, imagination. Lust. I hope no one will be reading this. I suspect that I will be long cold and in the ground before what mostly drives me is extinguished. It never gets old, does it?

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      • M, I’ve been running blogs since 2006ish (one is now hidden because I foolishly filled it with borrowed intellectual-property… photos from the web! laugh. That’s too bad, because it was a real community of writers, that blog). Anway, this avatar links (or should) to an active blog, so you can always swing by…!

        Re: hatchets: none to bury. We’re just chatting, after all. It’s better to be spicy and sincere than “positive” and wishy-washy, eh?

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        • Thanks for that, have “followed” but it will only appear in my reader. I’ve promised Catte that I will not be as contentious – but I had my fingers crossed behind my back. A challenge well met is worth it’s weight in gold and you certainly know how to frame your thinking, which is more than I can manage. Looking forward to the next OffG article. P.S Norman has opted to accept comments on his blog and he’s looking forward to his new role as arbitrator and referee. I promise to behave for him …… honestly.

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      • Speaking of harm-free-hatchets: Norman and I seem to have bonded (virtually and perhaps fleetingly but in a jolly fashion) over our weird mix of fellow-travelling and disagreement, right, NP? It’s so much better to be frank!

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        • That’s my man. I learn to see perspectives from other people’s words and worlds – I don’t ask insolent questions I pose a perspective and the respondent tells me much about themselves. In this way I can find common ground and try to live in their shoes from what they have told me. There is more than just politics at stake here, the very core of our identity as a species is the greatest challenge we all must face. Trying to understand another point of view is paramount and you, as far as I believe, have been honest and forthright – which you should be in defence of your beliefs, which is to your credit as I now have enough information to know that you and I have lived very different experiences which have influenced our thinking. It is those differences which leave us uninformed rather than the subject matter on which we disagree. Perspectives and experiences are the keys to understanding and finding common ground is the foundation of trust and moving forward. There is an old saying by Robbie Burns “Oh for the gift that God did gi'(give) us, to see ourselves as others see us”. If I could see through your eyes, is it not more likely that I would be more inclined to formulate the same consensus of opinion?

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  5. Many thanks for this Norman. I read Marx when I was in my teens and I happened to be studying zoology at the same time. I have since then availed myself of every study on animal behaviour since then. When I read Marx I dismissed his thinking as that of a dreamer who imagined that we could somehow engineer an achievable Utopia based on critical thinking and analysis to reshape society. My years studying animal behaviour and how it evolved has shown that Marx was correct in many ways in his observations. In the most fundamental categories, we are still very much animals and I can hear the screams of denouncement as I type, so I won’t expand here, it would take too long, but it was in this field of study that I learned to reflect on our own evolution. Believe me or not and no doubt I will be declared a loony tree hugger, or some other derogatory label, we can learn much about critical thinking, problem solving, subconscious awareness, adaptive and adoptive strategies for survival and a host of other emotional, psychological and subjective responses by understanding how animals have evolved and are still evolving as individual species and comparing it to the way humans also encompass learned attitudes.
    Seraskier mentions culture, it has no more bearing on the subject matter other than the title of the article, than does geographical location or later origins after Cro-Magnon, culture is an evolutionary consequence of both and much more and it is therefore, the roots of human self awareness in relation to so many influences that produce the culture and that is where we must start in trying to analyze cultural multiplicity.
    Sorry if I’ve put a spanner in the works, but it’s forty years of observing global species – including man – that predispose me towards my interpretation of Marx and Hegel and a notable few others and their posits.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I gather that “Culture” is explained as a process, more than mentioned as an artifact. That is how I read this. Each human, from birth acculturates to human and natural influences, and becomes acculturated. It is a developmental process in the human infant, child, adolescent and adult. What is observed by the author is the variation expressed in individuals within our species, that most are unquestioning of their culture, accepting it as obvious fact, but some are of a nature to question, reflect, and adjust the concept to fit the observation, then to try it on a bit. Methods for this can be taught, as in science, where there are more “working hypotheses” than “facts”. I don’t think the inclination towards this can be taught a lot, but it can be nurtured and can be killed or maimed in the cradle…
      I seem to be an awkward one who looks more for insights to adjust a model or system, than for absolutes. I am naturally that way. My grandparents allowed it, as did my mother, and there were many efforts to hammer it out of me once I was old enough to go to school, but I think they came too late.
      Variation within our species improves fitness of the species, fitness of the working group, survival of the group.
      Still, most of the group needs to just do whatever the group all does together, for the group to sustain genetically within a changing and demanding natural world.
      Questioners benefit the group in the long term, but they are an expense in the short term. That’s me! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  6. labrebisgalloise says

    Thanks very much for this Norman. I posted the French Communist Party’s appeal for a united left platform a few days ago on Facebook and received this rather depressing comment from a friend (a member of the UK Labour Party as far as I am aware): “Nice idea, but the majority of French voters are following the pattern of moving to the right. No matter how discouraging, it’s the truth.” Such defeatism, seemingly denying any role to human agency in the making of history or sowing the seeds of the new, is not easy to argue against but your article is the perfect riposte and I shall forward it to him.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. An extraordinary article Norman Pilon, thank you.
    For me this was of the essence, and if I could I would put the second sentence in bold italics.

    “Both must turn their backs on the inhuman voices which were those of their respective ancestors in order that authentic communication be possible. Before it can adopt a positive voice, freedom requires an effort at dis-alienation.”

    On the other hand there is an interesting danger here.

    I live in an an ancient east Mediterranean country that is in the process of being looted and destroyed by external predators. We as a collective have shown a remarkable unconscious and instinctive solidarity under this assault (so that we ourselves are surprised by it). On the surface this is expressed as empathy and help towards others, including the vast numbers of strangers now in our midst, and this is expressed at every level – except the level of the government which is in collusion with the predators. Underneath that, an unconscious but defining skeleton, is the rhythm and ritual [beliefs] of our calendar year, both pagan and Christian which infuses every level of the society and has done so for 2000 years in this form. Encapsulated within this calendar, this annual rhythm of darkness and joy are philosophical and religious concepts that “govern” (I can’t think of another word) and have produced the situation on the ground today but which are also consciously expressed in the utterances of simplest people when asked to explain their actions.

    Such an underpinning, i.e. this our cultural yogurt, has saved us – literally. At the same time this cultural yogurt is a living and not necessarily conscious rejection of the intellectualised and thus atomised societies of the north and west of us.

    In my experience the cultural condition I am trying to describe here is found throughout the Near East – in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Iran. All are ancient civilisations which have experienced every form of rupture over 6, 7, 8 millennia.
    All are societies which have learned to live with the differences in their midst, whether tribes, religions etc. Compare this to the new societies of the West (I consider Europe new, i.e. it is basically only 1000 years old). Consider also the injection of Israel – led by a narrow ideology of conquest and plunder, i.e. the essence of The West – into this living reality.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “On the other hand there is an interesting danger here.”

      I entirely agree. And it is the danger that is the arrogant “modernity” of the West, which presumes itself so superior as to possess in itself the right to extinguish other modes of life that are in fact some of the highest expressions and achievements of human “civilization.”

      So It’s not about breaking entirely with one’s “past,” embodied as it is in the customs and mores and cultural paradigms of the present, but as Fanon emphasizes, as Marx also understood it, rather it is about breaking with the unquestionably “inhuman” in the present, which is part of who and what we are in cultural terms and which we have all inherited from the past, including the very recent “past” which the West has birthed and — if only because by happenstance and to the great misfortune of the world, it stumbled into more effective means of subjugation — imperialistically attempts to impose on everyone, everywhere.

      Not everything that comes to us from our ancestry is benighted ignorance. Otherwise, we would not be here and most certainly oblivious to the issues that we, you and I, take most fervently to heart.

      Much, if indeed not every last little bit of it, remains even in this day the height of culturally embodied or personified human wisdom and compassion, modes of relating to the world and people which were painstakingly built up over many millennia and often at the cost of a great many lives and suffering.and this enculturated wisdom is indeed something to be revered and preserved and cherished and nurtured and even deepened.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Seraskier says

    I waded through this densely written screed, and couldn’t find any mention of culture at all.

    I won’t bother with this author again.

    Like

    • Too bad Seraskier. Obviously you believe culture lies in the prepackaging of art galleries and museums in which our artefacts are removed from us and presented back as disassociated objects removed from any context (the white walls) and owned by the state or in private hands. You believe culture is ‘art history’ and ‘art theory’ which manipulate “value” for the art market.
      In fact culture is akin to yogurt, a transformative process which subsumes us all.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Seraskier’s response is like that of the fish which, swimming through the sea looking for water, declared: Water?! I tried to find water but where the heck is it?

      Now Seraskier, if you don’t understand the simile, maybe you shoudln’t bother reading anything by Norman Pilon again.

      Liked by 3 people

        • Your loss – literally. Shame then, that you will not benefit from the insights and understanding the posits being offered, not just by Norman, but others on this site like elenits, labrebisgalloise and John Day. Now you have Binra involved and you cannot hide from him/her. Look to yourself for answers.

          Like

          • Seraskier says

            Insights? Pseudo-intellectual piffle. Badly-written empty dross, typical of American second-raters.

            Like

            • Seraskier: So you haven’t read the many comments offering a different perspective and links in support of both sides of the argument, have you? I cannot be persuaded against what I believe – I have been following the historical tide of destruction for 45 years, but that doesn’t mean that I am right, I just choose to err on the side of caution. It’s still your loss.

              Like

            • And intellect is to be regarded as piffle? How about trying to be the best you can be by understanding your own perspectives instead of demeaning those who would enlighten you. Does your acumen, blighted as it is by your own sense of elevation, mean that all those who question our understanding of ourselves, motives etc. and those of others, are tilting at windmills? In a way, I feel sorry for you, not in any mean sense, but that you come to OffG, presumably to become better informed on what is going on elsewhere and yet you reject any and all thinking that does not fit your own limited criteria. Are you really that cock sure of yourself or can you be persuaded to reconsider?

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    • You contradict yourself Seraskier. If you choose to ‘bother’ under a self-selected set of conditions, to then prove you have wasted your time – AND ‘bother’ to write in to say so (twice!) – then something IS bothering you that perhaps is encoded in your message but remains unsaid.
      A ‘shared set of values’ embodied in thought, feeling and action, might be some sense of a ‘culture’ . What kind of culture are you seeking to read about?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Seraskier says

        The difference is that unlike verbose pseud Norman Pilon, I actually work in culture.

        But I guess you are easily fooled.

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          • Seraskier says

            What would you know about culture, Norman? From the evidence of your empty screed of puffed-up pomposity – nothing whatsoever. Just the recycled lecture notes on Marxism-101 from whatever second-rate “university” you teach at in the United States.

            I work for a major symphony orchestra. What do you do, Norman?

            You understand nothing about culture. You are an empty prattler.

            Your American ‘culture’ is BOMBING OTHER PEOPLE Bomb first, don’t ask questions after. Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack O’Bomber, Trumpy-Dumpy – same “culture”, eh, Norm??? Same American ‘culture’. Same worthless dross.

            And then you have the brass neck to quote Marx, you palpable fraud?

            Like

            • Oh, I see. You and I have different notions of what we designate by the word “culture,” different definitions. Who would have thought that two different persons might use one word in two different ways, one in a way that is a complete and utter corruption of the “real” and “only possible” meaning of the word, pompously and in a puffed up manner, saying absolutely nothing, and the other intending it in the only possible manner that it could be intended, to designate what a humble genius of difficult musical notation means to designate by it, because if he doesn’t know what the “only possible” meaning of the word “culture” is, nobody does, and especially not a contemptuous, verbose, under-cultured, self-important American upstart vainly struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible and platitudinous Marx, recycling the second-hand, second-rate interpretations of the old-man as interpreted at second rate American universities.

              Well, I hate to break the news to you, Sera Skier, you got the national identity wrong and I did not study Marx at university. In fact, I’m a working class shmuck, trying to get on as best I can, English being my second language, and so maybe that’s the whiff you picked up on, and that is what “triggered” the animosity of your high-and-pure and musically cultured disdain for me, that phrasing is sometimes awkward, that, and that I’m not up to your elevated intellectual standards. But lets say, for the sake of argument, that I was university educated and American, I’d still be only a working class schmuck and perhaps still very much worthy of your cultivated and all so sensitive disdain, but I don’t think you could rightly hold me personally responsible for the criminal acts of the American Oligarchy. What do you think? For surely, from someone as deeply cultured as you, what you think, in its understated modesty, is of the highest importance and shouldn’t be kept all to yourself. Please, do educate me. It’s one of the things that I have in fact been denied, an education, that is.

              Liked by 1 person

            • You cannot possibly believe that because you work for a major symphony orchestra that that in some way elevates you to a person of culture. Culture is not about rubbing shoulders with all the right people, or having a vocation within what are collectively described as the Arts or to belonging to a clique of superior beings – that’s ugly and arrogant not to mention conceited in it’s concept. You really need to come down to earth and join the rest of humanity(no doubt we are the dregs of non cultured creatures, otherwise known as dross) many thanks for the contemptible dismissal of us.
              Is that what you meant to convey? Honestly?

              Like

          • Seraskier says

            Perhaps you could ask your buddy Norman to write about culture. He can’t. Because he knows nothing about it whatsoever.

            Like

            • Seraskia: That is just downright petty, what would you know about Norman Pilon? How could you judge him? The article he has given us requires or encourages us to ponder and deliberate, it’s a bit churlish to dismiss that which encourages consideration. I really don’t understand where you are coming from, it would help if you gave your own insights here and actually contribute in some way.

              Like

        • “I actually work in culture” ???? How does that work? Do you manufacture it? Do you mine it or pipe it or sell it? Do you spread it like butter on toast? Do you use a petri dish? Do you study it? If so, which culture specifically, because culture is as diverse between geographical locations as it is in individuals and locale. Have you studied the evolution of cultures within the Amazon Indians or those of the Congo? Have you lived among the remote Himalayan, Tibetan, Mongolian or Andean tribes, if so, offer insights and contribute, rather than denounce offhandedly.
          I find it difficult to understand how you could be so dismissive of what is essentially the essence of how culture evolves and mutates, which essentially gives powerful insights into our cognitive and unconscious ascension into “culture”.
          Why would you believe you have nothing to learn from such debate unless you already have immovable preconceptions? Be a “free thinker” and let those radicals loose and slough off the mantel of conformist ideology, you might learn something you did not comprehend.

          Liked by 1 person

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