Welcome to the egohood

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche, opening into that cosmic night which was the psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego consciousness may extend . . . . All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.” – Carl G. Jung, Civilization in Transition

Nailing it down

“Wherever the thought of fixity rules, that of all-inclusive unity rules also. The popular philosophy of life is filled with desire to attain such an all-embracing unity, and formal philosophies have been devoted to an intellectual fulfillment of the desire. Consider the place occupied in popular thought by search for the meaning of life and the purpose of the universe. Men who look for a single purport and a single end either frame an idea of them according to their private desires and tradition, or else, not finding any such single unity, give up in despair and conclude that there is no genuine meaning and value of life’s episodes.” – John Dewey, Living Philosophies (emphases in original)

How is it you are

“What is it that has called you so suddenly out of nothingness to enjoy for a brief while a spectacle which remains quite indifferent to you? The conditions for your existence are almost as old as the rocks. For thousands of years men have striven and suffered and begotten and women have brought forth in pain. A hundred years ago, perhaps, another man sat on this spot; like you he gazed with awe and yearning in his heart at the dying light on the glaciers. Like you he was begotten of man and born of woman. He felt pain and brief joy as you do. Was he someone else? Was it not you yourself? What is this Self of yours? What was the necessary condition for making the thing conceived this time into you, just you and not someone else? What clearly intelligible scientific meaning can this ‘someone else’ really have? If she who is now your mother had cohabitated with someone else and had a son by him, and your father had done likewise, would you have come to be? Or were you living in them, and in you father’s father? And even if this is so, why are you not your brother, why is your brother not you, why are you not one of your distant cousins? What justifies you in obstinately discovering this difference—the difference between you and someone else—when objectively what is there is the same?” – Erwin Schrödinger, My View of the World (trans. Cecily Hastings; emphases in original)

What’s the what

“Concepts are functions of the mind, i.e., of individual minds. They may be derived from and signify perceptions of things in the field of space and time; or they may derive from and signify acts of the mind, the minds of thinking individuals; but in no case can they signify entities other than those in the mind or those perceived. The concept ‘dog,’ for example, is in the mind and signifies certain perceptions of creatures of a certain alikeness outside. It cannot be assumed to signify some metaphysical quidditas, whatness, or general substance dog, as an idea in a ‘divine’ mind somewhere else, of which all the living and dead individuals classified by analogy as ‘dog’ are representations.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

They made me

“Who is that ‘other,’ those ‘others,’ to whom I entrust the task of being me? Oh—no specific person! Who is it that says what ‘they say’? Who is the responsible subject of that social saying, the impersonal subject of ‘they say’? Ah—people! And ‘people’ is not this person or that person—‘people’ is always someone else, not exactly this one or that one—it is the pure ‘other,’ the one who is nobody. ‘People’ is an irresponsible ‘I,’ the ‘I’ of society, the social ‘I.’ When I live on what ‘they say’ and fill my life with it, I have replaced the I which I myself am in solitude with the mass ‘I’—I have made myself ‘people.’ Instead of living my own life, I am de-living it by changing it to otherness.” – José Ortega y Gasset, Man and Crisis (emphasis in original)

Or you can muddle through without a clue

“Great biographers and novelists have always recognized that, in the lives of people growing up, initiations transpire through the revelations of chance, according to the readiness of the psyche. Beneath the accidental surface effects of this world stir—as of yore—the gods. Their ageless order of the archetypes of myth, ‘the grave and constant in human sufferings,’ can be discerned through all time and tide. The entire course of a lifetime is thus a rite of initiation and can be experienced as such.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

So get over it already

“Protestant versions of the Christian faith tend to lean more heavily than the Catholic on the family-cult theology of the Old Testament, which when seriously considered as an appropriate base for a proper world religion is constitutionally ineligible, since it is finally but the overinterpreted parochial history and manufactured genealogy of a single sub-race of a southwest Asian Semitic strain, late to appear and, though of great and noble influence, by no means what its own version of the history of the human race sets it up to be.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

Make it so

“No experience is more likely to put politics out of mind, more thoroughly prove it irrelevant, and better teach how to forget it, than the experience, through art, of what is everlasting in man. And at a time when world political events of truly fearful force are involving all that is in us of individual human worth in sympathetic participation, overwhelming it and bearing it away—precisely at such a time it is fitting to stand firm against the megalomaniacs of politics, in defense, namely, of the truth that the essential thing in life, the true humanity of life, never is even touched by political means.” – Thomas Mann, Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen (trans. Joseph Campbell)

There are no political solutions, only political problems

“Politics I hate, and the belief in politics, because it makes people arrogant, doctrinaire, harsh, and inhuman. I do not believe in the formulae of the anthill, the human beehive; do not believe in the république démocratique, sociale et universelle; do not believe that mankind was made for what is being called ‘happiness,’ or that it even wants this happiness,’—do not believe in ‘belief,’ but rather in despair, because it is this that clears the way to deliverance; I believe in humility and work—work on oneself, and the highest, noblest, sternest, and most joyous form of such work seems to me to be art.” – Thomas Mann, Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen (trans. Joseph Campbell; emphasis in original)

The fire this time

“Well I know this, and anyone who’s ever tried to live knows this, that what you say about somebody else, anybody else, reveals you. What I think of you as being is dictated by my own necessity, my own psychology, my own fears and desires. I’m not describing you when I talk about you, I’m describing me. Now here in this country we’ve got something called a nigger. It doesn’t, in such terms, I beg you to remark, exist in any other country in the world. We have invented the nigger. I didn’t invent him. White people invented him. I’ve always known—I had to know by the time I was seventeen years old—that what you were describing was not me, and what you were afraid of was not me. It had to be something else. You had invented it, so it had to be something you were afraid of, and you invested me with it. Now, if that’s so, no matter what you’ve done to me, I can say to you this, and I mean it, I know you can’t do any more and I’ve got nothing to lose. And I know and have always known—and really always, that is part of the agony—I’ve always known that I’m not a nigger. But if I am not the nigger, and if it’s true that your invention reveals you, then who is the nigger? I am not the victim here. I know one thing from another. I know I was born, I’m going to suffer, and I’m going to die. The only way you get through life is to know the worst things about it. I know that a person is more important than anything else, anything else. I learned this because I’ve had to learn it. But you still think, I gather, that the nigger is necessary. Well, he’s unnecessary to me, so he must be necessary to you. I’m going to give you your problem back. You’re the nigger, baby, it isn’t me.” – James Baldwin, Take This Hammer

Zero-sum and not a game

“The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.” – Hannah Arendt (interviewed by Roger Errera in The New York Review of Books)

We’ll even take a cheetoh benito

“Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: ‘Things must change—no matter how, Anything is better than what we have.’ Totalitarian rulers organize this kind of mass sentiment, and by organizing it articulate it, and by articulating it make the people somehow love it. . . . Totalitarianism appeals to the very dangerous emotional needs of people who live in complete isolation and in fear of one another.” – Hannah Arendt (interviewed by Roger Errera in The New York Review of Books)

Spatiotemporal extensions in the sea of being

“Since every sight, sound, smell, taste, and tactile impression necessarily comes to us from some part of space and endures for some period of time, space and time, consequently, are the ineluctable preconditions of all outward experience whatsoever: we have our being in their ambience, as fish in water, and what any state of being independent of time and space might be, we neither know nor can imagine. Nor can we hope to learn from reason; for all thinking is ineluctably conditioned by the laws of grammar and logic. Thus all forms beheld in the outer world and all thoughts entertained about them are removed by the conditions of perception and cogitation from whatever the prime state—or non-state—might be of any Being-in-itself.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

Now we know so much better, don’t we

“Hard by the Cathedral were the gallows and the wheel. Every man lived in those days in the consciousness of an immense danger, and it was hell, not the hangman, that he feared. Unnumbered thousands of witches genuinely imagined themselves to be so; they denounced themselves, prayed for absolution, and in pure love of truth confessed their night rides and bargains with the Evil One. Inquisitors, in tears and compassion for the fallen wretches, doomed them to the rack in order to save their souls. That is the Gothic myth, out of which came the cathedral, the crusader, the deep and spiritual painting, the mysticism. In its shadow flowered that profound Gothic blissfulness of which today we cannot form even an idea.” – Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (trans. Charles Francis Atkinson)

Your money is no good here

“Civilization, seriously regarded, cannot be described in economic terms. In their peak periods civilizations are mythologically inspired, like youth. Early arts are not, like late, the mere secondary concerns of a people devoted first to economics, politics, comfort, and then, in their leisure time, to aesthetic enjoyment. On the contrary, economics, politics, and even war (crusade) are, in such periods, but functions of a motivating dream of which the arts too are an irrepressible expression. The formative force of a traditional civilization is a kind of compulsion neurosis shared by all members of the implicated domain, and the leading practical function of religious (i.e. mythological) education, therefore, is to infect the young with the madness of their elders—or, in sociological terms, to communicate to its individuals the ‘system of sentiments’ on which the group depends for survival as a unit.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology (emphasis in original)

Rutting of a sort

“The experiences and illuminations of childhood and early youth become in later life the types, standards and patterns of all subsequent knowledge and experience, or as it were, the categories according to which all later things are classified—not always consciously, however. And so it is that in our childhood years the foundation is laid of our later view of the world, and therewith as well of its superficiality or depth: it will be in later years unfolded and fulfilled, not essentially changed.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit

We, the people

“Every child is born with a certain balance of faculties, aptitudes, inclinations, and instinctive leanings. In no two is the balance alike, and each different brain has to deal with a different tide of experience. I marvel, then, not that one man should disagree with another concerning the ultimate realities of life, but that so many, in spite of the diversity of their inborn natures, should reach so large a measure of agreement.” – Sir Arthur Keith, Living Philosophies

Getting there

“In the recent past it may have been possible for intelligent men of good will honestly to believe that their own society (whatever it happened to be) was the only good, that beyond its bounds were the enemies of God, and that they were called upon, consequently, to project the principle of hatred outward on the world, while cultivating love within, toward those whose ‘system of sentiments’ was of God. Today, however, there is no such outward. Enclaves of national, racial, religious, and class provincialism persist, but the physical facts have made closed horizons illusory. The old god is dead, with his little world and his little, closed society. The new focal center of belief and trust is mankind. And if the principle of love cannot be wakened actually within each—as it was mythologically in God—to master the principle of hate, the Waste Land alone can be our destiny and the masters of the world its fiends.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

We make ’em up as we go along

“The older mythic orders gave authority to their symbols by attributing them to gods, to culture heroes, or to some such high impersonal force as the order of the universe; and the image of society itself, thus linked to the greater image of nature, became a vessel of religious awe. Today we know, for the most part, that our laws are not from God or from the universe, but from ourselves; are conventional, not absolute; and that in breaking them we offend not God but man. Neither animals nor plants, not the zodiac or its supposed maker, but our fellows have now become the masters of our fate and we of theirs.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

Some do

“No one of adult mind today would turn to the Book of Genesis to learn of the origins of the earth, the plants, the beasts, and man. There was no flood, no tower of Babel, no first couple in paradise, and between the first known appearance of men on earth and the first buildings of cities, not one generation (Adam to Cain) but a good two million must have come into this world and passed along. Today we turn to science for our imagery of the past and of the structure of the world, and what the spinning demons of the atom and the galaxies of the telescope’s eye reveal is a wonder that makes the city of Babel of the Bible seem a toyland dream of the dear childhood of our brain.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology

And then it starts all over again

“Without arguing the point as to whether a state can survive without compelling its subjects to accept as Absolute Truth whatever system of belief the dominant elite may have decided to put forth as divine revelation, we shall observe . . . that gods suppressed become demons; which is to say, that psychological and sociological factors neither assimilated nor recognized by the consciously controlled system become autonomous and must ultimately break the approved system apart.” – Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology