I seem to lead a charmed life… at least on occasion.
Yesterday evening, I was visiting with a neighbour who knows nothing of my writing or my blogging. She was quite excited by a book she had discovered by John O’Donohue called Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. Over tea she picked it up and turned to a passage that had particularly struck her as poignant, and began to read aloud one paragraph,
“Ascetic solitude involves silence. And silence is one of the great victims of modern culture. We live in an intense and visually aggressive age; everything is drawn outward toward the sensation of the image. A consequence of culture becoming ever more homogenized and universalist is that image has such power. With the continued netting of everything, chosen images can immediately attain universality. There is an incredibly subtle and powerful calculating industry of modern dislocation, where that which is deep and lives in the silence within us is completely ignored. The surfaces of our minds continue to be seduced by the power of images. There is a sinister eviction taking place; peoples’ lives are being dragged outward all the time. The inner world of the soul is suffering a great eviction by the landlord forces of advertising and the external social reality. This outer exile really impoverishes us. One of the reasons so many people are suffering from stress is not that they were doing stressful things but that they allow so little time for silence. A fruitful solitude without silence and space is inconceivable.” (pp. 108 – 9)
I was initially a little reluctant to have her read to me from a book. But when she came to the lines “There is a sinister eviction taking place; peoples’ lives are being dragged outward all the time. The inner world of the soul is suffering a great eviction by the landlord forces of advertising and external social reality” so that we live, in effect, in “outer exile”…. these lines immediately grabbed my attention. O’Donohue was describing exactly what I have been calling “the foreign installation”.
How fortuitous that was! I could hardly believe she had chosen to read the very thing which was the object of my present scrutiny… the foreign installation that turns our minds into occupied territory. And if you have some doubts about that, I suggest you read Al Ries and Jack Trout’s Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
(A word of warning, Ries and Trout aren’t out so much to provide you with defences against being psychically occupied. The book is actually a ‘how-to’ manual for perception managers, mind manipulators, branders, propagandists, advertisers, “public diplomacy” and public relations agents).
In any case, I now have O’Donohue’s book (which she kindly lent to me) and will be reading it carefully.