What's the Difference?
What I mean is that it occurs to me that I somehow have this power to do whatever I want.
In your dreams, Bob! Yes, in my dreams. Stop taunting me. We've already stipulated that.
It's happened countless times before: poems, novels, songs, paintings, landscapes, architecture, all produced by my dreamer -- whoever that is -- in my dreams. In fact, why say "my" dreams, when it is the dream that contains us, not vice versa?
In any event, last night I had the clear and distinct experience of producing several novel jazz performances in my dreamscape, with unique arrangements and solos I'm sure I've never heard in this world. So, how did I do that?
More generally, I've done any number of things in my dreams -- as have you -- that I've never done out here, for example, being a professional athlete, or having more children, or public speaking, the latter of which would make me nervous in this world.
The bottom line is that there appears to be a huge disconnect between man's potentialities and his achievements. Yeah, well, duh.
What I mean is, if we can do anything, but end up doing just this, what went wrong? Who goofed?
Now, in point of fact, that is not at all how I feel about what I have "accomplished." Rather, I am astonished by my creativity, such as it is. Let me quickly emphasize that I don't mean this in any egocentric way, any more than I mean it in such a way when I boast of the inexhaustible creativity of my Dreamer, the original Fertile Egghead.
Rather, I mean it in a more impersonal and general way, just the very fact of generating meaningful novelty, which is something for which Darwinism (or any other reductionistic scheme) cannot account, and which places us at the leading fringe of cosmic evolution -- if by evolution we mean the unfolding of new and unprecedented developments, for I am quite sure this completely unplanned post has never occurred before and will never occur again.
Although I am a psychologist by trade, for a long time I've been alienated from the discipline, because it deals with a Man I don't recognize, and to whom I don't relate. I don't even remember how it happened, but over the weekend I stumbled upon some old books -- or they me -- which I hadn't looked at since I was in graduate school, and even then didn't finish reading. Nor, clearly, did I understand the implications, as indicated by what I highlighted then as opposed to what I highlighted over the weekend. Different Bob, different concerns.
My present concerns are entirely wrapped up in the freedom-creativity-individuality triad we've been paddling in ever since we ventured down this Hartshorne-Berdyaev stream. I am now more convinced than ever that Freedom is Of the Essence, the transcendental of transcendentals, although inconceivable in the absence of the others; for individualism is freedom creatively lived, just as creativity is an expression of the free individual.
That being the case, we need a psychology that reflects this reality, not a psychology that reduces us to, say, selfish genes, or blind instincts, or social adaptation, or creatures of the State, or anything less than the fullest articulation of our creative freedom.
The first book that fell into my lap this weekend was this well known blockbuster (ranked #4,464,231 on amazon), Separation, Will, and Creativity, by the psychoanalyst Esther Menaker. In it I discovered a psychology that is entirely consistent with the Raccoon Way, albeit missing the explicitly spiritual element (since psychoanalysis, like the science it attempts to ape, is an a priori secular enterprise).
I'm a little surprised I didn't steal some of this for my own SIGNED COPIES!, but perhaps this is because I was more focused on the mystical than the creative element, even though the latter is implicitly there.
Long story short, Esther Menaker was a disciple of the dissident psychoanalyst Otto Rank, who started out as Sigmund Freud's young BFF -- the Heir Apparent -- but who had a falling out with the Master as a result of having the temerity to nurture his own ideas. And his biggest idea revolves around Creativity, which really has no place in Freud's metapsychology, since the latter is firmly rooted in a scientistic metaphysic in which the present is reducible to the past. You know, blame your mother, blah blah yada yada.
Thus, for Freud, creativity might be interpreted as, I don't know, symbolically playing with one's own feces, or exposing oneself, or masturbation. And before you laugh at Freud, I advise you to tour a contemporary museum, read a contemporary novel, or turn on the television. Indeed, you have to really search to not find the feces.
Which leads to the question: why all the feces? Now that I think about it, could it be because our psychological models are full of shit? Yes, no doubt. However, I don't want to pursue that particular line of thought at the moment. Back to Menaker.
That title: Separation. Will. Creativity. These three are linked in surprising ways, for without "will," we cannot separate from the maternal matrix, but if the separation is only accomplished via will (i.e., the oppositionalism of the two year-old), then there is no creativity.
No. I mean Yes. Our separation has a purpose, which is the creative discovery and elaboration of our unique individuality. And clearly "unique" and "creative" are essentially synonymous terms, humanly speaking. To become an individual is to be unique.
But in reality, we now know, thanks to science, that we are absolutely unique from the moment of conception. So, er, why are all these human robots the same?
Good question! It really gets to the heart of how we ought to think of psychopathology in this new model of creative freedom as normative. For, as expressed in the Raccoon Companion of Bombastic Adages, if you're not eccentric, you're wrong.
Because of the ban on Religion, Menaker comes right to the threshold of Raccoon orthoparadoxy, without being able to cross it. Example?
"The will... is a representative of the life force: a force expressive of the creative principle in the universe." "Life force?" "Creative principle?" What unnecessary mystagogy!
"For Rank, two principles were operative in the universe: the causal and the creative." Okay. Agreed. But can the latter be reduced to the former? Of course not. That leaves us with the Creative. Where did that come from?
C'mon now. Think. Don't just assume, so as to fit it into your uncreative preconceptions.
Let's go back to the beginning: "Without difference," writes Menaker, "there would be no individual will and no creative expression." Ah ha. Difference. What is difference then, and why is it here? In other words, why should there be anything other than oneness?
Well, we could say that there is nothing but oneness prior to the appearance of man. I mean, right? For what is man but the realization of difference, of separation from the source?
You might even say that "man" and "consciousness of separation" co-arise -- which, I believe, goes to Genesis 3, which clearly and unambiguously relates separateness to self-awareness, the former being the price of the latter -- at least until a novel restoration is achieved.
Well, that's about all the time we have today. To be continued...