Pythonism

code and the oracular

Is there a group mind and is it your enemy ?

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More specifically do people swarm together in routine behaviours like starlings? The starlings don’t have telepathic implants, they just swarm because they all meet the same environmental conditions and their simpler than human minds tend to make the same decisions. The swarm arises through the similarity of their decisions. Humans are more complex and there are more decisions they can make. Does this mean that swarming is less likely ? Or maybe there are similarly few fundamental decisions, but we often don’t recognise this because communication adds a layer of uniqueness. Language is complex but the intentions behind what we say are still simple. Dominance or submission, agression or placation, flirtation or rejection, manure-throwing at the other or picking lint off their jackets etc etc.

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I seem to receive a bit of condescension from strangers to whom I “reach out” in the world during my day. I think that although I can self verify that my will is good, people still want to be left alone, so they find a way to illustrate their discomfort. What exactly is going on here? Condescension has its own ways. Sometimes people can not notice that the other is being condescending and interpret it as friendly sympathy. I wonder if my friend Doris who has a learning handicap gets this a lot…

After a few exciting experiences of travel abroad years ago I started to look at the English from the outside, as if I was a foreigner myself. This is like being a martian reporting on earthlings, but it had a catch – I developed my “group-mind complex”. Beware ! I had to offset my own low social status with an intellectualisation to protect myself, but at its worst this made me more paranoid and embittered. I love Frank Herbert books like “The Santaroga Barrier”, I’d like to hope this piece would be up his street. My martian perspective was also enhanced by reading dangerous tomes like “Games People Play” but I am concerned that the theory and connected thoughts had crossed the line into delusion so I am writing this to bargain with myself for more clarity.


A lot of social interaction is highly symbolic. You dont literally wipe your arse on someone, they just end up feeling like you did. The more sensitive you are the more keenly you enter the symbolic “as-if” of interaction, and the more vulnerable you are to having your feelings hurt. This sounds a bit simplistic, maybe, but I do admit I am clutching at straws trying to understand my own alienation, so I have to clutch !

I watched my mothers fishtank and observed bullying behaviours against deformed fish which always led to the death of the sad individual fish. The others would dive bomb and harrass the victim, prodding it in a nose on attack. I wondered if I was like that poor cripple, hounded to death. I guess I am not now I look back, since no-one has beaten me or endangered my physical health. I used to think that a lot of the strangers I encountered in the world were bad mouthing me, but I now realise this was a delusion.

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In many ways I am obsessed with words. Because I enjoy using them I rank the importance of others’ words too high, and this is why I get in a state sometimes about what people say. The alternative is to become a worse listener. Good listeners give a lot, but the poison of hurtful words slips into the ear more often too.

Is it that I refuse to make sacrifices for others? It seems that conventional morality involves a sacrifice of personal freedom, but I claim that my total freedom would not impinge much upon, or be harmful to, others. So I refuse to limit myself and this arouses suspicion. In a sense I argue that I am paying for the bad apples who cause people to be so suspicious of unlimited freedom. In the same way as the existence of sex criminals damages trust between good ordinary men and women, because the unconscious statistician in us can’t be certain about the worth of a less well known individuals character. But as an anarchist sympathiser I am used to overcoming the fearful idea that human beings can’t function socially unless there are authorities and rules.

People like Reich said that the neurotic world keeps us locked into the symbolic and ritualised side of interaction. You are as good as you feel, if someone means to shit on you there is little chance of being able to escape by intellectualising. Even though they never touched you but just used language and gesture, you may get hurt because the social construction of the event lays down that you are the patsy and will be or ought to be hurt. How do we escape from the consequences of the actions of others, many no longer alive, that have stratified down and lie unavoidable in the fabric of our world? I dream passionately of escaping the fallen world of grey bowed heads into a realm of cosmic discovery and joy. But still people get to me !

If you just ignore people you are arrogant, if you fight back your conscience may punish you, and if you don’t you may be imputed weak, incurring more persecution still from observers or others who have painted your portrait so unkindly in their world-gallery. I wonder if some doomed part of me has refused to fight back, and that this is the root of my discordance with the world. That embedded in reality itself is this fallen commandment that everybody is a bastard, and you just have to be one and get on with it. The swarm will victimise you if you dissent, and your fate will be that of the goldfish.

But hey, I remind myself, life ain’t so bad usually, is it ? Well here my doubts become a little toxic again: if repressing feelings is the great rule maybe all calls to count blessings and look on the bright side are just repression. Those who moan get told to shut up, or told to be more positive as if some magic wand can instantly change your character and make you more rational. If I only ever highlight and draw attention to the unsatisfactoriness of life then I am unbalanced towards pessimism, but a smiling vacuous optimism seems like an imbalance to me too! I came off prozac to feel more, and an ocean of hurts, many tiny but still cumulative, stand between me and the positive feeling I want.

But I must hold to my perception about the swarm: there is no group mind that makes people act as one, swarm behaviour emerges from the collection of individuals who make free decisions that just happen to all be the same ! I cannot be 100% a reject because even when I am down and out there is a nun who gives me a sandwich and smiles. I cannot receive exclusion, judgement, and damnation from every other living human, because human decision making is itself individualised, and thus nuns and their kind may deviate from the totalitarian “Luke = non-person” theory that some seem to believe. Try telling that to someone in a death camp though. So there it is: I am not in a social death camp. Thank heaven for this but how bad is reality really ?

I switch to my observation of the English mode. We are rushed, selfish, preoccupied with personal obsessions and more… and this is why the woman behind me in the queue at Co-Op scowled as I was making conversation with the till assistant I fancy. But it is not personal because none of those ones know anything about me and my life. If a friend betrayed me it would be worse, so again I try to count my blessings. Sometimes this magic doesn’t work though !

Hypersensitivity has crippled me, clearly, but it is also frightening and depressing that I sometimes fly into a murderous rage when I have taken sleight from some stranger. I practise my breathing and feeling exercises, but sometimes I get real pissed. Sometimes when it’s like this I have violent thoughts. Then my doubts will come and I’ll feel a sense that I have misunderstood my life and my world, but I still can’t surrender and agree to limit my consciousness and my freedom. It feels like death and I won’t allow it.

The reinvention of my life that occurred after I left Ramsgate has good and bad sides. Geoff and mum wanted me to reinvent my identity as someone more respectable. I felt the pressure of this and in some ways I conformed to it. More disturbingly the resentful thoughts against poor and disadvantaged people started. Most of the time I have enjoyed the peace, but there have been moments when I wished I was still sweet with the crew from old times.

Young men running amok with guns and bombs is a growing trend in the world. Each time it happens I feel so depressed, more so because a part of me identifies the agony of hurt and alienation that has driven the accursed one to fight the power in this way. I feel angry with society and the world, and the depression seems because a little part of me thinks and feels like the evil bomber. But if I can feel like this I must still retain a connection to my heart, and so maybe I am not so bad.

When I express my feelings of alienation to others, and mention that I feel people see me as a schizo, weirdo and reject their reactions usually disturb me worse. Sometimes its as if by uttering such dark words in proximity to my reference of self that I have indicated poor self esteem. But I disagree: this is how the interlopers see me but not how I see myself. Society creates those contemptuous ways of dealing with deviance, I try to buy out of them and evidence of this is that I won’t point the words at others. But all that results when I try to talk to my parents about it is a lingering feeling I see in them that I simply have a low opinion of myself. When I am feeling really persecuted I take this too personally too. I imagine that I have said something forbidden and that the group mind is reacting back with more rejection. At the moment I can only wistfully sense that almost no-one does think of me in those terms. I hope the delusion doesn’t come back !

Another occasion and I will feel that my moral high ground in refusing within my self to use derogatory words about people who are psychologically different is doomed to failure and that again the strata of the social construction of reality forbids this completely. Then it seems that the people whom I tell about my alienation cannot see that I have escaped the inevitability of personal fascism and they just walk off thinking I am ill, deluded and rather a bore. Their dog-eat-dog mentality persists and my tragic struggle is without consequence.

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So I am going to try to reject the swarm theory on the whole, because I must learn to associate no less individuality with others as I honour myself with. I hate TV but it is not a perfect brainwashing device that can trump peoples wilful and blessedly stubborn desires to be individuals. David Icke thinks that TV reinforces a mind projected field of total conformity to the secret will of the elites. I have found resonance with this before but the occasion of it was always very depressing to me. Believing in the Prison Planet hypothesis has made me suffer some very unhappy evenings alone. So I’ll give a nod to the positive thinking crowd too in that and try to care for and decorate my worldview to make it pleasant to inhabit.

But to what extent are we individuals anyway ? We need to belong and be tribal, but we are all emotionally damaged by childrearing and education in the imperfect world, so that neurosis makes us seek substitutes for parental love as adults. Ok but we are still individuals, just damaged ones, perhaps. I will now feel more awareness about my group mind complex, having written this, but I will still recoil from things that threaten to manifest my fear of being the unlucky goldfish. I will try not to draw much material from believing that individuals in the same nation state as me share much commonality with me. This is the facelessness made most concrete, that our tribe is so huge that we are just a speck within it, and our wills equally minute. I love people I know, but why should I swarm alongside strangers where our common ground is national TV and mindless customs like minding your own business, talking about the weather, or moaning to others at bus stops about a cherished basket of misfortunes. Especially when the individual’s refusal to enact each of these trivial behaviour patterns engenders equivalent outrage as if you had released a noxious poison cloud from a spraycan into a public space.

But I too feel that there are dangerous people out there. It just hurts my being-egg when someone thinks I am one of them ! In the thick of my complex I felt that people pointedly ignored me, but didn’t find the means to realise that I was probably doing it too. Why is it that naked human encounters should be so avoided though ? I see now it is because of a perception that there are those dangerous people. I blame the TV because crime rates have reduced but reporting of violent crime has increased. So as an anti TV person I had popped out of the swarm reality bubble, right ? And thus the unconscious avoidance mechanism in all the people behind me in the supermarket queue triggered and they all frowned at me ? well as I’ve made clear I hated what those thoughts did to my mind, so I am still seeking an alternative. I won’t go so far as to buy an idiot box again, but I want to believe something that doesn’t grind me down so much.

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Because the uncomfortable trait that the bombers and I shared in common was that we viewed Society itself as the enemy because of the pain of our alienation. A fish needs its water, sure, but I am wary of carrying the metaphor over too gleefully. Is the fault in our world that the expectation of uniformity, in such things as national identity, too threatening to the indelible human desire to have a unique and affirmed identity, that recognises us as beautiful precious residents of the universe, not mere cogs in a machine. I think I will still fight for this but at least I have thrashed out some of the possible pitfalls with myself now. What the relevance of my personal findings has for the world is that young men who run amok may be touching the same regions of the mind that I have tried to explore here. They are diagnosing the consensus trance as a sickness, in the same way as when Herbert in the Santaroga Barrier pictured a whole community lost in a telepathic trance due to discovey of a hallucinogenic telepathy enhancing cheese did. In the fifties cops referred to reefer madness as if a new dangerous subculture had found some new disturbing group psychosis. That madness is as old as the hills and it happens when we are estranged from other humans and forget that they are just like us.

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Written by Luke Dunn

April 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

One Response

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  1. You know, if all schizophrenics wrote like this, we’d have a much better reputation. It’s funny, I don’t watch TV either because of how bitter it makes me. It makes me look at the ugly, the news, crime programs, I don’t want my world to be filled with these images, or to believe there are people who deliberately hurt others.

    The group mind: I think to stay away from TV and to think for yourself, about the realities of the world we live in, makes us original. We are not swayed by other’s opinions and come up with our own ideas, maybe people have thought of them before, but they are put into our own words, and made up of images from our own lives. That’s why I think your blog is so interesting to me. Anyway, I’m starting to feel like a bit of a pervert for being here so long, so I better leave you alone for a while.

    Jeanette Moore

    February 9, 2014 at 9:24 pm


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