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.