Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Tuesday, December 10, 2002; Tuesday, December 10, 2002

I spent part of this evening rereading Darkness and Scattered Light; Speculations on the future, a 1978 work by William Irwin Thompson. At this point in my life I'm wrestling through the last onionskin layers of my PTSD and so, encountering enantiodromeia again I came to appreciate how what I've described as "spiking my own guns" was actually withdrawing from effective action based on the (fairly realistic) understanding that self-servingly hypocritical materialists would surely transform my deeds into support for increasingly effective exploitation and devastation; to be accepted by the community within which I find myself is to be judged "fitting" by crypto-fascists and sycophants, and I want none of it. I'm sure you can see the double-bind here: I can join the feeding frenzy of consummerism, or I can opt out and shrivel. Sensitive to the human need for community, I'd rather be alone than be part of this lot ... now there is a quintessentially neurotic thought!

Written in the mid- and late-70s, Irwin's words seem prescient:

If industrial society insists upon resisting cultural transformation and insists upon continued economic growth then it will need energy desperately, and desperate people will do anything to get energy. ... we will move to a condition, even in rural areas, of police surveillance equivalent to that or airports.
People who are firghtened, angry, and out of work will easily give up their civil liberties to a paternalistic state which promises to take good care of them. With pension plans collapsing, the federal government can come in to become the guarantor of the pension funds and the savior of the American middle-class dream of security. But the more people surrender their civil liberties in return for governmental paternalism [the escape from just this paternalism is what the American Revolution was all about, by the way ... the pursuit of happiness is just that. bdt] the more the terrorists of the extreme Right and Left will seek to disrupt the government. The more terrorism there is, the more the government will seek to protect the population through strong emergency powers. The people will clamor for security and demand to be driven to work in tanks, but the more authoritarian order is imposed, the more revolutionary anarchy will be stimulated. And so the whole culture will spin downward to darkness in a tightening spiral.

As I point out in my authenticity workshop: there's a world of difference between being a mature adult and merely being grown-up.
  • Continuing in this vein (ain't synchronicity great?!), here are the final lines in an Adbusters interview with Theodore Roszak on Ecopsychology
    How we arrived at this predicament in the first place is the deepest and most unanswerable question. You can invent ideas about a prehistoric paradise where people were complete and sane. Maybe some flaw in our genetic make-up makes it possible for us to go crazy, and maybe intelligence is based upon some such trade-off. Perhaps intelligence costs a certain amount of depression and neurosis.


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