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“Quit Hitting Yourself.” … Death Wish of the Sycophantic, Apocalyptic Ape and The Only Important Question: Thanatos Walking

Apocalypse No! Chapter Five: Death Wish – Thanatos Walking

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Apocalypse is How an Over-Achieving Species Like Ours Does Its Will to Death

Freud showed we had a will to die…so — Will we survive? Will we wake up from global apathy to save our planet? Will we resist cowardly denial or die out like the dinosaurs?

The Garden

Will We Survive?

evilrootThis chapter discusses an age-old question which has currently become of immense, literally vital, importance: Will our species survive or die out like the dinosaurs? is the most crucial issue of our time. It is related to the fundamental fact of our existence for it is about the struggle between the forces of Life and those of Death. The consequences as to the winner of that inner struggle have to do with no less than the continued survival of life on this planet or total planetary collapse.

Eros vs. Thanatos

In the struggle between the current powers of life versus death, it is helpful to remember Freud’s paradigm-shifting observations about the human psyche on Eros and Thanatos. Freud showed how all human lives are drawn out against the background of each person’s inner struggle between the opposing forces of life and death…Eros and Thanatos. Specifically, for our purposes here, Freud advanced an understanding that made his insights paradigm-shifting, specifically, that each of us carry within us a Will to Die, which he referred to as Thanatos. [continued after video]


Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2:
Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse
by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this chapter, click on the link to youtube above or click the audio player here:


“Sometimes the Lights Are Shining on Me.”

Freud established that we act out a will to live and to be in the sun and to have fun and to love and to like goodness and health and truth.

youth-protest (2)

“Other Times I Can Barely See.”

Freud also saw that we have at other times an opposite feeling that causes us to want to live in the dark; to not be around people; to shy away from life and the light and being seen and recognized and even to wanting to be lonely. lonely_hearts_pepper_sprayThis feeling causes us to not care about fun, to hate and be angry, indeed to hate everyone and even to want to lash out at them for no reason other than what might be self-labeled as spite. It makes us jealous of those who find happiness or pleasure in their lives and impels us to lash out at them and make them suffer the way we, on the inside, know we do. Because of this self-defeating tendency we irrationally beat up on our own bodies as well and abuse them with all kinds of substances and behaviors.

Thanatos is why there are always Republicans or something like them — Pharisees, Inquisitors…

And times in which they hold sway—stifling, life- and creativity-averse, stagnant and little changing times: the Middle Ages, for example…

yellowsubmarine1968-avi-00006

This downward pull makes us want to hate goodness, calling things “kumbaya moments.” This part of our nature causes us to be jealous of others who are more giving and to hate them for that, to call people “goody two-shoes” or say something is “schmaltzy,” or to be saying that all that good stuff is just “drama.”tumblr_lv3hvwUbsk1r4lafqo1_1280 It has us putting out terms like “bleeding heart” liberals. FREE SPEECH PIKEIt causes us to not care about the truth, but rather to say things instead to hurt, get revenge, to get back at. Or it has us say untruths to get advantage, to disable our competitors, to hide from the evils we commit which enslave us further in the hiding of them, and so much more.

greed.7_Deadly_Sins___Greed_by_elestrial (2)

Struggle Will Out

imagesnnnBut Freud took it beyond our inner struggles and talked about how the events of the world, the actions and greed.wow.fallenangel.cantstandlight.wolvescompassion.med_gallery_339_256_103758movements of history, and the dramas of all the ages are in fact the products of this inner struggle.

At this very moment, our lesser selves are taking us on a path that leads inevitably, one way or another, to total species extinction. But not just that, being the “overachieving” species we are, we are bringing total life extinction to this planet and possibly even planetary annihilation–the death of virtually all life on this Earth.

Our Dogma Barks Out Our Specialness

Dogma Barks Out Specialness

Well, Ain’t We Special?

Freud pointed out we have a Will to Live, too–nothing earth-shattering there. In fact, so far he is stating nothing more than the common-sensical beliefs of the masses. Indeed, it is the universally held mainstream near-definition of humans…one of those “obvious truths” about us we like to bless ourselves with. Freud’s first point, taken by itself, encapsulates the cliched view of What We Are—that what distinguishes our species above all others revolves around a superior Will to Life.

While common-sensical that our Will to Life is part of a species superiority of ours, it is wrong…going too far. For would anyone say that other species don’t also have an incredible Will To Live?

Not So Much

But this hyperbole or over-reaching in stating humans are unique in the degree of their Will to Life reinforces my point about Freud’s ideas being zeitgeist-shattering. For in this common, frequent, pervasive even universal, and nauseatingly repeated promulgation of supposedly the obvious, by any and all who speak before an audience—large or small, from a principal speaking in front of a gathering of high schoolers or a preacher before his gathering of church-goers to the TV media pundit before a world-wide audience, and even to a US President’s audience of even greater global reach—it is shown that our special Will to Life is not as true as is assumed. For if we had such a superior drive in us, would it need to be constantly reinforced and upheld, as if against some attack, or attacker? And if so, what is the feared attack or attacker?

And here we get a clue into Freud’s discovery and its utter undermining of all that which is normally said regarding our humanness. For regarding our being special in our Will to Live, this kind of “protesting too much” and its flip side of repeating it ad nauseum, as Shakespeare obviously saw points to a hidden agenda. Truths do not have to be repeated endlessly, mantram-like, even ritualistically. For they are self-evident and need as much propping up as the belief that the sky appears to be the color blue to us—and you don’t hear much about that, do you?

My Dogma Barks Out My Specialness

But the pervasive repetition of the supposed Truth of our species Will to Life—especially the blown-up version that has it being the thing that makes us human, different from other species, “superior” to other species (there’s a clue), and even “special” (clue. Getting it?)—points to its being, not so much truth as dogma. And dogma does need to be endlessly repeated in that such things are exactly about things that are not obvious truths.

In fact, this repetition of an obvious truth points to its being not true. In the previous chapter I showed how our “sad proselytists” have to say their untruths and unrealities out loud in order to buck up or reinforce their believability. So also human societies need to endlessly repeat, in order to reinforce against onslaughts of insight, their precious untruths.

But the reasons behind the promulgation of this supposed “obvious truth” go even beyond, since we are not dealing here with any conscious or acknowledged, let alone written and standardized, set of things not obvious. For indeed, in this sad repetition of our superior life-valuing, it is put out as being something not needing institutional backing, being simply true in its obviousness.

So what then? Well, this repetitive characterization of Us, as Humans, has all the indications of something that has an intention, however unconscious, that has a calculation, however desperate our desire to not see it, about it to achieve an effect on the audience—in this case—the masses of all humans.

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Humans’ Uniqueness Among Species? We Suck Up

What is that pathetically overlooked intention? Well, let us take a look at what that effect might be.

Anytime you place our species above all others (true or not), you are making as much as anything else a play to butter up your audience of fellow humans and appeal to their vanity…and thus, making them feel good, hoping that they will feel good, or, like you in return. In commonspeak, that’s called “people-pleasing.” In the vernacular, it’s called “sucking up.”

OK, so we’ve established that people in front of audiences near-universally want to say things that will make their audience feel good towards them. No, not so fast. For that overlooks the fact that somehow…and get this; for if the spoken thing were of the obvious truth category, then why would this follow…that somehow all these people speaking out to others about the unique will to life they have know—somewhere inside them—that saying such a thing will, in fact, give people a good feeling. That’s another clue.

More Socratic Dialoguing

And again, continuing this Socratic dialogue, well, wouldn’t humans just, of course, feel good hearing about their being superior? Doesn’t everyone feel good when told they are better and such? Well, now we’re getting to where Freud took us. For he knew, as we all do if we simply think about it. The answer is “no, not necessarily or even usually.”

Think about it. If the Beatles were to be told they were a good band, would that give them a good feeling? No. certainly not. For that was so true as to be overwhelming and almost scary in its near-universal belief. And we can suppose that to them having that kind of power and influence because of their talent—especially when you come out of nowhere, from humble, unassuming backgrounds—may have been distressing to think about and hardly something wanted from others. How could they not wonder about this power, its source, where it would lead, and all that? I don’t think it happenchance that this success sent all of them into drug-taking—to both block it out as well as come to terms with it—into soul-searching of the spiritual and, especially John, of the therapeutic sort. Sometimes one does not want to be reminded of how “good” (and therefore powerful…therefore responsible) one is; there’s such a thing as feeling one is scary good.

Or take the obviously accomplished anybody, Pavarotti, say. Wanna tell Pavarotti he sings good? Don’t think he’d feel a thing.

But, you say, that’s because they hear that all the time.

Ok, granted that. But think about when it would have felt good to them. Look to your own experience and you realize that you feel good when people tell you things about yourself—especially when they state them as self-evident and obvious to all—about which you are not certain, about which you often or at least sometimes have doubts, and about which you are insecure! Look to your own life. Can anyone be flattered about the things they know to be without question? Can you be flattered about the color of your skin or hair, or about…. Well, not stated as a fact, you wouldn’t. A person would be flattered only if they had some bad feeling, insecurity in that area, first; and second, if that quality of them is not usually noted though it be assumed by everyone to be a good, positive, or “superior” thing.

This pervasive, mutual stroking we do has a result which is of dire consequence currently: We scapegoat our planetmates because of this pathetically low self-esteem and those who play on it.

Sycophantic, Suicidal Ape – “Quit Hitting Yourself!”

“Quit Hitting Yourself!” and Sycophantic, Suicidal Ape

Sycophantic Ape

Skipping to the point here. People can be made to feel good about things of themselves they are not sure of.

How to Make Someone Love You: Tell Them Something Wonderful About Themselves They Normally Doubt Is True

They will feel good, because the thing they would want to believe, the thing that would make them see themselves positively, the thing that would feed their slanted bias toward themselves…. Ok, I’ll finally use the word: The thing that would prop up and feed a person’s “ego” or the belief in one’s goodness, superiority, and so on, in a world of so many others, well that makes one feel good, whether it is true or not.

So, we see that the intention of this pathetic public pronouncing of a superior human will to live is to salve the egos of the masses. Why does it feel good? Because it is universally true that the ego is in constant assault from something which makes it feel not good.

What is that thing that makes people feel not good about themselves, so that being told something that counters that would make them feel good? Well, the answers, by psychologists since Freud, have many terms attached to them. And by the way, before the psychologists there were the theologians attempting to answer this. But Freud’s analysis not only answered it, but put it in the largest context possible—one into which both psychologists and theologians would find an inroad.

We can say, to backtrack a bit, that this pandering by those in front of audiences makes people feel good because it supports the defense system that all humans have erected against the real truth—that zeitgeist-shattering one that Freud was first to fully explicate. It feels good because it supports the denial that all humans have against the real truth that they feel about themselves, one of the things that human societies universally consign to that black hole of the Unapproved and Hidden. [Footnote 1]

“Quit Hitting Yourself!”

So this repetitive obvious truth about humans having a strong Will to Live is repeated to please audiences and make them feel good—”people-pleasing”—because it is a salve to the egos of the masses, which in reality are not merely bruised. No, this goes directly toward propping up a particular defense, a particular denial that we all carry. And that denial is that, IN TRUTH, humans don’t at all feel like they have a tremendous Will to Live. How can I say that? Well, how many things do you know you do which are “not good for you”? How many things do you not do which you know would aid the cause of our supposed universal desire to Live and to Live as long as possible?

The point is that humans, along with a Will to Life that is undeniable, also have a Will to Death.

How many times have you woken up, thought about all the pressures and obligations, or complexities, responsibilities…. thought about all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles or challenges that you are facing… thought about all the things that just have to get done, yet you feel that you could not possibly have the time to do all of them…. How many times have you woken up and felt overwhelmed with what life has become and not wished to just curl up, go back to sleep, and never wake up again? How many times have you taken to drugs or intoxicants in full knowledge of their negative and even dire concomitants and simply thought to yourself, “Aw, what the hell. If I were to die, so what? What’s so great about life anyway?” Or, with less clarity, simply said, “Well nobody lives forever!”

Do they sound like the pronouncements of a species that has a tremendous will to live? No, in fact, alongside our Will to Live, we have not only a Will to Die, but even a will to self-destruction.

Right about now, it might be occurring to you how this makes sense of so much, seemingly insane, human behavior we’ve seen of late. This Will to Die explains why we continue nonchalantly our march to armageddon. It shines light on how we can suck up air in cities that gives us raging allergies, clogs our lungs as bad as chronic smoking would, and will kill off the children we raise there long before their times. It reveals how we could drink poisoned water, blithely go about our business as the globe fills up with nuclear radiation and makes its way into our food supplies and as our government refuses even to test for it, and turn our backs as the oceans die, and killer tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis chalk up thousands in the kill column. It explains why people allow themselves to be enslaved and controlled by others—allowing fascism in established democracies—unconcernedly voting for rabid folk who would take away their rights and security and bring down their freedoms, health, and even lives, while watching those living under totalitarian systems risk their lives for a such freedom and rights and democracy. So much more.

But anyway….

Suicidal Ape

Now, the intention here is not to repeat all that Freud and psychologists have said in showing how this works. Besides, just look at the evidence around you of addiction, chronic accidentalism, unhealthy behavior habits without number, and of course the ultimate evidence: suicide.

And by the way, if we have such a strong Will to Live, superior to all other species, then explain why it is so that we are the only species that has suicide? And we’re supposed to be the conscious ones?

What Freud pointed out has tremendous explanatory power, especially now in our current worldwide financial upheaval, depression/recession, expanding global fascism, nuclear meltdowns, oil spills, near environmental collapse, wars and terrorism, nuclear armaments of planetary annihilation, and tendency to pollute body as well as environment, and even to do it thoughtlessly, in full knowledge of the consequences.

The Only Important Question and About That Inner Monster of Yours

The Only Important Question
and About That Inner Monster of Yours

I repeat: Freud established that we act out a will to live and to be in the sun and to have fun and to love and to like goodness and health and truth.

I repeat: Freud also saw we have at other times an opposite feeling which causes us to want to live in the dark—to not be around people, to shy away from life and the light and being seen and recognized and even to wanting to be lonely—that causes us to not care about fun, to hate and be angry, indeed to hate everyone and even to want to lash out at them for no reason other than what might be self-labeled as spite; that causes us to hate goodness, calling things “kumbaya moments,” that causes us to be jealous of others who are more giving and to hate them for that, call people “goody two-shoes” or saying something is “schmaltzy”; or saying that all that good stuff is just “drama”; and putting out terms like “bleeding heart” liberals; that causes us to beat up on our bodies and abuse them with all kinds of substances and behaviors; and that causes us to not care about the truth, but rather to say things instead to hurt, get revenge, to get back at; or to say untruths to get advantage, to disable our competitors, to hide from the evils we commit which enslave us further in the hiding of them, and so much more.

Pandavas versus Kauravas

Freud said we struggled between these two opposite feelings throughout our lives. It is because of this contradiction we carry inside that we can never be truly sure of who we are and even that we can question our motives and intentions (those more self-analytical of us). It is because of this contradiction that we can always feel we could have done better, that people don’t know everything about us, even when they say they do, and that sometimes we fear, especially when we are younger, that if people knew what we had inside they would shy away, not like us, think us to be bad, even monstrous.

By the Way, About That Inner Monster of Yours…

It is because of this contradiction that people are so terrified of revealing themselves, lest some of that not socially appropriate, not socially sanctioned, not socially approved part of themselves slip out. And the fear there is that then we will be seen to have been found out; and that then we will be confirmed in our worst fears that indeed that “other” part of ourselves is—the horror that cannot even be spoken in one’s mind—that dark part of ourselves is the real us…which carries with it the view that any of the “good” in us is just a cover up so that other people will not know.

Mask on a Monster, Lipstick on a Pig

But Freud took it beyond our inner struggles and talked about how the events of the world, the actions and movements of history, the dramas of all the ages, are in fact the products of this inner struggle. Desperate between these poles, we join together with others of the same feeling—whether of lightness or of negativity—in multiple relations and groups on both sides of that struggle. More than that, while driven unwittingly from sources on one side, we expend ourselves in complex ways, in concert with these other, to represent these groups as well as ourselves as acting out from sources on the other side; we mask ourselves as the other.

Babel’s Inner Blueprint

Ultimately, these groups magnify our powers. And the cumulative acts of many individuals, along with the actions of groups and their leaders, all within complex and contradictory motives at all levels and in every matter, create the complex events of all times. All these happenings are at base the story of inner conflicts—complex outer conflicts notwithstanding. In a cumulative manner and over time, things are ever more convoluted and twisted and complicated through the actions of the myriad characters—all of whom conflicted inside, act inconsistently, and out of their own unique struggles which have all of us perceiving and interpreting things in ways totally unique to ourselves.

Again, The Question

These huge world events, then, Freud laid at the feet of the individual struggle. Basically the world becomes an arena of the acting of the Will to Life against the Will to Death, of Eros versus Thanatos.

That is why I say what we are discussing is an age-old question. Although to our detriment…or fortune?…it is now more than any other time crucially relevant, and it is the most immense importance and consequence as to the winner of that inner struggle.

Earth AliveFor while we watched with paralyzed hand on one side, on the other our lesser selves are presently taking us on a path that leads inevitably, one way or another, to total species extinction. And not just that alone, but in fact total life extinction on this planet, and possibly even to planetary annihilation—the destruction of this planet itself.

That is why in upcoming sections I focus on this question of dire importance. I talk more about this Will to Death manifesting currently as planetary suicide. But unlike Freud I do not address this Will to Death in a general sense. I deal specifically with its existence as an element of the current struggle between those of us who would live and those opposing that.

NASA Releases "face" on Mars

I deal with the question of the sway of the the “dark side” as over against the Power of Truth, Love, Higher Power; God…if you will; Sathya Sai, that is, Truth Love…if you will; the Universe; or simply the Better Angels of Our Nature manifesting in increasing numbers of lives….

The questions we need to ask are about which side will win in the end. For certainly it will be decided one way or the other, and soon, of that we can be sure. And that is what makes this time and this question different from any other time. Because this question is not an academic one, now. It is one whose answer will become known far sooner than we would ever wish.

So, we will continue to live, and we will become good citizens of this planet and our species will continue on?

True? False?

This discussion is only now beginning.

Strange Days, Indeed. “Most Peculiar, Mama!”

Beginning in the next chapter, “Strange Days,” we begin discussing this question of life-death, eros-thanatos, survival-extinction.

Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Six:
Strange Days

Return to Apocalypse – No! Chapter Four:
Death Wish – Zombies and Sad Proselytists

Footnote

1. The “Unapproved and Hidden” is discussed in the chapter, “The First Prasad,” in my book, The Great Reveal by SillyMickel and the Planetmates. The planetmates describe the origins of this tendency of ours to need to speak out our supposed specialness, tying it to our creation of the Unapproved and Hidden in societies. I write about this more generally on one of my blogs in particular, “Sillymickel’s Blog of the Obvious Unspoken Things.”


Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2:
Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse

by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this chapter, click on the link to youtube above or click the video player here:

Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2: Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse


Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Six:
Strange Days

Return to Apocalypse – No! Chapter Four:
Death Wish – Zombies and Sad Proselytists

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“The Awakening” in America’s Not-So “Pleasantville”: Evolved Parenting Results in Authenticity Rising and Defeat of the Body Snatchers

Culture War, Class War, Chapter Six: “Pleasantville” as Culture War Allegory

To Follow or Not Follow “the Script” in America’s Not-So “Pleasantville”

“Pleasantville” as Culture War Allegory: Thinking for Oneself Gets You “Colorized”

Not So “Pleasantville”

The film, “Pleasantville,” is a postmodern sociological allegory or fable released in 1998. It begins in then-current time against a backdrop of the usual violence, chaos, and turbulence that we are conditioned by the media to believe characterized the Nineties in America. Two high school teenagers, David and Jennifer, played by Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are planning their evening.

A Tale of Two Siblings

David is planning to watch the Pleasantville marathon on television and to participate in the trivia contest that will be part of it. Pleasantville is a an old sitcom from the 1950s in the Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons style which has attained a cult-like following and is shown regularly on a cable channel similar to the “Nick at Nite” one that we know of which specialized in reruns of old sitcoms. It becomes clear that David is an ardent devotee of the show in part because it compensates for the lameness of his real life. Unlike his sister, who is portrayed as a real “firecracker” of a young woman, he doesn’t date or participate in the school scene. It is implied that he may be using the sitcom as an escape from not only a boring life but a threatening one and that he longs to live in the kind of ordered, safe, and unchallenging reality that the sitcom depicts. David is such an avid follower of the show that he is shown to be a master of “Pleasantville” trivia and is primed and eager for the contest on Pleasantville trivia.

But his sister, Jennifer, is planning for a hot date at home…their parents being away for the weekend providing an opportunity for her to be unchaperoned with her guy—which she eagerly anticipates. At odds over what will be played on the TV–Jennifer wanting to watch instead an MTV concert with her date—they wrestle over the TV remote and end up breaking it. However all is not lost as at just that moment and completely inexplicably a television repairman played by Don Knotts drives up in his truck, knocks on the door, and imposes his services on them in fixing the problem.

Don Knotts—perfectly cast, in a Jungian sense, for it is often the impish or normally overlooked and unnoticed element that initiates sweeping changes in people’s lives—indeed does introduce the magical element into the film. He produces a different kind of remote control, which he claims has special effects saying, “You want something to put you right in the show!” Sure enough, in checking out the remote they hit a mysterious button and are transported into the TV and thus into the sitcom and the town that is called Pleasantville.

To Follow Or Not to Follow “The Script”

After their initial confusion, they realize what has happened and try to return, but do not know how to. David–who it becomes apparent has been thrust into the role of Bud in the sitcom–advises his sister–Jennifer who has become Mary Sue in the TV series–to go along with events until they figure a way to get home. Since he knows all the plots of every show of the sitcom, his idea is that they act out the events as they are supposed to happen and that they do what the two characters–the teenage son and daughter of the parents in the sitcom, Betty and George Parker, played superbly by Joan Allen and William H. Macy–are known to do in the different episodes he has seen.

Essentially, then, David as Bud is advising his sister to “follow the script.” And of course it is not hard to discern at this point that we are beginning to see a metaphor for psychological realities and that “following the script” has a broader meaning for a choice that everyone must make in life in growing up, viz., to follow the script laid out for oneself by one’s parents and society in general or to follow one’s inner direction and inner guide in asserting one’s individuality and expressing one’s unique self.

The rest of the movie is the story of how these two characters–transported magically from the future as well as from the real world as opposed to a made-up TV world–introduce change into the town and thereby color. Mary Sue, formerly Jennifer, does it consciously. Rebelling against her brother’s admonishments to follow the script, she goes on a date with someone she is not supposed to according to the sitcom script and then–horror of horrors for a 1950s world – engages in sex with him at the local “lover’s lane”–where the farthest that anyone goes, according to “script,” is holding hands. We find later that her date describes this unheard of experience to his classmates, and, like ripples emanating from a pebble dropped in a pond, her action results in a number of the school youth engaging in sex and thereby becoming, to everyone’s amazement, colorized!

The brother also introduces change, and therefore color, but it is done unconsciously at first. As mentioned, he tries to get his sister to follow the script. Still, in a metaphorically powerful scene, when he is late for work at the local malt shop–this is unheard of as well because “Pleasantville” is a world where no one is ever late for work–he inadvertently introduces change himself. In fact, he introduces the most insidious element of change because he explicitly advises–without realizing what he has unleashed–that his boss think for himself!

In this scene Bud, formerly David, finds his boss and coworker, Mr. Johnson, played by Jeff Daniels, stuck at the end of the counter, cleaning away with a wash cloth, like a stuck record, at the same spot, even as the surface of the counter is rubbing away.

When the soda jerk, Mr. Johnson, explains confusedly that the normal regimen would have required Bud to arrive at work before he, Mr. Johnson, could go on to the rest of his chores, “Bud” simply suggests to Mr. Johnson that in the future he continue with his next chore even if Bud isn’t there.

So simply in being himself, coming from a future in which people react to change by thinking out new responses and thereby adapting to them, Bud, aka David, introduces a totally new element into the soda jerk’s script. This has far reaching consequences as the movie progresses and Mr. Johnson begins thinking for himself and having ideas about other things as well. In this way, the soda jerk, soon to be artist, too ends up “colored.”

“The Awakening” in a WWII Generation World of “Blue Meanies” and “Nowhere Men” … “Yellow Submarine” … “Pleasantville”

“Pleasantville” and “Yellow Submarine”: The WWII Generation World of “Blue Meanies” and “Nowhere Men” vs. “The Awakening”Blue Meanies


The 1998 movie, “Pleasantville,”thematically, is remarkably akin to the 1968-released movie “Yellow Submarine” put out by the Sixties Generation rock group The Beatles.

In “Yellow Submarine” there is a region ruled by the “Blue Meanies.” These Blue Meanies, especially their leader, are depicted as powerful and cruel, yet sniveling, insecure, weak, and selfish underneath. Their angry and oppressive personas are shown to reveal poor little whining babies behind them. Their actions are shown to be those of “big babies,” whose gruff exterior must remain intact at all costs, lest their hidden sniveling and hurt little selves be revealed. The analogy the Beatles are making to those of the WWII Generation—at that time the parental generation, those “over 30″—is impossible not to make.

“Nowhere Man”

The movies are so similar in theme that the only major thematic difference between “Pleasantville” and “Yellow Submarine” is that it is music that is not allowed in “Yellow Submarine” whereas in “Pleasantville” it is color. But the idea behind them both is the same: Music and color both represent deep feeling, aliveness, thinking for oneself, and change. In “Yellow Submarine,” the man without music is Nowhere Man, who “knows not where he’s going to, doesn’t have a point of view.” In Pleasantville, the men without color act in the same ways, performing the same actions, day in, day out, without change, zombie- or robot-like–like characters in a 1950s-style sitcom in which nothing unpleasant, different, new, or too emotional is allowed to occur.

And above all, the black-and-white men do not think for themselves. This is graphically portrayed in the scene mentioned where the owner of the town malt shop, Mr. Johnson, portrayed by Jeff Daniels, is left cleaning the same spot of the counter for hours so that its top is rubbed away because his coworker is late and the routine they use to close up cannot be completed in the way it is done, everyday, in exactly the same way. Confronted with this small change, he shows himself to be the “Nowhere Man” and like a needle stuck on a record, he is rigidly stuck repeating the same action, not having the power to think of an alternative action in response to a change in the usual routine.

“The Awakening” – No Longer a Distant Vision

The differences in the years of the release and the different artistic modes used to express the themes of these two movies have something to say as well. In 1968 the changes in culture of the New Age were a vision and a hope. It is appropriate and telling that “Yellow Submarine” was expressed in animated form. Like a dream that would take a long time to realize, it needed to be expressed in cartoon-like fashion, for the time of its emergence in reality was too far off.

By contrast, “Pleasantville” blends a fantasy world–appropriately it is a TV sitcom, which has more similarities with reality than an animation – with the actual reality of postmodern times. The advance toward reality is patent in the evolution from an animated form–indicating the change is far off, a fantasy, a wish, a hope–in the 1968 movie; to a black-and-white form involving real actors, real people; and then to a colorized version involving real people in what is supposed to be real time and real cultural reality, in the movie released thirty years later. One might say that what was a fantasy over forty years ago is, however unconsciously, being heralded as, hopefully, emerging and coming into being now–in actual, black-and-white or colored, real time and place.

Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The Preeminence of Inner Authority – Authenticity Rising

The Preeminence of Inner Authority – Authenticity Rising:
Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Concerning the movie “Pleasantville,” noted movie critic Roger Ebert quite astutely pointed out that it was “like the defeat of the body snatchers” (from his excellent review, “Pleasantville” ). One might also say that it is one in which Holden Caulfield, the character in J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, wins out and children do not grow up to be adult “phonies.” Another analogy would be that it is a depiction in which Peter Pan stays young, when he succeeds in keeping the children from ever growing up and thereby losing their capacity to “fly”–representing the capacity to dream, to envision, to be open to new possibilities, to adventure.

What It Is That Makes One Alive

Against this backdrop of lack of real aliveness, the introduction of “color” into the town of Pleasantville through the introduction of sex is not seen as something bad at all. Similarly, in recent history, despite the increasing drum beating of the Religious Right in the last three decades, those of us who grew up in the Fifties know that the introduction of sex–in the Sixties, as in the “sexual revolution”–was a step forward from the hypocritical sameness and plodding repression of the Fifties.

Other elements introduced into Pleasantville that produce colorization in the participants include thinking for oneself (Jeff Daniels in his role as the soda jerk), intellectual passion (the sister), questioning the way things are supposed to be or, in Sixties terms, questioning authority (when the brother finally becomes colored), artistic and creative passion (Jeff Daniels again), and even the passion of honest rage (the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce). These elements arise in Pleasantville just as they arose into the collective consciousness of those of us living in the Fifties and Sixties.

Of course I am not naively saying that these elements never existed before the Sixties. The underlying factor that was introduced into the movie causing color and that was also introduced into our society causing all the sociocultural changes that we, usually, complain about is the factor of choosing something different than what is expected by society, than what is expected by the outside. What is introduced in the movie–as it was introduced in our culture–is the preeminence of inner authority in making decisions, as opposed to outer authority.

A New Psychohistorical Era!

In psychohistorical terms this difference is marked by Lloyd deMause as a difference in a mode of child-rearing. The black-and-white Fifties Pleasantville is a representation of a mode of child-rearing—which characterized the Fifties—wherein the role of the parents is to “mold,” model, and guide children along paths that the parents have deemed to be correct–called the socializing mode of child-rearing. The child is expected to be a clone of the parents, a mini-me, or at least to represent the parents’ ideas of proper behavior, ideals, and mode of living, irregardless of whether the parent models them or not. And when not, the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” and the term hypocrite as applied to the parents are apropos. The basic nature of the child is considered to be sinful and evil or at least beastial; the classic novel Lord of the Flies depicts this view of human nature. Therefore the child needs to become other than itself and conform itself to something outside of itself in order for she or he to be considered “good” and to receive good responses in turn from parents and society.

By contrast, the colorized Pleasantville represents the mode of child-caring that came out, big time, beginning in the Sixties, wherein the parents’ role is that of “bringing out” from and supporting, encouraging, and helping the child to discover what the child’s talents and inherent abilities, feelings, and proclivities are, and then encouraging the child to “believe in him/herself” in the expression of those inherent and inborn good qualities and values–termed the helping mode of child-caring. [Footnote 1]

This mode contains a radically new view of basic human nature. Humans are seen to be essentially good (even “divine”). It is evil and painful events impinging upon the child from the outside—family and society—that are deemed causative in taking the child from its natural state of innocence and goodness and inherent unique talents to one wherein the child is corrupted and thus becomes beastial and lacking in inherent good qualities and talents.

Therefore the solution is to protect the child from traumas coming from the outside, especially the huge one of feeling unloved through not being seen or respected as a unique individual…as opposed to being seen as a mere outgrowth or mini-me of a parental entity. And in so doing the parents’ role includes helping the child to discover his or her uniqueness and dispensing unconditional love, that is, love that is given freely, without the requirement, as in the socializing mode, that the child do and be what the parents want before the child is accepted or shown approval or any emotional warmth.

In representing this advanced mode of being (and child-caring) the “colorized” people in Pleasantville open themselves to possibilities that were never before considered; they stray from the earlier mode requiring strict conformity to parental scripts. Robert Kennedy’s Sixties quote comes to mind as expressing this: “Some people look at things as they are and ask, why? I think of things that never were and ask, why not?” This means, then, a capacity to experiment and adventure in one’s life, which, at bottom, involve a belief in questioning authority and thinking for oneself in Sixties terms or, in Sathya Sai Baba’s words, a belief that we are, each of us, “experiments in truth” in our sojourns on Earth. And just as these elements and beliefs became more and more a part of America’s collective consciousness in the Sixties and Seventies and ever since then, they also gradually develop in “Pleasantville.”

Love Uncertainty – We Need to Stop Bemoaning the “Messiness” that Comes with Freedom

What It Is About Change… Revolution Is Not a Tea Party
(But It Can Be a Tweet Party)

The “Messy” Scenery of Healing

“Love My Uncertainty”

One reviewer described the ending of the movie as “not at all easy and tidy, but rather very, very messy” ( “Pleasantville” by Chris A. Bolton). Ebert–more astutely but not quite correctly—wrote that the determining factor in whether someone became “colored” was the factor of change. The first reviewer, like someone with one foot still in “Pleasantville” or one who is still not fully colored, does not understand that the ending, wherein the characters proclaim that they do not know what is going to happen next, contains exactly the essential message of the movie. The ending can only be “messy” if one expects a particular ending.

The reviewer is very much like the critics of Occupy Wall Street who claim the protesters do not have a message, or a leader…essentially don’t know where they are going. He is wrong for the same reasons those critics are.

The whole point of change is that it is always something one does not expect. Likewise, when people act out of inner rather than outer authority, one can only expect that what happens will be unique, like people are when they are not conforming to external expectations. So there could be no pat or predicted ending. The moviegoer could not leave knowing whether Betty Parker, the Stepford housewife turned liberated woman, returns to her husband, George, or takes off with the soda jerk turned artist, Mr. Johnson, because that would destroy the uncertainty inherent in change, growth, aliveness, and so on. So the ending is exactly what it has to be.

And this ending expresses the spiritual razor’s edge each of us must cross during our life’s sojourn. Whenever we try to put life, or love, into a box, package, or a gilded cage, it dies or stagnates—just like a boring black-and-white sitcom world. Real change and spiritual growth means letting go and opening oneself to the unexpected and the unknown. So it is in this vein that the spiritual teacher Sai Baba tells his followers, “Love my uncertainty,” in helping them to deal–after the usual “honeymoon phase” at the beginning of their spiritual path–with the trials, changes, tribulations, and suffering that his devotees experience later on, along their path to greater purity of heart and compassion, and eventually spiritual liberation.

The Scenery of Healing

One of the reasons the movie, “Pleasantville,” so appealed to me is that its view of current events is so akin to that which I have been expressing in other of my more recent writings–e.g., the articles The Sometimes Messy Scenery of Healing and The Emerging Perinatal Unconscious and the books Apocalypse – No!, Apocalypse Emergency: Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth? and Apocalypse, or New Age? The Emerging Perinatal Unconscious–wherein I make the argument that recent events are not evidence of a downfall of civilization, as conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Pat Buchanan would have us believe, but are the necessary “birth pains” of a new age being born.


In Pleasantville, indeed, though everyone smiles and there is no crime or unpleasantness–which is supposed to reflect the view of reality presented in Fifties sitcoms like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver–it is inherently flawed in that it is lacking in “color.” Those of us who lived through the Fifties know that the lack of color is an apt metaphor for exactly the way it was at that time. It was a back-and-white world–a world that covered up its underlying nastiness and evil by repression and denial–psychological defense mechanisms that characterize the World-War-Two Generation especially.

New Mantram: “Thinking for Oneself Is Good!”

The point in the movie, which is so appealing, is that it causes us to look again at the changes in our society that have occurred because of the various “revolutions” of postmodern times–civil rights, student antiwar, women’s rights, sexual, and so on–and to stop bemoaning the “messiness” that comes with freedom. We have more choice, more freedom now than ever. And this freedom allows us the opportunity for a higher spirituality—some would say the only true spirituality—which involves the harrowing path of deciding for oneself, based upon one’s ability to intuit or “feel” the correct path, and experiencing the consequences of one’s choices, as opposed to the preordained religiosity of following a script.

Though many would argue this, one has only to look, as this movie forces us to do, back at where we started. And from that perspective, with that stultifying, hypocritical, dishonest, and phony kind of supposed “living” in mind, we can easily see the changes and progress made in individual freedom and, dare I say, genuine spirituality, and accept the uncertainty, emotional pain, apparent evil, “messiness,” social and political turbulence, and all the rest that comes with it.

Footnote

1.  See The History of Childhood As the History of Child Abuse by Lloyd deMause on the Primal Spirit site.

Continue with Culture War, Class War, Chapter Seven: Cultural Rebirth, Aborted

Return to Culture War, Class War, Chapter Five: The King Won’t Die – An Aborted Changing of the Guard

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The Only Important Question and About That Inner Monster of Yours: Thanatos Walking, Pt 4

Thanatos Walking, Part Four:
The Only Important Question
and About That Inner Monster of Yours

I repeat: Freud established that we act out a will to live and to be in the sun and to have fun and to love and to like goodness and health and truth.

I repeat: Freud also saw we have at other times an opposite feeling which causes us to want to live in the dark—to not be around people, to shy away from life and the light and being seen and recognized and even to wanting to be lonely—that causes us to not care about fun, to hate and be angry, indeed to hate everyone and even to want to lash out at them for no reason other than what might be self-labeled as spite; that causes us to hate goodness, calling things “kumbaya moments,” that causes us to be jealous of others who are more giving and to hate them for that, call people “goody two-shoes” or saying something is “schmaltzy”; or saying that all that good stuff is just “drama”; and putting out terms like “bleeding heart” liberals; that causes us to beat up on our bodies and abuse them with all kinds of substances and behaviors; and that causes us to not care about the truth, but rather to say things instead to hurt, get revenge, to get back at; or to say untruths to get advantage, to disable our competitors, to hide from the evils we commit which enslave us further in the hiding of them, and so much more. [continued after video]


Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2:
Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse

by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to youtube above or click the video player here:

Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2: Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse

Pandavas versus Kauravas

Freud said we struggled between these two opposite feelings throughout our lives. It is because of this contradiction we carry inside that we can never be truly sure of who we are and even that we can question our motives and intentions (those more self-analytical of us). It is because of this contradiction that we can always feel we could have done better, that people don’t know everything about us, even when they say they do, and that sometimes we fear, especially when we are younger, that if people knew what we had inside they would shy away, not like us, think us to be bad, even monstrous.

By the way, about that inner monster of yours…

It is because of this contradiction that people are so terrified of revealing themselves, lest some of that not socially appropriate, not socially sanctioned, not socially approved part of themselves slip out. And the fear there is that then we will be seen to have been found out; and that then we will be confirmed in our worst fears that indeed that “other” part of ourselves is—the horror that cannot even be spoken in one’s mind—that dark part of ourselves is the real us…which carries with it the view that any of the “good” in us is just a cover up so that other people will not know.

Mask on a monster, lipstick on a pig

But Freud took it beyond our inner struggles and talked about how the events of the world, the actions and movements of history, the dramas of all the ages, are in fact the products of this inner struggle. Desperate between these poles, we join together with others of the same feeling—whether of lightness or of negativity—in multiple relations and groups on both sides of that struggle. More than that, while driven unwittingly from sources on one side, we expend ourselves in complex ways, in concert with these other, to represent these groups as well as ourselves as acting out from sources on the other side; we mask ourselves as the other.

Babel’s inner blueprint

Ultimately, these groups magnify our powers. And the cumulative acts of many individuals, along with the actions of groups and their leaders, all within complex and contradictory motives at all levels and in every matter, create the complex events of all times. All these happenings are at base the story of inner conflicts—complex outer conflicts notwithstanding. In a cumulative manner and over time, things are ever more convoluted and twisted and complicated through the actions of the myriad characters—all of whom conflicted inside, act inconsistently, and out of their own unique struggles which have all of us perceiving and interpreting things in ways totally unique to ourselves.

Again, The Question

These huge world events, then, Freud laid at the feet of the individual struggle. Basically the world becomes an arena of the acting of the Will to Life against the Will to Death, of Eros versus Thanatos.

That is why I say what we are discussing is an age-old question. Although to our detriment…or fortune?…it is now more than any other time crucially relevant, and it is the most immense importance and consequence as to the winner of that inner struggle.

Earth AliveFor while we watched with paralyzed hand on one side, on the other our lesser selves are presently taking us on a path that leads inevitably, one way or another, to total species extinction. And not just that alone, but in fact total life extinction on this planet, and possibly even to planetary annihilation—the destruction of this planet itself.

That is why in upcoming sections I focus on this question of dire importance. I talk more about this Will to Death manifesting currently as planetary suicide. But unlike Freud I do not address this Will to Death in a general sense. I deal specifically with its existence as an element of the current struggle between those of us who would live and those opposing that.

NASA Releases "face" on Mars

I deal with the question of the sway of the the “dark side” as over against the Power of Truth, Love, Higher Power; God…if you will; Sathya Sai, that is, Truth Love…if you will; the Universe; or simply the Better Angels of Our Nature manifesting in increasing numbers of lives….

The questions we need to ask are about which side will win in the end. For certainly it will be decided one way or the other, and soon, of that we can be sure. And that is what makes this time and this question different from any other time. Because this question is not an academic one, now. It is one whose answer will become known far sooner than we would ever wish.

So, we will continue to live, and we will become good citizens of this planet and our species will continue on?

True? False?

This discussion is only now beginning.

Strange Days, Indeed. “Most Peculiar, Mama!”

Beginning in the next chapter, “Strange Days,” we begin discussing this question of life-death, eros-thanatos, survival-extinction.

Continue with Something’s Happening Here: Strange Days, Pt 1

Return to Sycophantic, Suicidal Ape – “Quit Hitting Yourself!”: Thanatos Walking, Pt 3



Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2:
Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse

by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to youtube above or click the video player here:

Thanatos Walking/ Will to Die, Pt 2: Fleeing Freedom, Hating Goodness, Wanting Apocalypse


Continue with Something’s Happening Here: Strange Days, Pt 1

Return to Sycophantic, Suicidal Ape – “Quit Hitting Yourself!”: Thanatos Walking, Pt 3

Invite you to follow me on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/sillymickel

friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sillymickel

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Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The Preeminence of Inner Authority – Authenticity Rising

 

The Preeminence of Inner Authority – Authenticity Rising:
Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Reversing the Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Concerning the movie “Pleasantville,” noted movie critic Roger Ebert quite astutely pointed out that it was “like the defeat of the body snatchers” (from his excellent review, “Pleasantville” ). One might also say that it is one in which Holden Caulfield, the character in J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, wins out and children do not grow up to be adult “phonies.” Another analogy would be that it is a depiction in which Peter Pan stays young, when he succeeds in keeping the children from ever growing up and thereby losing their capacity to “fly”–representing the capacity to dream, to envision, to be open to new possibilities, to adventure.

What It Is That Makes One Alive

Against this backdrop of lack of real aliveness, the introduction of “color” into the town of Pleasantville through the introduction of sex is not seen as something bad at all. Similarly, in recent history, despite the increasing drum beating of the Religious Right in the last three decades, those of us who grew up in the Fifties know that the introduction of sex–in the Sixties, as in the “sexual revolution”–was a step forward from the hypocritical sameness and plodding repression of the Fifties.

Other elements introduced into Pleasantville that produce colorization in the participants include thinking for oneself (Jeff Daniels in his role as the soda jerk), intellectual passion (the sister), questioning the way things are supposed to be or, in Sixties terms, questioning authority (when the brother finally becomes colored), artistic and creative passion (Jeff Daniels again), and even the passion of honest rage (the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce). These elements arise in Pleasantville just as they arose into the collective consciousness of those of us living in the Fifties and Sixties.

Of course I am not naively saying that these elements never existed before the Sixties. The underlying factor that was introduced into the movie causing color and that was also introduced into our society causing all the sociocultural changes that we, usually, complain about is the factor of choosing something different than what is expected by society, than what is expected by the outside. What is introduced in the movie–as it was introduced in our culture–is the preeminence of inner authority in making decisions, as opposed to outer authority.

A New Psychohistorical Era!

In psychohistorical terms this difference is marked by Lloyd deMause as a difference in a mode of child-rearing. The black-and-white Fifties Pleasantville is a representation of a mode of child-rearing—which characterized the Fifties—wherein the role of the parents is to “mold,” model, and guide children along paths that the parents have deemed to be correct–called the socializing mode of child-rearing. The child is expected to be a clone of the parents, a mini-me, or at least to represent the parents’ ideas of proper behavior, ideals, and mode of living, irregardless of whether the parent models them or not. And when not, the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” and the term hypocrite as applied to the parents are apropos. The basic nature of the child is considered to be sinful and evil or at least beastial; the classic novel Lord of the Flies depicts this view of human nature. Therefore the child needs to become other than itself and conform itself to something outside of itself in order for she or he to be considered “good” and to receive good responses in turn from parents and society.

By contrast, the colorized Pleasantville represents the mode of child-caring that came out, big time, beginning in the Sixties, wherein the parents’ role is that of “bringing out” from and supporting, encouraging, and helping the child to discover what the child’s talents and inherent abilities, feelings, and proclivities are, and then encouraging the child to “believe in him/herself” in the expression of those inherent and inborn good qualities and values–termed the helping mode of child-caring. [Footnote 1]

This mode contains a radically new view of basic human nature. Humans are seen to be essentially good (even “divine”). It is evil and painful events impinging upon the child from the outside—family and society—that are deemed causative in taking the child from its natural state of innocence and goodness and inherent unique talents to one wherein the child is corrupted and thus becomes beastial and lacking in inherent good qualities and talents.

Therefore the solution is to protect the child from traumas coming from the outside, especially the huge one of feeling unloved through not being seen or respected as a unique individual…as opposed to being seen as a mere outgrowth or mini-me of a parental entity. And in so doing the parents’ role includes helping the child to discover his or her uniqueness and dispensing unconditional love, that is, love that is given freely, without the requirement, as in the socializing mode, that the child do and be what the parents want before the child is accepted or shown approval or any emotional warmth.

In representing this advanced mode of being (and child-caring) the “colorized” people in Pleasantville open themselves to possibilities that were never before considered; they stray from the earlier mode requiring strict conformity to parental scripts. Robert Kennedy’s Sixties quote comes to mind as expressing this: “Some people look at things as they are and ask, why? I think of things that never were and ask, why not?” This means, then, a capacity to experiment and adventure in one’s life, which, at bottom, involve a belief in questioning authority and thinking for oneself in Sixties terms or, in Sathya Sai Baba’s words, a belief that we are, each of us, “experiments in truth” in our sojourns on Earth. And just as these elements and beliefs became more and more a part of America’s collective consciousness in the Sixties and Seventies and ever since then, they also gradually develop in “Pleasantville.”

Continue on this site with
Culture War, Class War, Chapter Six:
Culture War Allegory

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