Los dioses

El hecho de que este problema desempeñe un papel tan importante precisamente en las religiones, no es de ninguna manera sorprendente, puesto que la religión representa uno de los apoyos más eficaces de nuestro proceso de adaptación psicológica a la realidad. Lo que más impide toda nueva adquisición en el proceso de la adaptación psicológica, es la fijación conservadora de lo antiguo y de actitudes pasadas. Sin embargo, el hombre no es capaz de despojarse sin más ni más de su personalidad anterior y de objetos precedentemente codiciados, porque con ello se despojaría de su libido que mora cerca de su pasado. De este modo, empobrecería hasta cierto punto. Es justamente aquí donde interviene la religión, asegurando el encauzamiento de la libido relacionada con los objetos infantiles (=padres), a través de canales de símbolos muy adecuados, hacia unos representantes simbólicos de los anteriormente habidos: los dioses, con lo cual se hace posible la transición del mundo infantil al mundo adulto. Con ello, la libido encuentra una nueva aplicación social.

Carl Jung, Teoría del psicoanálisis (1912).

The Sobering Process

CATHOLIC CONFESSION

Within the Christian body, for which repentance of sins has from the beginning been the critical religious act, healthy-mindedness has always come forward with its milder interpretation. Repentance according to such healthy-minded Christians means getting away from the sin, not groaning and writhing over its commission. The Catholic practice of confession and absolution is in one of its aspects little more than a systematic method of keeping healthy-mindedness on top. By it a man’s accounts with evil are periodically squared and audited, so that he may start the clean page with no old debts inscribed. Any Catholic will tell us how clean and fresh and free he feels after the purging operation.

ABOUT THE NATURE OF EVIL

On the whole, the Latin races have leaned more towards the former way of looking upon evil, as made up of ills and sins in the plural, removable in detail; while the Germanic races have tended rather to think of Sin in the singular, and with a capital S, as of something ineradicably ingrained in our natural subjectivity, and never to be removed by any superficial piecemeal operations.

THE EPICUREAN AND THE STOIC

The difference between Greek pessimism and the oriental and modern variety is that the Greeks had not made the discovery that the pathetic mood may be idealized, and figure as a higher form of sensibility. Their spirit was still too essentially masculine for pessimism to be elaborated or lengthily dwelt on in their classic literature.

Stoic insensibility and Epicurean resignation were the farthest advance which the Greek mind made in that direction. The Epicurean said: “Seek not to be happy, but rather to escape unhappiness; strong happiness is always linked with pain; therefore hug the safe shore, and do not tempt the deeper raptures. Avoid disappointment by expecting little, and by aiming low; and above all do not fret.” The Stoic said: “The only genuine good that life can yield a man is the free possession of his own soul; all other goods are lies.”

Each of these philosophies is in its degree a philosophy of despair in nature’s boons. Trustful self-abandonment to the joys that freely offer has entirely departed from both Epicurean and Stoic; and what each proposes is a way of rescue from the resultant dust-and-ashes state of mind. The Epicurean still awaits results from economy of indulgence and damping of desire. The Stoic hopes for no results, and gives up natural good altogether. There is dignity in both these forms of resignation. They represent distinct stages in the sobering process which man’s primitive intoxication with sense-happiness is sure to undergo. In the one the hot blood has grown cool, in the other it has become quite cold; and although I have spoken of them in the past tense, as if they were merely historic, yet Stoicism and Epicureanism will probably be to all time typical attitudes, marking a certain definite stage accomplished in the evolution of the world-sick soul.

PATHOLOGICAL MELANCHOLY

We have seen how the lustre and enchantment may be rubbed off from the goods of nature. But there is a pitch of unhappiness so great that the goods of nature may be entirely forgotten, and all sentiment of their existence vanish from the mental field. For this extremity of pessimism to be reached, something more is needed than observation of life and reflection upon death. The individual must in his own person become the prey of a pathological melancholy. As the healthy-minded enthusiast succeeds in ignoring evil’s very existence, so the subject of melancholy is forced in spite of himself to ignore that of all good whatever: for him it may no longer have the least reality. Such sensitiveness and susceptibility to mental pain is a rare occurrence where the nervous constitution is entirely normal; one seldom finds it in a healthy subject even where he is the victim of the most atrocious cruelties of outward fortune.

William James, Varieties of Religious Experience.

Of vampires, other parasites, and Dr. Freud (or those mind guerillas forever)

Vampires — Near Dark (1987). If you’ve watched the imho not very enjoyable Netflix’s Black Mirror Bandersnatch you will have noticed that one of the options is between a band that was completely strange to me and Tangerine Dreams, which it wasn’t (entirely). I felt curious afterwards about it and found out that they had written the score for a sizable amount of films. Spoilers ahead.

Near Dark does a remarkable job at portraying the misery that eternal life would ensure, in whatever form it would take, be celestial or infernal. In addition, it contains one of the most sensual scenes I’ve ever seen on the big screen, which it takes you by surprise —no fanfare and the not at all romantic music by the Tangerines in the background.

Other parasites — Thief (1981). A bigger musical score here, and quite good by the way. Thief is about the honest life of a good dishonest man. It’s also about independence of character and the perils of persuasion. Frank knows that the ultimate way to freedom is truth and to get rid of every thing you care for —your life being the last of them.

Dr. Freud — I came across the John Lennon’s interview for Playboy that took place in 1980. I don’t know whether his explanations of Paul’s and George’s actions are accurate or not, spiteful or not, but I know that he’s right to go beyond appearances and try to find the truth in the underlying motives —the subconscious. Because it’s not anywhere. Discard therapy and all the nonsense, but if you don’t see the world in terms of  repressed emotions and a never-ending quietly violent conflict between eros (the need to live) and thanatos (the wish to die) that entirely takes place in anybody’s mind, you won’t be able to understand either society or people, and worse, you won’t have a clue neither about why you behave the way you do.

And Lennon —you may like the guy or not, but he was determined to be in command of himself and of his life, and that’s something not everybody is able to say about themselves.

The Last Sunset

THE FILM — Superb. Probably the best western I’ve ever seen. A perfectly linked succession of non-trivial tropes very creatively enacted over a powerful Freudian symbolism worth of a Zizek review. No wonder that Lauren Bacall was offered the role of Belle Breckinridge but found the subject matter to be rather offensive (imdb).

A LINK — Between this dialogue, that takes place in front of a Mexican church,

STRIBLING (Rock Hudson): Lots of hopes, lots of prayers must’ve started here.

BELLE (Dorothy Malone): Or ended. Babies being christened, women burying their dead.

STRIBLING: Sometimes men, too.

BELLE: Men?

STRIBLING: I lost my wife and two daughters in an Osage war party.

BELLE: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m afraid I was only thinking of myself. To me, it’s always seemed like the women who keep on living. Men kill or get killed. And women bury them. We’re professional survivors.

and what Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane) has to say about the mythical justification of cannibalism in those societies where it’s actually practiced, based on a religious vision of life:

For the vegetable world to continue, man must kill and be killed; in addition, he must assume sexuality to its extreme limit —the orgy. An Abyssinian song declares this: “She who has not yet engendered, let her engender; he who has not yet killed, let him kill!” This is a way of saying that the two sexes are doomed to assume their destiny”

SO, THE TWO SEXES — Masculinity at its best both in the roles played (masterfully) by Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson: protectiveness, straightforwardness, sportsmanship, trueness to one’s word, courage, sense of duty, absence of malice, and strength; with some of their inevitable counterparts as well, like ingenuity, pig-headedness, roughness, and helplessness when the danger comes not frankly. Masculinity at its worst in the roles of Mr Breckenridge and of course the hired treacherous cowboys. Feminity at its worst in the role of Belle-Mrs Breckenridge, and feminity at its best in that of her daughter Missy-Melissa,

BREN: Of course you can. And one of these days, a boy’ll come along…

MELISSA: I don’t want a boy. I want you.

BREN: You want someone who’ll fill your heart with warmth and sunlight. You want a young man, not me. All I can do is throw a cloud over you.

MELISSA: I’m not afraid of clouds. I’m not afraid of anything.

that is, determination, fearlessness, love and caring, long-term thinking, independence of character.

And the joy of life, male or female.