I’m not sure what to call this post, even of what to say. It’s time for introspection and time to reflect on media. People whose thoughtfulness matter to me are struggling with the form their expression should take. “We” – an amorphous “group” that might only exits as a projection in my head! – are all concerned with the costs of our investment in social media, and I am concerned that there is a conflation of the old and the new that is wrong with the whole premise of putting together a “club,” inviting members, and then having rough contact, either one-sided, or so transient and sporadic as to lead to more misunderstanding, noise, and drama; than providing either a space for expression of creativity or for true dialogue.
I’ve been involved in “risky” behavior, taking chances on a friendship as an expedience to be heard. – It’s not that simple, it’s tremendously complex as a matter of fact, but this element was there. And was it worth the risk?
I don’t know. Part of the reason for that is, as I reflect on my own history, a pattern of bringing a perhaps unnecessary level of intensity to relationships that matter to me. This has led to a series of burnouts. The resultant lack of connections then feeds a doubling-down of intensity the next time…. – When I use “we” in discussing our foibles, it isn’t a rhetorical tic, I cannot be honest without including myself in any of the faults I spend so much time finding in others.
I’ve long been confused about who my peers might be. I’ve tended to expect too much from any interaction. I’ve only recently discovered the immense role a sense of disappointment stretching back longer than my memory has fueled my chronic anxiety, the factor that kept me in chronic depression for most of my life.
Writing, in its most direct and basic form, the collecting of words that pass through one’s consciousness and putting them down on a surface so as to put them “out there” where they can be seen as if from the outside, was the way out of depression for me, through the now classic Cognitive Therapeutic method. The “source” of my underlying anxiety resisted this method for another decade. It was only through a serendipitous series of seemingly random steps that I was led to an “augury” that revealed my systemic state of disappointment. At that point, the mechanism of externalizing the trigger kicked in. Now all I need to do, is take a deep breath and disclaim to myself, “I’m NOT disappointed!” and the anxiety lifts and makes room for joy.
Still, finding a path out of an old trap, and being free of the old habits that trap fostered and maintained are two different things! Any trivial series of factors can lead me back into the old morass, at least for a time. David Bohm’s conception of allowing ourselves to suspend the affects of our conditioning, not justifying them or repressing them, but letting them go by, or at least maintaining an awareness of our proprioception regarding the way our thoughts and feeling seem to cause us pain as if they were external attackers: enemies, conflicts, problems; instead of self-inflicted wounds resulting from an inability or unwillingness to see that we do these things to ourselves.
This is a fleeting and tangential touch on what I’ve begun to call the Bohm/Krishnamurti Synthesis. The ramifications and possibilities of their insights are tremendous, as much as they are hidden in plain sight.
I’m left feeling that my own, and the emotional life of those I interact with, is caught between paradigms. I’ve long felt alienated from the norms of the life I’ve seen around me, but now I can see glimpses into a way past those norms that could be epochal in its effect. Still, I’m crippled by my inability to inhabit this new way more fully and unable to imagine how best to communicate with those around me.
By communicate, I mean enter into dialogue with. Here is the main crux of this post, if not all of my efforts. How do we make the connections we need to make with people who are conducive – And also truly available? Putting it this way makes it seem a parody of the forces driving social media today! The explosion of the model of catty-clubby-social climbing and record keeping of the modern Ivy league campus as THE WAY the world should interact. Not only the “Social Network,” but the entire web2.0 model is predicated on the willingness of so many of us who have “the means” to be exploited that we will actually take the chance to be exploited again on the off-chance that it will “better our lives.”
If I take the trajectories of the insights I’ve come upon over the last years seriously, I have to say this is no different from any of civilization’s other Ponzi schemes. It fits the classic models all the way from, “Hey let’s put a wall around this village, we’ll be safer!” to “The Invisible Hand knows all!” The bargains we allow ourselves to be enticed by have always led to a diminishing return culminating in the bankrupting of the entire Casino Earth we’ve turned our home into feeding the slots at an ever more frantic rate.
Krishnamurti’s insights into the traps of striving are another pillar of their synthesis. It provides a rigor to keep us focused on the questions we face and not leaving us the excuses for not making a direct connection between question and action. The discipline to unchain ourselves from the gaming tables it can provide us is one of the most powerful strengths we can develop to remove ourselves from this dance of meta-destruction.
Their example of dialogue is as clear and simple as it is powerful. Its clarity is inherent in its face-to-face nature. There are no substitutes.
We’re in a situation, for all the appearance of travel, contact and means of communication, that is – and is becoming more literally alike with – that of monks in the “Dark Ages.” We find ourselves isolated in pockets, either singly or in small enclaves. We hunger for contact and the opportunity for dialogue – we often settle for any sort of simian grooming, just to feel some sort of connection, or get into the care and feeding of little fiefdom’s, tending our on-line friendships and keeping track of our “followers.”
That hunger is real. It is genuine and its satisfaction will have effects beyond anything we can imagine. Precisely because this is the only way we can evolve our imaginations. The interaction between creative action and honest dialogue is the only way the forces of an evolutionary dynamic can take us beyond the traps we find ourselves in. Creation opens us to Being/Mind and Dialogue allows us to provide for each other the food we cannot live without, cannot even die properly without.
I’ve spent the entire time writing on this forum/media/platform pushing for the realization that a will-to-control is not only doomed to failure, but directly tied to destruction. It is the antithesis of creativity. In the meantime, I’ve continued to try/strive to control how I might disseminate my contribution, and find the reciprocity I have realized I can’t live without.
We could take this as an inevitable paradox. I’m afraid that is what we used to call a “cop-out.” The whole “living with paradox” thing may have been a useful stage in coming out of a smug complacency with the inconsistencies of modern life, but if we leave it at that, we risk just moving our complacency to another meta-shelf.
How do we act without striving? I’ve ruminated on that question a bit here. It is one of the big questions we need to stay with, and not go-to-ground with any ready solution. Perhaps it’s contradictions and not paradox that we find ourselves in when we criticize a premise and then hold onto it at the same time. It’s been an ongoing topic here too, of what “we’ can’t seem to avoid doing on so many levels.
Just as I’m convinced that the will-to-control does not work, every evidence points to the strength of letting go as a way to clear attention for new pathways to emerge.
This, I can now see might be the culmination this effort here has been trending towards.
In a continuation of an uncanny series of parallels I’ve felt in the way our thinking has processed as if in wandering a wood one continues to spot a fellow being whose made roughly the same series of choices and maintains a certain proximity through all the apparent twists and turns, I’ve been once again struck with the way this writer has voiced my concerns as they’ve arisen.
I’ve been keen on the existence of double-binds all my life. Here is one that grips me. How do I maintain the possibility for these contacts, not only these particular contacts with people thousands of miles away that I’ve developed over the last few years, but the possibility for any contacts, let alone ones that might be closer in proximity, hiding in plain sight; if I close the doors provided by these social media?
While an “answer” might be lingering ready to pluck inherent in the framing of the question, this is a complicated situation. – I use that term with all its implications here instead of complex.
I’ve likened the trajectory of our lives at this time to running up a down escalator in a collapsing building. Habit has inflected instinct to push us to continue to climb for we fear whatever lies in wait for us below. We are increasingly aware that we are fools to continue. We even welcome much of what we catch in fleeting glimpses and glimmers of how an acceptance of the collapse will make the whole process that much more liveable, but we continue to fight our way “up.” Only “up” tends to be an aggregate downward trend despite our best efforts. We tire, we struggle with questions of inevitability, with the limits of desire, with the extent of our imagination. We just don’t know what else to do. This is as true for the most “out-there” among us as it is for the most reactionary. This is a common expression of our humanity, our creature-hood, the immediate expression of the will-to-live however it may be garbled or miss-expressed in a particular circumstance.
I’ve often burst into tears or rage at the sight of road-kill, that blatant and ubiquitous sign of what we’ve allowed to happen to the world. I must admit it isn’t for pity for the poor animals. It’s in self-pity that I react so strongly. The death of a creature within the cycles of life, even our own deaths within this cycle that we’ve rebelled against and is such a driver behind civilizations bargains, is sad, in passing, but life goes on. These deaths, whether animals trampled by our desire for an illusion of freedom, or the extinctions, including our own that we are pushing on the world; are not the same character or quality of event. These are tragedies that illuminate the tragic nature of human life, at least civilized life. Whether this character of tragedy is our “fate” as humans, or a result of civilization and its bargains is another question to keep close and not jump for answers.
As with all aspects of our predicament, there are contradictory “goods/benefits/values” at stake that not only reflect the complexity of life, but our conditions mired in the sense of its complications spinning off not in joy and abundance of diversity, but in the fear-springing vertigo of our sense of its chaotic complication. Much of this, if not all of it, is tied to the specifics of our conditioning. A true paradigm shift in world-view/cultural framework could make this as much a non-issue as the rightness of burning witches is today – with fingers crossed that it remains so, that we continue to exercise these impulses in electronic immolation, though I fear that with the passing of these “opportunities” might bring back the appetite for the real thing….
This ramble will not lead to a conclusion. My appetite and tolerance for Negative Capability is too strong and too important for me to let it go, no matter how frustrating it may be to anyone within earshot. I will “announce” my concerns with the problematic nature of these stand-ins for more genuine contact. That I’m aware of the tensions between imperfect means and greater concerns, concerns that point to the inappropriateness of considering separating out portions of existence as means, or ends at all. Questions of media and their use, their effectiveness as opposed to their misleading qualities are central to where I’m thinking now. I must say that there is a growing return of the sense of strength and immediacy the direct confrontation with a painting, or the written word on a page, has impressed itself on me lately. This ties in with the difference between even watching a true face-to-face dialogue and all the ersatz we allow to fill our time because it is “easier.”
I will be cutting back on my own commenting on other people’s posts. I’ll even curb my appetite for receiving the rare comments posted here in response to what I write! I will write – that means e-mail, I’m afraid, at least for now, while the opportunity persists anyway – people directly if I want to reply to what I’ve found. I also encourage people to write me via the contact page if they would care to.
Everything is personal. That’s a by-word I continue to hold dear. The pressure to wholesale our connections is the result of the chimerical “value” we place on efficiency. These efforts, are all in keeping with upholding this principle while at the same time removing the accelerants and enablers that turn our attempts to connect into collisions instead of dialogues.
I don’t know where this will lead. That’s a good sign! Futility waits for us on every “known” path.