Psychiatric medication does nothing to stop modern war, economic injustice, and the nightmare world that’s got me depressed and dejected in the first place. Before I die – which, as is true for all living creatures, could be at any moment, could be today, within the next five minutes – I want to have things sorted out in my heart, so that I am clear about what is and what is not. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to have had a negative reaction to the civilizing process.
The great lie is that civilization is good for us.
So when do I get to the part about how to get through a life not worth living? Trust me, I am not just talking about my life, but all of our lives. I don’t believe that anyone’s life is worth living. I’m not stupid. I don’t believe the hype at all.
So, my answer to how to get through this life of ours that is clearly not worth living, where we are better off dead, better off never having been born, is a strong dose of madness with undertones of black humor (dark comedy). The escape from the self-hatred of melancholia lies in its counter-concept, mania. Manic states such as joy and exaltation depend on the same psychical energy as melancholia. Humor is an anti-depressant that works by the ego (self) finding itself ridiculous. Humor is a relation of self-knowledge. Humor is often dark, but always lucid. Humor recalls us to the modesty and limitedness of the human condition, a limitedness that calls not for tragic-heroic affirmation but for comic acknowledgement.
What is glimpsed in humor is a non-hostile super-ego, a superego that has undergone what we might call “maturation,” a maturity that comes from learning to laugh at ourselves, from finding ourselves ridiculous. Humor saves the human being from tragic hubris, from the Promethean fantasy of believing oneself omnipotent. Humor saves the human being from morbid, obsessive self-hatred. We are restless, curious, often disquieted creatures. Some would even say our condition is a mixture of wretched boredom and wretched anxiety. We can laugh at ourselves and find not sadness, but liberation and elevation, which can be a very lucid consolation.
Stripped of rhetoric, the function of institutional psychiatry is a public relations exercise, tolerated by the gatekeepers, in the hopes that it will keep the critics at bay, while the real issues of power remain hidden behind even more sophisticated technologies of control. In the emerging post-modern world, the drive for authenticity is thwarted by the entire social system in which our lives are embedded.
“Mental illness” and “mood disorders” are just patterns of behavior expressed by particular individuals in response to conditions of the world. Behavior patterns are not illnesses. Psychiatrists are unjustified in their attempts to terminate behavior patterns on the pretense that they are healing the sick. More accurately, the psychiatrists, therapists, and “mental health technicians” are punishing troublemakers and coercing deviant individuals to behave in conventional ways. Drug treatment of mental disorders does not benefit the patient. It benefits the established order. It benefits neighbors who are so easily disturbed by the presence of the real. Lapdogs conspire with their masters to harass those behaving in ways that disturb the rational delusions and hallucinations of those around them. It is all for the madman’s own good, of course. You see, troubles follow the honest man wherever he takes shelter. The outsider, whether man or woman, is continuously attacked by the conventional law-abiding upholders of the status-quo, and hence, the mental suffering the outsider endures requires the thickening of the skin. Perhaps seven extra layers of skin will suffice to shield the outsider from the venomous conspiracies waged against him/her!
Conventional psychiatrists call themselves physicians not because they deal with medical problems or make use of medical science, but because they wish to use the prestige and authority of the medical profession as a disguise. In this way, the psychiatrists can intimidate their alleged patients/clients and mislead everyone about their police function.
The system is all around us. We are embedded in it. We are thrown into this world of being which reveals itself in moods. I’m in a “good” mood when I am free to follow my bliss. I tend to be in a foul mood when I am not given the respect I deserve. Some of us are “sensitive.” This not only means that we pick up on vibes, but we also see through bullshit and lies and scams. I know a hall of mirrors when I am inside one, and the current mental healthcare industry is such a hall of mirrors. I maintain my mental health IN SPITE of the mental healthcare industry, not because of it.
I ask the two hundred thousand dollar question: Is it safe to gortbust psychiatrists, police, and other representatives of the dominant society? We were saving them for last; but, when your back is up against the wall, what can you do but confront this system with the full power of your intellect? If we convince the psychiatrists that we know more about what ails us than they do, will they quit their jobs? If we convince the police that the social system they enforce stinks like toe-cheese, will they quit their jobs?
As we move rapidly toward 100% unemployment, people who found meaning in their lives solely in their jobs or careers will be facing an existential meltdown. Will more illnesses be invented to distract the masses from the economic collapse occurring under their feet? Collapse happens one psyche at a time. When it happens to you, will you accept some “psychiatric” explanation for your distress? Or will you resist this and look the “professionals” in the eyes to challenge their wits, get them to reconsider their position and to see in a new way?
Be careful. If you are too smart, some authorities may bully you, dominate you, harass you, mock you, ridicule you, provoke you, do physical harm to you, and generally subjugate you into deferring to the values of the dominant society by making a fool of you. Fight Uni!
Our mental healthcare industry confuses the mere labeling of symptoms as an explanation for the symptoms. The existential approach is to try to understand the nature of who is experiencing the despair. I will serve mankind by illustrating the foolishness of believing we have a firm grasp on the confusing and layered workings of the psyche. The medical model of “mental illness” is more humane than the previous model of “witchcraft” or “demonic possession,” but it is still depersonalizing and incorrect. It also gives the illusion that once labeled, the problem is now located in one blamable, treatable member of society – when the behavior (psychotic episodes) may be a valid psychological defense mechanism against the irrational demands from the environment.
I am on a path toward wild being and wild thought. It is necessary for us to undergo a special form of reflection to get back to this primitive contact with reality.
Introducing someone to his or her own Wild Thought is a process we call “busting the gort.” In other words, we suspect that many people in our society may be victims of civilization in that, through socialization, many may have lost contact with the true nature of their lives.
Why am I so intensely concerned with philosophical questions? Isn’t the real world directly accessible to us through intuition? Intuitions are the hard-won insights akin to mathematical discoveries. My insights become part and parcel of my mental equipment. Dostoevsky’s “Underground Man” is a reflection of the chaos left in the wake of Kant. Camus responds to this as well. How well do we intuit reality? Do we listen to the ancient voices of the heart, the voices of the embodied mind?
We experience the drama of life in our hearts, not in other people’s heads.
My motive is not to drive myself insane, but to overcome the fear of insanity. Losing objective consciousness might be mistaken for insanity by the “sane” who are stuck in objective consciousness. I’m too engrossed in my own transformations to be disturbed by the images my presence of mind produces in the heads of others. Most likely, I will be forgotten in the silence of history, and so, while walking upon the earth, I’ll not live for an image, for those impressions are in others’ minds, and hence are but mere phantoms, constructions intended to give them an impression of me. So my vibrations disturb their equilibrium.
Phenomenology is a kind of trained introspection and self-observation. Our so-called “outer-perception” presents us with nothing that appears the way it really is. We are subject to some serious illusions with respect to rest, motion, figure, and size. All we know are the effects of these physical things on our sense organs. We don’t experience that which truly exists as it is. The truth we perceive is only a relative truth. Even the existence of the world itself is initially hypothetical. As an explorer of my inner life-world, I work as a solus ipse, a lone researcher, as do we all as unique personalities and manifestations of Being. We are not much different from all other creatures and life forms. There is a deeper world we are connected to that transcends our connection to human society, and that is the non-human universe itself, where we came from and where we return.
I am often beset with a sense of failure and frustration, but someone who never experiences contradictions and paradoxes is no serious philosopher. The fool becomes wise only by being a fool. The Trickster is both fool and hero. I confess to suffering long periods of philosophical despair and depression (the evil demon of nervousness), but these are interspersed with short periods of great creativity, furious writing and research.
On some level we are that which eludes description, that which escapes being apprehended since it itself “apprehends;” it is what the ancients called soul, the breath of life, psyche. I am an explorer of Inner Space, an observer of the phenomenological region. These notes I write are not material for some book to be published, but are simply documenting the development of my thought and the trail of research my mind has been through. Is the mind not the product of what the flesh endures? Were I ever to have my brain zapped, I might be able to rebuild my memories by reading through old notebooks. I got this idea from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Enter philosophical movements disguised as jokes or jokes disguised as philosophical movements. These are grim days indeed. Jokes are in high demand, but a few hearty laughs may shake us from our angst so that we might become more focused on the task at hand, whether it is sleeping, feeding, warming, or even contemplating our own death. I wish we could organize a movement to keep writers, scholars, and artists physically alive – to permit them to continue their work in this most difficult century. Studios could be organized where we form our own schools.
Dressed in old coats, chilled and hungry, we could become totally absorbed in discussions of literature, philosophy, comedy, wilderness survival, and “the end of history.” My “true” inner self is different from the self that appears in conversations with others. I need writing to supplement the misleading signs of my speech. In other words, in my speech and action I may seem to be going along with the status-quo, so I need my writing to pick up on the elements within me resisting. I need writing because my speech gets misinterpreted.
Prior to 1800, literature meant “writings” or “book knowledge.”
Black Humor is a form of humor that regards human suffering as absurd rather than pitiable, or that considers human existence as ironic and pointless but somehow comic. It seems I have a “spiritual ailment,” a “psycho-behavioral disorder,” involving complex moods that disrupt the order of structured society. Thus, my inner being is not merely devalued by society, but interacted with as though it is an enemy combatant always under attack or put on warning. This is how power and its agents eat your spirit.
We live in a society where the inner Being is buried, ignored, or even denied existence. I shall find in myself, and nowhere else, the true meaning of phenomenology. The most important lesson the [phenomenological] reduction teaches us is the impossibility of a complete reduction. The philosopher is the perpetual beginner. The unfinished nature of phenomenology is not a sign of failure. It is inevitable because phenomenology’s task is to reveal the mystery of the world and the impotency of reason when confronted with the depth of our lived experiences (existence itself).
Everything that appears to consciousness can be studied by phenomenology: the earth, the sky, our memories, other people, the wind, numbers, archetypal images, desires, fantasies, et cetera.
Husserl believed we should not assume any philosophic or scientific theory, and furthermore, must avoid deductive reasoning (which presupposed logic) and mathematics as well as any other speculative theory of psychology and philosophy, in order to concentrate on describing what is given directly in intuition (Anschauung). This involves the most radical form of self-questioning, involving a kind of overthrow of all previous assumptions to knowledge, and a questioning of many of our ‘natural’ (common sense, scientific) intuitions about the nature of our mental processes or the make-up of the so-called objective world.
Husserlian phenomenology focuses totally on what is given in intuition and is not meant to rely on logical inferences, or mediate knowledge of any kind.
I cannot deny the stream of my thoughts just in the manner in which they are given. Not only is the ‘I am,’ as experienced by me, always immediately certain, but so also is any mental experience just as it is experienced. Intersubjective validation is really based on each individual performing acts of reflection on the immanent contents of his or her own psychic processes. I want to focus my beam of attention on the psychic processes that actually construct the world of experience that “I” “experience.”
A certain change of orientation can bring about a clearer vision of the field to be examined. Phenomenology is an eidetic, not a factual, science. Traditional positivism had allowed itself to be blinded by its faith in a narrow empiricism so much that it ignored the fact that the sciences themselves operate with essences and eidetic insights. These essences are not generated in our thinking, but are grasped, “framed,” in our acts of thinking.
Phenomenology must be able to cope with the most radical denial of the world, with the challenge of the most hyperbolic doubt which sees the whole world as a dream or even as non-existent. As Dermot Moran says, “The objects focused on in phenomenological viewing must be neutralized with respect to the question of actuality.”
Phenomenology is riddled with as much paradox and mystery as life itself: How can a science which claims to remain true to experience seek to be a pure science stripped of all experiential elements? Phenomenology is remote from common sense. In the phenomenological reduction, there is a radical upheaval and consciousness even ceases to be human, loses all connection to the empirical, natural, human ego and its psychological states.
eidetic – of, related to, or marked by the detailed and vivid recall of visual images.
Eidetic Seeing – Wesenerschauung – The move from the individual intuition to the grasp of the universal is a move to grasp the essence; this is what Husserl terms eidetic intuition. “seeing essence” (Wesensschauuung “essential seeing”)