The Field Concept in Jung’s “Collective Unconscious”

To continue from the previous post: the emergence of the Field concept in physics, in biology, in psychology, in sociology is, in all likelihood, the fundamental phenomenon behind what we are calling “paradigm shift”, and we can begin to appreciate the meaning of Jean Gebser’s consciousness “mutations” or his “irruption” of a new consciousness structure in those terms, ie, that the growing interest and concern with holism or integrality is also a reflection of the Field, or that the Field is the truly subsistent reality. The Field is also energy and corresponds to the Heraclitean “flux”, which can only be described in terms of patterns or Gestalts, and so you see a corresponding interest in the issue of “pattern recognition” or pattern cognition, which belongs to the more intuitive faculties.

But today I want to speak, briefly, to how Jung’s Archetypal Psychology also relates to the emergence of the Field into consciousness, in terms of the so-called “Collective Unconscious” and his doctrine of “synchronicity” which does parallel issues of non-locality (or transluminal effect) in quantum physics, or what Einstein himself once dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”, although it was, ironically enough, already implied in Einstein’s view that time was a “stubborn illusion”.

The fundamental wave-particle paradox that so afflicts quantum mechanics pertains equally to the distinction Gebser makes between the Whole and the Totality, and therefore to the Field or the atomic (particulate) paradigm. This same paradox is equally mirrored in Iain McGilchrist’s neurodynamics and the two modes of attention he describes as “Master” mode and “Emissary” mode, where the former is attuned and oriented to direct perception of the Field, while the latter is focussed on the part and detail (see his book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World). This same relationship between Field and Particle, or between Master and Emissary, is reflected too in neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “stroke of insight”, where the “Field” is called “Life Force Power of the Universe” and the “particle” as such she calls our sense of being an ego or “I am”.

One of the things to note about this, which is associated with the emergence of the Field concept, is that energy and information become interchangeable concepts, implicit in Bolte-Taylor’s metaphorical comparison of the hemispheres of the brain to parallel processor (right hemisphere or “Master”) and serial processor (left hemisphere or “Emissary”). What we call “matter”, in effect, becomes evanescent as information or “data”. This leads, consequently, to the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness. Consciousness, energy, and information become braided, as it were, as three aspects of a unitary movement — David Bohm’s “holomovement”.

And for the “Emissary”, of course — the contemporary ego-consciousness as analytical-rational, or perspectivising mind — this is “chaos”. But what this actually means is that our conventional notions of how space and time are structured or distributed — our ideas of “order” or kosmos — are breaking down (hence “chaotic transition”), but also undergoing a restructuration. And if you know Gebser’s philosophy of “consciousness structures” (or species of consciousness) you’ll know that different consciousness structures or civilisational/cultural types are fundamentally spatial and temporal configurations or Gestalts, and consequently have their own unique pictures of kosmos. A consciousness structure is basically a dimensioning of reality into a particular spatial and temporal Gestalt. The breakdown of what Rosenstock-Huessy calls our own “cross of reality” as a spatial-temporal pattern or Gestalt is evinced by the contemporary confusion (especially) between what is “subjective” and what is “objective”, which is reflected in the so-called “identity crisis” and “disintegration of the ego consciousness”.

And this strikes me as coincident with the emergence of the Field as concept.

Jung’s idea of the “collective unconscious” is also a Field concept. It is perhaps somewhat misnamed because it’s really the ego-conscious that is unconscious of this. For the most part, “collective unconscious” really coincides with what Jean Gebser also calls “the archaic consciousness structure” and which he characterises as “zero-dimensional”. The Field, as such, should not be thought of essentially in spatial-temporal terms (extended in space or having duration in time) but as what physicist David Bohm also calls “the unlimited” — an infinite field of potentiality rather than something spatial or temporal, for it precedes and is prior to all dimensioning. Therefore, it is synonymous with what has traditionally been called “the One”. Furthermore, William Blake was conscious of this as the infinity latent in all things or finitudes or the definite — “World in a grain of sand”, “Heaven in a Wild Flower”, or “Eternity within the hour” and so on. Moreover, conundrums like non-locality or quantum entanglement, or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle reveal that particles or matter and their arrangement in space and time are not the most fundamental or subsistent reality, but that there is something more fundamental still upon which “things” and “thingness” as such (beings and being, in other words as well as all spaces and times) are completely dependent, and as such corresponds to Jean Gebser’s “ever-present origin”.

Now, I’ve mentioned previously that images like “Ocean” or water, water everywhere are allusions to the Field, and this corresponds to Jung’s “collective unconscious” or allusions to Gebser’s “archaic consciousness”. Often used is a simile that the ego-consciousness is like a cork bobbing up and down on the surface of an Ocean. But the specific Christian symbolism is the fish. The ego-consciousness is like a fish immersed in an invisible matrix or field which, in Jungian terms, is the oceanic “collective unconscious”, which is the Field. The various parables about fish and fishermen in the New Testament gain some poignancy in that respect in listening to Jill Bolte-Taylor’s own description of her experience as being a “great whale gliding through a sea of silent euphoria”.

First there is a mountain
Then there is no mountain,
Then there is.

And what underlies the Buddhist notion of “inter-being” is also the Field, and that meaning of “inter-being” (or “Indra’s Net”) is also very well presented in Bolte-Taylor’s TED talk. That our attention is increasingly being drawn towards this Field concept must signal one thing — the “intensification” (or “quickening”) of that mode of perception that McGilchrist associates with “the Master” except that, for the “Emissary” or ego-consciousness, this seems like horror itself — death and chaos because, in a way it is.  But this death and resurrection from death is also what is represented in the haiku cited above.

It comes down to a simple question: are you prepared to “let go”? If you’re not prepared to let go, then the “irruption” of which Gebser writes will seem like terror itself. “Die before you die” is the rule, in effect (or “die to oneself daily” as the New Testament puts it). The Emissary does not like that one bit. But that is also the meaning of Bolte-Taylor’s experience.

Recently, I came across a quotation from David Bohm about “negative mind” which also very much resembles this “letting go” and the meaning of the above cited haiku.

It is important not to accumulate a large residue of fixed patterns of thought. Rather, as soon as a thought has served its reflective function, it has to become “vulnerable” to the “negative mind” that tends to re-establish creative harmony and…to bring patterns…to an end.

That’s a good description of “letting go”, but it is also a reflection of that enigmatic saying in the New Testament — “to bind and to loose” which, in my estimation, is the real meaning of “creative destruction”, and which is also reflected in Nietzsche’s remark that “one must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star…”, which is connected with that state Buddist’s call “No-Mind”.

“Creative destruction”? It really refers to affirmation and negation, our “yes” and our “no”. And between these two poles of yes and no, affirmation and negation, we conduct our lives for the sake of establishing that “creative harmony” that is also represented in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”.

At root, it’s all quite simple, don’t you think?

56 responses to “The Field Concept in Jung’s “Collective Unconscious””

  1. donsalmon says :

    Sri Aurobindo on Consciousness

    Consciousness is a fundamental thing, the fundamental thing in existence  it is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it  not only the macrocosm but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself. For instance, when consciousness in its movement or rather a certain stress of movement forgets itself in the action it becomes an apparently unconscious” energy; when it forgets itself in the form it becomes the electron, the atom, the material object. In reality it is still consciousness that works in the energy and determines the form and the evolution of form. When it wants to liberate itself, slowly, evolutionarily, out of Matter, but still in the form, it emerges as life, as animal, as man and it can go on evolving itself still farther out of its involution and become something more than mere man.

    — Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, pp. 236-7.

    Consciousness is usually identified with mind, but mental consciousness is only the human range which no more exhausts all the possible ranges of consciousness than human sight exhausts all the gradations of colour or human hearing all the gradations of sound — for there is much above or below that is to man invisible and inaudible. So there are ranges of consciousness above and below the human range, with which the normal human [consciousness] has no contact and they seem to it unconscious….

    — Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p.233

    Our physical organism no more causes or explains thought and consciousness than the construction of an engine causes or explains the motive-power of steam or electricity. The force is anterior, not the physical instrument.

    — Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 86

    Consciousness is not only power of awareness of self and things, it is or has also a dynamic and creative energy. It can determine its own reactions or abstain from reactions; it can not only answer to forces, but create or put out from itself forces. Consciousness is Chit but also Chit Shakti, awareness but also conscious force.

    — Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 234

    We mean [by planes of consciousness, planes of existence] a general settled poise or world of relations between Purusha and Prakriti, between the Soul and Nature. For anything that we can call world is and can be nothing else than the working out of a general relation which a universal existence has created or established between itself, or let us say its eternal fact or potentiality and the powers of its becoming. That existence in its relations with and its experience of the becoming is what we call soul or Purusha, individual soul in the individual, universal soul in the cosmos; the principle and the powers of the becoming are what we call Nature or Prakriti.

    –Sri Aurobindo The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 429

    the knowledge we have to arrive at is not truth of the intellect; it is not right belief, right opinions, right information about oneself and things, that is only the surface mind’s idea of knowledge. To arrive at some mental conception about God and ourselves and the world is an object good for the intellect but not large enough for the Spirit; it will not make us the conscious sons of Infinity. Ancient Indian thought meant by knowledge a consciousness which possesses the highest Truth in a direct perception and in self-experience; to become, to be the Highest that we know is the sign that we really have the knowledge….. For the individual to arrive at the divine universality and supreme infinity, live in it, possess it, to be, know, feel and express that one in all his being, consciousness, energy, delight of being is what the ancient seers of the Veda meant by the Knowledge.

    — Sri Aurobindo The Life Divine, pp. 685-6

    • Scott Preston says :

      Good quotes. But how do you manage to assemble these together so quickly?

      • donsalmon says :


        I should guard my secret sources closely!!

        just kidding….

        Matthijs Cornelissen, founder and director of the Indian Psychology Institute,, put these on his site.

        I first met Matthijs online in 1997. We had both been, independently, studying Sri Aurobindo in relation to modern science for about 20 years at that point. I was quite excited to make contact because I thought, “Finally, someone I can talk to in depth about these things” (Matthijs was trained as a psychiatrist but left his practice to move to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram back in the 1970s).

        Matthijs wrote me back and said, “Finally, someone I can talk to in depth about these things.” Seems that people at the Ashram and Auroville don’t seem to have much more interest in the topics you raise here than folks just about anywhere else.

        I keep imagining there must be SOME way to let people know, as tens of thousands of species are dying daily, as we sink deeper into the age of duplicity, that learning to see a world in a grain of sand, heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, etc, letting go of Newton’s single vision, recognizing the Ever-Present Field, is the only way out, the only way beyond the matrix.

        But folks are happy to ride their bikes, make their money, eat their Big Macs, share cat videos on Facebook, etc.

        Meanwhile Trump goes on his merry way, encouraging would-be tin-pot fascists ever more.

        What will it take????

        • donsalmon says :

          Matthijs and I were also pleased to discover we both thought that a few pages of comments from Sri Aurobindo on consciousness, from volume 1 of Letters on Yoga, (some of which appear above) are actually not a bad preview to save y’all time from reading the 30 collected volumes of 1000 or so pages each. At least, in terms of getting the essence of what Sri aurobindo prophecies will be the foundation for a future Science of Consciousness (“science” of course, not in the current flatland, left brain sense)

        • Scott Preston says :

          From what I’m reading this morning, Mr. Trump and his kin may be in deep trouble, being sued by NY for self-dealing.

          But I’m reminded of Nietzsche’s “Twilight of the Idols” too — the many idols and icons that are falling, like the stars of the celebrity firmament (yes indeed, Chicken Little, in some ways the sky is falling) — almost everything being exposed as vanus — empty. “America’s Dad” Mr. Cosby not the least or only one, for example.

          Twilight of the Gods = disillusionment. But such disillusionment and disappointment, hard as it may be to swallow, may also well be an opening. After all, revelation is also a disillusionment.

          • donsalmon says :

            disillusionment and re-enchantment.

            birds singing in the trees outside the window, singing the song of the music of endless, soaring sweetness, a sweetness the scent of which moves through these computer keys, the pineapple and blueberries on the plate next to the laptop, and She sings, She plays, Her energies interweave and intermingle, ceaselessly engaging the wondrous eyes of the child-Infinite who is ever here with us – multitudinously, as much in Misu on the window sill looking up at Ami lazing on the top of the cat condo, as much in them as in the construction truck and workers across from Asheville City Bakery where the morning zooms along from a few stragglers to the whir and rush of the near-end of the business week – and whom we have lost side of, for which we need this disillusionment in order to find the enchantment which is always ever-present…

            • Scott Preston says :

              Legend of the troll (the Manx “Buggane”):

              “Perfect for wildlife spotters, the Isle of Man is home to countless wonderful creatures. You can see dolphins swimming off the coast, seabird colonies nesting on the surrounding islets, cats with no tails (more on them later) … but you’ll have to work extra hard to track down the Buggane. These huge, ogre-like creatures – the Manx equivalent of the Scandinavian troll – are covered in black hair, and come with claws, tusks and the ability to speak to people. They are rumoured to hide out in old ruins, forests and waterfalls. When they do emerge from the shadows, they certainly make themselves known. In one local tale a particularly mischievous Buggane takes trolling to a new level by repeatedly ripping off the roof of St Trinian’s chapel.”

              Sounds like the internet troll. So, you see, we do live in mythical and re-enchanted times!

          • donsalmon says :

            Hi Simon:

            Took me a little while to see what you were responding to. “What will it take?”

            If you mean the pandemic may awaken people to the need to get rid of Trump, yes.

            If you mean the pandemic may awaken people to learn the value of seeing infinity in the palm of one’s hand, and eternity in an hour, my guess is it will take a bit more than a pandemic.

            However, you and Scott’s readers might be interested in the comments of David Buckland ( who sees the last 10 years ago as a time of awakening (not tens of millions, but perhaps thousands – and sees each awakening “point” as potentially affecting the entire “Field” of the planet).

            So, beyond what we see externally with the virus, racial protests, climate change, what Scott refers to as “the new normal,” something is stirring in the collective.

            Andrew Hewson (, I think) suggests that the mass awakenings on the planet are stirring up the “collective unconscious” – which is what we’re seeing with MAGA and the rest.

            We live in what the Chinese referred to as “interesting times.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      To arrive at some mental conception about God and ourselves and the world is an object good for the intellect but not large enough for the Spirit; it will not make us the conscious sons of Infinity.

      Precisely what Blake meant, too, by “More! More! is the cry of the mistaken Soul. Less than All cannot satisfy Man.”

  2. Dwig says :

    Coming at this from a few different directions:

    Your family dog is limited in sight, being color blind. However, his hearing and sense of smell is far more sensitive than ours; he experiences the Field significantly differently than we do. What’s obvious to us is mystery to him, and vice versa. (If your family dog is female, please forgive my sexism and replace the pronouns appropriately.)

    Then there’s the birds. Our eyes have three types of color sensing cones, each “tuned” to a different range of light frequencies; the birds have four, so perceive a richer visual world than we do.

    So, what might the consciousness landscapes of canines and avians be like? Of course, this can be extended; try to imagine the “weltbild” of an octopus…

    Still, there is a common reality that encompasses all these consciousnesses; they are all “interbeing” and “interbecoming” in the same Field.

    Scott, I’m going to stick my neck out and guess that your Native American friends would find this quite natural. When we two-leggeds finally stop messing things up for ourselves and the rest of life on the planet, we might be fit to engage in an ongoing dialogue with our fellow beings-becomings.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, there is a formality that is somewhat equivalent to the word “Amen” at least among the Sioux, and that is to conclude a prayer with the words “All my relations” or “We are all related” (“Mitakuye-Oyasin”).

      But whether or not those who speak the words actually understand them is another matter, ie, whether it has become merely ritualistic or truly heart-felt. There’s a lot of potential (and even divergent) meanings packed into the phrase “mitakuye oyasin” — “all my relations” and how far you extend this kinship structure or net of relations. In different mouths it may mean different things, including this term “inter-being” or what is characterised as “Indra’s Net”.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        whether or not those who speak the words actually understand them is another matter, ie, whether it has become merely ritualistic or truly heart-felt.

        How can we know?

        As Lewis posited, Socrates suggested, “judge men by their actions,” which is just another way of saying, “by their fruits, ye shall know them.”

        Fruit-judging, it would seem, has become a fine art in and of itself and yet….

        There is always the “Whistlers” among us to consider.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Another look at the possibility of a “New Dark Age”, by James Bridle, appears in today’s Guardian entitled “Rise of the machines”

  4. Scott Preston says :

    Quite apart from the ownership structure of PsyGroup, note the corp’s logo shown in this article in Medium

    View at

    And you may also recall in this regard Ron Suskind’s quoting a Bush aide (presumed to be karl Rove) and his disparagement of “the reality-based community”

    “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ […] ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do”

    Along with Samuel Huntington’s remark that effective power must operate in and from the dark

    ” ‘Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”

    And if you take these things together, you begin to get a glimmer of what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism” as precisely this “shaping reality” via manipulation of perception.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    McGilchrist’s saying here about the nature of creativity brings to mind Gebser’s principle that everything hinges on knowing when to make happen and knowing when to let happen. “making space” for creativity (ie spontaneity) can be interpreted in many ways (you can also say “making time” for creativity to unfold, but all of this really is a way of saying “not-doing” or silencing the Monkey Mind. This has some connection with the meaning of David Bohm’s “negative mind” which I quoted earlier.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    Pretty revealing statement made by Trump in a Fox & Friends interview. Commenting on Kim Jong un, Trump had this to say:

    “He speaks and his people sit up at attention,” Trump said. “I want my people to do the same.”

    So, what Trump values above all is not so much “loyalty” but obedience.

  7. mikemackd says :

    Scott, many moons ago, I said I’d look into the fourfold division in Australian Aboriginal cultures. I don’t think it’s universal, but appears in some central Australian paintings I saw when driving to Darwin to Adelaide.

    At 2:30 in this TedX talk, Lera Boroditsky refers to an Aboriginal tribe that orientates its members by the cardinal directions in a far greater way than we English speakers do:

    The talk is also relevant to Sri Aurobindo’s comment posted by Don Salmon above, where he refers to consciousness as a “thing”. It’s clear from his later explanation that he meant it more as a process. That was the means of communication he had to use at the time. Today, many attempt to avoid verbal dichotomie. For example, in this case of “thing” and “process”, by use of the term “existent”. I am one such.

    The talk also confirms other of those quotes of Sri Aurobindo’s within Lera Boroditsky’s linguistic context.

    • mikemackd says :

      After posting that, I took another look at Jill Bolte-Taylor’s TedX Scott linked above. At 5:43, she noted that the left hemisphere thinks in language. Her stroke of insight had been in her left hemisphere’s language centre.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I recall reading an article (perhaps the one by Boroditsky published in The Edge) on this subject years ago. I also recall thinking at the time that one might as easily ask: Does how we think shape language? As languages tend to be shared in common, I suspect it may be a bit of both.

      How “we” (supposedly) think certainly has reshaped Standard English (i.e. the dialect of the language supported by institutions) over the centuries. I’d be interested in a study that also considers local and regional dialects of the same language.

      Interesting article in The Atlantic on the subject of language and dialect.

    • mikemackd says :

      As regards the fourfold division by Australian Aborigines, yesterday I came across this when on a different line of enquiry. It’s from the Wikipedia article about the Kaurna, the nation that used to inhabit the Adelaide plains before the English came:

      “As soon as a person died the body was wrapped in the clothes they had worn in life. The body was then placed on a wiralli (crossed sticks that form the radii of a circle) and an inquest was held to determine cause of death.”

  8. mikemackd says :

    Rummaging through some old files of mine (1980-82) I came across a letter I had completely forgotten about. I had written to Ken Wilber about his book “The Holographic Paradigm”. In it, I asked him “how can you accuse Krishnamurti of collapsing a hierarchy he doesn’t even mention? Surely his point would be that if it becomes another thought structure, it will hinder direct observation, and if it is real, it will be seen as such through meditation and contemplation, His approach – not philosophy – bypasses Whitehead’s subject-object differentiation you mention on p. 286.”

    I would be interested to see what McGilchrist would have to say, But I think my left hemisphere uses hierarchies to manipulate reality, and my right hemisphere what I call “holarchic vortices in heterarchic fields” as a metaphor towards understanding reality, and that it’s Tao that cannot be known but can be lived.

    Bolte-Taylor’s stroke of insight sounds a lot like where Krishnamurti came from after his “process” that led him to renounce the role the Theosophists had set up for him, his stroke of insight being “truth is a pathless land”; or rather, not to be dubbed “truth”, no to be dubbed “apathess land”, leaving .”is”.

    I think the Australian poet Judith Wright’s poem “Gum Trees Stripping” relates to that:

    Say the need’s born within the tree
    And waits a trigger set for light
    Say sap is tidal, like the sea
    And rises with the solstice heat.
    But wisdom shells the words away
    To watch this fountain slowed in air
    Where sun joins earth, to watch the place
    At which these sacred rituals are.

    Words are not meanings for a tree
    So it is truer not to say
    “These rags look like humility
    Or this year’s wreck of last year’s love
    Or wounds ripped by the summer’s claw”.
    If it is possible to be wise here
    Wisdom lies outside the word
    In the earlier answer of the eyes.

    Wisdom can see the red, the rose,
    The stained and sculptures curves of grey
    The charcoal stains of fire, and see
    Around that living tower of tree
    And hermit tatters of old bark
    Split down and split to end the season
    And be quiet, and not look
    For reasons past the edge of reason.


    • mikemackd says :

      I consider that a poem from Yehuda Amichai avers to a similar insight opened by this hierarchy – manipulation / holarchy – understanding differentiation towards integration in the field, rather than rigid conflations against it:

      From the place where we are right
      Flowers will never grow
      In the spring.

      The place where we are right
      Is hard and trampled
      Like a yard.

      But doubts and loves
      Dig up the world
      Like a mole, a plow.
      And a whisper will be heard in the place
      Where the ruined
      House once stood.

  9. mikemackd says :

    In the previous post, Don remarked, “Bloom describes himself as a conservative, and it seems that today’s conservatives indeed have a problem with empathy.”

    The reporter here has no understanding of the conservative (?) agenda:

    It would seem that, in practice if not policy, developed Iraq and Syria,and coming soon to a suburb near you, is the world of:

    :A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
    Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
    Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
    Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
    Of any world where promises were kept,
    Or one could weep because another wept.

    • mikemackd says :

      In terms of the White House Press Secretary’s evasion of the question above, this makes sense.

      Perhaps she should have answered, “no, I have no empathy. Or, rather, it plays no part in my fulfilling my function here. The megamachine’s operators are all about dominance, destruction, and deception. It is my job to tell you that our agenda has not changed since Ralph Peters so lucidly described it in 1997.”

      To take metaphors from The Lord of The Ring. I grew up thinking of the US as Aragorn, but now it is looking more and more like Gollum.

      Where are the modern Mumfords? Well, he wouldn’t be enough; he wasn’t then, and matters are far worse now. No-one would be enough, but everyone with fully functioning McGilchristian hemispheres will be. Not a million Mumfords, but millions of minds of their own, able to emerge from the chinks in their caverns like chicks from their shells.

      It’s time for the bottom line to be the bottom value. One cannot and should not disinvent the megamachine, but those who control it really should at least begin to wonder where their allegiances should lie: with the Machine, or with life’s ever-more-weakly-beating heart.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Curiously, Ralph Peters, ended up as an “analyst” for Fox News. But even he couldn’t stomach it becoming what he called “a propaganda machine” and quit very publicly.

        • donsalmon says :

          So folks, I wonder if you could help me.

          Ok, as a psychologist (and rarely, a therapist:>) I should know better – I know that many if not most people “think” with their “vital” (life force, prana, reactive emotionality, hindbrain or gut brain, whatever you want to call it).

          But something in me STILL after all these years thinks if you just explain something carefully enough, and I mean, about the most basic, simple, concrete objective facts, even the most stubborn, delusional Fox news watcher will listen.

          So here’s what happened. I’m going to use this person’s name, since he’s posting publicly, on Facebook. He goes by the name” Vishnu” (he’s an American, a follower of – I cringe to acknowledge this – Sri Aurobindo, and his news diet is a steady flow of Fox, the Daily Caller, the American Thinker (an oxymoron if there ever was one), and similar hate radio, faux news.

          The other day, a progressive friend wrote a moving FB post about the plight o the immigrant children. So of course, Vishnu wrote a series of posts stating basically, (a) the current policy has been in place since the Bush administration and there is absolutely no difference; (b) if anything bad is happening now they (meaning mostly Obama, but Bush to) did things just as bad; and (c) there isn’t any separation of parents and children, they just take the children for a few hours and take care of them while processing the parents) (if a, b and c seemed contradictory to you, well, congratulations, you probably passed basic logic)

          So after a few extremely unpleasant back and forths, (again, I should know better than to engage with Faux news cultists!) I asked 2 questions: (a) is it correct to sum up your view as saying that the current policy is no different from previous ones; and (b) can you explain why Jeff Sessions is making such a big deal how important it is that the policy has rather substantially changed since the no-tolerance policy went into effect in April?

          Of course, he didn’t answer. He kept posting newspaper articles from various right wing sites about how Obama and Bush did the same or worse, and simply refused to even address the Sessions question.

          My view is that there is a radical dissociation in the brain. Vishnu, if you don’t talk about politics, is a very sweet, if rather naive and not terribly bright person, and occasionally even insightful about things spiritual on rare occasions.

          So here’s my question:

          Has the world really come to a point where a group of us can look at a green piece of paper and say, “The paper is green,” and there are these cult-minded Trump supporters who will argue til blue in the face, if Trump says that paper is red, “You libtards are incapable of telling the truth about anything and you’re just saying the paper is green because of your Trump derangement syndrome.”

          Has it really come to this? I know Scott has been telling us for long about the age of duplicity, but somehow, this issue of the child separation and the response of the far Right is the most unsettling of almost any I’ve come across. I mean, I’ve seen Vishnu write the most incongruous word salad trying to deny climate change, but well, at least that’s a complex scientific issue. But this – to deny what’s happening is like saying, “No, I’m sorry, if President Trump said the sun didn’t rise this morning, well, then, the sun didn’t rise.

          How is this possible (Im’ asking rhetorically)

          • donsalmon says :

            sorry, didn’t make my dissociation theory clear. It’s like, there seem to be regions of Vishnu’s brain (or consciousness, if you prefer) that function normally. But in this particular area, in the political sphere, it’s almost like he could be diagnosed with delusional disorder (seriously, if you look up the DSM, the symptoms are identifiable)

            Here are the symptoms for non bizarre delusions:


            Specific Diagnostic Criteria

            Delusions lasting for at least 1 month’s duration.

            Criterion A for schizophrenia has never been met. Note: Tactile and olfactory hallucinations may be present in delusional disorder if they are related to the delusional theme. Criterion A of schizophrenia requires two (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated):
            disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
            grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
            negative symptoms, i.e., affective flattening, alogia, or avolition

            Note: Criteria A of schizophrenia requires only one symptom if delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person’s behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other.

            Apart from the impact of the delusion(s) or its ramifications, functioning is not markedly impaired and behavior is not obviously odd or bizarre.

            If mood episodes have occurred concurrently with delusions, their total duration has been brief relative to the duration of the delusional periods.

            The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

            The delusions are usually related to the individual, but I wonder if there might be some valid diagnosis of collective delusional disorder. I remember a tantrum Vishnu threw when he decided to leave an online Aurobindo forum and he warned us (around the time of the Charlottesville, VA nazi rally) that we had not idea what was happening, that most of the protestors were actors, that the Democratic governor had hired trouble makers to go in to make the good right wing nationalists look bad, etc.

            I mean, this is stuff when I was a kid (50 years ago) everyone I ever met would think this was stuff that was just stark raving mad!

            I find it stunning to regularly come across people who otherwise seem sane and believe truly insane, psychotic stuff!

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              don, I’d be interested in your professional opinion of Bruce Levine’s “Liberation Psychology.”

              From what little I know, Levine is an outspoken critic of mainstream psychology and its historical complicity in oppression.

            • donsalmon says :

              HI IF:

              I’ve really enjoyed Bruce’s writings on Alternet for years. He is one of the sanest voices regarding medication (it’s amazing how many people who receive placebos in scientific studies, and are completely healed, insist, despite being presented with irrefutable evidence, that some mistake was made and they MUST have gotten the “real thing” (i.e. medication). Magical thinking!

              HIs list of pseudo-diagnoses (oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, depression for what is quite often legitimate mourning either for a personal loss or the loss of meaning and purpose in the world at large) is excellent (though I’d have to see more detail of what he rejects as schizophrenia diagnoses – I’m sure some people with that diagnosis are experiencing spiritual emergencies or something of that kind; but there really is such a thing as brain deficits, just as there are heart problems, lung problems, deficits of other organs as well – and not to be overly materialistic, mind deficits as well – we just don’t have, in our materialistic society, any reasonable, sane way to even talk about what mental health IS).

              the problem with Bruce’s writing is that in no place I’ve seen does he question the essentially physicalist basis of his assumptions (as well as the assumptions underlying all modern psychology, with very few exceptions). And ultimately, as good and beneficial as his writings are, it’s only a very slight improvement. Without some fundamental shift out of physicalism, I don’t see any hope for the world, much less psychology.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I rather got the impression that his “assumptions” were “mentalist” rather than physicalist, per se.

              Regardless, your response is much appreciated. Thank you.

            • donsalmon says :

              Hi again IF: I mean, the implicit assumption that ultimately, the mind and consciousness derive from matter.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I know what you mean (which is not what you, personally, mean, per se).

              I know what he means. And I know that “the truth,” as usual, lies somewhere in between…the two extremes. ; )

            • donsalmon says :

              If you can find anywhere in Bruce’s writings where he says something that is explicitly in contradiction to physicalist assumptions, I’d love to see it. It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind when reading, well, everything:>) Let me know!

          • Scott Preston says :

            Not really surprised by that. I’ve been writing about the coming derangement of the modern mind and culture since the old Dark Age Blog, before I concluded it was a transitional symptom and switched to “The Chrysalis”. But that derangement has only intensified since TDAB. I was reflecting on this the other day, pondering whether there was anything I wrote earlier in TDAB or The Chrysalis that I would repudiate today. Nope.

            If anything, I think Gebser was accurate in his prognosis, that with the derangement of the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness, older forms of what we now call “magical thinking” , unrecognised for what it is, would irrupt into the vacuum produced by that disintegration. Trump and Trumpism is, to me, the living proof of Gebser’s prescience. But then, Gebser had the benefit of living through that too in his own time — fascism.

            Nietzsche was disturbed that people would take him for what he was not — a moral monster, and much of this mistaking surrounds his notions of “will to power”, for, as you perhaps know from Gebser, power and will are matters of the magical structure of consciousness, especially in its “deficient mode” as Gebser calls it. I’m not too surprised that someone would also mistake Aurobindo for what he was not. Many Hindu nationalists have appropriated Aurobindo as well (like Modi).

            And, yes, this deficient mode of the mental-rational cum magical does mistake itself for “logic and reason” when it is anything but, and that too is part of magical thinking. (Even the guy’s moniker “Vishnu” seems to reflect psychic inflation).

            I’ve associated that derangement of the modern mind with Rosenstock-Huessy’s breakdown of the “cross of reality” or “breaking the Sacred Hoop” as the indigenous might describe it.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Basically, the irruption of magical thinking into the mental-rational could be expressed as “reality is what I say it is and not otherwise”, which belongs to word-magic. Trump’s tweets are really spells in that sense.

          • mikemackd says :

            Hi Don,

            You may be asking rhetorically, but I think the question is worthy of deeper scrutiny.

            There’s a question behind your question: what is reality? If we can be deluded, and there are allusions, illusions et al, what’s a reality lusion?

            That question’s examined by the analytical philosopher Jan Westerhoff. Short answer: there is no overall answer. (Westerhoff 2011). Furthermore, as McGilchrist points out, the left hemisphere in overdrive such as in analytical philosophers such as Westerhhoff can’t ever grok it, let alone your average Joe.

            One of the two Westerhoff chooses (the other is the usual scientistic reductionist myth), is reality is the world without us. As his is a monological gaze (he also analyses identity, including in the New Scientist Collections I referred to earlier), by “us” he seems to be referring to our identity constructions.

            That is, reality as the world without religions or other social imaginaries such as nation states, to which we variously attach our identities. However, that ignores the Thomas Theorem: things don’t have to be real to be real in their consequences.

            Walter Russell Mead, in his book “God and Gold” I have cited here several times before (2007, Atlantic Books, London), ascribes quotes to Reinhold Niebuhr that are actually from Langdon B. Gilkey’s excellent introduction to a 2013 edition by Westminster John Knox Press of Louisville, Kentucky of Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society. But they are pertinent here regardless.

            I consider that introduction of Gilkey’s, and Mead’s understandings as quoted below, to be crucial in understanding where your Vishnu is coming from and why; it’s from our shared identity construction processes as enmeshed in Vishnu’s ecological rationality (see Gerd Gigerenzer about ecological rationality).

            Now, Mead’s framing (again, please read alongside Gilkey’s, as each can throw light on the other, and of Peters’ commonplace pathology):


            Individuals, in Niebuhr’s view have a natural tendency to exaggerate their own importance, to view themselves as the moral center of their world. Individuals struggle to overcome this and to achieve a more balanced and less narcissistic approach to the world, and while they may never fully succeed, they do make some progress … But the isolated individual is only part of the story.

            … Niebuhr saw that human beings derive significant parts of their individual identity from the social groups to which they belong. Niebuhr notes, however, that the process of learning to question and check our own sense of self-importance that operates at the level of individual life does not apply to the collective dimension of our identities. The claims made for these collective selves are more far-reaching and grandiose than the ones we make for ourselves. We feel embarrassed if our claims on
            our own individual behalf are larger than life, but it is far more acceptable to make such claims on behalf of the various groups to which we belong. As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, most of us make our claims to absolute power and importance through group identities rather than on our own individual behalf. …

            “Serious sins are mostly communal sins,” wrote Niebuhr [sic; it was Gilkey], and this is because “We give ourselves with all our loyalty and power to our group, to its security and success, and to its conquests and domination of competing groups.” …

            The situation becomes more dire at the international level. The larger and grander the abstraction, the less critical we are of the claims, and the less need we feel to recognize the just claims of those who belong to competing camps. It is patriotic to make large claims for our nation, pious to make them for our faith. Great powers exhibit the arrogance of power, trampling over the rights and concerns of smaller peoples and weaker nations with little real awareness of what they have done. But there is also an arrogance of impotence; wronged peoples attach a cosmic importance to those wrongs, demand impossible things, and reject realistic compromises out of a romantic attachment to “ideals” they feel to be nonnegotiable. Into all this comes the mix of anger, resentment, blindness, and bigotry that Herder and Berlin found among nations who are or perceive themselves to be victims, and the weak with their own bitterness and limits then engage with the blindness, arrogance, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness of the strong.
            The larger and more abstract an entity, the more unbalanced it can become …
            … all the egotism and pride that have been frustrated in my daily life, all the fury at humiliations, all the impatience at having to adjust to the wishes of others, all of the grandeur in which I wish to be wrapped is projected onto my faith. And when I want my faith to dominate the world I am actually not hating the heathen: I am seeking on their behalf the highest blessing of all by bringing them into God’s true fold [Don, note that in Mead’s and Peters’ cases, the faith is American exceptionalism].

            The greatest conflicts and the greatest crimes often stem from the noblest aspirations, and the same collectivities that give life meaning and offer opportunities for solidarity serve also as the seedbeds of conflict. This is both a tragic and an ironic view of the world. It is tragic because the noblest human aspirations are undermined by the flaw deep in our nature. It is ironic because it is when we are most confident that we are acting righteously, most sure of the moral ground beneath our feet that we are in the greatest danger.


            As well as such delusions, we have what, for want of a better term, I shall call analusions: domains of perception we miss. For example, a dog’s sense of smell and hearing, an eagle’s .or a bee’s vision, we only have narrow ranges within. And such perceptions vary between us. For example, my colour deficiency, or a psychopath’s moral deficiency.

            Last night, there was a feature on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio about psychopathy from the Canadians. I shall look at that next, if I get the time, because the above domains provide rich pickings for psychopaths.

            • mikemackd says :

              Here are a couple of links to James Fallon, self-diagnosed psychopath. The first is the radio program I heard last night, the second his Ted talk.



              Now, here’s the thing. I know I’ve asked this here before, but it’s relevant to raise again following Fallon:

              If indeed he is able to diagnose psychopathy from brain scans, as he claims, with a degree of accuracy approaching the tests for colour blindness, given that my colour deficiency disqualifies me from certain occupations requiring colour discernment competencies I do not possess, shouldn’t psychopaths’ moral blindness disqualify them from certain occupations requiring moral discernment competencies they do not possess? For example, CEO’s, most military and police functions, same in the fields of law (especially law enforcement), health care, politics, etc?

              Here I am talking clinical diagnoses and due process protocols including the right of appeal, human rights protection etc., not witch hunting, not moral condemnation. It seems that the marriage of amoral psychopaths to the amoral megamachine is one made in hell for others, with potentially rather more serious consequences than clashing colours.

            • donsalmon says :

              Thanks for the insights Mike. I’m not sure I have much to add – i’m still recovering from the shock.

              I’m not sure psychology or neuroscience really has much to add. We need a new consciousness.

            • Leo says :

              Re James Fallon, I think it’s fair to say that he’s a flagrant self-promoter. In fact, all he ‘diagnosed’ is that he carries the so-called ‘warrior gene’, i.e. MAOA-L

              The scientific research into this particular gene is on-going, but it’s certain that psychopathy is much more complex phenomenon than is suggested here. Not to mention the way that this has research has been misinterpreted and seized upon by various racists groups to justify their assertions that certain races are inherently more violent than others.


            • Leo says :

              *suggested here – I mean by Fallon

            • mikemackd says :

              Once again, Leo; thanks for the warning.

              Could his convincing-to-a-layman-such-as-I lies, assuming – as I do – that what you say is correct, and his “flagrant self-promotion” both be symptomatic of his psychopathy?

              I’ll have to look up Hare again.

              Mirrors in mirrors. Heavens to Betsy.

            • Leo says :

              Possibly, but if so then his psychopathy would likely be the result of complex systemic bio-psycho-social factors, rather than a deterministic linear cause-effect of the MAOA-L gene.

            • Leo says :

              …in fact, as I remember, even Fallon doesn’t identify himself as a full-blown psychopath, which he accredits to the fact that he was raised in a loving family.

  10. Scott Preston says :

    What’s interesting about the promotional image for this new documentary film Metamorphosis (essentially about what we refer to here as “chaotic transition”) is the diaphaneity of the human form, or an allusion to diaphaneity.

    Looking forward to seeing this film.

  11. Scott Preston says :

    I’m almost persuaded that the Trump gang is using Orwell’s 1984 as a blueprint and roadmap for the exercise of power. Trump’s persistent return to the “lock her up” meme in his rallies (tonight in Duluth) is Orwell’s “two minutes hate” in 1984.

    There is a precedent for that — Hitler’s use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as his own roadmap to world domination, despite also denouncing it as a “Jewish conspiracy” himself. Old magician’s and illusionist’s and charlatan’s trick called “direction by indirection”, or what we call “deflection” or “sleight of hand”.

    Seems to work every time, unfortunately — Trump seems adept at it, ie accuse others of conspiring to do the very thing you’re doing or planing to do yourself.

    Bring’s to mind an old Groucho Marx joke about “who ya going to trust? Me, or your lying eyes?”

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I’m almost persuaded that the Trump gang is using Orwell’s 1984 as a blueprint and roadmap for the exercise of power.

      Trust me. They’re not that smart. Not even close.

  12. Scott Preston says :

    “….weapons and nuclear fission are not the only realities to be dealt with; spiritual reality in its intensified form is also becoming effectual and real. This new spiritual reality is without question our only security that the threat of material destruction can be averted. Its realization alone seems able to guarantee man‘s continuing existence in the face of the powers of technology, rationality, and chaotic emotion. If our consciousness, that is, the individual person‘s awareness, vigilance, and clarity of vision, cannot master the new reality and make possible its realization, then the prophets of doom will have been correct. Other alternatives are an illusion; consequently, great demands are placed on us, and each one of us have been given a grave responsibility, not merely to survey but to actually traverse the path opening before us.”

    I’ve been re-reading Gebser’s “fundamental considerations”, and this passage struck me as particularly relevant now in a way it didn’t seem so earlier.

  13. Scott Preston says :

    A tweet from Gary Lachman about a radio programme on the scientist J.B. Priestly reminded me that Priestly once also saw “energy as it flows in the universe”. He was, apparently, watching a flock of birds in flight when the separate birds disappeared and he saw instead a singluar energy wave.

    Anyway, the podcast on Priestly’s work might be interesting and add more to our discussion here of the “Field” concept.

  14. Scott Preston says :

    Trump and “Chaos Magick” — a review of Gary Lachman’s new book Dark Star Rising.

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