The hostile environment into which every infant monad arrives is one in which destiny for everyone is pre-determined by cultural forms. That is not to say that a particular destiny is pre-determined for every individual, but that personal destinies are conceived as fitting within cultural categories, within the social hierarchy of personal worth marked with accumulation of trophies or various tags of dignity or esteem. Whatever niche a person finds to occupy in the hierarchies, others take that niche as a license to stick a particular value to the person. Ordinary socially and culturally stipulated roles and assumptions limit individuals to categories each valued as more or less stupid, uneducated, culturally ignorant, petty, dull, slow, powerless, untalented, timid, uninteresting, confused, hopeless, and contemptible, all generally lined up with the categories of social class, racial and ethnic heritage, age, gender, property possession, and power level in the economic-institutional hierarchies. No matter what category a person falls into, it constricts, diminishes, writes off, and actually condemns every individual by assuming that they are contained and revealed by, and actually fit within, that category; but nobody does. The power of the spiritual entity of every person transcends every cultural category.
The currently dominant reality-construct sanctions such grotesque distortions of reality in everyday discourse. The invisibility of the first-language-nurture faction as the foundation of civil society is another distortion, the glorification of war and war heroism is another. Behind all is a totalitarian ideology of the value of radical inequality. The very idea of political or corporate power is saturated with a grotesque caricature of egoistic masculinity, a crime family cultural tradition. That idea of power nearly excludes responsibility to others (nurture), and has far more in common with the idea of divine incorrigibility, as revealed in the leadership culture of secrecy and immunity from ordinary social norms.
How Can Freedom Be Possible in a Hostile Political Context?
The Olympic Games of London 2012 displayed perfectly the obsessive futility of lives based in the value system which celebrates inequality as such, measured with trophies. The consequence of the current obsession with destructive wars and other criminal activity demanded by alpha-trophy-looting cultural dominance is a state of being stuck as a civilization. That is echoed in the stuckness of ordinary adult mentality, the repetitive, obsessive monotony of aspirations and forms of life under this cultural regime.
A problem with the anti-war movement, in spite of its unquestionably legitimate and courageous aspirations, is that the ideological understanding of war and militarism that informs its operations is inadequate. If you want to come to terms with deep politics then it doesn’t get much deeper than the contradictory historical forces of alpha-trophy-looting culture against first-language-nurture culture. It doesn’t get any deeper than the contradiction between the profound equality of individually transcendent monads each worthy of nurture, and the top-down hierarchical constructs of alpha-trophy-looting ideology, truly fulfilled only in the march to war. The peace movement must face this question: how much middle-class self-admiration and assumed entitlement to privilege has to be given up along with the war industry?
The Comfort Zone
The crime family trophy-inequality culture is completely dominant, has always been dominant, and is currently advancing aggressively. In addition, the vast majority of educated, actively literate, people is deeply reluctant to leave the mental comfort zone of an orientation anchored to alpha-trophy-looting ideology, imitating reverence for a dictatorial father-God in some selection from: national patriotism, reliance on the legitimacy of institutional authority, and respecting meritocracy and the professional middle class as role models grounded in legitimizing mechanisms such as markets, money, and ultimately nature as depicted by scientific research and the system of education. (The adventure will be to leave all that behind forever. Does that stack up to a week in space?)
Prospects for adult mentality are stuck in those tired repetitious forms of self-blindness. It isn’t nature that interferes with our freedom, but the weight of culture. Educated skepticism and critical thinking are not enough in the current situation of overwhelming psychological manipulation by cultural messages. Freedom is possible only by undertaking a wholesale mental disengagement from the distortions of reality constructed throughout history, a releasing of all moorings to the standard reference points listed above, and a journey of re-orientation to a very different set. There is an ocean of creativity to be released when we shrug off the energy-sucking weight of leadership ideology in an adventure of personal transcendence.
Culture Consciousness and The Transcendence of Monads
Thinking through the distinction between nature and culture (as in posting 33, June 14, 2012, Reality is Three Givens: Nature, Subjective Intelligences, and Culture) soon establishes a mental condition of culture-consciousness. In culture consciousness you have culture tagged in such a way that it can be bracketed to leave a remainder of innocence in pre-cultural embodiment experiences, metabolic measurement of nature, for example, the basics of orientation. Something else gained by casting off the standard comfort zone of cultural assumptions is your own transcendence, the transcendence of intelligence with respect to the brute actuality of nature. The transcendence of us monads is our being outside actuality, encountering actuality from outside it, from within a monad’s own interiority of possibilities, guesses of probabilities, bearings toward desired future possibilities and away from others that are dreaded. The monadic entity that continuously re-orients itself is partly a pretender, a dream-fabricator. The non-actuality out of which an intelligence encounters the brute actuality of nature includes a structure of temporal depth (stretch or reach) richly alien to actuality. That includes a presence with the non-existent future as a dimension of deliberate mutability, for example.
The freedom and creativity of monads is in being outside actuality in that way. The non-actuality of personal orientation requires a conception of monadic interiority as discontinuous with the actuality surrounding it. That is definitive of monadic existence as transcendent within nature. The non-actuality of any monadic intelligence is not identical to the non-actuality of any other. For example, the non-actuality from which author Suzanne Collins encounters the world of actual nature and culture is clearly not the same as the non-actuality from which J.K. Rowling does. Actuality (nature) is only one horizon with respect to which any monad constructs and continually refreshes its orientation or directionality of agency. There is also an interior horizon, a horizon of non-actuality (a gusher). Both the interior and the exterior horizons bring surprises into the situation of the monad and in that sense they are both surprise horizons. That idea of surprise horizons emphasizes the integrative agency of an entity of orientation, balancing inward and outward novelties and also launching initiatives in both directions. Inward initiatives are acts of re-orientation, thinking. The transcendence of voice or speech combines monadic originality with cultural knowledge in the creation of utterances that connect with other intelligences.
People have an ongoing conversation about the objective world as a beautifully designed creation, inspiring wonder because we can’t experience the process of creation. We encounter actuality as a mystery (Why this instead of nothing?) and so as a horizon which blocks perception of creation. Whenever there is creativity there is a surprise horizon. The world of nature and culture is a surprise horizon for everyone, the centre of business and attention and yet crucially unpredictable to some extent, but there is another surprise horizon, namely an inward blind spot of subjective intelligence. Discovery of that inward horizon can be a vertiginous self-consciousness that has nothing to do with the way you appear to others, the social implications of your appearance or your accomplishments. That is why subjectivity is fundamental in spite of the great importance of social interconnectedness. Shaking loose from the self-presentation coaxed into a shape by social relationships, officially approved role models, and economic incentives and rewards is a crucial step toward taking possession of surprises from the personal horizon of non-actuality.
A truly remarkable part of writing almost anything is starting sentences and paragraphs without any distinct idea of what the ending will be, and then having something, something that makes sense and serves the purpose, arrive over some horizon of dreams. For example, the “language is sporting equipment” analogy wasn’t part of the original ideas for posting 36, July 12, 2012, First Language Nurture, but it turned up when the sentence was launched, half written, and needed a sensible particular. Starting with nothing but a hunch about stages ahead is a way of prodding the inward surprise horizon and getting the creative fountain gushing a stream with a particular relevance. (Such a ‘leap of creativity’ looks like a general process of which Luther’s “leap of faith” is a particular instance.)
What distinguishes the intelligence of persons from the imaginary mind of God is the quality of absolute power. The imaginary power of God is infinite and unlimited. Embodied persons do not have that power. We lack absolute power over nature in a couple of different senses. We do not have the power to suspend or change the laws of nature, including the law of conservation of matter/ energy. Additionally, we do not have the mental power to totally understand the patterns and dynamics of nature, even collectively after more than 5,000 years of continuous species literacy. The power-within-nature of an embodied individual is strictly local, anchored to what a particular body, and its voice, can perform. Persons cannot create a new nature to replace the nature already given, for example. However, creative power is not an all or nothing proposition. All the time human bodies project into nature unique patterning from their interior non-actuality.
The Richness of Non-Actuality
The richness of the non-actuality out of which, or within which, every individual intelligence encounters the actual world is important because, for one thing, not all of that non-actuality is an original creation of the individual intelligence, although much of it is. Any individual’s orientation of non-actuality can be manipulated culturally and politically to contain serious and avoidable distortions, as sketched in Episode One.
There are consequences, conclusions to be drawn, from the direct acquaintance with personal transcendence as described just above. One of those consequences is that, since individuals are not confined to actuality, or even to depictions of actuality taught them from cultural sources, each has a grounding to assess and critique the culture that surrounds them, from outside it, and the power to conceive something better.
The idea of individual innocence is meaningful and important.
Another consequence is that freedom is shown to have both inward and outward dimensions. Freedom requires some degree of options and mobility in the world of physics and economics, but that is not sufficient. Freedom also requires the inward nurture of personal questions, curiosities, impulses, and inspiration. The sufficiency of mobility, for example, has to be measured by that force from within. Closely involved with the experience of freedom, the self-awareness or sense of identity of the entity of personal individuality has both inward and outward dimensions. There is an unfathomable, “unplottable”, self-possession of every individual that makes cultural trophies irrelevant to the substance and creative force of any individual. Nobody can be assigned a value, because all are equal in creative transcendence, all are actively in the process of becoming something more.
Another consequence is to discredit any account of human nature as an emptiness that can only be made into something, or fulfilled, by consuming and internalizing substances originally external to it. Personal transcendence discredits the economic conception of human nature as a bundle of deficiencies and compulsive drives such as egoistic diminishment of others.
Creative people are ordinary people.
Any sustainable interconnectedness or political order must recognize the rich originality and peculiarity (or monadality) of each individual as an asset, a source, a value, instead of as a problem requiring cultural categories such as heresy and treason. Individuals are contributors to culture and interconnectedness, and strengthened as such by appropriate nurture.
The currently dominant reality-construct of the alpha-trophy-looting cultural faction is a form of insanity, far more lethal than any kind of skeptical philosophy or existential uncertainty.
Copyright © 2012 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.