Cosmotherapy for Your Holiday on Earth
Well, it looks like someone already did. Almost, anyway. It's striking how often the word "cosmos" (or universe) is used in reference to Rank's work. Yesterday I mentioned in a comment that psychoanalysis became for many of its founders a kind of transparently substitute religious quest. Thus, Rank discusses the Oneness that is achieved via love, art, or any other activity that helps us transcend the difference -- or Twoness -- discussed in yesterday's post:
This Oneness "produces a satisfaction... that is the potential restoration of a union with the Cosmos, which once existed and was then lost." Thus there is a kind of oneness both before and beyond twoness. However, they are quite different, since the first is an undifferentiated oneness while the second is a differentiated one. Which reminds us of another Rock Bottom Mythematical Raccoon Orthoparadox: two is better than one, and One is better than two.
In twoness there is both gain and pain: the loss of security in undifferentiated union is partly compensated for by the forging of one's identity. But the latter is never enough, and probably more often than not, is too much.
By which I mean that individuality is fraught with ambivalence, and therefore full of potential pain. To cut to the bottom line, it can frankly be painful to be different, and many people naturally recoil from this pain -- especially in environments where difference isn't tolerated, say, Iran, or university campuses, or newsrooms. Or certain families.
Yesterday I mentioned that I didn't retain anything from reading Rank 25 odd years ago, but I now see that I did: the idea of the pain associated with difference always stuck with me. I'd just forgotten where I'd found it.
At any rate, I personally related to it in a profound way, because I was always aware of being Different, and for a very long time I tried to suppress this in favor of fitting in and being like the Others. Or in other words, I very nearly successfully committed cluelesside so as to become part of the Conspiracy. Thank God I was just too different to fake it.
Indeed, part of the purpose of this blog is to help others with a cosmic orientation to not feel so alone. In turn, it helps me to help others. Let's face it: we're different. Might as well explore and expand it rather than recoil from it. Besides, you're not fooling anyone, weirdo.
Along these lines, it is weird to be thought of as "conservative," since conservatism as such would be at the far end of the spectrum between conservatism <--> novelty. What I really want to conserve are the means to creative novelty -- means which are attacked and suppressed by the left, e.g., free markets, free minds, and free speech, in favor of compulsory statism, political correctness, and inquisitorial tolerance.
As alluded to in yesterday's post, "Without difference, there would be no individual will and no creative expression" (Menaker). Thus, freedom, creativity, and will are what account for the emergence of self-aware difference.
Other animals are essentially the same. Of course they notice some differences, such as the distinction between male and female (a vital difference which only human beings can forget), along with the differences between species. But they don't so much notice the latter as much as disregard them, unless said species falls under the heading of predator or prey.
So again, the emergence of humanness is entirely bound up with this question of difference. There is a hint of this in the psychogenesis section of Genesis, where it states that man is permitted to name all the animals. In order to do this, he obviously must notice all the differences.
But what about the pain of man's own difference from all the animals? Not good. So God gives him someone comparable, not identical. If Eve were identical, this would efface the differences, which God clearly doesn't want to do. God is not some androgynous feminist new castrati Pajama Boy.
Anyway, Rank noticed that a fundamental problem for humans is "individual difference," which we are prone "to interpret as inferiority unless it can be proved by achievement to be superiority."
This is the One Idea mentioned above that I internalized, because it rang a major gong in me. Some people are extremely cocky and confident in their difference. That wasn't me. And in any event, the confidence often has a downside, as it can merge with other pathological trends in the personality, such as narcissism and hubris, which can result in, say, over-confident buffoons such as an Obama or Clinton. No, there's no easy way out of Difference.
For example, I'm reading this new biography of the Beatles, and one theme that emerges early on is just how different John Lennon was, both to himself and to anyone else who was fortunate or unfortunate enough to run into him. (No one I think is in my tree / I mean it must be high or low.) In Lennon's case, he embraced his difference in an extremely obnoxious and often aggressive manner, basically out of insecurity. It was one way of coping with it, but not very healthy.
Because of his rank atheism, Rank thought of life as "a fleeting moment of light, a holiday on earth, between two eternities of darkness" (Robert Kramer, in Menaker) -- which it surely is without a religious orientation. Some holiday! Worse yet, some holy-day!
So, Sisyphus-like, we fool ourselves into thinking we can somehow immortalize our difference by some earthly achievement. This is the willed self-deception at the heart of Rankian therapy, because you can't do that. What's that wise crack about fame? That it means being known by a multitude of dorklings who don't know you? How can one confuse this with eternity, i.e., being known by God?
Any port in a storm, I guess. Or, speaking of cliches, so near yet so far. That is, Rank went further than Freud in peering "below biological bedrock to confront the ontological or, better, the pre-ontological mystery of Being itself. This is the difference -- the ineffable difference -- between nonexistence and existence" (Kramer).
That's pretty far, but why stop there? And besides, did he think he was the first to go there? I mean, Judaism (Rank was a secular Jew) is all about difference. Maybe he just forgot where he got his Big Idea.
For the very first act of God is to separate order from chaos -- followed by heavens from earth, light from dark, day from night, water from land, time from absurcularity, man from woman, etc. Furthermore, the original covenant is about the offer of a restoration of cosmic oneness to this wandering tribe of stiffneckleheads. In accepting it, they become even more different from the rest, which history proves was a recipe for pain. For the Cosmically Different may be recognized by the target on their backs.
And let's not even talk about what happened to Jesus. Maybe after his birthday.
To be continued, maybe even tomorrow...