Ride that pony

“By acknowledging the reality of the psyche and making it a co-determining ethical factor in our lives, we offend against the spirit of convention which for centuries has regulated psychic life from outside by means of institutions as well as by reason. Not that unreasoning instinct rebels of itself against firmly established order; by the strict logic of its own inner laws it is itself of the firmest structure imaginable and, in addition, the creative foundation of all binding order. But just because this foundation is creative, all order which proceeds from it—even in its most ‘divine’ form—is a phase, a stepping-stone. Despite appearances to the contrary, the establishment of order and the dissolution of what has been established are at bottom beyond human control. The secret is that only that which can destroy itself is truly alive.” – Carl Gustav Jung, “Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy” (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

Shine a light

“It transcends our powers of imagination to form a clear picture of what we are as a self, for in this operation the part would have to comprehend the whole. There is little hope of our ever being able to reach even approximate consciousness of the self, since however much we may make conscious there will always exist an indeterminate and indeterminable amount of unconscious material which belongs to the totality of the self. Hence the self will always remain a superordinate quantity.” – Carl Gustav Jung, “Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious” (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

Yer left, yer left, yer left-right-left

“Society, by automatically stressing all the collective qualities in its individual representatives, puts a premium on mediocrity, on everything that settles down to vegetate in an easy, irresponsible way. Individuality will inevitably be driven to the wall. This process begins in school, continues at the university, and rules all departments in which the State has a hand. In a small social body, the individuality of its members is better safeguarded, and the greater is their relative freedom and the possibility of conscious responsibility. Without freedom there can be no morality. Our admiration for great organizations dwindles when once we become aware of the other side of the wonder: the tremendous piling up and accentuation of all that is primitive in man, and the unavoidable destruction of his individuality in the interests of the monstrosity that every great organization in fact is.” – Carl Gustav Jung, “Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious” (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

What do you look like when you’re not looking?

“Anyone who has ever been compelled to think about it—anyone, for example, who has ever been in love—knows that the one face that one can never see is one’s own face. One’s lover—or one’s brother, or one’s enemy—sees the face you wear, and this face can elicit the most extraordinary reactions. We do the things we do and feel what we feel essentially because we must—we are responsible for our actions, but we rarely understand them. It goes without saying, I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less. But the barrier between oneself and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things one would rather not know! We become social creatures because we cannot live any other way. But in order to become social, there are a great many other things that we must not become, and we are frightened, all of us, of these forces within us that perpetually menace our precarious security. Yet the forces are there: we cannot will them away. All we can do is learn to live with them. And we cannot learn this unless we are willing to tell the truth about ourselves, and the truth about us is always at variance with what we wish to be. The human effort is to bring these two realities into a relationship resembling reconciliation. The human beings whom we respect the most, after all—and sometimes fear the most—are those who are most deeply involved in this delicate and strenuous effort, for they have the unshakable authority that comes only from having looked on and endured and survived the worst.” – James Baldwin, “The Creative Process”

How late it is, how late

“Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life’s morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.” – Carl Gustav Jung, “The Stages of Life” (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

Now you see it

“If the vacuum around the nucleus can be considered more of a ‘natural’ vacuum as opposed to an immutable ground state with absolutely no spatial variation, and if there are ephemeral fermion/antifermion pairs dominated by electron-positron pairs that create and annihilate with a density that increases significantly as one moves closer to the nucleus, what is so special about the orbiting electron that allows it to be a ‘real’ electron out of this vacuum soup? Perhaps it is not a case of uniqueness, but a case of non-uniqueness. Consider the following: A room full of paired square dancers progresses through the dance moves smoothly as called by the caller, and they occasionally change partners when instructed. What if there were an additional solitary dance partner of a given gender introduced to the ranks of this evenly matched group, and the rule is established that when a trade call is issued, the free dancer will couple to the nearest available dance partner of the opposite gender, and the previously paired dancer that misses out is now the free dancer until the next trade call is issued. As the evening progresses, nearly every dance partner of the gender that had the extra dancer has had a period where they were the ‘unique’ solitary dancer. In an analogous way, perhaps the ‘real’ electron is also ‘unique’. In one instance, the ‘real’ electron collides with a positron vacuum fluctuation elevating the now un-paired electron vacuum fluctuation to the ‘real’ state. This real electron continues in its real state for a brief period until it too collides with a positron vacuum fluctuation, elevating the next un-paired electron vacuum fluctuation to the ‘real’ state. This process continues ad infinitum, and the ‘real’ electron is not unique, rather it is non-unique in that the ‘real’ descriptor is associated with the state, not the individual electron.” – Harold White, et al., “Dynamics of the Vacuum and Casimir Analogs to the Hydrogen Atom”

How you can spot ’em

“Bad stories often are raw biography. Literary art consists in transforming one kind of reality, that of physical experience, into another kind of reality, that of literary experience. Imagining, the process of transforming, is illuminated dimly, if at all, only by the magic of criticism. Writers are often complex people and fascinating subjects for psychological analysis, but a writer is a person to whom writing happens.” – Karl Kroeber, “Sister and Science Fiction”

Nailing jelly to the wall

“The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meat-packing. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.” – Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas?

But we never listen

“The history of thought should warn us against concluding that because the scientific theory of the world is the best that has yet been formulated, it is necessarily complete and final. We must remember that at bottom the generalisations of science or, in common parlance, the laws of nature are merely hypotheses devised to explain that ever-shifting phantasmagoria of thought which we dignify with the high-sounding names of the world and the universe. In the last analysis magic, religion, and science are nothing but theories of thought; and as science has supplanted its predecessors, so it may hereafter be itself superseded by some more perfect hypothesis, perhaps by some totally different way of looking at the phenomena—of registering the shadows on the screen—of which we in this generation can form no idea.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Dust in the wind

“For ages the army of spirits, once so near, has been receding farther and farther from us, banished by the magic wand of science from hearth and home, from ruined cell and ivied tower, from haunted glade and lonely mere, from the riven murky cloud that belches forth the lightning, and from those fairer clouds that pillow the silvery moon or fret with flakes of burning red the golden eve. The spirits are gone from even their last stronghold in the sky, whose blue arch no longer passes, except with children, for the screen that hides from mortal eyes the glories of the celestial world. Only in poets’ dreams or impassioned flights of oratory is it given to catch a glimpse of the last flutter of the standards of the retreating host, to hear the beat of their invisible wings, the sound of their mocking laughter, or the swell of angel music dying away in the distance.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Turn and face the strange

“Myth changes while custom remains constant; men continue to do what their fathers did before them, though the reasons on which their fathers acted have been long forgotten. The history of religion is a long attempt to reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory for an absurd practice.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

MILF

“If we survey the whole of the evidence on this subject, we may conclude that a great Mother Goddess, the personification of all the reproductive energies of nature, was worshipped under different names but with a substantial similarity of myth and ritual by many peoples of Western Asia; that associated with her was a lover, or rather a series of lovers, divine yet mortal, with whom she mated year by year, their commerce being deemed essential to the propagation of animals and plants, each in their several kind; and further, that the fabulous union of the divine pair was simulated and, as it were, multiplied on earth by the real, though temporary, union of the human sexes at the sanctuary of the goddess for the sake of thereby ensuring the fruitfulness of the ground and the increase of man and beast.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Ignorant ingrates we may often be

“We stand upon the foundations reared by the generations that have gone before, and we can but dimly realise the painful and prolonged efforts which it has cost humanity to struggle up to the point, no very exalted one after all, which we have reached. Our gratitude is due to the nameless and forgotten toilers, whose patient thought and active exertions have largely made us what we are.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

The sources of power

“The ancient Germans believed that there was something holy in women, and accordingly consulted them as oracles. Their sacred women, we are told, looked on the eddying rivers and listened to the murmur or the roar of the water, and from the sight and sound foretold what would come to pass. But often the veneration of the men went further, and they worshipped women as true and living goddesses. For example, in the reign of Vespasian a certain Veleda, of the tribe of the Bructeri, was commonly held to be a deity, and in that character reigned over her people, her sway being acknowledged far and wide. She lived in a tower on the river Lippe, a tributary of the Rhine. When the people of Cologne sent to make a treaty with her, the ambassadors were not admitted to her presence; the negotiations were conducted through a minister, who acted as the mouthpiece of her divinity and reported her oracular utterances.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

If

“If the deity is one who delights in charity and mercy and purity more than in oblations of blood, the chanting of hymns, and the fumes of incense, his worshippers will best please him, not by prostrating themselves before him, by intoning his praises, and by filling his temples with costly gifts, but by being pure and merciful and charitable towards men, for in so doing they will imitate, as far as human infirmity allows, the perfections of the divine nature.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Pay to play

“Intellectual progress, which reveals itself in the growth of art and science and the spread of more liberal views, cannot be dissociated from industrial or economic progress, and that in its turn receives an immense impulse from conquest and empire. It is no mere accident that the most vehement outbursts of activity of the human mind have followed close on the heels of victory, and that the great conquering races of the world have commonly done most to advance and spread civilization, thus healing in peace the wounds they inflicted in war.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Cropping the tall poppies

“No human being is so hidebound by custom and tradition as your democratic savage; in no state of society consequently is progress so slow and difficult. The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron. What they did is the pattern of right, the unwritten law to which he yields a blind unquestioning obedience. The least possible scope is thus afforded to superior talent to change old customs for the better. The ablest man is dragged down by the weakest and dullest, who necessarily sets the standard, since he cannot rise, while the other can fall. The surface of such a society presents a uniform dead level, so far as it is humanly possible to reduce the natural inequalities, the immeasurable real differences of inborn capacity and temper, to a false superficial appearance of equality.” – Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

Babies for the state

“The socialization of reproduction completed the process begun by the socialization of production itself—that is, by industrialization. Having expropriated the worker’s tools and concentrated production in the factory, industrialists in the opening decades of the twentieth century proceeded to expropriate the worker’s technical knowledge as well. By means of ‘scientific management,’ they broke down production into its component parts, assigned a specific function on the assembly line to each worker, and kept to themselves the knowledge of the productive process as a whole. In order to administer this knowledge, they created a vastly enlarged managerial apparatus, an army of engineers, technicians, personnel managers, and industrial psychologists drawn from the same pool of technical experts that simultaneously staffed the ‘helping professions.’ Knowledge became an industry in its own right, while the worker, deprived of the craft knowledge by which he had retained practical control of production even after the introduction of the factory system, sank into passive dependence. Eventually, industry organized management itself along industrial lines, splitting up the production of knowledge into routinized operations carried on by semiskilled clerical labor: secretaries, typists, computer card punchers, and other lackeys. The socialization of production—under the control of private industry—proletarianized the labor force in the same way that the socialization of reproduction proletarianized parenthood, by making parents unable to provide for their own needs without the supervision of trained experts.” – Christopher Lasch, The Minimal Self

Keeping an even keel

“A man with taste, particularly literary taste, is less susceptible to the refrains and the rhythmical incantations peculiar to any version of political demagogy. The point is not so much that virtue does not constitute a guarantee for producing a masterpiece, as that evil, especially political evil, is always a bad stylist. The more substantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer—though not necessarily the happier—he is.” — Joseph Brodsky, “Nobel Lecture”

Efficiency and productivity

“I started out my working life as a waiter. There is a saying in the restaurant business: ‘Full hands in and full hands out.’ It means that you never enter the kitchen without bringing an empty plate or glass with you, and you never leave the kitchen without grabbing a plate that needs to be delivered to a table. It’s a simple rule that creates quite a bit of efficiency during busy shifts. I’ve always tried to apply the same rule to my law practice. If I’m taking a trip downtown for one client, I make sure to look for two or three other things that can also be accomplished in the same trip.” – Mark Unger, Attorney-at-Law

Good luck with all that

“Our culture’s trek to the present has been a Long March through one province after another of philosophical folly: Plato’s Ideas, Aristotle’s essences, Descartes’ mind-body distinction, Kant’s Ding-an-sich, Husserl’s phenomenological method, the logical positivists’ scientific method—all in quest of absolute, suprahistorical Certainty. At last we have learned from the great antiphilosophers—James and Dewey, Nietzsche and Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Foucault—that this Certainty is not to be had, and that wanting it was all along a lack of maturity, a failure of nerve, a yearning for what Nietzsche called ‘comfort.’ There is no God, in other words, and no telos. “ – George Scialabba, “Consequences of Pragmatism”

Thor of the boardroom

“Modern culture has produced a distinctive character-type, our equivalent of the Homeric warrior-hero, the Athenian gentleman-citizen, the Christian saint, the 18th-century honnete homme. The defining activity of this character-type is manipulation; its most common embodiments are the aesthete, the therapist and, above all, the manager. All three express their culture’s understanding of social relations as primarily instrumental: by the consumption of other people as interesting sensations, or by the deployment of morally neutral expertise to achieve organizational goals. In a developed society that has renounced the ideal of virtue, of universal, rationally justifiable norms, this is the form taken by the war of all against all, and these characters are its warrior-heroes.” – George Scialabba, “After Virtue”

Let’s make one, then

“The absence of God spells the ruin of man in the sense that it demolishes or robs of meaning everything we think of as the essence of being human: the quest for truth, the distinction of good and evil, the claim to dignity, the claim to creating something that withstands the indifferent destructiveness of time.” – Leszek Kolakowski, Religion: If there is No God . . .