The Proprioception of Power

Finding what needs to be said is a challenge. In large part it requires letting go of reacting to things and getting caught-up in complaining. Chasing disappointment

It requires allowing the force of what is not being said to make itself felt. This is a combination of internal listening with sampling what comes to us from outside.

This process cannot be steered. It is not helped along by urgency.

There are countless “narratives” insisting they be fed. Listened to. Added to. Reacted against. Agreed with.

One factor presenting itself these days has been how pervasive a covert and complex form of attention-direction has become. This goes way beyond surveillance, the buzzword of the day. The apotheosis of the Panopticon in a giant black box in the desert filled with spinning hard-drives holding every available scrap of – they call it intelligence?

So many public – let’s call them waves of attention – have the properties of some form of covert control applied to them. A sort of DARPA of public attention at work directing – mostly miss-directing – our attention. It appears that the thaumaturgists behind the scenes have upped the ante beyond traditional propaganda, entering into a phase of meta-propagandizing.

What makes this a true meta-effort is the way it consumes conspiracy narratives into its machinations. I brought this up in relation to last year’s Oscar winner, Argo. The way the power-players behind N.S.A. and their rivals. The CIA? Some other totally out of sight group? The Reptilians? – See how it feeds on itself? – Have begun to want to wink and take a touch of overt credit for all their cleverness at manipulating the masses.

They’ve obviously “figured out” how the Internet driven mass audience works. Infiltrating any outlet is now as easy as programming a bot. Virtual drones dropping rockets on virtual weddings all around the world.

The key to this game, from their perspective, is sowing doubt. Pervasive, crippling doubt. Not the sort of comfort with ambivalence I go on about here. Doubt as a weapon.

Concerned about Fukushima? Well, almost all – is it all? – reports, even those from esoteric websites that end up making the rounds of social media, are riddled with exaggerations and blundering, obvious mistakes. After a while we do feel like Chicken Little. The scares must all just be in our heads.

It’s a sign of the depth of our being owned by those who wield power. Just how deep this goes. Why we feel there is no place where we can just be.

It points to the centrality of attention. How those wielding power have discovered the intrinsic power of holding all attention. A power as effective as any used to attempt to alter belief. A power that blocks the possibility that any form of belief can be created that might displace the positions of power those with power now find themselves in.

There is a hole in the middle of every conversation about power, about culture, about recognizing the limitations and the small-mindedness of our current dialogs about all these things.

A driving force behind the flexing of any power seems to be the need to find corroboration for power’s efficacy in the destruction of any other possible way of seeing, of being. The desperation underlying this hunger for external validation by thwarting any alternative appears to be central to authoritarianism and the quest for control. This seems to be a defining characteristic of just about anything visible above some threshold of public awareness. An insistence that the confusion underlying the insistence on certainty behind the flexing of power must be made universal.

This appears to be somewhat causal to the way in which the behavior of the powerful always goes against any sense of proportion, any sense of what we call “reasonable,” going so far as to be indistinguishable from a suicidal mania.

The shadow, in Jungian terms, is the projection into external perception of the lies we insist on telling ourselves. Here is where that connects with the totality of our public experiences today. The shadow metastasizing into a colossus, like Goya’s Monsters of Reason, towering over us and sending us reeling in horror. A horror we cannot express since every mode of expression is twisted and perverted into a source for paralyzing confusion.

This forcefully reminds me of Bohm’s poor old stroke victim. We are the public body of this volition that has no proprioception of its own agency and flails out in reaction, taking the suffering it inflicts on itself/us as further signs of the need to flail even more violently.

This begs for a sense of what a proprioception of power might entail. How can we decipher what this would mean?

A key clue has to do with honesty, and its current lack. Something that has been taken to such extremes that even at the highest levels of publicly visible power there is no longer any shame in showing extreme levels of stupidity. Stupidity not understood as a lack of mental capacity. Stupidity as an unwillingness to understand anything that contradicts a presupposition. This is a studied stupidity. It is an industry. One vying with all other aspects of that idiotic method of organizing human life, the life of our only inhabitable planet, for the sake of making and selling crap. This industry of stupidity not only includes the means of propaganda, but has also swallowed-up all the attention and awareness of those holding and wielding power.

Could it be that this is not a symptom, but a cause?

I’ve explained before how “wealth makes you stupid.” It’s beginning to look like a feature and not a bug.

The pursuit of power brings a facsimile of strength. Not the real thing. It establishes a dynamic between its practitioners and a relationship with what-is that holds the perpetuation of illusions to be of greater importance than finding ways to find traction with the complexity we are an inseparable part of.

Here is the prosaic and profound underpinnings behind what we now take to be the optional parameters of an honest relation. This is the heart of corruption and its destructive force which while it is aimed at those in its practitioner’s power ends up destroying its practitioners just as fatally.

Truth is not only hard to find. It is indispensable. It’s not a question of a “nice-to-have” set of ethics, added as a veneer, a form of public relations. We turn away from its hard path towards the pursuit of power risking everything. Betting against “the house” we are sure to lose. Cheating, gaming, “The System” we only cheat ourselves.

This has long been corrupted into parables of Hell for the uncooperative. The gaming of the religious impulse as a tool of public power throughout the run of this thing we call civilization.

Every attempt at reform or revolution, has been folded back into this rotten cake batter. The seduction of power is that great.

But today….

Living in this particular moment of clarity we have an advantage no one has had in this same way before. We have access to how every dodge has failed. Not just nearby. Not just this crooked cop, or that corrupt mayor or governor. Not just how this despot failed to take us to the lasting Reich. Or that pontiff in bringing us to heaven’s gates. We have sight of how the whole system has never worked. How the concentration of power and its illusory marker, “wealth,” has been a Ponzi Scheme of long duration. As the last vestiges of actual useful value, residing in an ecosystem that permits life to exist at all, crumbles about us; we can hardly avoid seeing how this game will end.

This is not an excuse for another wriggling manifestation of “exceptionalism.” A view of our dire straits as a last refuge for narcissistic fantasies of egotism, “Apres moi? Le deluge!” Louis XVI’s petulant insistence – pre-guillotine – that his end must equate with the end of everything. Now “democratized” – the only way this notion survives – in the commodified egotism of each and every entitled twerk, from the most powerful to the most clueless follower of the public orgy of consumption.

It boils down to a matter of hygiene. As with emotional proprioception, from which the capacity for a proprioception of power grows, it is a matter of accepting what-is and aligning one’s actions with truth.

By doing this we are not miraculously saved. It doesn’t change anything of our present situation at all. Except it changes everything.

If emotional proprioception is a key to stepping outside suffering. Then an awareness of proprioception concerning power: the awareness that it is a trap and not a source of answers – parallel to the way we do have control over how we respond to what can be mistaken as an outside force controlling our emotional responses, triggering reactions we feel unable to avert. A proprioception of power removes the compulsion to generate suffering around us.

Proprioception, an awareness of what we do to our selves. Apply this to power and we don’t need admonishments to “do the right thing.” We leave behind the shell-game of ever “higher authorit-ay” that we “must follow” in order to be “good.”

This removes change from a striving after some poorly perceived and instantly obsolete goal – the present moves on, goals always fossilize, more quickly than we often imagine! Change becomes what it has always been. An instantaneous insight reorganizing perception and leading to a new way of acting, of being.

Giving up power is not an act of subjugation. It is not “saintly.” It is not even “non-violence.” Since non-violence is just another strategy in the pursuit of power by “other” means.

Simply, it’s not being stupid. Recognize intelligence doesn’t fit in any box. No matter how large or how micro-miniaturized its storage capacity.


Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

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