29 December 2006

A man is kicked to death

Businessman Stephen Langford was kicked to death in the early hours of Saturday 9 December on the High Street, Henley-on-Thames. Boris Johnson, Tory MP for Henley, commented in the Daily Mail of 11 December 2006:
‘It has come to something when a man can be kicked to death in one of the safest towns in England and right in front of the local police station. I hope that Stephen’s death will rally all of those who believe we have gone too far in tolerating yobbery and thuggishness in our streets. It is time for society collectively to declare that enough is enough.

We need to bring back respect for authority in schools and in the home and we need to clear these thugs off the streets.’
In the same edition of the Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips commented on the situation of ‘social injustice’ prevailing in this country. In her column entitled ‘Strong words are not enough. Only tough decisions can make Britain better’, she ascribed this to social damage being done by family breakdown.

She discusses a review published by Ian Duncan Smith, former Tory leader who heads his party’s Social Justice Commission.

‘Mr Duncan Smith’s analysis lays bare the stupendous abandonment by the welfare state of the very people it purports to protect. His review spells out the appalling scale of drug and alcohol abuse, worklessness, failed education and indebtedness.
Ms Phillips continues:
‘The sheer scale of the social damage done by family breakdown is staggering. But even more astounding is the total refusal of the political class to acknowledge or deal with a phenomenon estimated to cost the country more than £20 billion per year. On the contrary, our intellectual and political leaders have done everything in their power to accelerate the collapse of the two-parent family.’
Ms Phillips suggests that the only way to stop the rot is to uphold marriage, which ‘would mean restoring its privileged position in the tax system, removing the numerous incentives to lone parenthood…. and creating a climate in which lone parenthood is regarded as a misfortune to be avoided rather than a ‘right’ to be rewarded.’

My comments

Civilisation has broken down. But it is the Welfare State itself, with its assault on individual liberty and autonomy, that has produced the evergrowing population of demoralised criminals and dysfunctional dependents who now drain the resources, and damage the lives, of the ‘unfairly successful’ elite with above average IQs, too ‘obsessed’ with increasing their wealth and social status to give free rein to their own criminal tendencies.

We note that the appearance of this entrepreneur (who was kicked to death) was probably smart and moralised, and he looked intelligent and handsome.

That arouses enough righteous hostility in the modern world to justify lethal attack, otherwise unmotivated.

28 December 2006

More about "helping" gifted children

In the horrendous Sunday Times article about further oppression for gifted children [see posts of 19 Dec], the fact that some students who went to university at a relatively early age left without completing their degrees is taken to indicate that it is a bad idea to allow this to happen. The fact is, they may just have realised there could be no future for them in the academic world, and the earlier the age at which one realises this the better.

If I had been a bit more experienced in psychology I might well have realised, when I was prevented from taking the School Certificate exam at thirteen, that there was too much motivation against somebody like me, and that I had better leave school forthwith, or as soon as legally possible, and devote my attention to making money, since becoming rich enough to set up my own institutional environment was the only way in which I would ever be able to have the sort of intellectually productive life which I needed to have. The prospect of having to make enough money for oneself to set up an institutional environment is a daunting one, and the sooner gets started on it the better.

Students who left university in disgust at fourteen or fifteen may have come to a realistic perception that the modern academic world provided no opportunities for real ability and drive, and that they would do better going it alone.

24 December 2006

If thy hand or thy foot offend thee

The despair of society, or other people, comes before the despair of finiteness and, I would suppose, inevitably so, as the illusion of the meaningfulness of human society and hence the ability to derive from it a sense of meaningfulness for one’s own life softens or blanks out altogether the threatening existential environment. Devaluing the significance that society can bestow upon one is very traumatic but produces an extraordinary change in one’s psychological position. And so one wonders whether there are any indications of this in Christianity as part of the process of getting a higher level. In fact (Matthew 18: 8, 9) comes close to the way one felt about it:
If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

And if thy eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast if from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life having one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
I thought of myself as being in the position of an animal caught in a trap, that gnaws off its paw to regain its freedom. There is a loss, a terrible and irrevocable one, but there is no other option. ‘Half a loaf is better than no bread at all,’ I said to myself, thinking that if I were ever to work again for social success and status, if ever there were a way of doing that, I had to abandon any sense of the meaningful glamour that such things could confer upon one.

Nevertheless I needed pragmatically what society could, but could not be made to, provide. I gave up altogether on any sense of solidarity with respectable members of society who had once seemed to regard me as an approvable person who would be, and already was, a member of their club. Henceforth I would be an outcast and outlaw, although I would not stop identifying with the standards that should be upheld by such persons, and which, in fact, I would exemplify better than did those who persecuted me.

But, of course, the centralisation made possible by the loss of dependence on society developed towards a higher level and it was not for very long that I lived without consolation. It certainly was much better to get a higher level (enter into life), all deficits being supplied and oversupplied to an unimaginable extent, than to remain in a state of separation from the significance (i.e. in normal psychology) with one’s craving for social feedback intact. Although from a higher level point of view the normal state of consciousness appears nightmarish and intolerable, the metaphor of being cast into hell fire seems to arise from a non-higher level interest in judgement and punishment.

But there you are; a man cannot serve two masters (especially if one of them is wholeheartedly opposing the intentions of the other) and at this point a choice had to be made. It is a peculiarity of pre-higher level psychology that you get something much better, not by anticipating and preferring it, but by rejecting what is already present to you as not good enough or as constituting a negative factor.

I suppose I should repeat as often as possible that the rejection of society as a source of significance is not a manoeuvre that is possible within ‘normal’ psychology. It had only become possible to me at 19 in extreme circumstances and after several years of attempting to retain or regain centralisation in the very adverse circumstances of my life between 14 and 19.

22 December 2006


There was once a woman who said of me, with that sublime lack of analyticalness which characterises those who know they have social support: ‘If she is really exceptional it won't make any difference to her whether she takes exams very young or not.’

Let us consider some of the things that she might have meant by this.

The first possible meaning is tautologous. It is: ‘Provided she subsequently succeeds in gaining social recognition she will not be able to say that she was prevented from gaining social recognition by not taking exams very young.’

A family of other possible meanings depend implicitly on assertions of the type: ‘All true ability achieves social recognition.’ In the case of the past, it is clearly not the case that all those who are currently regarded as having possessed true ability achieved social recognition during their lifetime. So our implicit assumption must be somewhat of this form: ‘All those who, subsequent to the present century, will be socially recognised as having true ability, will achieve social recognition during their lifetime.’

Or again, she may have meant: ‘The human race as a whole is so indifferent to superficial tokens of success, so much in the habit of using its independent judgement to assess ability, and so generously inclined to the ability it notices, that no obstacles will be placed in the path of a person of very great ability, even if that person has spent the first 20 years of his life not using the great ability.’

If this was what she meant, she was a poor observer of human nature. Even if the argument were true, of course, it would still provide no positive reason for gratuitously writing off a considerable expanse of years as unusable.

Then again, she may have meant: ‘The human race is so aware of the characteristics which denote purposiveness that, no matter what social recognition anyone may have achieved by their ability to recapitulate the present knowledge of the human race, as soon as they set out to add to that knowledge they are certain to encounter every resistance and opprobrium.’ There is certainly something to be said for this view, though, again, it is difficult to see that it possesses great persuasive force if it be paraphrased in the form: ‘It will not make any difference whether you are well-fed when the siege begins, because once the siege has begun you certainly will not get any food.’

Or she may have meant: ‘No matter how many years you spend in an inspirational state, and no matter what your achievements in those years may be, they will still in retrospect be finite; and the difference between a number of years spent in an inspirational state and the same number of years spent in considerable misery will always, in retrospect, be finite.’ There is something in this position, although one should always view with caution attempts to quantify anything so incalculable as consciousness.

Or she may have meant: ‘The intellectual level of the human race is so low that even if someone is obliged to go through life without a knowledge of those things which they would have learnt if they had been educated, their intellectual life will not thereby be impoverished. E.g. Greek literature contains no ideas which any thinking person could not originate for themselves, so no one will be losing anything if they cannot read Greek.’ This is true, though it does nothing to demonstrate that the mental operations involved in learning Greek may not be desirable in themselves. Further, it does not allow for the refreshing effect of variations in syntax and alphabet upon the jaded mind.

Or she may have meant: ‘If this person is as exceptional as all that, I can try as hard as I like to smash him up, since I shall not be able to prevent him from achieving social recognition, and so I shall not have done him any harm. If, on the other hand, my attempts to smash him up result in his failing to achieve social recognition, this will prove that he was not exceptional and therefore I shall have done no harm in smashing him up.’ If stated in terms of physical rather than intellectual well-being, few people would find this argument acceptable. ‘If I hit this man on the head with a hammer and he dies, it will prove he was so feeble he is no great loss. If I hit him on the head with a hammer and he does not die, I shall not have done him any harm because he will still be alive.’

Or she may have meant: ‘True despair comes only to those who have no longer any hope of being accepted by society; and the sooner this happens to someone the better.’

19 December 2006

Further comments on gifted children

(copy of a letter)

Dear H

I have sent you a draft of some comments [see previous post] on one of these appalling articles about plans for the oppression and persecution of gifted children, which is obviously quite bad enough as it is, having being getting worse all the time since the 1940s and 50s when it was already bad enough, in its early stages, to destroy my life and the lives of my parents.

As usual, one has to start by rejecting fictional rationalisations and it is made very difficult to get to the real issues. A thing that would be a real help to victims would be to repeal the powers of supervision and interference of local education ‘authorities’, which appear to have come in, in their present form, in the 1945 Education Act, and which give them ‘rights’ to inspect private as well as state schools.

I can never get anyone to tell me how these ‘rights’ are defined, but so far as I can gather, if a parent exercised the right - which he still has - to ‘educate’ his child at home, the local ‘authority’ could still write reports about him, visit his child at home (?), remove child for interrogation(?), etc.

And would it be possible for the child to enter itself for the taking of an exam without the permission of its parents or the local ‘authority’? This is the sort of freedom that would be of real help (and not ‘help’) to the precocious.

I have not written to the Editor of the Sunday Times offering to write a riposte to the article by Sian Griffiths, because I know from past experience that I would not even receive a reply.

"Helping" gifted children

Another terrible article about gifted children in the Sunday Times of Dec 17th, entitled: ‘How to stop a gift turning into a curse’ (by Sian Griffiths). Answer: you can’t, because gifted children are automatically cursed by being in a society that is hostile to ability, in fact to individualism in any form.

But, a person in the position of making arrangements for gifted children may hope, when they are thrown out at the end of their ruined ‘educations’ with no way of entering a suitable career, or of becoming rich enough to set up a suitable environment for themselves in which to achieve some self fulfilment, that they will be too psychologically smashed up to whinge about it.
Under the next £60m, four-year contract to CfBT (Centre for British Teachers), from next autumn, parents and teachers will get ‘credits’ to ‘spend’ on trips, exhibitions, lectures and extra teaching in and out of school.
Note that using these ‘credits’ to help the gifted take more exams at a younger age than normal is not mentioned.

This, I suppose, is the sort of ‘help’ for gifted youngsters on which the government proposes to spend more of taxpayers’ money. This, of course, will have the effect of increasing taxation of those, like myself, who are thrown out at the end with no tolerable way of earning money, and with a need to build up capital out of anything they can make for themselves to the point where they can provide themselves with the circumstances which they should have been able to obtain from a suitable career.

Thus, it may be seen that providing more ‘help’ for those who are in the clutches of the system, will be an added disadvantage to those whose lives have already been damaged by it, and are working, in circumstances already difficult and disadvantaged, towards remedying its effects.

It is absurd to suggest that the government, and the ideology in general, is not doing ‘enough’ to destroy the lives of the ‘gifted and talented’. If there were any real desire to help them, they might be provided with independent incomes, or, at the least, tax credits when they are thrown out with no way of earning even a living, let alone the cost of the institutional environment which they may need, as I certainly did and still do, within which to work towards a satisfactory and productive life. Actually, a large tax-free capital sum, entirely free of strings as to how it was to be spent, would be the best thing.

This organisation, called the Centre for British Teachers (CfBT), has been set up to provide destructive ‘help’ for the gifted. As a former, and present, victim of the system I can only say how much I deplore this development, and how strongly I advise the parents of the gifted, and gifted children and teenagers themselves, to shun and avoid all contact with it, as well as with state schools as in general.

18 December 2006

Christians' interest in other people

(copy of a letter)

I always notice it when other people appear to agree with something I have said, and wonder what they may be using it to reinforce, which is almost certainly something I don’t agree with.

You seemed to endorse the idea that Christians pretended to be interested in other people, and then you said that you did not mean this as a distinction from any other group of people, but that nobody was interested in other people. Well, of course, first of all you have to say what sort of interest you are talking about. People are, mostly, very interested in other people but in a negative and destructive way, which is usually rationalised as benevolent or altruistic.

However, Christianity is, at least in principle, preferable to the modern belief in society/socialism/collectivism/etc., which advocates only attitudes and ways of going on which are totally incompatible with being on a higher level. It is true that pre higher level I never thought of other people as very important, in the way that you are apparently supposed to. But, without paying any attention to it, I never cultivated any of the common forms of meanness or dishonesty, which seem to be positively favoured in the modern ideology.

If you can’t think of anything better, cultivating generosity towards people is, at least vaguely, higher level. But, of course, if it depends on a set of specific beliefs and not on having had a higher level (or, perhaps, cultivating some higher level realistic ideas pre-higher level) it is vulnerable to confusion with socialism and other forms of belief in society.

Christianity seemed to be advocating some form of post-higher-level psychology, and that would seem to be a bit better than nothing. Injunctions to generosity could, since the underlying motivation was likely to be very weak and conflicted, easily be used to produce guilt and repression, but those things are not so definitively anti-higher-level as the attitudes that believers in society seem to identify with.

12 December 2006

Counselling is the opposite of centralisation

(copy of a letter)

In a way it is interesting that the basic psychological manoeuvre of ‘counselling’ etc is so precisely the inverse of what goes into becoming centralised in a bad situation, in the way that produces remarkable developments and may lead to a higher level.

The recommended technique is not to think about what you have lost or been deprived of, and to have lots of interaction with other people. Your sense of identity is supposed to be derived from your acceptability to other people, and will inevitably reinforce your belief in society as a source of significance. And you are supposed to ‘move on’, not to remain in the same state of bereavement.

Well, I swore that I would never move on, I would always be trying to get back the same things in life I had always been aiming at. And I had to cut out of my life absolutely any vulnerability to what other people thought of me.

I had seemed for a long time to be accepted as a respectable bourgeois person; old-fashioned middle-class schoolteachers had been ‘friendly’ to me as if I was one of their club of that sort of person, and was going to continue to be in my future academic career.

But I was breaking a fundamental taboo, which persons of that kind never broke, in not waiting for society to tell me that I was the sort of person who should be entitled to the sort of life which I needed to have.

10 December 2006

More about the opposition

(copy of a letter)

I said we have to try to get value for money when anyone comes to work here, and I suppose I may be slandered as wanting people to work hard for low pay. But actually, of course, surrounded by a hostile society as I have been, it has been almost impossible for me to get anyone to do anything and what I have actually paid out for it in terms of money and effort has been very high.

This is part of what people would understand much better if they had any sort of continuous contact with us and did not just stay as far away as possible where they can maintain fictional social interpretations of our position.

I was starting from absolute scratch and knew that I would need to build up a lot of capital to create the most minimal residential college environment for myself. So although I have done much better than people expected, and they regret the minimal viability I have achieved, I still need to think in terms of capital progress, and it is still very seldom possible to make it, in spite of the very modest improvements in our position, which have been achieved in the teeth of the most violent opposition. Violent, that is, when there seemed to be any chance of my getting any improvement in my position in terms of either money or people.

So now the high-IQ ghetto can just about support itself in reasonable physical health, but without having enough manpower either to be academically productive or for life to be in any sense rewarding for us; it is still a case of trying to prevent everyone from going downhill as a result of trying too hard to do more than is really possible, because of course we feel that it is only by being as conspicuous as possible (sending up distress flares) that we have any hope of bringing ourselves and our need for workers and supporters to the attention of the very few sufficiently exceptional people who could bring themselves to have anything to do with us.

Surviving physically without sending up distress flares is really more than we can manage, so it is always easy for people to get run down trying too hard, as in the case of the recent publication of Fabian’s book, which was as abortive as usual.

We can’t expect anyone to find our ideas congenial; everyone has been brought up in modern oppressive society and believes in society, i.e. in the oppression of the individual. However, we are quite respectable people (on old-fashioned terms) and it is not illegal to criticise the prevailing ideology, although it arouses covert persecution. One has to think oneself lucky that the persecution is not of the overt variety which might result in one finding oneself in a forced labour camp.

04 December 2006

Despairing of society

(copy of a letter)

I think I ought to write down what I was saying to you when I last saw you, because it is so widely misunderstood. It is a lot easier to write about the despair of finiteness immediately preceding a higher level, but that is not really in ‘normal’ psychology at all, and what made it possible was the far more difficult and traumatic, but absolutely crucial, despair of society, in which I did effectively destroy the power of society, or any other person, to reward me by contributing to my sense of significance, which seemed a terrible loss at the time. I felt that I was destroying this irrevocably, and my life would be forever diminished by the loss, but at the same time I had no other way of extracting myself from the trap in which I had been caught.

However, this was in no way as people would like to imagine it, that you give up on wanting social success, prestige, status, opportunities, financial reward, etc. It is only that in order to retain your freedom from paralysing conflict in working towards these things in your now very disadvantaged position you have no option but to sacrifice what has become too great a burden.

As I was telling you, I had already had quite a long and precocious life as an apparently respectable and acceptable person, and I had expected that I should be able to pursue my objectives in life within the parameters of socially approved respectability. However, I realised that I was breaking too fundamental a taboo in abandoning any respect, however provisional or hypothetical, for social judgements and evaluations of one. One is very much given to understand that a respectable person waits for society’s imprimatur before considering oneself as suited to, or needing, a certain type of career, circumstances of life, scope for activities.

I found that it was no longer possible to do this, and I knew that I was going to go on aiming at exactly the same sort of life and reinstatement in the right sort of social position, however impossible it might come to appear.

So in a sense it is not even that one gives up hope; one is still aiming at the same thing, however improbable may appear the ways in which one has to work towards it. But one does abandon the unrealistic belief that the opinions of social authorities are in any way objective or realistic, or that one ought to be able to gain their approval before allowing oneself to identify with what one wants and needs to have.

Plenty of people do ‘give up’ on social approval in the commoner ways, which get you nowhere, and do become drop-outs pursuing some ‘alternative’ idealism.

This, however, is not potent, but the identification with not giving up on everything that you originally wanted, and still want, out of life and society, although you recognise that you cannot prevent other people from being hostile and opposing you in everything that you most want and need to have, is actually very centralising and has extraordinary psychological consequences.

01 December 2006

Blair's new "social contract"

One might think that the oppressiveness of society in this country had gone far enough and might already be regarded as having reached a ne plus ultra, since the country is no longer a place where one could wish to live. But horrors will never cease, and an article in The Guardian of November 24 carries the headline

Agreements between individuals and state on health, schools and police

‘Agreements’ indeed. As if I agreed to pay taxes towards the various forms of oppression; I am just forced to do so in order to comply with the law, however damaging or destructive I consider them (it) to be.

So now it is not going to be enough to pay taxes towards these forms of oppression, but if one tries to get anything out of them, the agents of oppression will demand even greater powers than at present to violate the basic moral principle* by imposing their demands upon any exercise of one’s own judgement about one’s priorities.

‘Parents might … be asked to sign individually tailored contracts with a school setting out what the parents must do at home to advance their child’s publicly-funded education’ – meaning, their child’s enforced exposure to what society sees fit to impose upon it. ‘Publicly-funded’ means publicly determined, it does not mean that the oppressive society at large pays to provide what you would choose to have. It is assumed to be a ‘good’ although it may be very harmful indeed.

But it is ‘good’ in the eyes of the oppressive society, which now claims the right to intrude on even more of the existing life of child and parents as well.

The medical ‘profession’ is already criminal anyway, so it hardly makes much difference that they wish to make decisions against your will about things that vitally concern the individual, and will withhold even such immoral treatment as they are prepared to give, unless the individual devotes long periods of time to living in accordance with their dictates.

‘A local health authority will only offer a hip replacement if the patient undertakes to keep their weight down.’ The patient is not to be allowed to decide for himself what risks he is prepared to take, although it is he who will suffer if the operation were to go wrong.

It is clear anyway that nothing can be done to make the medical profession acceptable, other than to abolish it completely. Of course there could still be formal qualifications guaranteeing a certain minimum of information, although perhaps it would inevitably be accompanied by indoctrination with unethical ideas. But no one should be limited to obtaining information, let alone prescriptions (permission to use pharmaceuticals), exclusively from oppressors who are ‘qualified’ by the passing of such exams.

The article starts with this remarkably euphemistic sentence:

A new contract between the state and the citizen setting out what individuals must do in return for quality services from hospitals, schools and police is one of the key proposals emerging from a Downing Street initiated policy review.

‘Quality services’ – whatever can this mean? What is provided by the state as what it wishes to impose on the individual is not a ‘service’, it is an oppression. And it cannot possibly be of any ‘quality’ in the sense that word may be used of something for which an individual might pay himself.

* Basic moral principle:
It is immoral to impose your interpretations and evaluations on anyone else.

The Jesuits and modern psychotherapy

(copy of a letter)

I was just watching a programme about Corneille on the French television, and it appears that his plays are supposed to show the influence of his Jesuit upbringing. The world is as it is, God wishes the world to be the way it is, we must accept our painful and restricted positions in the world as it is.

That sounds awfully like modern psychotherapy and ideology generally, substituting Society for God of course, but that is not much of a substitution, seeing how nearly identical these two concepts have usually been.

If anybody were to come and work here we would expect to be able to reward them at least as well as if they had quite a good ordinary or ‘proper’ job, but we are in a very disadvantaged position, and we have to say that people who might work here need to come as voluntary workers in the first instance.

They need to get to know about the situation as it is an unusual one, and they will appreciate how advantageous it could be for them much better when they have been in contact with it for some time. Which is, I suppose, one of the reasons why people cannot tolerate remaining in contact with us, and usually bugger off pretty rapidly as soon as they have realised that the social interpretations are not right. From their point of view, it is regrettably neither the case that we are too impoverished to pay them properly, nor that we are so well set up that we can throw money away without getting value for it.

The fact that we do not conform to the social interpretations (i.e. we are trying to improve our position, in working towards being a fully functional academic institution, against the will of society) is enough to most people want to go away quickly.

It is not possible for us to say exactly what permanent arrangements might arise until we discover whether somebody is willing and able to contribute usefully to the situation. Well set-up social institutions can afford to have employees who are performing a demonstration of how employees ought to proceed, which may not be contributing anything realistic at all. But socially set-up institutions exist to demonstrate that they are applying the ideology, not to get anything done.

30 November 2006

TV programme on Opus Dei

Saw French television programme on Opus Dei, implicitly very critical of it as a secret and insufficiently left-wing Catholic organisation, with many wealthy entrepreneurs among its members and supporters.

Many of its members were professional people, considering that they were contributing to the work by carrying out for the work of their professions as well as possible and with a respect for other individuals.

The concept of doing things as well as possible seemed to be an important part of it. The ladies who cleaned and made the beds in their hostels were meticulous, plumped up the cushions with care, and made sure the coverlets on the beds were absolutely straight.

This reminded me of the perfectionism with which everything was done at the Catholic convent school which I attended and which was in line with the way I habitually did things myself. My parents had always done things that way as well, being middle-class people with high IQs, and not demoralised (at least not on that level) by their frustrating lives.

Of course I had usually found myself doing things that presented no difficulty in themselves, but I had made them as interesting as possible by doing them perfectly, spacing my work neatly on the page, and so forth.

My first encounter with a different approach was when I was forced to attend the local state school and was vaguely horrified by the apparently deliberate sloppiness with which things were done, so that they were just, but only just, adequate for their purpose. Exam papers, for example, would be blurrily reproduced, not quite indecipherable, and skewed on the page but not actually off it.

The modern person demands that everything they do should be ‘interesting’ or ‘creative’, otherwise disaffection with it will be expressed by doing it inattentively. I don't myself see anything favourable in this attitude. We suffer a lot from this sort of outlook in people who work here, usually very briefly, or who talk about coming.

To a potential worker

(copy of a letter)

Dear Joe,

It would be nice if you would visit us because we want people to know about our situation and our need for people to work with us.

We are a developing and hopefully expanding organisation opposed by the bitterest social hostility; we say we are aiming at being an independent university with several research departments and a publishing company supported by a business empire. I think you need to know this so as not to misinterpret our present embryonic state, which can still do little more than some book publishing and investment. This results from the universal desire that we should be squeezed to death.

Our expansion depends very much on getting to know more people who might come and work with us, and we would like to have people coming as temporary or part-time workers to get to know the situation and spread the word about it among their acquaintances. People need to be unselective about the work they do; it is no use to us if people insist only on doing ‘creative’ or ‘interesting’ things. We need people to be willing to do whatever happens to be useful at the time, especially when they are starting with no knowledge of our office systems.

It is best if people come as voluntary workers, supporting themselves in the first instance, so they can get to know the work. It is only by people coming on a short-term basis that they can get to know about our position realistically, and even if this does not lead to their ever wishing to come permanently, at least they would be in a position to tell other people about our shortage of manpower.

When we say people should be prepared to support themselves in the first instance, this refers to their legal position. We would not want them to be uncomfortable before we could work out if any permanent arrangement was possible, and so long as they were doing a bit of work, would support them ourselves as friends.

We are situated in Cuddesdon, a pleasant village outside Oxford.

Please would you let us know your postal address, as we would like to send you some advertising pens and book leaflets for you to distribute.

28 November 2006

Dawkins and Nietzsche

Dawkins tells us that God is dead, but he is a little late. Nietzsche said this over a century ago, seeing that traditional religious and metaphysical ways of thinking were on the wane - leaving a void that science could not fill, and endangering civilisation.
In the early 1880s, when he wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche arrived at a conception of human life and possibility – and with it, of value and meaning – that he believed could overcome the Schopenhauerian pessimism and nihilism that he saw as outcomes of the collapse of traditional modes of religious and philosophical interpretation. He prophesied a period of nihilism in the aftermath of their decline and fall; but this prospect deeply distressed him. He was convinced of the untenability of the “God hypothesis”, and indeed of all the religious and metaphysical interpretations of the world and ourselves; and yet he was well aware that the very possibility of the affirmation of life was at stake, and required more than the mere abandonment of all such “lies” and “fictions”. He took the basic challenge of philosophy now to be to reinterpret life and the world along more tenable lines that would also overcome nihilism. (Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy)

Civilisation has destroyed itself in giving birth to the new religion of socialist materialism for which Dawkins speaks. Dawkins is, of course, attacking a straw man in criticising those who still entertain an unsophisticated kind of God and a creationist myth.

In reality, Dawkins is attacking something subtler and more profound than Christianity. He is attacking the individualism that still presumes to relate itself to reality rather than to other people, or to society.

An advantage in a life of adversity

(copy of a letter)

As I was saying, and perhaps should write about, the higher level was certainly a great advantage in the life of adversity that confronted me on leaving university. If I had not had a higher level I would have needed essentially the same things and needed to work towards them in the same ways, but it would have been a lot harder if I had still had the deficits and cravings with which I had arrived at Somerville. It was so long then since I had been able to get anything out of life that I needed to get something quickly, in many ways, and could not easily reconcile myself to further unrewarding chores.

I knew that the idea had been that as I was prevented from getting anything I wanted out of life, I would adopt the prevailing worldview as a compensation, but in fact it still presented itself to me as totally unattractive.

When hunger becomes too dominant it detracts from functionality. I suppose, however, that it was an advantage that my deprivations, although severe and painful, were not based on emotional deprivations in early life, as I think most people’s are.

Anyway, I cut other people or society out of my life as a source of significance, because I saw that any wish to derive support from that quarter was being used against me.

By the time I was thrown out without a usable qualification, and with no way of making a career, I was extremely well stoked up emotionally and all the deficits had been filled in. Which was just as well in the circumstances. If it had been otherwise, it is difficult to imagine how I could have been so pragmatic and extraverted in the terrible circumstances in which I found myself.

I was destitute and friendless in the world, my position was shocking. Every social contact was horrifying, and it was easy to imagine a protective reclusiveness. But I had derived from the higher level an assurance that there would be a way ahead and it would lead somewhere. This was where I found myself and I had to see how it might contribute to my return to an academic career. Disgraced and outcast as I was, I met everybody, explored every avenue, became aware of everyone’s attitudes and opinions. And saved money. I had a daily allowance for expenditure and at the end of each day the surplus was carried forward or transferred to permanent savings. My savings represented my freedom of action; one day there might be an opportunity and whether I was free to take it would depend on exactly how much money I had. Every penny counted.

Meanwhile I lived without an identity. I had been cheated out of the social position which I should have had, and now I was dead in the eyes of the world. At the SPR I was surrounded by professors and appalled to find myself - not only without the professorial status that I should have acquired myself, in less hostile society, at about 15 - but without any status or hope at all, being not even on a career track that could lead to a Professorship.

I was shocked and horrified, but I was well stoked up emotionally by the higher level, and I could proceed as purposefully as possible without deriving any feedback or reinforcement from anything I did or from any social reinforcement. That was the difference from when I arrived at Somerville. Having been thrown out, it did not do to think about how I appeared in anyone’s eyes, and I could proceed purposefully without doing so.

I realised for the first time how the despair which I continually rejected was being converted into anger when a member of the SPR Council commented on my dogged weariness and suggested I take a holiday. At least he might refrain from pretending that he cared about what was good for me. If he cared, he would be helping me to get back into the academic career that I should be having, with residential hotel facilities. I sold myself into slavery in the SPR office; I sold my life by the day, having nothing else to sell. Holidays were for Professors, not for slaves.

27 November 2006

What are universities for?

Letter from Professor Andrew Oswald of Warwick University to the Financial Times:

Competition in higher education is an excellent thing, but some of those quoted in your recent articles do not understand universities. A successful university has to make losses. For that reason, it must be supported by philanthropy or taxation.

First, our universities do not exist to discover how to make a quieter car, a brighter lipstick, or even a more informative newspaper. That is what companies are for. Much discussion in the UK over the past decade has suggested how valuable it is for universities to create commercial spin-offs and to license new patents. Such views are wrong.

Second, universities are not high schools for people who are older than 18. They do not exist primarily to educate.

Third, the main role of universities in a society is to find out new ideas and give them away. It is therefore a mistake to tell universities to make money or encourage them to set up private-training arms. Their job is to uncover those things that matter to the emotional prosperity of our world but that intrinsically will not be discovered by commercial organisations.

The carmaker and the lipstick designer both rely on basic chemistry. Yet they would never have paid for the periodic table. Society needs universities, moreover, as centres of wisdom that, when a globe is heating up, or a war is being considered, or a public health service is being designed, can do what they and no commercial organisation can do – to provide answers that are disinterested.

Outstanding universities cannot be for profit. They matter more than that.

In practice, a university exists for the promotion of an ideology. It does not exist so that people can get qualifications that will be of any real use to them, and it does not exist for the advancement of science. It exists as a centre for the dissemination of ideas which will contribute to the 'emotional prosperity of the world' - i.e. the downfall of civilisation and the abolition of individual liberty.

According to Professor Oswald, a university is a 'centre of wisdom' that is totally 'disinterested'. Those concerned in disseminating the wisdom are well provided with salary and status as socially-appointed disseminators of wisdom, and are able to be undistracted by a need to derive any other benefits for themselves or for any other individual from the application of their advice to important arrangements. In other words, they are completely free to accelerate the rush to destruction, on a global basis, of the human race.

’We appeal for £1m as initial funding for a social science department in our unrecognised and unsupported independent university. This would enable it to publish analyses of the unexamined assumptions underlying current discussion of the philosophy of education.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

The Prozac generation (2)

A survey by Norwich Union Healthcare reveals that GPs have seen a sharp rise in the number of teenagers with mental health problems over the last five years. It is thought that around one in ten now suffers mental illness. (Daily Mail, 17 November 2006)
If one in ten school-victims are now suffering from ‘mental illness’ (as diagnosed by socially appointed oppressors of humanity), I wonder how closely that is correlated with the top 10% of the population in terms of IQ? Of course, IQ is not recognised as a concept, and meaningful statistics are not available, as the ‘educational’ system would not wish to be regarded as responsible for providing the above-average with usable qualifications with which to have a suitable career in adult life.

17 November 2006

The Prozac generation

Daily Mail, 17 November 2006:

Parents are ‘bullying’ GPs into prescribing antidepressants for their children, according to a disturbing survey. Middle-class parents are among the worst culprits, especially those with children under pressure to do well at school. Family doctors also claim that ‘very poor’ NHS services are forcing them to prescribe drugs like Prozac for depressed children when counselling would be better. There is concern that children who are simply unhappy are labelled as depressed – leading to thousands getting drugs which may actually increase the risk of suicide.

The survey, by Norwich Union Healthcare, reveals that GPs have seen a sharp rise in the number of teenagers with mental health problems over the last five years. It is thought that around one in ten now suffers mental illness. The latest NHS guidelines advise doctors not to prescribe most antidepressants in the SSRI group to children, although they may still use Prozac. But the report says over a third of GPs feel under pressure from parents to provide a ‘quick fix’. London GP Dr Sarah Jarvis said:

‘I’ve certainly felt pressurised by parents, particularly those in middle-class families where the children are under pressure to perform academically. These children can put a lot of pressure on themselves, which can manifest itself as depression. They often have parents who are high-flying high achievers, used to being in control. They don’t have time to deal with their children’s problems and they feel guilty….’

My comments

  • It should be illegal for medical doctors or counsellors to have anything to do with children, as these agents of the collective are playing an oppressive and immorally abusive role.

  • Parents of children should not have to interact with immoral oppressors, such as doctors, in order to get ‘prescriptions’, i.e. to get permission to have any chemical resource they want to have.

  • Compulsory education is immoral and oppressive, and should be abolished.

  • Schools run by the state, i.e. financed by freedom which has been confiscated from members of the population, which may include parents of the victims themselves, should be abolished.

  • The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should be abolished.

  • The NHS and the medical profession should be abolished.

16 November 2006

Censorship and child psychiatry

The censorship is terrible. We just had a very obvious example of it. Obviously it militates invisibly against our books. But in this case Fabian wrote some comments on an article* about child psychiatrists. The article made the psychiatrists sound as barmy and irresponsible as I expect them to be, and this was so obvious that I am not sure what the author of the article intended. Children are getting more psychiatric? Schools are getting better at causing breakdowns in their pupils? More children are being drugged out of their minds? Or perhaps – capitalism and ambitious parents are reducing everyone, children included, to nervous wrecks?

Whatever the author intended, Fabian sent a comment (comments invited and assured of publication so long as on-topic and not abusive). Fabian’s comments were very mild by my standards and certainly not abusive, but suggested that there might be a bias in favour of interpreting anything exceptional as pathological (some of the 'deranged' children were a bit intelligent) and that if psychiatric cases were becoming so frequent among school children, should one not consider that the educational system itself might be at fault?

Fabian’s comment was put on and then removed. This is censorship. There is no possibility in modern society of criticising social authorities or the establishment such as doctors and schools; criticism will be suppressed.

* 'Troubled Children', New York Times 11 Nov 06

14 November 2006

Centralisation and the Nobel Prize

It is very difficult to say anything about higher level psychology without it leading to misinterpretations. For one thing it is very layered.

As I said, I got centralised by accepting that I had lost my destiny, I couldn’t make society give me any of the things of which it had seen fit to deprive me; I didn’t think that I ought to be able to, because other people were not under my control. I could not prevent everyone from being against me if they wanted to be.

There was nobody in my life any more. What mattered to me most was that if I could ever manage to get a Nobel Prize I wouldn’t be able to get anything out of it because I had no respect for the sort of people who awarded it as sources of significance or recognition. But I had to think I wouldn't, in order to be free to go on pursuing it in such hopeless circumstances. I was going to go on for ever pursuing the things that I might once have had easily; I still did not want anything except the open-ended mental landscape that I had once had.

Similarly, however much I had thought that my interests in finiteness were not worth defending, this only made my frustration the more intense at being in exile from academia and from opportunity, and I was appalled at my degradation among the Professors at the Society for Psychical Research in being deprived of the status which I should already have had myself for several years, and being treated as a statusless, young and female secretary. This prevented me absolutely from identifying with my social image in their eyes, or caring what any of them said or thought about me, and I could only apply all the drive I had to working towards reinstatement in a proper Professorship as soon as possible, even if the only ways I had of working towards it were useless in the eyes of society.

I believe the approved method for becoming reconciled to your position is not to think about the important issues, pretend you don’t mind and you haven’t anything against anybody who messed up your life, pursue beauty or intensity or happiness in a vacuum, and interact with lots of people. This is supposed to give you some sort of feeling of belonging or being valued, or something.

13 November 2006

Charles Morgan, forgotten novelist

I think Charles Morgan’s life must have gone wrong somehow, although he was a literary prize winning author. He was a classicist and (I guess, from the social class with which he is familiar) an aristocrat.

In spite of the elation of Sparkenbroke, he seems to have been more identified with the tone of defeated ordinariness characteristic of his other books.

Nevertheless, Sparkenbroke came as a breath of fresh air to me at 14, when I was sinking under the oppression of Woodford High School and both my present wellbeing and future prospects were severely threatened. Here was someone who was getting something out of life, in a hotel environment and free to use his ability. How wonderful. It reminded one that life could be worth living, but provided no solution to getting it back in bad circumstances.

The only other writer I got anything out of was Nietzsche. But he, too, reminded me of an emotional intensity that was desirable, with no suggestion as to how it was to be re-accessed.

I remember a poem out of Sparkenbroke, I suppose written by Morgan himself, which seems a bit more meaningful now than it did then.
Man is a king in exile;
All his greatness
Consists in knowledge
of that kingdom lost,
Which, in degree of quickness,
Is his fate and character on earth.

12 November 2006

On the proposal to raise the school-leaving age

There is a proposal to raise the school-leaving age to 18. How truly terrible. Incarceration, and exposure to social hostility, from 5 to 18!

Yet another blow against the intelligent and driveful. In the case of a person with an IQ of 150, no release from prison until the mental age of 27. Schools are no longer a place that is suitable for the academically inclined, and I would recommend most people, whether academically inclined or not, to leave school at the earliest possible age and concentrate on becoming as rich as possible by business or investment. If he/she builds up a cushion of capital, he can then think about cultural, intellectual or artistic interests. (He could come and join my consortium, even if only temporarily, which might give him some constructive ideas!)

There is, as usual, no consideration for mental age. A person with an IQ of 180 reaches a mental age of 18 when he has a chronological age of 10. It is already the case that many with IQs above average become too disenchanted with the school experience and leave school as soon as they can, rather than staying on to try to get to university. As the school and university experience becomes increasingly trivial and demoralising, so the desire to extend and enforce it becomes stronger in those with the power to legislate for this.

If it were possible to leave school as soon as a certain level of proficiency at reading, writing and arithmetic has been attained, as it was in my grandfather’s day (who had a high IQ and left school at 12), it is easy to imagine that many of the brightest might leave school at about 8 and set about making their way in the world.

Who is to pay for the extra two years of incarceration, by the way? Taxation has already reached a level at which it is difficult to see how more can be squeezed out of the productive population, except by such ingenious measures as:
- fining parents for the misdemeanours of their children, who are being trained at school in discontented rebelliousness against property-owners, or
- fining the parents for failing to force their children to attend the schools when they have no wish to do so.

And who is to say that the ways in which these children want to spend their time would be more damaging than time spent in school?

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position. I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.

06 November 2006

More about taking exams

(copy of a letter)

Whenever I meet people I get reminded of things I need to say about my present and past life which might seem to me too obvious to state explicitly. This is useful in a way; I am still trying to squeeze out my autobiography (up to the age of 21) and other books with painful slowness, and one day will try to force them upon the attention of society.

You said “I must have been pleased" about getting a distinction in the mock maths exam when I was 14. A point that escaped everyone’s attention then, and still does, was that it illustrated how realistic was my bitterness at the contrast between the rate at which I could and should have been acquiring qualifications if I had not been caught by an age-limit (so that I could not even quarrel with people to be allowed to take the exams I proposed to take instantly), and the supervised slow-track of sensory deprivation (doing far too few subjects) into which I had been forced against my will.

You said I had "only done schoolwork" in physics and chemistry. That was the cunning of the conspiracy against me (whether conscious or subconscious). If I was never allowed to get any qualifications for real, I could never prove to anyone how close I had been to taking them. You said "I had read the A-level textbooks". Well, actually, only skippily, but I could see they would be no problem – nor would there be with any degree level textbooks I had managed to obtain. Reading them for real when there was a real goal in prospect would take a few weeks for each subject – say a couple of months for the degree-level exams to be really generous – and I did not want to spoil things for myself by doing anything prematurely, i.e. before it was a matter of preparing for a real, public exam as fast and as hard as possible.

Other people with high IQs sometimes do the same thing, however they rationalise it to themselves. Fabian, for example, made jokes in the back row at lessons at his boring and demoralising school, to pass the time as best he could, and did not do any work until the exam was imminent. Then, preparing for the exam was a challenge (in the old-fashioned sense – not the sense in which gifted children are nowadays said to ‘need challenging’ by sadistic teachers) and what got him distinctions on his S-level (scholarship level) papers was a few weeks of really intensive work.

Remember, this is the high-IQ ghetto.

As the decades have passed, things have got worse. Now there is even more conflation of supervised preparation with exam-taking. It is true that in the end I could not overcome the adverse effects of the nightmarish stress of taking only one degree exam, too late in life, in the subject most vulnerable to stress. The exam-taking was the only potentially positive part of the operation, but by then my situation was too bad. What had made it so was the long years of supervised frustration. So of course it is no solution at all to use the stress of the final exam as an excuse for eliminating it altogether and substituting the supervised ‘preparation’ as being what the degree is about. This supervised ‘preparation’ was the bad part of it that finally made it impossible for me to recover sufficiently for the exam-taking part.

Inverting the situation as usual, of course they increasingly want to spare candidates the possibility of stress in the exam by making their degree depend entirely on the supervised preparation, whereas in fact a complete disjunction is required. What is needed is the possibility for taking or retaking the exam without preliminary social interference.

As it was, I knew that the stress had become too great and tried to secure a fail-safe strategy for myself so that I could go on and take another degree immediately in maths or otherwise if I did not do well enough. But everyone wanted it to be a matter of life or death, so that the stress would be as bad as possible, and no one would give me any financial or even moral support in my attempts to set up a fail-safe plan.

So I knew I could count on no support from anyone; but even so I could not have foreseen that the furious hostility and desire to degrade vented upon me would be as bad as it eventually was.

I have known of other people at Somerville who had always done well in exams by coming over inspirational at the last moment, and hoped/expected to be able to do this for their final degree exam, but found that they could not generate the motivation at so late a stage in their lives, and got seconds instead of firsts.

It is easier to work for reward than to avoid punishment, and working to avoid a punishment of unthinkable horror (which is what exile from an academic career was for me) may be totally incapacitating.

05 November 2006

Data rape

Labour faces further accusations of ‘Big Brother’ tactics over claims that the police and security services will be able to access anyone’s medical records. Highly sensitive information on mental illness, abortions, pregnancy, HIV status, drug-taking and alcoholism will be stored on a national NHS computer database from as early as next year. The plans, part of the Government’s troubled £20 billion NHS computer programme, have been condemned as ‘data rape’ by civil liberty campaigners. At present, police can persuade GPs to divulge facts about their patients or insist on a court order. But under the new system, data would be disclosed centrally and anonymously at the touch of a button.

At the moment, 50 million confidential patient files are held on paper by family doctors. These will soon be loaded on to a central computer system called Spine – whether patients agree or not. Dr Richard Vautrey, from the British Medical Association, warned: ‘If patients don’t have confidence in the national IT system and the way the information is revealed, then they will be reluctant to share those details and that will undermine the confidence they have in their GPs.’
(Daily Mail, 2 November 2006)
Does anybody have ‘confidence’ in their GPs now? Well, more fool they. It has always been the case that what you told to your GP in ‘confidence’ would be freely transmitted to any other member of the medical Mafia, only not to people outside it (though even that was no doubt violated). I have been told various things about other people which were allegedly passed on by their doctors.

And, of course, confidentiality towards other doctors was what was most important to you, because if you got fed up with your GP’s refusal to let you have what you wanted, you would want to be able to start completely afresh with another socially authorised oppressor of humanity.

Even if it was pretty certain that he would think in exactly the same way as the GP from whom you wished to release yourself, at least you wanted to be sure that previous interpretations and misinterpretations would not be passed on, but that you could at least start afresh with presenting your own case in the most favourable way to a tabula rasa, even if it was a tabula rasa with the same basically sadistic psychology and motivation, combined with an equally low IQ.

03 November 2006

Developing an observer

(copy of a letter)

Well, if you want to develop a 'soul', or whatever, you could try the following.

Gurdjieff sets great store by developing an ‘observer’; that is, you regard yourself as something that is watching what is going on in your mind. This is probably a prerequisite for centralisation or existential perception. This means you don’t identify with your psychology, it is something you observe. You don’t feel responsible for what you observe in your psychology, because you can’t prevent it from being there. This is often very difficult, because people do feel that their psychology is what they really are, and any part of it which they regret or think other people might disapprove of may give them serious feelings of worthlessness and despair.

There is a lot of social influence in the direction of making people feel that they ought to be able to control what is in their own psychology or to apply some fictitious sticking plaster to cover it up, but this is not helpful. People might eventually get a bit more freedom of choice about what they want to reinforce or manipulate, but that isn’t likely to happen while they are still feeling responsible for what they are observing. More often than not there are things which they are trying to change instead of observing them, and trying to feel differently about. This is both decentralising and deprives you of a lot of emotional energy, although it can be very difficult to get into the right position.

People often feel that their life has been ruined in some way or another and if they see how bad it is and how irrevocable they are afraid it is, they will give up, so it is better not to see it too clearly. Then, of course, one has to cultivate realism, but this is often not obvious because a lot of things are peddled as realistic attitudes which are not. People generally have a lot of value judgements and don’t think that there may be exceptions. E.g. going to school is always a ‘good thing’, doctors are always trustworthy, universities are infallible.

Any value judgements that have a certain amount of social support are likely to be occlusive but one can avoid becoming identified with them by remembering that in any given case there may be a large number of factors which you can’t begin to evaluate, possibly including some inconceivable ones. Of course, in the examples I have given it is not difficult to imagine counter examples; you only have to envisage the possibility of one irresponsible and incompetent doctor. Any value judgements that imply ‘shoulds’ are particularly dubious.

30 October 2006

No advantages, no money, no people

Everything that has ever happened to me works very well on the hypothesis that everybody knows that I am to get no real advantages ever that can possibly be prevented. Any amount of persecution and opposition is OK, but no money, no people to work for me.

This is still the case. As I was thrown out 50 years ago absolutely destitute, with no career, no tolerable way of earning money, no capital with which to do investment, no friends or supporters who would give me money or support my attempts to get it, I felt the pinch very severely, and of course it is still very depressing (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) for everyone here that the brick wall remains so absolutely impervious, and there is no reason to hope that it will ever get less so.

Beating our heads against the brick wall, I mean attempting to interact with the social environment in any way (e.g. by publishing a book, giving a seminar, or meeting a new potential associate), is always just an expenditure of effort and a crushing reminder that nothing has changed; one is still non-existent in the eyes of society and of every individual microcosm of it (except as an object of attack and persecution).

It takes a lot of energy to withstand and recover from the effects of this, every time it happens, and to lick our wounds in preparation for our next tiny onslaught on the barriers erected around us by a hostile society.

But, anyway, that is how it is. It seems as if every individual knows, and has access to a computer database for working out, that we must never secure a net advantage from any interaction with a person, so they will only work on penal terms, or leave quickly if there is any chance of their becoming a positive factor.

It is rather like the exam-taking process. It seemed as if it was something from which I would be able to secure real benefits, but other people were involved; I was not a free agent, and the whole process could be made into a negative.

Stockbrokers assessing your "needs"

Ever since I was thrown out ruined at the end of my ‘education’ (actually a period of incarceration in which I had been deprived of freedom) I have found the only elements in the situation from which I could get any positive benefit in my efforts to repair my situation, were the higher level toleration and endurance of extremely negative circumstances, and the free market system, insofar as it was still free in a virtually communist society.

My efforts to get any feedback out of other people by trying to do work in bad circumstances, or write books in bad circumstances, that might induce them to reward me with status and income, have turned out so far to be absolutely abortive.

This country long ago passed the point of no return as a country in which I would be living except under duress. It used to be the case that, although everyone wanted to make sure you did not get any money (freedom of action), once it was in your possession you were free to use it to try to improve your position, or give it to other people to use as they saw fit to improve their position.

Now stockbrokers are supposed to ‘assess’ your position and needs, and prescribe for you what risks (as defined by stupid 'trained' financial experts – about as reliable a guide to beneficial outcomes as stupid educational experts) are appropriate for you to be permitted to take. This is, I have to keep repeating, a violation of the basic moral principle, which is that it is immoral to impose your interpretations and evaluations on anyone else, and you should always leave a person as free as possible to react to the uncertainties of the existential situation.

Now things have gone so far that a stockbroking firm is seen in the press defending itself from criticism by asserting that it refuses to sell speculative US shares to people over 80.

This is indeed an oppressive society. It could easily be the case that a ruined academic, having failed to make much headway over a grim lifetime, saw so-called ‘speculative’ investment as their last chance to become rich enough to set up an independent university department and residential college in which to live again, at least for the last ten years of their life, and if they failed in that before the age of 82 or 85, they might well prefer to commit suicide. Not that I would do so myself; I don’t have a suicidal personality.

Plenty of people, not only outcast academics, might well regard speculative investment as their last chance of having whatever they want to get out of life.

There are also increasingly penal restrictions on the amount of money which you are able to give to other people without taxation, depending on subjective assessment by tax inspectors (probably of working class origin) of whether you are giving money to another person ‘regularly’ and ‘without affecting your own standard of living’. Whether or not the recipient is in a disadvantaged position in society (relative to his actual and realistic needs) does not enter into it. In a civilised society, the donor should be free to form his own opinion of objective hardship which he is aiming to relieve by giving money to someone else.

A mock maths exam

(copy of a letter)

Perhaps I should attempt to explain the true context when I refer to my useless little bits of apparent success in a social context. ‘You must have been pleased’, you said of my distinction mark in a mock maths exam. Well, it had been a mildly pleasant and enlivening way of spending the few days of unsupervised preparation, a brief holiday from my increasingly desolate and wearing life in the Sixth Form with no exams to prepare for. (This was after I had been prevented from taking the School Certificate exam and hence delayed in registering as a candidate for London University external degrees.)

Although enlivening, in these few days I did not reach as high an energy level as I could have been experiencing every day if I had taken the School Certificate and proceeded to take as many exams as possible as fast as possible. I was also bitterly aware that it was not an exam I had taken for real and could put on my CV. I was thoroughly browned off with coming top of school exams, with nothing permanent to show for the effort that had been put into them, and I did not want to have to do any more of it. It just added to my disaffection with anything not done for real and in the context of a public exam.

Then again, it was a reminder of the right way of doing maths, but I had no way of changing my circumstances so that I could stop doing everything in the worst possible way. I had no right to make decisions about my own arrangements, although my mental age (a concept not yet censored out of existence) was no less than 21 (if my IQ had been 150), not less than 25 (assuming an IQ of 180 which I had been said to have), and not less than 35 assuming an IQ of 250 (which might reasonably have been guessed from my early reading).

25 October 2006

Dawkins, Oxford ideology, and God

Oxford is the ideological centre of this country and Richard Dawkins continues to attack a very crucial element in pre-higher level psychology. In fact the whole of modern ideology is designed to eliminate any possibility of higher-level psychology.

Some time ago, Richard Dawkins declared it is more harmful to bring up a child as a Catholic than to abuse it sexually.* This is because Catholics are supposed to believe, and to teach children to believe, that certain things are the case which cannot be experimentally verified or (which is actually more important, although he does not say it) verified to be in agreement with the social consensus.

What Dawkins is really asserting, on behalf of the modern ideology, is that:
a) there is no God in any sense (other than perhaps that of ‘society’ acting as a god-substitute) and
b) nothing inconceivable can exist.

He wants to eliminate entirely any tendency to notice, however fleetingly, the uncertainties actually present in the existential situation, which might possibly develop into an interest in reality in a sense other than ‘other people’.

It is true that people of his ilk sometimes refer to ‘reality’ in the sense of the physical world, and life forms other than human, as something which gives them feelings of sublimity and transcendence. People such as Dawkins tend to say things like: ‘Why should anyone need an unrealistic religion, when we can lose ourselves in admiring the wonders of nature, which is so much more special than we are ourselves, and makes us feel thoroughly unimportant’.

Actually Catholicism does, or at least did, tend to provide people with some openness to the idea that there might be an extended reality beyond their immediate sense data. Of course this was combined with some psychological drawbacks which were designed to prevent anyone from going too far in the direction of taking an interest in reality, but this could hardly be otherwise in a system designed for mass consumption.

Certainly the psychological drawbacks are no more than are provided to those brought up with the more implicit belief systems of various forms of atheism.

Explicit beliefs are much easier to consider objectively and possibly to reject than are implict beliefs which are being foisted on the schoolchildren of socialist and communist countries, to some extent by systems of compulsory education, before these children can be expected think for themselves. Even as adults they usually do not think for themselves anyway. Independence of mind and analytical thought occur rarely, even in high-IQ adults. But it is certainly much harder work to see through a belief in society, since this involves defining the implicit beliefs before you can criticise them, than to see through a belief in God, in the sense which Richard Dawkins ascribes to that concept.

The God of Richard Dawkins is a loose association of characteristics derived from mass religions, such as Catholicism. This God has directed the course of development of life forms, must be available to receive and answer prayers and forgive sins, and is also supposed to have strong feelings about the ways in which human beings treat one another.

This is not necessarily a bad sort of God for a mass religion to have, but it is easily made to sound absurd by the fact that evolutionary processes can be accounted for on the basis of the laws of physics, and that when people do crude experiments on the efficacy of prayer, these are usually inconclusive. (For example, you have some people in hospital prayed for by a number of people and triumphantly demonstrate that a matching number of hospital patients who are not prayed for do not fare any worse.)

So, of course, it is easy for Richard Dawkins to show that there is no experimental evidence for the existence of God, and hence that it is harmful to bring children up to believe that God does exist. What he, and the modern ideology in general, are really aiming at is to make it impossible, or socially taboo, to allow mental space to any speculative ideas about reality beyond the world of everyday experience, as it is normally experienced.

It is supposed to be damaging to bring people up to believe in the infallibility of the Pope (if they still are) or to have to tell their doings to a priest in order to be absolved from their sins. It is, on the other hand, quite OK to bring them up to believe in the infallibility of the state and its agents, who supervise and interfere in every aspect of their lives and the lives of their parents, taking them into ‘care’ if their parents are not assessed as having a suitable outlook.

There is to be a massive data base on which will be recorded every particular ever observed about every child born in this country by any agent of the collective, so that in their future lives all authorised agents of the collective will be fully informed of any assessment, motivated or otherwise, that has ever been foisted upon these children, and their evil tendencies can be monitored and checked (if considered necessary) by drugging or incarceration when they reach a more mature age.

* The Dubliner magazine, October 2002

24 October 2006

The Da Vinci code and Gnostic Christianity

(copy of a letter)

My next seminar will be on the Da Vinci Code. As I am so suppressed and deprived of status that no one is interested in my views, my name has no pulling power, so I give seminars on topics that do, or may do. I can use the Da Vinci Code as a bait because I happen to have become fairly well-informed about the early part of the historical development of Christianity.

It appears that there was a massive cover-up operation, which lasted for centuries and could be said to have continued to the present day.

In the process of surviving my ‘education’, which was in fact a tremendous psychological onslaught, I realised that human psychology has possibilities which are usually and almost universally suppressed. This is certainly a very strange state of affairs, and I do not see how you account for it in terms of evolution.

You referred to Buddhism; well, of course, I hold no brief for Buddhism and, as I said, if there were a higher level influence at the origin of it, it has had even longer than in the case of Christianity for all the dangerous psychological insights to be suppressed. As the psychology involved depends on very fine criteria and is difficult to convey in any useful way, the suppression takes place very easily.

However, since the Gospel of Thomas does contain some recognisable descriptions of this sort of psychology in a highly evolved state, it is possible for someone who knows about it to speculate about what was actually suppressed, so that one has some views on the plausibility of the various traditions. And that is good enough to make a seminar out of.

I am afraid that those who have come to earlier versions of this seminar were not interested in knowing more about my ideas, or about my incipient independent university as a place in which to make a career, or even work temporarily. What most of them saw in it was probably confirmation of their socialist atheism and rejection of old-fashioned religions, since one certainly cannot regard Christianity has having a well-founded historical basis.

23 October 2006

More about my time at the SPR

(copy of a letter)

Well, as I explained about the way my mind works in picking up on a new area, I may as well say that this is actually relevant to the way I do research, or would do it if not prevented, in any field.

I have always been slandered as being ‘interested’ in parapsychology in the way in which other people are. Actually I went to the SPR (Society for the Prevention of Research) under duress, because my parents, acting as agents of the collective, were putting me under pressure to support myself (‘earn a living’) as a person who no longer had any right to try to find any way of getting into an academic career.

I went there for purely financial reasons, hoping that by selling myself into degraded slavery in this way I might save a little money towards supporting myself when I returned to Oxford as a freelance outcast academic.

I knew nothing about what was going on in ‘the subject’ and I was picking everything up from scratch, but in fact I took in all the information that was going, including psychological and psychiatric, and my mind started to re-structure it, as it does, into potential fields of research in which I might be able to make progress.

My mind automatically discarded nearly everything that the ‘psychical researchers’ were preoccupied with, especially the preoccupation with spiritualistic models, survival, evidentiality, and ‘proof’.

I may say that, while I attempted to be open-minded, I have never found it necessary to invoke spiritualistic concepts when considering the reported experiences.

You said that all this fraud was designed to put people off the subject, and I agree that it is. But I did not consider people’s rationalisations as any guide to their motivation.

Those who concern themselves with parapsychology are as disinclined as anyone else to let anything potentially disturbing be found out. The fact is that some of the reported phenomena are close to issues which people find alarming.

The difference between stress and pressure

"There is a big difference between stress and pressure. Pressure is when you have made a speech in public, for example, and feel good about it. Stress is the feeling you never want to do that again."
(quoted by Andrew Smith from interview with Mark Johnson, Director of CEBO Corporate, In Business magazine, a supplement to the Oxford Times, October/November 2006)

Interesting use of the words ‘pressure’ and ‘stress’, analogous to that of ‘pushing’ and ‘stretching’. You could say that people wanted to save me from the ‘pressure’ of being allowed to take as many exams as possible, as young as possible, and as fast as possible, in order to expose me to the ‘stress’ of having to try to avoid being thrown out at the end of my ‘education’ without any usable qualification at all, and sent to Devil’s Island for life.

The definition of ‘stress’ quoted above is questionable. Isn’t it more the fear of being unable to avoid an intolerable situation from which you have no means of escape, and which you have no practicable way of averting?

As even this article puts it: "Mr Johnson has experience of working for big companies undergoing takeovers which can be highly stressful for people worried about their jobs."

We know that the modern ideology does not accept that any suffering or hardship arising from an unsuitable social position can be objective.

Mr Johnson is quoted as saying, of those facing the loss of their jobs, "At the end of the day, it is about responsibility and talking about the things you find difficult."

Odd use of the word ‘responsibility’. You must take ‘responsibility’ for pretending that you are not suffering from an objective deprivation, which can only be relieved by a change of circumstances. In other words you must take ‘responsibility’ for being unrealistic in the socially required way. If you are realistic, in the sense of recognising how seriously bad your position is, you are not being ‘responsible’ on social terms, and society, no doubt, will offer you ‘help’ in the form of counselling and mind-bending drugs. At the top of this article, Mr Johnson is said to have been "helping people cope with stress for 20 years." That should really be ‘helping’, in scare quotes.

22 October 2006

Degree-taking a dead loss

(copy of a letter)

Well, you may say a second class degree in maths is some good, and of course that was what everyone wanted to make me accept at the time (instead of offering me any help) when I was just aware of being thrown out empty-handed. But the fact was that since it did not get me into the sort of academic career which I absolutely needed to have (residential, with hotel facilities, and socially statusful, such as a Fellowship or Professorship) it was useless to me. I hadn’t got anything out of doing the work for it either, because it had for many years been a case of working without any motivation, in fact in a state of nightmarish stress which reduced my functionality to the lowest possible ebb.

If you neither get anything out of the experience, in fact you get negative experience, and you are left without any usable qualification to provide you with entry to the sort of career which you need to have, and without any tolerable way of supporting yourself at all, then doing a degree is a dead loss. And the B.Litt and D.Phil were, in neither case, positive experiences. They were both just attempts to struggle back towards the sort of career which I needed to be having by doing some tedious and pointless work in bad circumstances, and they produced no result in providing me with academic position or salary, or even access to funding to do research in my own independent academic institution. So all my degrees, so far as I am concerned, were a dead loss, although the maths was the most agonising.

Drinks party

We gave another drinks party, talking about our real position and need for people; audience totally unresponsive, as usual, in fact probably internally agaces.

Fabian says: there is no way we can get our position across to the outside world. We will not get anyone to work for us who is any good except for a miracle.

How does he know that?

I knew, even before I was thrown out, that there was no sympathy being expressed for the predicament of outcast intellectuals, but I did not foresee that there would be none at all, in fact hostility as soon as people guessed at one’s true position.

So, no, I have never thought it possible for a person like me to have even a tolerable, as opposed to excruciatingly intolerable, life, outside of a high-flying career in a university. In exile from it I have never been able to contemplate earning money in any other way, and I have had to aim at recreating for myself conditions identical with those which I should have been having in the best sort of university career.

The first essential has always been to work towards the hotel environment of a residential college, plus administrative and secretarial facilities.

As this appears to be an immediate turn-off to people, we have to try to publicise ourselves as widely as possible, to find the very unusual, miraculous people who might actually want to help us. In this we are opposed by social forces which wish us to remain as inconspicuous as possible so that it remains maximally easy for our situation to be misinterpreted by the largest possible proportion of the population.

19 October 2006

Claustrophobia in Bournemouth

(This is a piece of autobiography.)

In my first year at Somerville College I was in a bad way. My life was blackly nightmarish; everything positive had been squeezed out of it long ago by the adverse arrangements that had been imposed upon me.

In one of the vacations, my parents took me to a self-catering apartment in Bournemouth. I remember it, although only faintly, as an experience of the utmost unhappiness and desolation. Existential illumination was a thing of the past; it belonged in my happy former life.

One night in bed I had a headache, which would not go away. Remaining completely still quietened it and it gradually subsided, but any movement re-aroused its throbbing intensity, and a long period of patient immobility was necessary to quieten it again. I began to have existential claustrophobia. Here I was, trapped in a little cave behind my eyes, not free to move and aware only of the presence or absence of pain. My life was hopeless and terrible, my parents cold and hostile. And I was stuck in a kind of reality that I knew nothing about. All that I was sure of was the total uncertainty.

I had a sort of principle of not trying to terminate existential perceptions, shocking though they might be; they were, after all, realistic. But usually in the past they had quickly ended of themselves; as if my mind automatically blocked out too great an intensity of intolerability, rather like blowing a fuse.

Now, however, the claustrophobia, like the headache, persisted and I lay in my enforced stillness wondering when it would come to an end. I became desperate and wondered whether to go and wake my parents. But what would be the use of that? They did not know anything either about what anything was about. I did not even know if they were real beings with separate consciousnesses. For all I knew, they might be only images in my dream. So no relief was to be sought from them.

But eventually I thought that I must find a way of stopping this. I had always thought that my drive to do research arose out of my perceptions of existential unknowability.

So I said to the claustrophobia: ‘Couldn’t you call it off for the moment? I don’t see that I am getting any more out of this than I have already got. I am in a terrible situation and I don’t know anything, but there isn’t anything I can do about it. There is no way of finding anything out.’

‘However, I think the only answer is to say that I will do research. And I will. The way ahead of me is pretty hopeless and I don’t know exactly how, but I will do research, or at least I will always be trying to find a way. So is that all right and do you think you might stop now?’

The claustrophobia ebbed miraculously and I thought, ‘That seems to confirm that I got that psychological connection right.’

18 October 2006

Further reflections on Christianity

(copy of a letter)

You seemed to agree that there was a parallel between the ‘happiness’ aimed at by Cognitive Therapy and that of Catholicism, both achieved by a resolute disregard or repression of the problems. However, I think there are also differences ...

It would appear that Saint Paul, and anyone else concerned in putting together the package that has survived as modern Christianity, did not get a higher level. But it must be supposed that he, or they, had an insight into what would make an idea system widely acceptable, and many elements in Christianity probably appeal to psychological syndromes which I do not understand. The trap was baited with genuinely positive and attractive higher level side-effects, although in a weak and unmotivated form.

By the ‘higher level’ side-effects I mean the freedom from anxiety and consequent capacity to enjoy life, as well as the association of this enjoyment with contexts in which the belief in an assured and expansive future is reinforced by social solidarity (this latter association not being higher level). This focuses emotional interest on the social, but without one’s self being so strongly defined by one’s power to refuse others what they want - as it is in the case of the successful exponent of cognitive therapy. It is the enjoyment of this power to refuse that seems to constitute the emotional reward offered by the otherwise bleak cul-de-sac landscape of the reductionist socialist.

The exponents of cognitive therapy, materialistic monism, socialist reductionism, etc. do not bait their trap in this way (with ‘higher level’ side-effects) but, I think, more implicitly with the power of refusal towards other people (‘Learn to say No’), and the observation of their oppression by society and their finite (especially physical) condition.

Of course this is not explicitly expressed as an attraction. In practice, however, there is a strong tendency to obstruct and frustrate other people, especially when they know what they want. I think this is a crucial element in the psychodynamics.

Making lists of the few people who have provided any favourable influence in my life, however temporary, ambivalent and halfhearted, and those who have tirelessly opposed me with energetic and enduring motivation, the favourable list is almost universally Christian or ex-Christian, with a high proportion of Catholics, and the list of inveterate enemies almost universally atheistic and socialist.

(It is also the case that upper-class men dominate the list of feeble supporters, and women and a lower-class man the list of tireless antagonists.)

16 October 2006

Catholicism compared with cognitive therapy

Further to my previous post on Catholicism, one may make a parallel between the Catholic joie de vivre, and the 'happiness in a vacuum' that is supposed to result from cognitive therapy, but actually I think their psychodynamics and side-effects are different. Of course, in neither case do I have any direct introspective insight, and can only infer from observation.

But I do think that an openness to the incalculable possibilities of the existential situation is a very important psychological factor, although it seldom (virtually never) goes so far as it did in my case, and I think that a rigorous rejection of it is implicitly or explicitly included in the psychodynamics of modern reductionism.

In the article about me on Wikipedia I am described as advocating thorough-going scepticism. That is not at all an accurate way of putting it. If forced to write about philosophy, which I would only wish to do for career advancement (however unsuccessfully), I am bound to express the sceptical position. But I know that psychologically it does not lead to open-mindedness about the situation, and when applied to the social situation it is usually used to facilitate the rejection of bourgeois, libertarian ideas in favour of immersion in anarchistic reductionism.

Unfortunately I think it is the case that when people abandon or become critical of Christianity, whether Catholic or not, they usually make the same transition from whatever open-mindedness they ever had to believing that there is no Outside, in adopting some version of the belief in society.

It is not necessary to believe anything in particular to notice that there is an Outside; as far as I was concerned up to the time I got a higher level, it was merely realistic to do so. Up to that time what I meant by saying there was an Outside was that the existential situation was clearly inconceivable, so that what existed was not limited by the conceptual range of the human mind. One supposed that there was some inconceivable substructure to the existential situation but there was no reason to suppose that it was accessible to a human mind, or that it was in any way of relevance to oneself.

15 October 2006

Catholicism as a social club

Although my parents were atheist/agnostic socialists, I had much more contact with Catholicism than with any other ideology or religion when I was growing up. We lived in Ilford from the time I was 6 onwards, and there were quite a lot of Irish Catholics in that area. We lived next door to an Irish Catholic family and I was fairly familiar with their outlook even before I went to the convent.

I think the convent was a mistake on my parents’ part, because they did not want me to be pushed, i.e. given any opportunity, and they thought a convent school would be uninterested in academic achievement and probably pay more attention to social graces and moral uplift. However, in one respect they got it right. I remember my mother saying that it was a happier school than the State county high school nearby in Ilford.

In fact, I think everyone outside Catholicism has got it completely wrong, including those former Catholics (such as Karen Armstrong) who are scathingly critical from the point of view of the modern ideology, which is supposed to represent the ideal point of view.

People pick on aspects of it which can be seen as authoritarian, guilt-inducing, masochistic, or sacrificial. But as a matter of fact I think that what gives it its hold over people who are brought up in it, is that it provides people with a way of being happy in an elite society of happy people who know that, whatever their circumstances may be, everything is all right and their future is assured.

I have heard that Catholicism is abandoning its catechism, which is probably another indication that it is offering no real resistance to the modern ideology, and is losing or has lost such psychological advantages as it had.

Right at the beginning of the catechism as taught to young children, and as I heard it in the first year at the convent, you were provided with reassuring information about your place in the scheme of things. God made you and why did he make you? After a short sojourn in this world, ‘to be happy with him for ever in the next’.

So you see you have your happiness assured right from the start, and all you have to do to make sure of it is to keep a few simple rules while you get through the probationary period on earth. And even if you break the rules, don’t worry too much. You have only to confess and be absolved.

I am sure this is very effective if you were brought up in it from an early age, and what it produces, which I think is not found in other religions to the same extent, is a freedom from anxiety and capacity for enjoying the simple pleasures offered by existence which is actually a very faint imitation of post-higher level psychology.

On a higher level, of course, one is assured of one’s place in the scheme of things in a qualitatively different way, and it gives you a genuinely justified and far less fragile freedom from anxiety in the most adverse circumstances.

But a higher level is difficult to get, and people who have been brought up with this kind of social reinforcement of their happy confidence must have a very strong resistance to losing it.

The point of being a Catholic and believing in it all, is to know that you have reason to be supremely joyful. The hymn to the Virgin Mary which was sung to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of the happy holidays ended each verse with ‘O causa nostrae laetitiae’, meaning ‘O cause of our joy’, with the implication that the members of this religion were living in a state of joy as a result of the historical and cosmic events underlying it.

I remember, in a BBC Italian language series, a programme about a home for old people in Italy run by nuns. The old people were clearly at the end of their lives, often wheelchair-bound, and suffering from mental and physical infirmities. The Reverend Mother who was interviewed seemed very cheerful about it all, and said that they aimed to give the old people a life of peace, serenity, and ‘gioia’ or ‘joy’. This seemed to me a bit remarkable, and I think you would not have been likely to hear it from anyone but a Catholic in that position.

Actually I noticed a sort of delight in the existential situation occurring among the convent girls and was even sometimes affected by it myself. When I moved up into the lower Fifth I was sometimes walking past Lyons after school with the girls from the form, and invited to joint them in their post-school celebratory feast. They were far too nice to exclude me as insufficiently like themselves. There was a considerable sense of occasion as the available coins were produced, and it was worked out how much lemonade and cake could be obtained, which was then shared out with scrupulous fairness.

Recently I noticed a newspaper item about a party of convent girls jumping fully clothed into an outdoor swimming pool while visiting a stately home, and the nun in charge explaining that it was ‘just youthful high spirits’.

I don’t, of course, want to glorify this too much. It is essentially phoney, a way of getting some of the advantages of a higher level by repressing all the problems. But it probably makes possible a slight openness to the inconceivable possibilities of the existential situation, and one cannot think that socialist reductionism is an improvement.

Certainly, when I was at the convent, I was very critical of it although not on the normal grounds. It was, I thought, unrealistic and frivolous. It was unrealistic to overlook the overwhelming and shocking threat of the existential situation.

In my first year at the convent I had to learn a poem by Henry Charles Beeching which began,

God who created me
Nimble and light of limb,
In three elements free,
To run, to ride, to swim:
Not when the sense is dim,
But now from the heart of joy,
I would remember Him:
Take the thanks of a boy.

I found this incomprehensible. Life was real, life was terrible, life was earnest. How could you possibly take joy in temporary athletic entertainments – running and riding and swimming – that depended on being a certain age, when the later dimming of your senses was the least of what might threaten you in the future, meaning tomorrow? A far more aggressive and purposeful reaction had to be made.

However, the psychological grounds on which Catholicism is usually criticised are anti-realistic and anti-hierarchical, and effectively rule out any potentially higher level tendencies. (Reality is hierarchical. What is significant is more important than what is not, and waking life is more significant than dreaming.)