26 June 2007
I think that the pain thing is complicated for most people by the fact that their ‘individualistic’ drives are repressed by their need to derive significance from social approval so that they think they are ‘really’ bad, inadequate, evil and deserving to suffer. I suppose this is one of the things that Christianity plays on. However, it really makes it more necessary to reject the belief in society and its evaluations, while no doubt making it even more difficult to do so (or even to start wanting to do so).
However, I can tell you what I was thinking about before I got the solution to pain, although I had really eliminated the inhibitory belief in society 18 months earlier (and at the time that had been experienced as an appalling and irrevocable loss).
Here you are, existing and threatened from all sides, especially threatened by mortality and the extinction of consciousness, and not knowing anything about anything. This gives you a tremendous drive to react against this claustrophobic situation, and a sense of immediacy and urgency because you could die at any time. This went into my urgency about exam-taking; however young I was, I might die the next day and I had to get on with it. Apart from any considerations about needing to do things at the right age for oneself in terms of one’s mental, rather than chronological, age.
So you have very strong drives to assert yourself against the threatening unknown that surrounds you, but you are afraid of failing and reminding yourself of how puny you are. So you try to find out what you can succeed in doing and to put your drives into things that won’t immediately bring you up against your finiteness.
People play on this and want to make you feel that if you are less good than some other person at doing a certain kind of thing, that is a permanent limitation that you must accept and live within, not think that circumstances might all be different on some other occasion.
So you get a fear of doing something in which you might fail. People who are academically successful usually have techniques for pretending, both to others and themselves, that they are not trying. E.g. Bill Gates playing bridge all day and only working for his degree at night, Kierkegaard putting in an appearance at theatres in the intervals, and then going home to swot up on the classics (or whatever it was he liked to show off about).
But, I had thought, this leaves you with very little of your emotional drive. If you want to try with 51%, and 49% is wanting to preserve itself from failure by not trying, you have 2% of your motivation left. But every failure, of whatever kind, is a horrifying reminder of finiteness and mortality and hence (if you are centralised enough) drives you back onto the point of ricochet and rebounds as the drive to infinity. Because in reality it is not any finite goal that you are aiming at; you want to be omniscient and omnipotent, and it is terrible that you are not. So everything can be made unconflicted if it is turned back into, or recognised as an expression of, the drive to infinity.
And in fact by applying this I had achieved freedom from conflict and certainly had the impression of deploying extremely strong emotional drives, even for someone who had always been uninhibited and regarded as ‘intense’.
But pain presented a serious problem. Any psychological thing, however bad, can be relatively easily ignored. Well, relatively, at least in comparison with pain. As you said, even if they tell you that you have cancer and will die soon, you are still alive. They may be wrong, it may not happen. Anyway, perhaps you can still enjoy yourself.
When Bill’s brother John actually was dying of cancer and Bill took this seriously, John said (as Bill told me), ‘Well, I feel bad about it sometimes, especially when I wake up in the night, but if I do something like going to dinner with your sister, I feel all right again.’ [names changed]
However, pain is difficult to ignore. It is there and you do not want it to be there. It is a proof that your will can be violated (something that you try to overlook as far as possible) and ultimately violated by death. So it is actually a proof of mortality and the ultimate horror of the situation.
It is difficult now to remember how desperate my situation was then. I had to get a solution to pain, if only because I abhorred anaesthetics. And so I set my emotional drive at the problem and determined that my subconscious should forthcome this solution, which I had to have.
This led to the most intolerable existential claustrophobia and nostalgia; I would be driven back onto the point of ricochet and get a violent recoil driving forward again at the problem which had to be solved.
In fact I suppose you can say one was being driven further and further away from any possibility of being related to ‘normal’ life on ‘normal’ terms, past the point of no return. And, of course, it is the great problem with higher level psychology that you lose everything, and lose it irrevocably, before you get everything. It is not a case of giving up on what you have got (or might have) because you see that something else will be better. You give up on it because it is not good enough, although you are still shut in and cannot see how to get anything else.
I have written elsewhere about the despair of finiteness; and it may sound like resignation. But actually it was very complex. I was extremely angry, claustrophobically appalled, and disgusted, that a consciousness should be in such a position, without knowing anything or having any way of finding anything out. It certainly was not resignation in any sense that made the situation tolerable; it made it seem more intolerable than ever, as I reassured myself, wondering whether to go along with it. I had a principle against resignation, which was unrealistic. But a despair so profound as this was dangerous. However, I said to myself, if it arises from a perception of reality that my psychology really reacts in this way to the situation, that is realistic, be the consequences what they may, and so I entertained the despair of finiteness.
Nietzsche, who did not get a higher level, said, ‘If there were God, how could I bear to be no God? Consequently there is no God.’ More precisely, ‘Whether there is God or not, I cannot bear to be no God. Consequently my life in finiteness is worthless and I have no interests worth defending.’
25 June 2007
I read in a newsletter from America that many journalists have expressed pleasure at your being ‘taken down a peg or two’ or ‘getting your come-uppance’ in being imprisoned for driving under the influence of alcohol.
The modern world is dominated by the desire to degrade the successful and it is certainly unwise to break the law, which exposes a person to the hostility of other people. To the extent that there are clear-cut territories within which the individual is free to make his own decisions, he can protect himself from the destructive forces of modern society.
Unfortunately, those who are in a favourable position as a result of the successes of their forebears may be relatively protected from the hostility of the society around them and fail to realise how great it is. The Queen of England is an example of this; she appears to be genuinely uncritical of socialist and egalitarian ideology, and not merely as uncritical as she needs to be for purposes of public relations.
Regrettably, however realistic one’s own outlook may be, one is exposed to other people’s lack of realism at the ‘educational’ stage of one’s life and may not be able to prevent one’s life being ruined. This is what happened to me, at any rate.
We are an independent academic organisation which is as nearly as possible squeezed to death, and kept inactive and inconspicuous, by lack of salaries, status, financial support and even moral support in applying for funding or improving our position in any way. We have been widely slandered and networked against. Nevertheless we are extremely respectable in an old-fashioned bourgeois sense.
Any one supporter could make an immense difference to our ability to publish criticisms of modern academia and society generally (which are desperately in need of expression), perhaps even eventually to make some progress in neglected areas of research.
So although we may not seem to be the sort of people you usually find interesting, we warmly (but not hopefully) invite you, Paris Hilton, to visit us with a view to becoming a Patron and supporter of our enterprise, the last line of defence against anti-individualism.
I say ‘not hopefully’ because there is no indication that even the most right-wing have any sympathy at all with our position. There is apparently no ideal, principle or tradition of defending individuals against society at large.
With best wishes,
21 June 2007
Modern society has lost sight of the only moral principle of any importance, so that the individual citizen is basically unprotected against unlimited oppression.
Since the ignored principle is never enunciated, it is difficult to express one's horror at what already goes on, and at even worse developments that might go on. If someone says, 'People ought to be heavily taxed in order to pay for state-administered medicine and education', I am shocked and horrified, but inhibited from replying, 'People ought to be taxed as little as possible, and certainly not at all to provide funding for organised crime.'
Usually I do not reply in this way, because I realise that prolonged explanation would be necessary. In reality, at least as much explanation should be required to make plausible the idea that individuals should be taxed to provide for greater oppression of individuals by the collective, but one realises that a high proportion of the population has learnt to proceed smoothly to this conclusion without examination, or even recognition, of the underlying assumptions being made.
If I say that people should be taxed as little as possible and least of all to finance collectively organised oppression, this depends on the basic moral principle that society should interfere as little as possible with the individual's freedom to evaluate for himself the various factors which affect his existential situation, and to react to it as effectively as his resources permit.
The basic moral principle applies between individuals as well, and everyone should respect the right of others to evaluate for themselves the weighting to be placed on the factors which enter into any given situation, since in reality the existential situation is one of total uncertainty.
However, it is only socially appointed agents of the collective, such as doctors, teachers, social workers etc, who are invested with legally conferred powers to impose their valuations on others, and who should be deprived of these (immoral) powers.
In fact, in the presence of the modern ideology, the deplorable practice has arisen of taking into account only factors which appear obvious to a large number of people, and assuming that any others should be ignored.
In place of the basic moral principle enunciated above, an alternative one is implicitly assumed. This is apparently an idea to the effect that what is ethical consists of what the majority of people agree to regard as ethical. Dissenting individuals can and should be forced to submit to the views accepted by the majority of people in their society.
As people are subjected to continuous indoctrination in modern society, from the educational system which increasingly regards indoctrination as a primary objective, and from the continuous stream of propaganda being put out by such media as television and newspapers, it is not surprising that nearly universal tendencies to prefer currently fashionable ways of evaluating things are to be observed.
We may suppose that similar unanimities of evaluation were usually found in primitive tribal societies, but a member of modern society under the influence of the prevailing ideology would regard some of the practices of primitive societies as immoral.
This does not present itself to the modern mind as a problem, since there is an implicit belief that the human race has recently arrived at the best possible way of evaluating things, and the way it thinks now is unquestionably right.
On the basic moral principle that the freedom of the individual to form his own evaluations is supremely important, even if in practice the majority of people will adopt the valuations suggested by the ideology which prevails in the culture of their place and time, the functions of society acting on a collective basis should be as limited as possible. As Herbert Spencer suggests, they should be limited to what is necessary to protect the liberty of individuals from encroachment by other individuals.
Basic moral principle, short form:
It is immoral to impose your interpretations and evaluations on anyone else.
19 June 2007
Thank you for coming to our drinks party. As you said, it was a funny time of day, but this arose because we usually do such things in the function room at the Mitre, which is being refurbished. The rooms at Infinite Ideas which we hired instead are very suitable rooms, but unfortunately not available for evening times.
Just to amplify some things I said at the party. You seemed to find it difficult to understand what I meant by being ‘squeezed out’ without a single usable qualification at the end of the ruined ‘education’. Actually, I refer to that as being ‘thrown out’, and what I refer to as being ‘squeezed to death’ came later, and is still going on.
The reason I use the terminology in this way is that people like to assume or imply that I am a ‘drop-out’, and that I turned my back on normal careers voluntarily. Actually I was thrown out of an academic career very much against my will, and knew that I could not make a career or even earn money in any other way. I could not get any support for attempting in any way to get back into a university career, even moral support or the barest recognition of the fact that that was what I was trying to do.
And if you speak of my being thrown out (into the wilderness, onto the dungheap) as being squeezed out, that might seem to imply that the squeeze was a one-off thing. Actually the attempt to squeeze me to death was applied as soon as I set up my incipient academic institution in Oxford, within which I hoped to be able to do research with which to reclaim a position in the academic world. I lived more or less literally under siege and have done so ever since.
You asked what 'centralisation' was. It is a lot easier, of course, to say what decentralisation is, which prevents centralisation from arising. All modern psychology (which includes psychology of religion) is about decentralisation. It is promoted by people who are themselves decentralised, so it is not even a realistic account of how unrealistic psychology works.
I have put on my blogspot some comments on the film Sleuth which provides very clear illustrations of people being forced into decentralised positions. Under threat from other people, they have no attention free to consider their own internal psychological criteria or to become aware of the fact that they are in a shocking existential situation which they do not know anything about.
I don’t use words like 'supernatural' or 'transcendent', but I do use the word 'inconceivable' to apply to the qualitatively different mental contents of a higher level. That, however, is not present in any sort of pre-higher level centralised psychology.
Since I was talking to you about your latest experience at the dentist I thought I should write it down so there is a record of it. I have said it a lot before but not written about it much.
You have to aim through the experience as a reaction against finiteness, so that in effect you are putting your drive into making it happen rather than trying to minimise your awareness of it. Any recoil, trying to get away from it, is actually your worst enemy as the conflict caused by that is what makes a sensation painful, in the sense of hurting.
Doing it is actually, I think, centralising and I think this is why a technique so potentially useful remains unknown. Centralisation provides a point of psychological ricochet; if you perceive that finiteness is intolerable, you get the drive of the animal that turns at bay and fights for its life against hopeless odds. This is an exceedingly strong drive; by the time I did the thing with the teeth, I called it the drive to infinity because clearly no conceivable goal could satisfy it. I did not yet have any idea that there might be an inconceivable goal at which it might arrive.
Anyway, what preceded my getting the thing about pain right was that I had been having a long series of dental appointments doing fillings, the result of my having had so bad a time at Somerville that quarrelling and arguing with my parents, and them shouting me down and asserting the social line, had prevented my mother paying any attention to making appointments for me, and she tended to give me very bad sweets which she liked herself (she had had false teeth for a long time herself).
I had a fairly highly evolved sort of centralisation and I experimented with ways of viewing the pain as abstract sensation, which worked moderately well but clearly had a breakdown point so that I knew I would not be able to apply them to the impending extractions.
I had a solution to most things by then and I found it quite intolerable that my consciousness could be invaded by things to which I could not be reconciled. So I set about trying to make my subconscious forthcome, which led to the despair of finiteness, as I call it, which was really breaking through the final resistance to getting a higher level. But I was not on a higher level yet, and I thought I had failed in getting a solution to pain.
There was a final session of fillings before the extractions and I was using my fairly adequate methods when the dentist suddenly stuck his drill on a nerve. Quite likely he had left the worst filling to last. This presented itself as absolutely intolerable, my system broke down completely, this was just impossible. But quite unpremeditatedly I reacted with a spurt of absolute anger at this intolerable sensation, a sort of, ‘Go on, damn you’, and the sensation became quite neutral.
I realised at once that I had got the solution to pain after all, and that the impending extractions would be a great opportunity to try it out.
Probably the despair of finiteness had provided me with a more absolute sort of centralisation which made the ricochet from intolerable sensation to a head-on drive against it possible.
Even if you are not centralised enough for that to happen, anger is a much better attitude to cultivate than fear or emotional recoil from the situation. Anger and drive are on your side, timidity and apprehension are not, although apprehension may precede anger.
As you know, the extractions worked perfectly and there was no sense of a breakdown point in the system. It seemed as if the pain automatically set up an adequately strong feedback reaction to neutralise it.
One should not lose sight of the fact that although this all seems, and was, very dramatic, the sort of centralisation that made it possible did not arise until I had, in the operative sense, rejected society or other people as a source of significance (which I had done when I was 19, about eighteen months earlier). This, as should always be emphasised, has nothing to do with giving up on having a drive to get out of society all that it should provide in the way of status and opportunity (Professorship, hotel environment, research departments to run, recognition and saleability for one’s books). However difficult society makes it to get any of these things out of it.
14 June 2007
13 June 2007
Yesterday's report on British education from the independent think-tank Civitas represents a dispatch from the battlefield describing a national catastrophe. It is no surprise that pupils learn so little, say its authors, because so much curriculum time has been hijacked for the peddling of propaganda about racism, gender awareness, environmentalism and suchlike.
The High Master of St Paul's, an outstanding independent school, warns of the "terrifying absence of proper science" in the new GCSE syllabus, which is all that a modern generation of 16-year-olds is deemed capable of learning -and all, indeed, that their teachers are thought capable of teaching. ... During a recent training day for English A-level teachers, a senior examiner asserted that it is necessary to "batter out of students" the idea that there is any "correct" way of speaking English. ...
In the adult world, the gulf between educated and uneducated people is widening relentlessly. As unskilled jobs are outsourced to Asia, the future grows ever bleaker for children of any nationality who lack meaningful qualifications. Yet not only are pupils learning less than they did a generation ago, the educational establishment is also committed to principles, entrenched behind a great wire entanglement of demented ideals, which ensure that things will get worse. ...
University lecturers today demand a boycott of Israel because it oppresses the Palestinians. Yet these same ringmasters of intolerance preside over an educational system close to collapse not for lack of cash, but for lack of sanity. ... The educationalists have committed a form of child abuse all the more pernicious because, though tried and convicted on the evidence of their actions, they will never face a court. Until they can be defeated and expelled from authority and influence over British schools, our children will never begin to learn the things which are indispensable to membership of an educated society. (from ‘Education today is a form of child abuse’ by Max Hastings, Daily Mail, 12 June 2007)
The ‘educational’ system is doing exactly what it is intended to do, destroying the lives of those with above average IQs who might contribute to the advancement of science, culture or individualistic ideals.
There is no point in criticising the state educational system for its failure to impart knowledge or skills. It is reducing the freedom of the more functional and moralised sections of the population by heavy taxation and ensuring that it disgorges a largely unemployable and criminal population to make the position of the former ‘middle’ and ‘upper’ classes still worse, since they will find it almost impossible to employ them as servants in capacities in which they might have been able to operate satisfactorily, while their property and persons are at ever-increasing risk from vandalism and mugging.
It is a complete fallacy to suppose that modern society has less need for ‘unskilled’ workers than in earlier centuries. Little of what was taught in old-fashioned schools was of much relevance to most of their pupils in their adult careers.
It is not that people now need special forms of expertise in order to be employable; this idea has been around for over a century and its real motivation was, and is, to deprive those with high IQs of ancillary support staff within their households. The objective is to provide people with pretentious ‘qualifications’ to that they will consider it beneath them to do anything that is actually useful for anybody else.
They are, of course, heavily indoctrinated with egalitarian and anti-individualistic ideology, which is all that the educational system is really there to impart.
There is no solution but the abolition of state education and of compulsory education altogether.
11 June 2007
Sally Clark, the mother who was wrongly jailed for killing her two sons, has died. Her family said in a statement she was found dead at her home Friday morning. The cause of the 42-year-old's death has not been revealed. But relatives said she never recovered from the appalling miscarriage of justice she suffered.
Mrs Clark, was a solicitor from Wilmslow, Cheshire, when she was convicted of smothering 12-week-old Christopher in 1996 and eight-week-old Harry a year later, on the evidence of paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow. He told a court the odds against two cot deaths in the same family were 73million to one. ...
Her three years and three months in jail - she was given two life sentences at Chester Crown Court in October 1999 - saw her reviled and abused as the worst kind of criminal, although many inmates became convinced of her innocence. Her husband Stephen never accepted her guilt and fought tirelessly to clear her. At one point the couple's third son, now eight, was taken into care.
Mrs Clark died in the home at Hatfield Peverel, near Chelmsford, Essex,which her husband bought while she was in a local jail. Her family said they did not know what caused her death but added: 'She never fully recovered from the effects of this appalling miscarriage of justice. 'Sally, a qualified solicitor, was a loving and talented wife, mother, daughter and friend. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.' Family friend Penny Mellor said: 'It is the most appalling tragedy heaped on other tragedies.’ (Daily Mail, 17 March 2007)
Clearly Sally Clark had an above-average IQ and would have been perceived as privileged, successful and middle-class, which made her a suitable target for hostility.
The principle of ‘innocent until proved guilty’ has been abandoned in modern society. Now you are likely to be considered guilty until proved innocent, or until judged to be innocent by a jury which will consider you thus only if there is what they believe to be convincing evidence for some alternative explanation of the ‘crime’. What is regarded as 'convincing' includes the opinions of doctors, that is, people appointed by society to have the power to make decisions on behalf of other people about things which concern them. Sally Clark was eventually acquitted, so it is possible to say she was innocent, but how many more are convicted and imprisoned on equally unsatisfactory grounds?
A civilised society might be defined as one in which the individual has a clearly defined territory within which he is free to evaluate his priorities for himself, and be free from interference so long as he does not break clearly defined laws of interaction with other individuals and their territories. We are not living in a civilised society. It is now possible for people living in perfectly respectable ways to find that they have quite inadvertently, as a result of some accident, come under suspicion of criminal acts and may be convicted.
05 June 2007
Anyone not yet convinced that Britain has somehow turned against its own most fundamental values, not to say departed altogether from reality, should look at the decision by the University and College Union (UCU) to urge a boycott of academic institutions in Israel.
This deplorable move destroys the most sacred role of a university - to act as the guardian of free speech and inquiry in order that knowledge, opinion and truth can flourish and grow. (From ‘A deplorable decision which shows that Britain’s academic elite has taken leave of its senses’ by Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 4 June 2007.)
It is ridiculous to think of a university as having a ‘sacred role’. It is as ridiculous as saying that a doctor becomes a trustworthy person because she is given immoral power over other people by the oppressive socialist society in which we live.
Academics get into their positions by being appointed by other academics, and their prime motivation is to reinforce and promote the modern ideology, which includes the dogmatic belief that academics are experts and authorities on what is true, and on the right way of thinking, and that a person holding an academic appointment is qualitatively different from, and better than, someone who does not. Individuals who might express points of view which do not support or appear immediately to reinforce the modern belief system are viciously and slanderously opposed and suppressed.
01 June 2007
Here they are.
I am on the left in the one above.
Here I am on the right. The twin brother of the boy on the left is in the background.