Is there a Structural Continuity Between denial and a lack of sensitivity…?

by Antonio Dias

There is denial. There is the way in which we purposefully maintain an unwillingness to see what is visible to us.

There is also a range of sensitivity. Some of us, some of the time, are more sensitive, and therefore it could be said, see more than others, or ourselves, can see at other times.

Intuitively this seems to be a continuum. There may be structural signs of that connection, and they may be helpful in understanding how these two mechanisms maintain us within the realm of conflict.

Let’s begin by defining what is meant here by the realm of conflict.

There appears to be some space between the kinds of collisions that occur within “nature” like two galaxies colliding or a sperm fertilizing an egg; and the kinds of collisions that occur within, or as a result of, our psychological interactions. As much as it is commonplace to talk of a war as being “like a sea,” engulfing all it comes into contact with, or the conflation of death by predator or disease with death resulting form a human system spinning out of control: it seems to me that there are significant differences and that it pays to find how these are different.

Intention and consciousness on one side and random and pointless on the other seem to be the controlling factors. A pointed term, as it points at “who’s in charge?”

If we were galaxies or zygotes then the former collisions might have a different meaning, a different outcome than they do seen from here. These are things that happen, part of the greater “What is.” The latter are things we are complicit in. They happen as a result of what we do, no matter how diluted by numbers and scales of enormity. The former, as integral parts of what is, have consequences that may perturb the flow of being but there appears to be a qualitative difference between these perturbations and things like entangled whales, crack babies, a raccoon cowering against a “Jersey Barrier” waiting for oblivion. part of it is complicity. Part of it is the way these events remove the value and usefulness of death and make it pointless and, beyond feeding the lower level scavengers and composting micro biota, the way in which they short-circuit the circles of life.

To focus in on death…. Within the cycles of life death has many functions. It passes nutrients on. It keeps energy from dissipating into entropy – for a little while longer. It drives evolution, of all the creatures involved. Each death affects every other living thing and all life that follows it.

What about a “ghost” gill net? A net designed to entangle, kill, and hold whatever comes into contact with it. A net made out of lasting materials, plastics, that will continue to kill even as they erode to a microscopic level, even a molecular level. When it does what it’s “supposed to do” it strips a biomass from its place within a living web and diverts it to a single use – in the end, to make money. The sacrificed life’s nutrients end up in toilets, polluting water all the way back to the sea instead of feeding other living chains as it passes along. Life is made into poison and fuel for further acts of poisoning.

Then, when it gets loose, which it’s bound to do, because it’s “cheaper that way,” it goes on killing, goes on concentrating death and polluting all it touches as it slowly dissolves into still poisonous micro-fragments. Again, life is turned into a dead-end. Death like this has no purpose, no meaning. Those who died were unlucky not unfit. There is no evolutionary value to their death except to make future life less resilient, less able to fight entropy.

This is a big subject! It’s usually called the question of evil. It is always segregated from the “lower, animal” orders. It is only focused on “Our Needs!” Where “our” means “people like me.” I avoid that language and am not looking for a decisive result. All I ask is for the possibility that there is a space between these two orders of events.

Consciousness. That’s a big part of the difference I’m asking us to examine. While we tend to think of “nature” as blind fate acting without sight, or as if it is controlled by a stand-in, all-powerful Man-in-the-Sky; its actions appear to show evidence of consciousness. However it has arrived at what is, what is has a flow that at every level appears to be coherent beyond our abilities to comprehend. While our realm, the realm of conflict, appears to lack any consciousness at all. Here we are the “only conscious beings we know of” and it’s our actions that appear random and pointless.

This can easily devolve into “And so it’s always been!” versus the “Mark of Cain,” original sin. Neither “answer” is of much value. They’ve had plenty of play and have yet to do anything but maintain us bound to more of the same.

Looking at these events in relation to our misunderstanding of thought does lack the futility of the “traditional” responses. And that is a huge benefit.

So, in light of this question, how does our misunderstanding of thought, and particularly our continuum from denial to insensitivity, fit in?

What is the structure of this mechanism?

I don’t know. But this is a question that seems worthy of some attention.

Conflict, as I experience it directly, appears to come from a collision between expectations. Projections reach out and warp reality to fit them. When differing projections collide, they alter reality in a way that from within the perspective inside the causative system the perturbation can only be resolved by violence.

Sometimes these projections are clearly the result of willful blindness. Sometimes they appear to result from insensitivity, a more direct – possibly blameless? – blindness.

The levels of reaction that occur as the conflict takes shape overwhelm any possibility of flexibility. We arrive, along with Rufus T. Firefly, at the point at which the only answer seems to be,

“This means War!”

We are perplexed when we read accounts of this in history, the way a cloud descends on a people and they leave all sense behind, lose all critical faculties, and march off with the joint delusions, that

“War is inevitable!” and,

“It’ll be over by Spring!”

Then we see it happen around us. We see the power of these delusions acting on our selves and in our society, and a certain naiveté is lost. Or, it could be….

But often it isn’t.

This demonstrates a continuity, this is a hint at a structural connection between denial and insensitivity. Each extreme seems to be infected with its “opposite.” Beyond childhood, any excuses for truly blind insensitivity begin to pale. On the other hand willful delusion seems impossible to maintain without there being at some level an incapacity to see, not just a resistance to accept what is there.

The issue of our predictive perception is one point of contact. This strips the absolute quality from either knowing deceit or blind delusion.

This also seems to open the possibility, as stated so many times by Bohm & Krishnamurti, that there can be great benefits in breaking the cycles of misunderstanding thought….

Let’s return to this….