The Force

As the previous post suggests, I have been through some religious seeking, and finally arrived at some clarity about what I find to be a solution, and what the hell I was even looking for in the first place.

I basically have come to conclude that the cosmic or divine backdrop of a person’s life matters almost not at all.  It really does not matter what gods or devils or divine laws do or do not exist.  If they are with me I will be with them, if they are against me I will defy them, if they seem irrelevant I ignore them.  My life remains largely unaffected by whatever is in the background, and spirituality seems more like a struggle of finding fulfillment or doing something, anything significant at all, while trapped in an extremely limiting human body.

But on the way to this conclusion I passed through some interesting meanders, and while I don’t think the objective backdrop is critical to spirituality, my perspective on what objectively exists did shift.

I have basically come to be a believer in the Force.

Now I know that’s bad, stupid etc., to base my beliefs on a sci-fi fantasy series – even worse, a series which, if we include the prequels, was not necessarily even that good.   (Shit, I might as well link to this while I’m at it.)

But don’t worry.  I came to this view through scientific and philosophical explorations, not because I like Star Wars.  The issue is that the Force is simply the most exact way of labeling or illustrating what I came to know separately.

WHAT IS IT?

Firstly, the Force is not God.  It’s not judging you, or maybe it’s judging you subconsciously, but it’s just not like that.  You could go your whole life as an atheist who thinks only matter is real, and the Force would not be offended (or even awake enough to care).  So don’t worry about it.

Further, unlike God, I am extremely skeptical that the Force has a central consciousness.  Otherwise the world would simply be too different from how it is now.  It think such a central consciousness would be much more assertive in revealing itself as a continual presence to us.  In other words, instead of merely sending Jesus two thousand years ago, the Force would still be talking to us openly and directly now, in a way that was clear and unmistakable and required no subtle interpretation.  Either that, or the Holocaust was part of God’s plan.

Like the fictional Force, the real Force has both a Light and Dark side.  However I am not sure it is so neatly divided as that.  Better to say that the Force reflects and includes the full range of human emotion and probably a lot more besides.

So what the hell is this thing?  Simply, it is the maximal interpretation of Jung’s Collective Unconscious, a mental-emotional energy field reflecting/generated by all life plus some elemental forces and probably a lot of weird twists and connections across time, possibility, and other dimensions.  It is everywhere, an undercurrent of soul in the physical universe (possibly not separate from matter but merely its mental aspect, which would explain how a neural network can develop emotions and experiences).  It is more emotional than rational, like a child, and semi-conscious, like a dream.

How exactly I came to this opinion requires some science.

WHY WOULD I EVER THINK THIS?/FUCKING MAGNETS, HOW DO THEY WORK? (1:51)

I have come to believe that the brain’s computations do not solely occur at the neural level, but that each neuron is closely tied to a quantum network which influences each neuron’s electric charge.   (And yes, I read almost all of Penrose’s book, as painful as that was.  Apparently the dark side really does demand sacrifice.)

Now most of the time quantum effects cannot influence atomic-scale or molecular-scale behavior – there is a sort of wall of interaction between the magnitudes – but cellular microtubules provide on of the rare environments in which this is possible.  It’s not unheard of in nature; plants use quantum physics, too.  It’s silly to think that natural selection, in its great randomness, would not utilize every physical phenomenon, just because it is cutting-edge technology on the edge of contemporary human understanding.  We didn’t understand genetics for a long time either, but it was still real.

So if you know anything about quantum physics, you probably know of the creepy phenomenon of quantum entanglement, or the inexplicable ability of particles at the quantum scale to interact at infinite distance or even across time.

Don’t fight it, just accept it.  Like gravity, we can’t explain it but it just exists.  Before you argue, the military  and high science are already using it as a wireless communication system (and it kind of solves the future interplanetary communication problem because it doesn’t lag!).  So fuck you with your conventional physics where things have to touch and all that.

What does this mean?  What I have concluded is that human mental computation is entirely unlike the linear mechanical deterministic process we thought (but then with the brain’s chaos, I guess we never really thought that).  But more importantly, this computation is taking place outside the brain, in addition to inside it.  Like not just in another dimension, though probably that too, but also across the dust of the known universe.

USE THE FORCE

So there are bits of our thinking-and-experiencing process happening all over, probably in everything we’ve ever touched, their air we’ve breathed, the water we’ve cycled.  So what, are we psychic?  Well, we’re probably not psychic any more than on a murky subconscious level; that stuff probably mostly comes through as background static.  But combined the quantum physics’ ability to defy time, this provides a hypothesis for my family’s experience with non-déjà vu precognitive dreams.  You won’t believe it so I’m not disclosing.

From my experience, my family has been most affected by precognitive dreams when the person having them was living in an emotionally impulsive way.  This means letting yourself get excited about things, letting yourself get hurt, taking offenses personally, letting yourself daydream, going with the moment, etc.  Of course this is a horribly impractical way to live, especially in capitalism which requires a total mechanical deadening of the emotions.  And then thinking emotionally also impairs your objective judgment regarding whether what you experiences is in your head.  This means we are operating in a realm of often unverifiable personal experience.  That’s why I am not annoyed if people don’t believe what I believe, since like Morpheus, my beliefs do not require them to.

Is the Force – The Spiritual Solution?  Again no, I just think it’s something that objectively exists, though its objectivity is closely intertwined with our subjectivity (making it similar to Warhammer 40,000’s “Warp”).  There is some overlap though.  When a human being strips off their persona and pretentions and feels themselves as they really are, I think they are dipping into the same substance of which the Force is made, ie their souls, with the Force again being an undercurrent of soul that is everywhere.  Again, I think the spiritual solution is finding some strong life purpose and sticking to it.  I also think this is the best way to command the Force, but even if it wasn’t I’d still recommend it.

Can people start Force-pushing or shooting lightning out their fingers?  As usual, life is not so theatrical – I think you’d have better luck with Jedi mind tricks.  But the intertwining of quantum physics with the world of possibility is suggestive.  We’ve already exploded the concept of time as merely a measurement; it must be a dimension unto itself.  But then Schroedinger’s Cat is alive-and-dead until you actually lift the box and find out (necromancy?).  A multiversal series of possibility-threads is the only way I can explain a world with possibilities instead of one pre-determined mechanistic outcome.  Given the link between human consciousness and the universe via entanglement, and given the bridge between that entanglement and possibility, it is possible for human consciousness to nudge the direction of events.

Is this – The Secret? FUCK NO.  The Secret implies that you can make things happen that are beyond the realm of possibility.  I think the Force can nudge outcomes, but outcomes which are not grossly outside the realm of possibility.  There has to be some kind of tethering us down to current material circumstances.  If you wish for a million dollars fuck you, the world isn’t going to rearrange its entire setup for your ass.  If you want someone to die, praying they spontaneously combust, well.  But if you pray they die in a car accident, make sure you really mean it.

So what if something you want is outside the realm of possibility?  How would you bring it closer?

It’s called doing work.

It also helps if you have realism in assessing how possible something actually is, not wishful thinking.

This brings up a critical issue: subconscious roadblocks.  You can will something in the Force but if you are emotionally divided about it, or don’t believe you deserve it, or just don’t entirely want it, it’s going to flop.  So how do you convince yourself you want it?  First you may have to deprogram yourself out of any religious-inspired guiltiness or foolish ethical codes, if what you want is selfish.  Or if you can’t do that, at least find a way to justify (sincerely) what you are pushing for as helping-yourself-help-others.

But besides reprogramming/deprogramming, the best way to convince yourself you really want and deserve something is WORK FOR IT.  This will (1) bring it physically closer to the realm of possibility, especially if we’ve thought it through objectively and it actually does this (2) clear up subconscious roadblocks because we all feel we deserve a thing we’ve worked for (3) create a center of gravity, focus, and intention in the lines of possibility.  In this way two hands at work don’t just beat a thousand folded in prayer, but two hands at work actually are two hands in prayer, as all work implies hope and will.

For the dark side especially, a person having the Force doesn’t simply mean they are in touch with the universe’s waves.  It means they have force, that their personal determination creates a momentum in their wake which bends spacetime and the threads of possibility, sweeping events and the world around them toward the direction of their goals.  No, it’s not only traditionally successful people who have this and many successful people actually don’t; their lives are often lived without real purpose or weight.  Many leaders are incompetent bureaucrats, who care only about maintaining their position or maybe don’t even care about anything.  (Sad how much of humanity is morally indefensible.)  And no, it’s not only vocal, arrogant male leader-stereotypes who have it.  Influence can be silent and subtle and edgeless, yet very strong, like water.  Ranking people as having it/not having it is probably not helpful since we all have it at least a little, but when someone’s got a good deal of it you’ll probably notice.

OTHER IMPLICATIONS

So this Force, is this suggesting one of those ridiculous scenarios where every religion has a grain of truth simply because some people believe in it?  Hell, maybe.  I don’t know.  I’ve heard a lot of weird things, but then I’ve also heard a lot of bullshit.  I maintain a policy of equal parts open-mindedness and skepticism.

Again, the Force isn’t one of those things where you have to panic about whether it’s true, or whether you conform to its concept of right and wrong.  Its existence could suggest to you that maybe you should live for something more than going-along-to-get-along, that you shouldn’t be unthinkingly stumbling or passionlessly drifting.  But I could have told you that without resorting to an invisible energy field.

It does bring up the whole Light and Dark issue, though in my opinion any grown-up should realize that these are totally different from good and evil (this may just be my dark side bias).  All people and groups probably have a mixture (yourself, Christianity, the French Revolution).  It’s interesting how closely the Jedi and Sith mirror the Right-Hand Path and Left-Hand Path, especially in the context of the Force.  The Jedi believe in serving others and obeying the Force’s guidance.  The Sith believe in serving themselves and tell the Force what to do.  But in reality both sides use the Force both ways.

Of course as always I learn dark.  Me, I believe in being a leader, whether we’re talking about society or invisible force fields.  I’m sure the Force has plenty of wisdom buried in it if you listen, but the Force is also indecisive.  It’s like the unconscious: all sentiment, no decision-making.  We can, and should, be the deciders.  If the Force is the universe’s collective unconscious, then we are its pointed, individualized consciousness – its ego.  Again, if I was wrong, I think the Force would make it directly clear for us.  No – we are the Force’s greatest embodiment, we are the tip of its pyramid, we are the spearhead of the universe’s ever-persisting struggle for greater clarity and complexity and pattern.  We are the ones who have to bear the responsibility of conscious planning and putting things into material practice.  For the good of the Force itself – and just because we canwe must decide how the Force will be expressed, and express it – forcefully! – even if doing so requires going against Nature, ethics, religion, sentiment, our humanity, physics, or even seemingly the Force itself.

The Force is like a child who doesn’t know how to say what it wants, or doesn’t even know what it wants.  This may be why there is so much historic confusion over “what God wants” (besides people making things up).  The Force isn’t sure!  So we must use our patience, our intuition, and careful listening to figure it out.  But once we do figure out what it wants, which will necessarily in large part reflect what we want – then we must not be afraid to command it in full confidence.

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unify theory and emotion

I think the key to being a long-term radical and not losing your mind is eliminating the gap between theory and emotion.  Hearing and judging a new idea, re-examining an old one, or pondering something yourself is often a sensory experience, felt in your gut — it “resonates” with you or not.  Listen to your subconscious, it knows the truth (and it is merciless to dogma).  Your mind’s job is only to articulate what’s stirring down below.

If you’re not careful this can spell instant demoralization, but that probably means your political strategy sucks or you mistakenly believe that your country’s population is less radical than it really is.  You should always be following your nose, trying to figure out a method for getting from where we are to where we need to be.

When I was a new radical, political theory was vital and a direct expression of my dissatisfaction with my life of continually exchanging one taskmaster for another, from parents to school to work to cops to whatever.

Once during a lunch break I was reading Capital by Marx, a section about how employers attempt to minimize the break-time in the workday to maximize work-time.  While reading it, the top manager came in and cut the lunch break short.  That’s theory addressing life.

fuck love

This is not meant as a slight against people who make different life choices than mine.  It’s mainly written for self-clarification.  I’m sure it will inevitably be interpreted by someone as an insult.  Not much I can do about that; I guess just try to take some of the unusual thoughts from it and ignore the others.  All we can do is kneel before the altar of our true lives’ missions, and if we’ve already made choices which obstruct that purpose, we’ve just got to do the best we can with the situation we’re in.

Is it so rare to believe that life is not a nihilistic “experience to be had,” to be wandered through without aim or purpose?  Why isn’t life a mission to complete?

Isn’t there too much tremendous suffering, needless suffering in the world to sit idly by, in a bohemian wander of “taking it all in” rather than fighting like hell to change it all?

Life involves some hard choices.  Having kids, having a spouse, getting involved with people are some of them.

In a world where the most interesting and powerful thing going on is the human being, it makes sense to maybe want to connect to some of them, maybe even to create a few more of them.

Or does it?  Maybe it just makes sense to focus on solving the problems of the people that are already here.

One problem I have is that 0 + 0 = 0.  People think that love adds something to the people in the relationship – “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” or maybe just even “two is more than one.”  But if the people involved aren’t all that impressive, then what does it matter?  What do they live for?  Does your heart beat for anything other than wanting to possess, and in turn be possessed by someone?  Do you want to press as hard as you can against another being until the barrier breaks down and you blend?  (And, ha, does that ever actually happen at all?)  Everyone is familiar with the process of idealizing a person while becoming attracted to them, and then suddenly seeing all their heinous shortcomings if the relationship falls apart.

Is this really all you want?  To simply relate?  What about being?  Does this connection you have really say anything about your own character, your own accomplishments?  Is it possible that all the songs are about love on the radio, because love is just so damn easy?

Another problem, though, is that the entanglement of a relationship can actually distract a person from their greater life’s work.  A person has only one lifetime to leave their dent on the world, on history.  Do you really want to blow your time obsessing over/walking on eggshells around a single other person’s feelings?  So maybe you all stand for something – maybe it’s not 0 + 0 = 0, maybe it’s 2 + 2 = 4.  But if all you do is distract each other from your lives’ purposes with personal shit and sweet nothings, maybe it’s 2 – 2 = 0 again.

Regarding kids, I have no interest.  My childhood was so miserable that I wouldn’t put anyone else through it.  There are other issues.  For one, I have no idea what any potential children would be like – they could be cut from my same cloth, or they could end up as someone simply having nothing in common with me at the level of the soul.  Both of us would wonder what the point was, to be a father and child for whom any substantial relationship was impossible from the start.  Then there is always the ethical dilemma of birthing someone into this horrid world.

But once more, the real issue is: If you have kids, they’re going to wipe out a good 18 or more of your short years on Earth on changing their diapers and providing all sorts of other money and attention.

Don’t you have something better to be doing?  I am more interested in blowing my time on qualitatively improving the human condition for the six billion humans already here, not quantitatively adding a few more to the pile.

There is a social pressure that these familial arrangements are “inevitable,” or that they’re “for everyone.”  I can feel the world leaning on me, making assumptions that I’ll just cave in later, sort of like the people who say everyone turns conservative after 30.  No, not me.  I want to live for my purpose wholly and without compromise.  I want to be free of any other focus.  I want to live life to the fullest, which means either creating, or self-expressively destroying all limitations.  When I die, I want to die “alone” or really, uncompromisingly myself.  And then, unless the concentration of my soul is thick enough to persist beyond my body, my entire being will happily dissipate into my life’s remaining effects.

Liberation: personal versus political?

It’s very possible to be a dumb Millennial and to blow too much of your time and your life on things like activism or watching Breaking Bad for 30 hours straight instead of focusing on getting a career so you can move out of your parents’ house or whatever.

Why are you into politics?  Is it because you feel bad for others who are suffering?  That’s understandable, I dig that, but it’s not my main motivation.  For me it’s my own freedom.

So after spending countless hours working on political projects which ultimately mean little if they do not feed into a revolution which is kind of iffy, you begin wondering if maybe you shouldn’t just bail out and start pursuing the more typical capitalist methods of self-liberation.  Try to focus on a career, try to focus on a small business.

It’s true, some of these things can help.  Maybe you can move out of your parents’ house, maybe you can buy some nice appliances and get some better health insurance, yeah this is all possible.  Maybe you can work in an air-conditioned office instead of a meatpacking plant.  I guess these things are worth pursuing and I’m getting better at pursuing them.

But the wall that I always hit is that the true capitalist dream of liberation is not just small improvements.  To be truly free, which can only mean to be free of work, means that you have to build up something called “passive residual income.”  You have to have enough investments that are paying some kind of dividends or interest or profits that you can live off of them without having a regular job.

Only 54% of Americans even have stock investments, and that includes people who only have a handful of shares.  The amount of people who can live off them?  Basically no one — pretty much the 1%, possibly the top 10%.  We can’t even retire, let alone live off of an automated money machine during the prime of our lives.

So maybe pouring those hours into the revolutionary process isn’t such a mistake, when you know that when using capitalist methods, probably 95% of us will just never be free.

When I work on political stuff, even if I do it in total isolation, I still feel an incredible togetherness with the world movement.  I feel like I am stepping into a stream that includes the strikers in China, everyone who went to Occupy, the Middle East revolutions, politicos all over the Internet, everyone all over the world who is fighting for themselves, and giving solidarity to each other.

When I do apolitical, self-centered things, I get a noticeable lack of this feeling of togetherness.  I realize that there are things in life which no one else will do for me, things which it almost does not even make any sense to talk to anyone about, because they’re so completely individual.

The Left would have you think that you could live with it forever.  It constantly pulls you in, it invites you into its warm fold of causes and collectivity and crowds, and often enough will demand more and more and more of your time until it’s like it’s all you do.

Here’s an great example of the distinction.  Comics like this are great reminders of what women have to deal with when it comes to body image problems — our society’s whole visual display is one giant reminder to women that they “don’t look good enough.”

This is odd for me as a male.  Of course I think that social pressures are unhealthy, that the images of women provided by the corporate media are unrealistic.  And yet I find these subconscious cues continue to exist in my thinking.  Obviously it comes up when thinking over things like “would I date her?”  The worst part is, no matter how I may fight it, it ends up leaking into other judgments too — my basic non-romantic judgments of a person’s character.  I’m not alone in this.

I’ve been chubby, so I know it’s rough.  It’s hard to lose weight when you live in a McDonalized culture and you blow all your energy working — especially if you work a standing job and your legs hurt too much to go running at the end of the day.

However, I still can’t help feeling that a person who controls their weight just has their shit together more.  You have to ask yourself, at what point in a person’s weight gain did they just decide “fuck it, I give up on ever trying to reverse or even halt this?”

It’s not just my judgments of others.  I guess I happen to be one of the few males out there who is openly dissatisfied with his body image.  Maybe it’s because I actually possess objectivity unlike many males who just think they’re hot shit without ever taking a critical look at a mirror, or maybe I’ve somehow internalized comparing myself to people on TV the way many women do.

So yeah.  I’ll stand together with people who are saying that we should smash body image expectations, that we should value everyone.  I think Marx was really onto something when he wrote “Social progress can be measured exactly by the social status of the beautiful sex (the ugly ones included).”  Because deep down I think the hard objective truth is that not everyone is beautiful, that there are beautiful and ugly people superficially, so maybe we should get better at valuing people in unrelated ways.

And then, at the same time, I’ll continue to be a product of my environment.  I’ll pay more attention to women who are stereotypically attractive, and fight like hell to look better myself, knowing that others are not just judging my attractiveness but even my competence by it.  I’ll do it alone, without anyone’s help.  The difficulties and the results won’t belong to anyone but me.  Much of my soul belongs to the Left, and its great celebration of human unity.  Some of my soul, though will always be separate and apart — not just distinct, but perhaps even antagonistic, putting up a necessary wall of buzz-killing selfish pragmatism against the big happy human embrace.  I guess that’s the dark side.

radicals, outsiders, the shaman archetype

Radicals are caught between a strong connection with all humanity and a frustrating isolation as a fringe minority group.  We want the best for almost everyone, we bring up issues that affect everyone, we speak to a deep longing within all humanity for unimaginable liberation and a joyous global future.  And then our ideas go through long historical periods of being either unpopular or entirely unknown, and are certainly almost never predominant.  Materially we are often in the same position as the rest of the working majority; mentally, we are somewhere else entirely.

So in some ways we are the soldiers and voices of the world-spirit; in some ways we are total outsiders.

The outsider is faced with a number of problems.  One obvious one is alienation.  They possess a difference which no one (or few people) around them can bridge.  They may go about their lives imitating normality, but this is painful; otherwise, they act out their strangeness and possibly suffer social and economic consequences.  This is not a passing threat: the natural social networks which a person often possesses (family, churches, community groups, friends) can very often get them an economic connection at some point – a job, a deal, something they wouldn’t have if they weren’t part of that group.  Straying from the norm can damage these networks or your place in them.  Obviously church may go out the window for any number of reasons, but even family and friend networks can deprioritize you on the list of who they give referrals if you’re a weirdo.

But the outsider has a gift, too.  Their lives are not pure difference.  Oddly enough, they may understand most people better than most people understand themselves.  Their outside perspective can give them an objectivity about society which other people, smack in the middle of it without a second thought, never attain.  To really understand what’s ticking in the minds of the American cultural norm, it may require people who just aren’t part of it.

The shaman or wizard archetype often has the same cycle to it.  They go away from society, they go to some “out there,” maybe the wilderness, maybe up a mountain, maybe they commune with the spirit world, whatever.  Crazy stuff happens that could only happen alone or in that “other” place.  Out there, they have some kind of experience, or they learn something, or they literally find something, some object.  They return ready to make a greater contribution to society, creating a new synthesis between whatever new thing they learned and the old society to which they returned.  They new synthesis is an altered society, whether they just have a better medicine man now or the wanderer returns with some sort of prophetic idea about the way things should run.

In secular terms this reminds me of when radicals, individually or collectively, sometimes retreat into high theory – rather than focusing on active social movements, they do deep reading and research to figure out an overall framework.  It’s necessary for every radical to go through such a phase at least once, and to possibly revisit it, in small bursts balanced with active involvement or in longer spells, depending.

Channeling the destructive impulse

Some days, I really just want to watch the world burn.

Irresponsible, you might say.  Given the typical American method of carrying out such an impulse, like the bombing of the Boston Marathon, I’d have to agree that it can be an issue.

We can’t shake the fact though, that sometimes our entire environment feels hostile to us.  It’s the whole world’s fault.  The fact that we have pain or anger does not necessarily help us identify what, precisely, deserves our backlash.  We just feel a heavy pressure coming down on us from the outside, and we want to push back, in every direction.

Given that Marx basically defined being a member of the working class as suffering crushing alienation, I think even “responsible, respectable” radicals (seriously, fuck you) should agree that this isn’t totally off base, and it might explain why a very good book was written linking work under capitalism, Reaganism, and school/workplace shootings.  It’s easy to understand the Christopher Dorner insurrection-of-one, especially when the media glorifies violent, individual solutions in pretty much every action movie and news report.

So how do we take this negative energy and make it work for something good, or at least, something that’s not a felony?  Well, for one thing I don’t think it needs to be converted but only properly aimed.  I think that besides promotion of socialism, there also needs to be a lot of verbal and printed criticism of capitalism, the people who run it, and the people who profit from it.  So some of your venom can be spent mouthing off about them.

It’s true that we need to build institutions, we need to build power, but personally for me I see this as a great outlet for my negative energy.  When I’m putting together a coalition or team that really energizes and empowers the people in it, I’m not just happy I built something.  I feel that this sort of activity, appearing constructive on the surface, is really a knock in the face of the ruling class – especially if it contributes to a really huge protest.

Protest movements are similar in that they are really a collective criticism of the way things are, embodied in person.  They help build our side and subvert the power structure.  When I’m part of a really big protest, something nationally organized with bus contingents, or something going viral everywhere, I feel like I’m tapping into a collective stream of anger running through the entire population.  I’m standing there with my sign for the people who couldn’t show up, so their hate is with me.

When all else fails, riots work.