“…an individual who respects power and the powerful above all and despises weakness and helplessness, who tyrannizes those beneath him and is submissive to, wishes to “fuse” with, the powerful ones above.”
“These individuals continuously take their own measure, and many rigid persons live with a self-important consciousness of their superior achievements, rank, and authority, their membership in some prestigious group or category.”
“To put the matter another way, to inflict suffering on a relatively powerless individual, an ‘inferior,’ or to inflict further suffering on one who is already suffering, is the intrinsic nature of sadism.”
“When his already exaggerated and uncertain sense of personal authority is chafed further by feelings of inferiority, shame, and humiliation, the rigid individual may become defensive, his attitudes harder and angrier.”
What is attracting these demographics to the theaters and the bookstores is something that is on the minds of both college women and those married with children. For the former it is a question of whether or not to continue the traditional cultural roles that society is expecting them to play, and for the latter it is coming to terms with having chosen to enter into those traditional, phallocentric, social structures. This is the dilemma that Anastasia Steele is confronting through her encounter with Christian Grey.
“Dear Bob, Call Dr. Wilson. I am tired. Hope this works. Good bye, my darling. They can’t cure me, so let it go at that. Lovingly, Florence -P.S. You’ve all been swell guys. Everything is yours.”
|Salvador Dali, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus.|
Regarding theories of how the “self” comes to be known, that is, how “I” comes to meet “me,” the leading figures are Charles Horton Cooley, George Herbert Mead and Jacques Lacan. These three theorists have proposed models for the way in which the knower becomes the knower of the known. Also called the self concept, conscious self, and the subject/object split, the concern is how one comes to be both knower and known. This question continues to be an area of exploration for artists, psychoanalysts, psychologists, and philosophers.
The proposal is that dreaming is the evolutionary mechanism that brings about the image of the self and self consciousness.
An initial elaboration on this model, a speculative addition to both the social interactionists‘ and the psychodynamic insights, will be made here, although the idea is in need of more thorough elaboration.
Since infants are prelinguistic, their dreams are most likely to be similar to early memories, called flashbulb memories. This would mean a compilation of images, not unlike montage technique in film. In the prelinguistic state the framework of chronos time, dependent on the grammatical-logical reference (present, future, past) of most culutres, would not be acted. Instead, the dream life would mostly consist of kairos time, or the emotional connection of motion and transition between images. As the infant enters into linguistic stages (after 1st year through 6th year), the features of language begin to shape thought and thus the dream. Contrasting between the dream life and waking life, comparisons between transductive logic, analogic, induction and deduction, as well as chronos based time become evident. We cannot know that the dream follows rules that are unlike the rules of waking life until the rules of waking life are developed (learned) through grammatical framing and symbolic interaction. This would also include individuation, or what Jean Piaget referred to as object permanence and overcoming egocentricity.
In the dream the child encounters the image of the self. When we dream in the third person, we experience the emotional reaction in the first person. It is at this moment that the characteristics of the I experiencing the me, described by Mead, fall into perfect harmony with this dream model of self. Unlike Mead’s model of the development of the self concept, which acts through play, this model depicts the child simultaneously experiencing the emotional experience from inside and from outside of the I. The child is, at once, actor and audience to their own performance.
These explanations, given by great authorities of science, and often expounded in the presentist, narcissistic-wonderment of journalism, leaves the reader with an illusion of knowing -the false sense of security that the great ecclesiastics of modernity have it all under control.
The lesson is: genes, neurotransmitters, hormones, and cells, taken collectively, are expressions of what we call, on the social or personal level, emotions, motivation, and action. These are not causes, but rather, qualities.
Photo 1978 by Sophie Bassouls.
I was recently asked to address a group of students on this question: what is the single most important issue facing America today? As expected my fellow guests, a philosopher, a sociologist, and a psychologist, seemed to situate themselves around a predictable hub of economic, ecological, and national security issues. Instead I proposed that the greatest threat to America today was the American attitude itself. It is not an external threat, but rather, an internal locus, a sort of pathological way of being that has come to be a hallmark of success. I want to outline what I had to say in that discussion. It centers on the ideas of two thinkers, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre, and is nicely articulated by a third, Erich Fromm.
We call this cultural force desire. The social animal is a transcended Being that is not governed by cause-and-effect chains of logic, but rather, by an integrated being-in-the-world in which an individual’s environment is not an objective situation that they are in, but rather, an active interpretation that they are participating in making. We find here a main point in Fromm’s thinking, that we are not confronted with culture, but that we are a vital, shaping agent of culture. This is a sort of feedback-feedforward loop that is experienced as the world we live in. In fact, it is less a world we live in and more a world that lives within us.
“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.” -Eric Fromm
Fechner’s iceberg analogy adapted to Freud’s topography.
|Chromatic Gradation Effect|