2017 Personality 04/05: Heroic and Shamanic Initiations

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2017 Personality 04/05: Heroic and Shamanic Initiations

2017 Personality 04/05: Heroic and Shamanic Initiations


[Music]
all right so I suggested to you last class that human beings world as a place
of action through the lens of their social cognitive biological sub
structure and I made that argument on the basis of the supposition that our
primary environment was actually other people and I mentioned to you I believe
that those other people are arranged in hierarchies of influence and authority
or power or dominance which is often how its construed and that the dominance
hierarchy as a structure is at least 300 million years old
which makes it older than trees and it’s for that reason that you share the same
neural biology to govern your observations of your position in the
hierarchy as lobsters do which is a remarkable fact you know it’s a
remarkable that the lobster uses serotonin as the mechanism to adjudicate
its status position and that modifying the serotonin function in the lobster
can produce changes in its behavior can can / help the logs to overcome defeat
for example which is very much equivalent to what happens to a human
being when they take antidepressants you know it’s it’s it’s a good example of
the conservation of biological structure by evolution and another a good
illustration of the continuity of life on Earth it’s really amazing but the
other thing it is a testament to is the ancient nature of the social structure
now we tend to think of the social structure as something other than nature
right because society is I suppose mythologically opposed it’s opposed in a
narrative way cultures opposed to nature it’s the town in the forest but the town
has been around a long time so to speak and the structure of the town is also
part of nature in that the dominance hierarchy is part of
and because it’s so ancient you have to consider it as part of the mechanism
that has played the role of selection in the process of natural selection and so
roughly seem what seems to happen is that there is a plethora of dominance
hierarchies especially in complex human communities and many of them are
masculine in structure in that their dominance are keys that primarily men
compete in or that has been the historical norm and that some men rise
to the top based on whatever the dominance hierarchy is based on and they
make their preferential mates and it’s a good strategy for women to engage in
because why and many sorts of female animals do precisely this is they let
the male’s battle it out and then pick from the top and or often the dominant
males there’s no choice on the part of the females it’s the dominant males just
chasing away the subordinate males but with humans it’s usually the case that
the females have the opportunity to do at least some choosing and so we have if
you think about that what that implies is that we have evolved to climb up
dominance hierarchies and then I would say it’s not exactly that even because
there are many different dominance hierarchies and so the skills that you
might use to climb up one might not be necessarily the same skills that you
would use to climb up another and so then I would say what we have all
evolved for instead and I’m still speaking mostly on the masculine edge of
things historically speaking is the ability to climb up the set of all
possible dominance hierarchies right and that’s that’s a whole different idea
it’s like the averaged hierarchy across vast spans of time and I think it’s for
that reason that we among others that we evolve general intelligence because
general intelligence is a general problem-solving mechanism and it seems
to be situation in depend so to speak and of course there’s been
an arms race for the development of intelligence between men and women
because each gender has to keep up with the other and women have their own
dominance hierarchies there’s certainly no doubt about that
and of course now men and women more increasingly compete within the same
hierarchies and we don’t exactly know how to sort that out yet because it’s an
extraordinarily new phenomena but in any case because of the the permanence of
the dominance hierarchy it has come to be represented in fundamental narratives
because human beings and this is something that we share everywhere it’s
the thing the Wall Street bankers shares with with the kalahari Kung Bushmen who
are among the genetically speaking they seem to be very close to what the
original most original human beings were like in Africa before the Diaspora about
fifty thousand years ago but you know both of those people
despite their vast differences live in communities that have a hierarchical
structure that are composed of individuals that are embedded in a
natural world you know the world outside of the dominant Sarki and so that’s the
standard human environment I would say and so stories that rely on the
representations of those environments and their interactions are what you
might describe as universal stories and that’s why people can understand them
and I would say further and this is drawing substantially on say derivation
of the work of Carl Jung because I think he delved into this more deeply than
anyone else so a lot of this stuff is quite Union in its in its origins we the
commonality between human beings so you know you have to have commonalities in
order to communicate right axiomatic commonalities because otherwise you have
to explain everything and so there’s many things that human beings don’t have
to explain to one another we don’t have to explain anger we do
have to explain jealousy we don’t have to explain fear we don’t have to explain
pain we don’t have to explain joy we don’t have to explain love etc those are
built into us and so there are predicates of being human and you could
say that those human predicates and the standard human environment produce
standard narratives and then you could say even further and this is more of a
leap I would say is that those who act out the role of the victor in those
standard narratives are precisely the people who attain victory in life and I
would say biologically defined in that they make more attractive partners but
also I believe that there’s an alignment between human well-being which is a very
weak word and participation in these meta narratives that drive success
because well do you want to be a failure or a success well you know it’s hard to
be a success you have to adopt a lot of responsibility and so you might be
willing to take your chances as a failure but I can’t exactly I’m not
going to make the presumption that that’s going to put you in a situation
other than one where you experienced a lot of frustration anger disappointment
depression pain and anxiety at the bottom of the heap and so generally
that’s not what people are aiming for although under certain circumstances if
people don’t like responsibility and are willing to take their chances they might
take the irresponsibility and it’s apparent freedoms over the necessity of
thinking things through the medium and long run anyways we stop here I
suggested to you that one of the primary narrative representations was the known
or culture or order I think those or the explored territory or the dominance arc
I think those things are basically interchangeable from from a
representational perspective and you know in the movie The Lion King that’s
represented by Pride Rock which is the central place of orientation founded on
Raw which is the sort of thing that people
embed their memories in that’s why we make sculptures and gravestones and that
sort of things rock stands for permanent and to have rock under your feet as to
be on a solid foundation and that’s a pyramid in some sense in that movie and
the pyramid has topped by you know the king and queen and they’re their
offspring so that’s that’s the divine couple that’s one way of thinking about
it and Simba of course is the newborn hero and you know you extend that even
though it’s lions and drawings of lions at that and animals are acting it out
it’s completely irrelevant to you that those characters happen to be animated
and that what you’re watching is a fiction so and I would say to you with
regards to fiction you know you might say well is fiction true or not and the
answer to that is yes and no it’s not true in that the events portrayed in
fiction occurred in the world they didn’t but they’re fiction is true the
same way numbers are true I would say like you know if you have one apple and
one orange and one banana the common analogy between all of those three is
one and you might say well is one as real as one fruit is the abstraction one
as real as one fruit and I would say it depends on what you mean by real but
representing things mathematically and abstractly gives you incredible power
and you could make the case that the abstraction is actually more real than
the phenomena that it represents and certainly mathematicians would make that
case they would say that mathematics is in some sense more real than the
phenomenal world and you know you don’t have to believe that mostly it’s a
matter of choice in some sense but you can’t deny the fact that an abstraction
has enough reality so that if you’re proficient in using it you can really
you can change the world and in and in insanely powerful ways you know I mean
all the computational equipment you people are using or depending
on the abstractions one and zero essentially and I mean look at what
emerges from that and so I would say with regards to fiction if you take
someone like Dostoyevsky oh I think it’s a favorite of mine by the way I would
highly recommend that you read all five of his great novels because they are
unparalleled in their psychological depth and so if you’re interested in
psychology Dostoyevsky’s the person for you
Tolstoy is more of a sociologist but Dostoyevsky man he gets right down into
the bottom of the questions and messes around transformative reading anyways
Dostoyevsky’s characters this character named her skull in the Cobb is a
character in crime and punishment and Raskolnikov is a materialist rationalist
I would say which was a rather new type of person back in the 1880s and he was
sort of taken by the idea that God was dead and took and convinced himself that
the only reason that he that anyone acted in a moral way in a traditional
way was because of cowardice they were unable to remove from them the
restrictions of mere convention and act in the manner of someone who rose above
the norm and so he’s tortured by these ideas he’s half starving he’s a law
student he doesn’t have enough to eat he doesn’t have much money and so you know
he’s not thinking all that clearly either and he’s got a lot of family
problems his mother’s sick and she can’t spend him send a much money and his
sister is planning to engage in a marriage that’s loveless to someone
who’s rather tyrannical who he hopes will provide the family with enough
money so that he can continue in law school and they write him brave letters
telling him that she’s very much in love with this guy but he is smart enough to
read between the lines and realizes that his sister is just planning to
prostitute herself in you know in an altruistic manner he’s not very happy
with that and then at the same time as all this is happening he becomes aware
of this pawnbroker who he’s you know pawning his last possessions to and
she’s a horrible person and not only by his estimation
she pawns a lot of things for the neighborhood and people really don’t
like her she’s grasping and cruel and deceitful and and resentful and like and
she has this niece who’s not very bright intellectually impaired whom she
basically treats as a slave and beats all the time and so Raskolnikov you know
involved in this mess and half starved and a bit delirious and possessed of
these strange new nihilistic ideas decides that the best way out of this
situation would be just to kill the land let the pawnbroker take her wealth which
he all she does is keep it in a chest free the niece so that seems like a good
idea so remove one apparently horrible and useless person from the world free
his sister from the necessity of this loveless marriage and allow him to go to
law school where he can become educated and do some good for the world you know
so one of the things that’s lovely about Dostoyevsky is that he you know when
sometimes when one person is arguing against another or when they’re having
an argument in their head they make their opponent into a straw man which is
basically they take their opponent and curricular their perspective and try to
make it as weak as possible and and laugh about it and and then they come up
with their argument and destroy this straw man and feel that they’ve obtained
victory but it’s a very pathetic way of thinking it’s not thinking at all what
thinking is is when you adopt the opposite position from your suppositions
and you make that argument as strong as you can possibly make it
and then you pit your perspective against that that strong iron man not
the straw man and you argue it out you battle it out and that’s what Dostoevsky
does in his novels I mean he’s the people who stand for the antithesis of
what dust is dust is he actually believes are often the strongest
smartest and sometimes most admirable people in the book and so
takes great moral courage to do that and you know in risk Olenick oov what he
wanted to do was set up a character who had every reason to commit murder every
reasonable reason philosophically practically ethically even well so risk
Olenick off goes and he kills the old lady with an axe and it doesn’t go the
way he expects it will because what he finds out is that post murder
Raskolnikov and pre murder Raskolnikov are not the same people at all they’re
not even close to the same people he’s entered an entirely different universe
and Dostoevsky does a lovely job of describing that universe of horror and
chaos and and and deception and and and suffering and terror and all of that and
he doesn’t even use the money he just buries it in a and an alley as fast as
he can and then doesn’t want anything to do with it again and anyways the reason
I’m telling you all this is potentially to entice you into reading the book
because it is an amazing amazing book but also because you might say well his
risk is what happened to Raskolnikov true are the stories in that book true
and the answer to that is well from a factual perspective clearly they’re
untrue but then if you think of Raskolnikov as the embodiment of a
particular type of person who lived at that time and the embodiment of a
certain kind of ideology which had swept across Europe and really invaded Russia
and which was actually a precursor a philosophical precursor to the Russian
Revolution then Raskolnikov is more real than any one person he’s like a
composite person he’s like a person who’s irrelevant sees have been
eliminated for the purpose of relating something about the structure of the
world and so I like to think of those things as sort of meta real meta real
they’re more real than real and of course that’s what you expect people to
do when they tell you about their own lives about their own day you don’t want
a factual description of every muscle twitch you want them to
distill their experiences down into the gist which is the significance of the
experience and the significance of the experience is roughly what you can
derive from listening to the experience that will change the way that you look
at the world and act in the world so it’s valuable information and they can
tell you a terrible story and then that can be valuable because that can tell
you how not to look in the world look at the world and act in it or they can tell
you a positive story you can derive benefit either way which is why we also
like to go watch stories about horrible psychopathic thugs you know and and
hopefully we’re learning not to be like them although there are additional
advantages in that you know someone you might be some say that someone who is
incapable of cruelty is a higher moral being than someone who is capable of
cruelty and I would say and this follows young as well that that’s incorrect and
it’s dangerously incorrect because if you are not capable of cruelty you are
absolutely a victim to anyone who is and so part of the reason that people go
watch anti heroes and villains is because there’s a part of them crying
out for the incorporation of the monster within them which is what gives them
strength of character and self-respect because it’s impossible to respect
yourself until you grow teeth and if you grow teeth and you realize that you’re
somewhat dangerous and let or maybe somewhat seriously dangerous and then
you might be more willing to demand that you treat yourself with respect and
other people do the same thing and so that doesn’t mean that being cruel is
better than not being cruel what it means is that being able to be cruel and
then not being cruel is better than not being able to be cruel because in the
first case you’re nothing but weak and naive and in the second case you’re
dangerous but you have it under control and you know a lot of martial arts
concentrate on exactly that as part of their philosophy of training it’s like
we’re not training you to fight we’re training you to be
peaceful and awake and avoid fights but if you happen to have to get in one and
then I guess the philosophy also is is that if you’re competent at fighting
that actually decreases the probability that you’re going to have to fight
because when someone pushes you you’ll be able to respond with confidence and
with any luck and this is certainly the case with bullies with any lock a
reasonable show of confidence which is very much equivalent to the show of
dominance is going to be enough to make the bully back off and so the strength
that you develop in your monstrousness is actually the best guarantee of peace
and that’s partly why Jung believed that it was necessary for people to integrate
their shadow and he said that was a terrible thing for people to attempt
because the human shadow mmm which is all those things about yourself that you
don’t want to realize reaches all the way to hell and what he meant by that
was it’s through an analysis of your own shadow that you can come to understand
why other people are capable and you as well of the sorts of terrible atrocities
that characterize let’s say the 20th century and without that understanding
there’s no possibility of bringing it under control when you study Nazi
Germany for example or you study the Soviet Union particularly under Stalin
and you’re asking yourself well what are these perpetrators like forget about the
victims let’s talk about the perpetrators the answer is they’re just
like you and if you don’t know that that just means that you don’t know anything
about people including yourself and then it also means that you have to discover
why they’re just like you and believe me that’s no picnic so that’s enough to
traumatize people and that’s partly why they don’t do it and it’s also partly
why the path to enlightenment and wisdom is seldom trod upon because if it was
all a matter of following your bliss and doing what made you happy then everyone
in the world would be a paragon of wisdom but it’s not that at all it’s the
it’s a matter of facing the thing you least want to face and everyone has that
old there’s this old story in King Arthur where
the night’s go off to look for the Holy Grail which is either the cup that
Christ drank out of it the Last Supper or the cup into which the blood that
gushed from his side was poured when he was crucified the stories vary but it’s
it’s basically a holy object like the Phoenix in some sense that’s
representation a representation of transformation so it’s a it’s an ideal
and so King Arthur’s knights who sit at a round table because they’re all
roughly equal go off to find the most valuable thing and they and where do you
look for the most valuable thing when you don’t know where it is well each of
the knights looks at the forest surrounding the castle and enters the
forest at the point that looks darkest to him and that’s a good thing to
understand because the gateway to wisdom and the gateway to the development of
personality which is exactly the same thing is precisely through the porthole
portal that you do not want to climb through and the reason for that’s
actually quite technical this is a union presupposition – is that well there’s a
bunch of things about you that are underdeveloped and a lot of those things
are because there’s things you’ve avoided looking at because you don’t
want to look at them and there’s parts of you you’ve avoided developing because
it’s hard for you to develop those parts and so it’s by virtual necessity that
what you need is where you don’t want to look because that’s where you’ve kept it
and so and that’s why there’s you know an idiosyncratic element of it for
everyone your particular place of enlightenment and terror is not going to
be the same as yours except that they’re both places of enlightenment and terror
so they’re equivalent at one level of analysis and and different than another
so anyways back to the fiction and and and and what it does if it distills
truth and it produces characters that are composites and the more they become
composites the more they approximate a mythological character and so they
become more and more universally true and more and more approximating
religious deities but the problem with that is they become more and more
distant from individual experience and so with
literature there’s this very tight line where you need to make the character
more than merely human but not so much of a God that you know one of the things
that happened to Superman in the 1980s Superman started out he’s got a heavenly
set a parents by the way in an earthly set of parents and he’s an orphan like
Harry Potter very common theme is that when Superman first emerged he could
only jump out of her buildings you know and maybe he could stop a locomotive but
by the time the 1980s rolled around like he could juggle planets and you know
swallow hydrogen bombs and you know he could do anything well people stopped
buying the Superman comics because how interesting is that it’s like something
horrible happens and Superman deals with it and something else horrible happens
and Superman deals with it and it’s like that’s dull he turned into such an
archetype he was basically the omniscient omnipresent omnipotent God
and that’s no fun it’s like God wins and then God wins again and then again God
wins and you know so then they had to weaken him in different ways with
kryptonite you know so green kryptonite kind of made him sick and red kryptonite
I think kind of mutated him if I remember correctly and anyways they had
to introduce flaws into his characters so that there could be some damn plot
and that’s something to think about you know there’s a deep existential lesson
in that in that your being is limited and flawed and fragile you’re like the
genie which is genius in the little tiny in the little tiny lamp
you know this immense potential but constrained in this tiny little living
space as Robin Williams said when he played the genie in Aladdin but the fact
that you have limitations means that the plot of your life is the overcoming of
those limitations and that if you didn’t have limitations well there wouldn’t be
a plot and maybe there would be no life and so that’s part of the reason why
perhaps you have to accept the fact that you’re flawed and insufficient and and
live with it and consider it a precondition for being it’s at least a
reasonable it’s a reasonable idea so anyways one of
the main characters is the country the known the explored territory we went
over that a bit and it always has two elements I mean your country is your
greatest friend and your worst enemy you know because it squashes you into
conformity and demands that you act in a certain manner and reduces your
individuality to that element that’s tolerated by everyone else and it it
constrains your potential in a single direction and so it’s really tyrannical
but at the same time it provides you with a place to be and all of the
benefits that have accrued as a result of the actions of your ancestors and all
the other people that you’re associated with so there’s the good tyrant or the
bad tyrant and the good King and those are archetypal figures and that’s
because they’re always true and they’re always true simultaneously you know
which is partly why I object to the notion of the patriarchy because it’s a
myth the law the it’s the what do you call that it’s the apprehension of a
mythological trope which is that of the evil tyrant without any appreciation for
the fact that the archetype actually has two parts and the other part is the wise
king and you know you can tell an evil tyrant story about culture no problem
but it’s one-sided and that’s very dangerous because you don’t want to
forget all the good things that you have while you’re criticizing all the ways
that things are in error that’s a lack of gratitude and it’s a lack of wisdom
and it’s it’s founded in resentment and it’s it’s very dangerous both personally
and socially I told you that Captain Hook is a tyrant because he’s got this
crocodile chasing him in the crocodile has a clock in its stomach and that’s
death it’s like obviously right tick tick tick tick and it’s a crocodile and
it’s under the water and it’s already got a taste of him so he’s being chased
around by death and that makes him terrified and resentful and and cruel
and bitter so he’s a tyrant and he wants to wreak
havoc everywhere and then Peter Pan of course looks at Captain Hook and thinks
why the hell should I grow up and to be a tyrant and sacrifice all the potential
of childhood and the answer to that is the potential sacrifices itself if you
don’t utilize it as you mature and you just end up a 40 year old lost boy which
is a horrifying thing to behold it’s almost as if you’re the corpse of a
child the living corpse of a child because who the hell wants a
six-year-old 40 year old you’re a little on the stale side by that point and not
the world’s happiest individual so you know your potential is going to
disappear because you aged anyways and so you might as well shape that
potential in a particular direction and at least become something no matter how
limited rather than nothing so you know Peter Pan that’s a great story it’s a
great mythological story so well so let’s talk about tyrants well not only
are they mythological figures but they exist and they tend to be deified I mean
Stalin was for all intents and purposes God the Father in Soviet Russia although
he was pretty much only the worst elements of Old Testament God who was
you know constantly smiting people and and wiping out populations and doing all
sorts of things that seem to be quite nasty but nonetheless you know people
worshipped him in many ways and and he’s a representation of just exactly what
goes wrong when things really go wrong when people stop paying attention and
when they all lie because one of the things that characterized the communist
state was that no one ever got to say anything they actually believed ever and
that was partly because one out of three people was an informer which meant if
you had a family of six people two of them were informing on the government
about you and that included your own children and you and if you were an
informer you were often amply rewarded by the state so that if you lived in an
overcrowded apartment building with three families in the same
flat and you informed on you know the woman down the hall that you didn’t like
she got shift shipped off to the old concentration camp and you got her
apartment and so that was a lovely society and it only killed about thirty
million people between 1919 and nineteen fifty-nine so that’s what happens when
the archetypal structure gets tilted badly when people forget that they have
a responsibility to fulfill as citizens as awake citizens who are capable of
stating the truth and the archetype shift so there’s nothing left of the
Great Father except the tyrant and let’s not have that happen I mean the one on
the right is really interesting because consciously or unconsciously you know
there’s Stalin surrounded by what is for all intents and purposes fire you know
he looks like he looks like Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty when she shows up at
Aurora’s christening you know she puts her arms up in the air and green fire
surrounds her it’s like it’s like he’s surrounded by fire and there’s Lenin
above him who’s like king of the fiery realm and that’s for sure
so I mean all the terrors that happened in the Soviet Union didn’t start under
stell and they started under Lenin and Lenin was or Stalin was definitely
Lenin’s legitimate son let’s put it that way so you know this is another example
of the tyrannical element of the Great Father and the sorts of things that can
happen I mean I kind of got a an evil kick out of this bad that was quite old
you know it’s kitschy in some sense and and you
know it shows I don’t think that’s something you’d ever see at a magazine
today 10 unusual stamps showing evil dictator
you know well fair enough I mean that’s what he was and that’s the consequence
and that’s just a tiny bit of the consequence because the Nazis wiped out
a very large number of people often using compassion as a as a as a
as a justification so when they went after the mentally ill and the
terminally ill and those who whose intelligence was compromised for
biological reasons and and those who were too old
they basically justified it by saying that the enforced euthanasia was
merciful and that you were actually being a good person by complying with
the requirements and so something to think about
more mythological representations I like these quite a bit so there’s their
Hitler as you know Knight of the faith essentially with I suppose that’s a
recreation of the Christian holy spirit dove you know except it’s an eagle which
is a bird of prey and and a prayer and uh what do you call those things a
scavenger right so that’s kind of interesting but that’s Hitler as night
of the of the blood roughly speaking and there this is an allied war poster
essentially that assimilates the Nazis to poisonous snakes and you know we
don’t like poisonous snakes very much and and it’s probably because they’ve
been preying on us for approximately twenty million years because snakes and
primates humans in particular co-evolved and so the snake is a representation of
that which lies outside the comfortable domain and that can be you know a snake
obviously or it can be an abstract snake and the abstract snake is your enemy or
an even more abstract snake is the evil in your own heart and this is going to
be a bit of a leap for you but there’s this ancient idea that developed in what
in the West over thousands of years far predating Christianity that at least its
origins that the snake in the Garden of Eden was also Satan which is like of
what the hell it’s a very strange idea but the reason for that as far as I can
tell is that you know we have this circuitry that detects predators and a
predator representation of a predator is a snake
or a monster that incorporates snake-like features like a dragon or
something like that or a dinosaur with lots of teeth or a shark that lives
under the water and will pull you down you know because I suspect a lot of our
ancestors met a nasty death at the hands of Nile crocodiles while they were in
the African veldt going down to get some nice water so you know that’s the thing
that jumps up and pulls you under and you know that happens in your own life
because things jump up and pull you under you know and use the same
circuitry we use the same circuitry to process unknown things that upset us as
we once used to detect predators who were likely to invade our space and so
and and human beings are capable of abstraction and so you know you could
think about the real predator that might invade your space and maybe that’s a
snake or a wolf or or some kind of monster you know and that’s pretty
concrete and biological chimps have that you know chimps don’t like snakes and so
if you a chimp comes across a snake in the wild then like a big let’s say I
don’t know what live with chimps I don’t know if they’re pythons but they have
constrictors there anyways so you know maybe there’s like a 20 foot constrictor
and this and the chimp like stays a good distance away from it but it won’t leave
and then it has this particular cry that it uh ters that’s called a snake rah WRA
a and so it makes this noise which means something like holy shit that’s a big
snake and I actually mean that because the circuits that primates use to utter
distress calls are the same circuits that we use to curse just so you know
that’s why people with Tourette’s syndrome swear because like what what’s
up with that how can you have a neurological condition that makes you
swear well it turns out that guttural effect Laden curses are mediated by a
different speech circuit and that’s the speech circuit we share with the
predator alarms of other primates so that’s pretty cool so anyways this chimp
stands there and makes this snake noise and then all bunch of other chimps come
running and you know some of them stay a fair ways from the snake
can some of them get pretty close but they’ll stand there and watch that snake
for like 24 hours you know so they’re fascinated by it and you know if you’ve
handled snakes you can understand that fascination because they’re fascinating
you know and they’re numinous I would say that that’s the right way of putting
it at numinous is a word that means intrinsically meaningful like a fire you
know you can’t look away from fire you know if you’re sitting in front of a
fireplace it’s like you’re staring at it and that’s because you’re all descended
from the first mad chimpanzee who had some weird genetic mutation that made it
impossible for him to stay away from fire it was like the first chimp
arsonist you know and and he figured it out and well hey now he was a chimp with
a stick with fire on it like that’s a mega chimp man and so you know we have
that mutation in spades and no wonder so anyways so they they make this you know
they have this reaction to snakes and chimps that have never seen a snake if
they’re in a cage and you throw a rubber snake in there it’s like bang they hit
the roof but then they look at the snake you know it’s so it’s like it’s
terrifying and fascinating at the same time and you should look at the snake
because you want to know what it does but you should stay away from it because
it’s a snake so you you’re kind of screwed in terms of your motivations
right one is get the hell away and the other is well don’t don’t let that thing
do anything that you’re not watching and so that’s really the reaction we have to
the unknown it’s terrifying but we watch it and then you know the meta story is
that not only do we watch it but we go explore it and so you might think well
back in the Garden of Eden so to speak when we were living in trees the snakes
used to come and eat us and and our offspring more likely and you know we
weren’t very happy about that and then we figured out how to maybe maybe by
accident draw up a stay a stick on a snake and that was a good thing because
the snake didn’t like that and then maybe the next thing we learned a little
later was to like actually take a stick and like
ock the snake with it and you can believe that the first primate who
figured out that was just as popular as the guy who mastered fire and so we’re
pretty good at whacking state snakes with sticks which is why Springfield has
a snake whacking day it’s devoted to nothing but
that right I don’t know if you know that Simpsons episode but it’s quite comical
so well so then you think about the snake as a predator and it’s the thing
that invades the garden always because you just can’t keep snakes out of the
damn garden no matter how hard you try and then you think of snakes and maybe
you think of meta snakes and like a meta snake would be also a predator but maybe
that’s the predator that represents the the destructive spirit of the other
tribe because chimpanzees for example are quite tribal and they definitely go
to war with one another and so you think you abstract out the idea of the
predator to represent malevolence as such and then you take that one step
further and you realize that the worst of all evil predators is the human
capacity for evil and then at that point you know you’re starting to I would say
psychologize or spiritual eyes the idea of danger and making it make it into
something that’s conceptual and something that’s psychological and
something that you can you can face sort of on mas I mean one of the things
people had to figure out was how do you deal with danger and so you feel figure
out how you deal with a specific danger but then because human beings are death
so damn smart they thought well what if we considered the class of all dangerous
things and then what have we considered a a mode of being that was the best mode
of being in the face of the class of all dangerous things well that’s a lot
better you get you know you could solve all the dangerous problems all at once
instead of having to conjure up a different solution for every dangerous
thing and that’s basically as far as I can tell where the hero’s story came
from and the hero’s story is basically you know there’s a community it’s
threatened by the emergence of some old evil
often represented by a dragon that’s sort of typical say of the Lord of the
Rings stories there’s a hero often a humble guy but not always sometimes a
knight decides he’ll go out there you know and chase down the snake maybe even
or the serpent or the dragon maybe even in its lair and he’ll have a bunch of
adventures on the way that transform him from you know useless naive Hobbit into
you know sword wielding hero and he confronts the dragon and gets the gold
and frees the people that it had enslaved and then comes back transformed
to share what he’s learned with the community it’s like well that’s the
human story fundamentally and that’s that’s our basic instinctive pattern and
it’s represented in narratives constantly and that’s partly what this
see this has meaning you know what this means
why why do you know well you know because it draws on symbolic
representations that you already understand you understand that a mess of
tooth snakes is not a good thing and that may be the sensible thing to do is
stomp them and it’s not like you need an instruction manual to figure out what
the poster means and so you know that’s two different representations of Hitler
that’s sort of the pro-hitler representation and I would say that’s
the anti-hitler representation and you know that’s the real Hitler who at this
point does not look like a very happy clam so so that’s the known that’s
culture that’s order and what’s eternally juxtaposed to culture and the
known and the explored and order is the unknown and the unknown is a strange
place the unknown is actually it’s a physical place like the unknown is the
place that when you’re camping and you’re around a fire the unknown is
everything outside the circle of the light and you remember in the Lion King
you may not remember when when when Mufasa that’s the king right goes and
takes Simba up to show him his territory he says he is the king of everything
that the light touches and that’s a very old idea and you guys
had no problem with you know that was fine that made sense and that I would be
on the light was the darkness and that was the elephant graveyard that was
death that was the place of death and danger that’s where the hyenas hung out
and you weren’t supposed to go there and so of course Simba because he’s a rule
breaking hero just like Harry Potter immediately goes there and so you know
that’s like the forbidden fruit it’s the same sort of idea if you want someone to
do something the best thing to do is tell them that they shouldn’t and not
explain why you know so for example if I said to you at the beginning of this
class look I’ve got one rule here don’t sit in that chair no matter what you’d
be thinking the whole year especially if I reminded you well just what’s up with
that chair like let’s chair as magical all of a sudden you some of you might
even well you probably wouldn’t because this is a ridiculous example but maybe
you know you come to class early and sit in that chair just to see what would
happen you know and people are very curious and that’s exactly what we’re
like and that’s a very old story too right it’s like opening Pandora’s box
don’t open that box you’ll be sorry it’s like oh huh you know all the horrors of
the world fly out and believe me you will open Pandora’s box many times in
your life because you know with your family or maybe your mate or maybe your
children you’ll have this idea that they have a box with things in it that you
want to know about and you’ll say well I’m kind of curious about this
particular event so why don’t you tell me about it and they say well no we
probably really shouldn’t open that box and you keep bugging them and then they
open it and then all sorts of things fly out that you didn’t expect and then
maybe you think hey it would have been better if I would have just left that
damn box closed but and you can do the same thing to yourself believe me
and so the Pandora’s box idea the forbidden fruit idea that’s that’s a
major-league idea and part of the reason in the judeo-christian tradition why
people are saddled with the notion of original sin is because hyper cortically
developed chimpanzees without much sense can
keep their hands off things and so they keep exploring even when they know
better and every time they do that they learn something that is that destroys
the paradise that they currently inhabit right because there’s plenty Unni and I
never learned anything in your life that’s of importance without it having a
pretty damn destabilizing effect on you at the moment of realisation right you
learn something happy it’s like whatever you know that all that means is that I
was doing things right like it’s nice and everything but it’s not informative
you do something and all hell breaks loose that’ll make you think that’s for
sure you might never stop thinking for the rest of your life so anyways the
unknown the unknown is that which surrounds the known it’s an unexplored
territory it’s usually represented as female I think for a variety of reasons
and not not as female exactly it’s not the right way to think about it as
feminine and that’s not the same thing because feminine is a symbolic category
whereas female is like an actual female and so you don’t want to confuse the
metaphor with with the with the actuality because we have these social
cognitive categories built-in you know you might say masculine feminine and
offspring something like that we had to use what we could to represent what we
were attempting to figure out and we kind of mapped them onto the external
realities of being the best we could using what we could and so you know
nature is benevolent and it’s fruitful you know all things come from nature and
all things come from the unknown right because the known is already there it’s
the unknown that manifests the new right and so that’s part of the reason for the
characterization of the unknown as feminine and then there’s also the case
that women play a massive role in sexual selection among human beings so that mmm
from an evolutionary perspective you’re twice as likely to be a failure if
you’re a man then you or if you’re a woman in that you have
twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors and you think well that’s
impossible but it’s not all you have to do is imagine that every woman has one
child half the men have two and the other half have zero and so end of
problem and that’s basically how it works out so women are more choosy
mater’s than men by a substantial margin there was a funny study done by the guy
who established it’s one of the big dating sites and he looked at how women
rated men and they rated the 50th percentile man at the 15th percentile so
85% of men were below average according to women’s ratings now men had their
same arbitrary choices because of course they preferred younger women to older
women and and they were more swayed I would say by by attractiveness but that
didn’t have set nearly as big an effect on their actually actually writing of
women so anyway so you know from from a Darwinian perspective nature is that
which selects so that’s all it is and so sexual selection plays a massive role in
human evolution you know the fact that we have these massive brains is very
likely a consequence of a positive feedback loop and sexual selection
you know because otherwise that’s the only time you can get really rapid
changes in evolutionary space where you know you get a process going that
reinforces itself so there’s a little preference for intelligence and then
that produces more intelligent men and women and then there’s a little more
preference for intelligence and you know maybe then that turns into the ability
to speak and or to master fire and then there’s way more selection for
intelligence and the brain just goes like this you know and women have paid a
pretty big price for that because your hips are basically so wide that you can
barely run and if they were any wider than you couldn’t and of course the
pelvic passageway through which the baby travels is too small so it’s
really painful and dangerous and the baby’s head has to compress quite a lot
I mean they come out cone-shaped often and then they’re born really young so
you have to take care of them forever like what the hell you know a deer is
born a fawn is born and it’s like two seconds later it’s standing and then
it’s running from a lion it’s like you know it’s like 15 minutes later and a
baby it’s like you just lies there and you know utters plaintive noises that’s
all it can do and that does that for like ten months before it could skitter
away from a sloth if it was predatory you know so you really got to take care
of those creatures and so that’s a big price to pay that’s a big price to pay
for our cortical evolution so anyways here is some of the symbolic represents
representatives of the unknown the unconscious Dionysian force of the it’d
that sort of Freud’s representation of the unknown the terrors of the darkness
that’s the unknown the monsters that lurk they’re the source and the resting
place of all things the great mother the Queen the matrix which means matter
which means mother the matriarch matter mother the
container the cornucopia the object to be fertilized the source of all things
the fecund the pregnant the strange the emotional
the foreigner the place of return and rest the deep the valley the cleft the
cave hell death and the grave because it’s beyond the moon ruler of the night
and mysterious dark and matter and the earth then you know all this because
when you watch a movie that’s rife with symbolic representations it draws on
those underlying metaphors and they’re natural I mean where does a witch live
well in a swamp for God’s sake she doesn’t live in the penthouse of a New
York Tower she lives in a swamp and it’s dark there and if the moon’s up that’s a
better and maybe it could be a crescent moon or maybe it could be a full moon
but you know witches live in the right place if you’re going to understand it
and you all you understand all of that and it’s part of the structure of your
imagination you could say and so it’s part of the unspoken
fantastical imagination that unites all of us and it makes us specifically human
there’s a good representation of the underworld and the place of
transformation so that’s Hell in Isis in Egypt was queen of the underworld and
the underworld generally has a queen and she usually shows up when order falls
apart and so you go to the underworld when your life falls apart that’s what
it means and so when you see these stories of the hero you know journeying
to unknown lands of terror and danger that’s that’s what happens to you it
happens to you all the time you know you’re you’re in this little safe space
like The Hobbit in the Shire and then you know there’s a great evil brewing
somewhere and you can no longer ignore it so off you go into the land of terror
and uncertainty and better to go on purpose then accidentally that’s for
sure because at least you can be prepared and we also know that if you’re
going to face a threat if you face it voluntarily what happens is your body
activates itself for exploration and mastery but if you face it involuntarily
same size threat then you you you you revert to pray pray mode and you’re
frozen and that’s way way way more stressful it’s way harder on your body
and so it’s better to keep your eye open and watch for emergent threats because
you all know you know what you’re not doing quite right and where your life is
likely to unravel you all have a sense of that and the best thing to do is to
not ignore that to pay attention to it to watch it and to take corrective
action early and then you know you stay on top of things and things your little
trip to the underworld might be a few minutes long instead of a catastrophe
that produces post-traumatic stress disorder knocks you out for four or five
years and maybe you never recover so and that’s right you know that’s what these
kind of symbolic representations mean it’s those are states of being that that
that indicate being devoured and you can be devoured
your own unconscious Jesus that happens all the time what does that mean well
you know and it’s an autonomous thing in some sense you know like if you if you
get depressed or if you get really anxious you don’t have any control over
that it’s like it sweeps up over you and pulls you down why down well down is
where you go when you’re sad you don’t go up man I’m up today oh that’s too bad
no it’s man I’m down today and well that’s partly this and it’s partly
because this is subordinate and it’s partly because down is closer to the
ground and farther from the sky like there’s all sorts of reasons you’re
feeling down rather than up up is where you’re aiming right yeh MUP you don’t
aim down well there the reason those phrases make sense is because they’re
locked deeply into this underlying structure of imagination and well those
are the architect or the archetypal structures according to Jung and I I
think that he’s far as I can tell he’s dead accurate and I think we understand
the biology of such things much better than we did so there is more
representations she’s she’s quite the friendly creature that’s Kelly
I like this representation better those are heads by the way in hands so she
sort of represents well very complex things she represents death she
represents transformation in this I already like this representation I think
it’s brilliant so imagine that what the people were doing who formulated these
representations what they were trying to do was to make a representation of the
domain of threat itself right so that they could deal with the idea that
because we can say threat well what is that what the hell does that mean well
threat is the category of all threatening things and so then you can
think about threat and you can think about threat across all those individual
instances and maybe you can figure out how to deal with threat right how what’s
the best way to be in the world so that you most effectively deal with threat
well that’s sort of like apart from how do you deal with pain that’s sort of
like the ultimate question of human beings you want to be
terrified No so you want to be in danger No so like
you better figure out how to deal with threat so first of all you have to
conceptualize it so we’ll take a look at this representation so that’s Kelly
shear her hair is on fire well fire you know
that’s that’s a numinous phenomena dangerous but transformative she’s
wearing a headdress of skulls she has a weapon in this hand and and she has a
tiger’s tongue she often has a snake around her waist need none of these do
but she often does but in this case this then that’s because you know it it’s a
snake we’ve already covered that well these things that look like snakes here
aren’t you notice how her belly is concave well it’s because she’s just
given birth to this unfortunate person that she happens to be standing on and
she’s eating him intestines first and that’s a fire ring which he is in and
then it’s got skulls on the inside of it it’s like what’s that supposed to do
well partly it’s supposed to represent that which terrifies you it’s like yeah
fair enough man because I don’t imagine you saw those things in there before I
explained them but someone who was familiar with that image would know what
it meant it’s like some poor artist was sitting there thinking well how do I
represent destruction it’s like bang whoa okay well put that down and then we
won’t look at it again so and then what do you do with this you make sacrifices
to it and you think well that’s kind of primitive you know first of all well
that doesn’t really exist well it does if it’s an amalgam of threat symbols I
can tell you that it exists that’s for sure so it exists as an abstraction if
nothing else do you offer it sacrifices well what the hell do you think you do
what are you doing in class why aren’t you like drinking vodka and snorting
cocaine you know because you could be doing that instead here you are
listening to me you know slaving away in university you’re young it’s like really
you’ve got nothing better to do than sit there you know well what you’re willing
to forego today pleasure for tomorrow’s advantage and
that’s what sacrifice is and human beings discovered that dramatically
first you know like we were we were apes for God’s sake we didn’t just leap up
and think oh we better save for tomorrow you know we it took thousands of years
for that idea to emerge and it emerged in dramatic form and it was sort of like
well society is sort of like a god know what they weren’t thinking this through
is like if you’re gonna represent society well it’s like this
masculine God that’s always judging the hell out of you that’s everywhere all at
the same time it’s like yeah yeah that’s true absolutely and what do you have to
do with it well you have to give it what it wants why why do you have to give it
what it wants because it’ll crush you if you don’t and that’s exactly right
and if you’re lucky and you give it the right sacrifice then it’ll smile on you
and you get to have a good life and that was like that was the major discovery of
mankind man that was a killer discovery it was like the discovery of the future
you know we discovered the future as a place and it was a place that you could
bargain with you can bargain with the future wow that’s just what an idea that
is you know it’s it’s so unlikely well how do you bargain with the future well
you give it what it wants and you know some of that you maintain your social
relationship and you know you make yourself useful to other people and you
shape yourself so that you can cooperate with people and you you don’t act
impulsively and maybe you squirrel something away for the next harvest even
if you’re hungry and you know and then the future isn’t hell and you make the
proper sacrifices and so if you sacrifice to Kelly then she turns into
her opposite and showers benevolence on you and that’s Mother Nature right it’s
like look out for Mother Nature man you know two weeks out in the bush right now
and you’re dead and it’s not pleasant and then if it’s the spring you last
longer huh but the bugs eat you and so that’s not very fun either
so nature you know it’s bent on your destruction but if you treat it properly
and carefully and make the right sacrifices then maybe one of her trees
will offer you some fruit and that would be okay and so believe me lots of people
died trying to figure that out so here’s another way of looking at it
so I said you know order and chaos known unknown explored territory unexplored
territory I love this this is the Taoist symbol it’s a symbol of being and being
isn’t reality as you would conceptualize it as a scientist it’s more like reality
as it manifests itself to you as a living thing which is completely
different you know science extracts out all the subjectivity all it is there is
an array of our objective facts of equivalent value and that’s part of its
method but that’s not the world in which you live the world in which you live is
full of motivation and emotion it’s full of terror and pain and joy and
frustration and and other people that’s for sure and so that’s the real world
and so well that’s what this is it’s it’s the real world and what is it made
out of well it’s made out of all those things you know that can get out of hand
you know because the explored territory and the known can get so damn tight that
it’s nothing but a tyrant and then it’s all those things you don’t know and
that’s pretty exciting because you know you want to go find out some things you
don’t know and that adds a lot of spice to life you want a little adventure you
don’t want to go out with someone who’s so predictable that you know everything
about them in a week you know unless you’re hyper conservative you want to go
out with someone who’s got they’re a little erratic like not too erratic
let’s say they’re a little dangerous perhaps not too dangerous but some of
that at least you want predictability with a bit of unpredictability in there
well that’s exactly what this means it’s like that’s predictability with a little
unpredictability in it and what that also means is that what you know can be
turned into what you don’t know just like that and that’s going to happen to
you lots of times in your life man when someone close to you dies suddenly it’s
like poof order turns into chaos and now you’re in
chaos and what the hell are you gonna do there and that’s a good question
because you need to know what to do there cuz you’re gonna be there and it
happens to you when your dreams fall apart you know I mean your dreams for
your life or you know when you discover something awful about yourself that you
didn’t know or you know it flips on you all the time and in small ways sometimes
you know you have a fight with a friend or in big ways that that wipe you out
for well indefinitely sometimes because you can fall into chaos and never get
out you know that’s the people who are trapped in the belly of the beast it
isn’t necessary that when you descend into chaos that you learn something and
you get back out you could just be stuck there suffering until you die and that’s
you know I wouldn’t recommend that you know it’s something to avoid but it
happens to people all the time all the time you see them wandering around you
know shattered on the streets of Toronto you know they’re done they’re in chaos
and there’s so much chaos around them that you won’t even go near them the
chaos spreads like eight feet around them and so when you see someone like
that you’re like well first we’re not going to look too closely and people
like that often don’t like you to look at them because that also helps them
remember where they are and that’s no Pleasant thing and you’re gonna just
stay away from that maybe you’ll cross the street maybe you’ll keep your head
down whatever you’re not going anywhere near that chaos and no bloody wonder you
know and and you don’t think about it much after you pass it because it’s a
hell of a thing to think about and what are you gonna do about it anyway so you
don’t know what to do about it you might just make it worse well so chaos you
know that’s the other half of life and it can turn into order sometimes better
order that’s actually what you do when you explore right you explore you find
out something new not too new not to Pandora boxy you know you bite off as
much as you can chew but no more and so that rearranges the way you look at the
world but you’re doing it voluntarily so you can kind of tolerate there the
recalibration and you strength and the order right because now you
become more competent and I would say that you’re trying to live on the edge
between order and chaos and I and I mean that’s a real place that’s an actual
it’s a meta place but it’s more real than places because it’s so old it’s
such an old place it really exists and your nervous system knows that it sees
the world this way in fact the right hemisphere is roughly specialized for
chaos and the left hemisphere is roughly specialized for order which is why the
left hemisphere tends to have the linguistic elements and and why people
are right-handed and the right hemisphere has a more diffuse structure
it’s more associated with negative emotion and imagination and the two
communicate between each other through the corpus callosum and the right
hemisphere appears to update the less left hemisphere kind of slowly often in
dreams and so if you were hurt if your right hemisphere is hurt for example
back here in the parietal lobe then you lose the left part of your body you
can’t move it anymore but you also lose the idea that you have
a left part of your body so it’s like blindness it’s a blindness to the left
and so if someone comes along and says you know you’re not moving your left arm
you’re gonna say yeah well my arthritis is bothering me 2d have moved it for six
months MA my arthritis is bothering today or you know you don’t move in your
left foot it’s like well you know uh I’m too tired well what’s happened is the
left hemisphere has a representation of the body and it’s not being updated
because the part of the brain that would notice that the left is gone because of
a stroke it isn’t there anymore and so the left already has a model and it’s
not gonna change just it’s hard to change your model of yourself you know
have a tooth pulled what happens it’s like your damn tongue is in that hole
for the next six months fiddling around constantly and that’s because you’re
rebuilding your neurological model of your body it’s like try it out with your
whole left side and see how well you do you know so this guy named Ramachandran
was experimenting with people like this and one of the things he did was kind of
he was checking their balance and you can do that by
irrigating the ear with cold water and that makes people go like this makes
their eyes move back and forth because it upsets the vestibular system and what
he found was that if he if he poured cold water in the left ear of someone
with right per aisle damage who had left neglect that they’d all of a sudden sort
of wake up catastrophic ly they’d have a terrible reaction to the fact that they
were paralyzed on the left and they would know that it had happened and cry
and you know amid all sorts of distress and no wonder
and then like 20 minutes later they’d snap back into their damaged mode of
being and they would not deny because that isn’t really what it is is that
they couldn’t update the model they just didn’t have the neurology for it anymore
so they were back to not noticing that it was gone and coming up with stories
about it and so well so that’s a good example of how the right and left
hemispheres worked together and how they’re kind of mapped onto this weirdly
enough so you know we’re map were adapted to the meta reality and so what
that would be is we’re adapted to that which remains constant across the
longest spans of time and that’s not the same things that you see flitting around
you day to day those are just they just like clouds they’re just evaporating you
know there’s things underneath that that are more fundamental that are more
fundamental realities like the dominance hierarchy like the tribe like the danger
outside of society like the threat that other people pose to you and that you
pose to yourself those are eternal realities and we’re
adapted to those that’s our world and that’s why we express that in stories
and so then you might say well how do you adapt yourself to this world and the
answer to that isn’t I believe this is a neurological answer I believe this that
your brain can tell you when you’re optimally situated between chaos and
order and the way it tells you that is by producing the sense of engagement and
meaning so let’s say there’s a place in the environment you should be okay what
should that place be well you don’t want to be terrified out
of your skull like what good is that and you know you don’t want to be so
comfortable that you might as well sleep you want to be somewhere where you know
you’re kind of on firm ground here but over here you’re kind of testing out new
territory and some of you who are exploratory and emotionally stable you
know you’re gonna go pretty far out into the unexplored territory without
destabilizing yourself and other people are gonna just put a toe in the chaos
and you know that’s neuroticism basically that’s that your sensitivity
to threat that’s calibrated differently in different people and more some people
are more exploratory than others that’s kind of extraversion and openness
working together and and intelligence so some people are going to tolerate a
larger admixture of chaos in their order those are liberals by the way and I mean
that technically liberals are more interested in novel chaos and
conservatives are more interested in the stabilization of the structures that
already exist and who’s right well it depends on the situation and that’s why
conservatives and liberals have to talk to each other because one of them isn’t
right and the other wrong sometimes the conservatives are right and sometimes
the liberals are right because the environments go in like this you can’t
predict the damn thing so that’s why you have to communicate and that’s what a
democracy does it allows people of different temperamental types to
communicate and to calibrate the damn societies so anyways so let’s say you’re
optimally balanced between chaos and order so what does that mean well you’re
stable enough but you’re interested right because a little novelty heightens
your anxiety that wakes you up a bit that’s the adventure part of it but it
also focuses the part of your brain that does exploratory activity and that’s
actually associated with pleasure that’s the dopamine circuit and so if
you’re optimally balanced and you know that you know you’re there when you’re
listening to an interesting conversation or you’re engaged in one it’s a real
conversation you know you’re saying some things you know and the other person is
saying some things they know but the both of what you know is
changing it’s like wow that’s so interesting you’ll have a conversation
like that forever or maybe you’re reading a book like that or you’re
listening to a piece of music that models that because what music does is
provide you with predictable forms multi-level predictable forms that
transform just the right amount and so music is a
very representational art form it says this is what the universe is like you
know there’s a dancing element to it repetitive and then cute little
variations that sort of surprise and delight you and and you think wow that’s
so cool and it doesn’t matter how nihilistic you are you know music still
infuses you with a sense of meaning and that’s because it models meaning that’s
what it does that’s why we love it and you know you can dance to it and that
sort of symbolizes you putting yourself in harmony with these multiple layers of
reality and positioning yourself properly and you like that too you know
you’ll pay for it oh boy I get to go dancing you know oh boy I get to listen
to music it’s like what the hell are you doing listening to music what good is
that well you think that’s a stupid question I don’t care about your dopey
criticism I’m going to listen to some music right it did there’s no rational
there’s no rational argument against music it’s like you just don’t even
think about it you just walk away from someone who’s stupid enough to ask that
question it’s like some things are obvious
well why okay so that’s pretty fun so what mediates between these two domains
well that’s what consciousness does far as I can tell and that’s sort of the
individual and that’s the hero that’s another way of thinking about it it’s
the logos that’s another way of thinking about it it’s the word that generates
order out of chaos at the beginning of time it’s the consciousness that
interacting with the matter of the world produces being that’s basically it
that’s basically you for all intents and purposes
how do you do that well the unconscious does it to some degree you know because
it’s with our fantasy that we first meet the unknown right well look say you’re
going out with a new person it’s like what do you do you project a fantasy on
them and then you fall in love with the fantasy and aren’t you stupid because
you’re gonna find out that the match between your damn fantasy and the actual
person is tenuous at best and so young would call that a projection of either
the anima or the animus you know the anima is what a man projects onto a
woman he finds desirable it’s like oh she’s the perfect woman
it’s like well how do you know that you’ve like seen her for four seconds
you know but it grips you and the same thing happens in the opposite direction
and it’s an action of instinct you know it’s like you fall in love with the
image and but interestingly enough what you do in a relationship that works is
that you actually I think that what you see
it’s a rough approximation when you project the ideal and fall in love with
it you see what could be it could be that but it’s going to take you a hell
of a lot of work because like you got no shortage of flaws and the other person
has no shortage of flaws and so you’re bringing your flaws together and that’s
going to produce a lot of friction and you’re gonna have to engage in a lot of
dialogue before you approach that level of perfection again but maybe you can do
it then you get to live happily ever after
well would not be nice well so the unconscious meets the unknown and it it
meets it with imagination and fantasy and dream and art that’s how you take so
you don’t just go from what you don’t know to fully articulated knowledge in
one bloody leap you can’t do that you have to extend pseudo pods of fantasy
and imagination into the unknown that’s kind of what theorizing is like right
even scientifically you know you don’t know something scientifically you
generate a theory well it’s an imaginative representation that your
unconscious is helping you generate and so you meet the unknown with fantasy
that’s what the unconscious is for from the psychoanalytic perspective that’s
what rheems do and you can see why you dream
about the future you know it’s like well what’s the future gonna be like well you
have a little imaginative story going on and it’s like you don’t really create it
it’s sort of you watch it unfold you know maybe you could tweak it here and
there but it sort of comes to you from wherever the hell things like that come
from you know the unconscious that’s the psychoanalytic answer it’s not really
much of an answer because it’s more like a representation of a place that we
don’t understand but that’s where creativity comes from and I mean some
people are really creative right down to the bloody core so in my clinical
practice I often see people who are high in openness because they’re attracted to
me because they watch my lectures and you have to kind of be high in openness
to like my lectures so because well you do because they go everywhere you know
and and they’re not necessarily very orderly so so anyways lots of my clients
are really high in openness and they’re funny people often especially if they’re
smart because sometimes they have the most nihilistic intelligence you can
imagine it’s just self-critical and nihilistic and brutally brutal man and
smart and so they just criticize themselves out of existence and so often
I have to just try to get them to quit listening to their chattering right
self-critical rationality and go out and create something you know with their
massive creativity and as long as they’re doing that they’re engaged in
the world and happy as hell but as soon as that self-critical rationality comes
in and shuts down the creativity they’re just they’re just like walking corpses
you know and it’s because if you’re really open like that’s your a tree and
it has some trunks and you know your your most prominent trait is the most
lively trunk and if you’re a creative person and you’re not engaging in a
creative enterprise you’re just you’re like a tree that that
has been that has had its vitality amputated and so this is not trivial
this stuff is this is deeply deeply deeply rooted in your biology and and
those are people often who have like dream lives you just can’t believe I
have one client he has like four spectacular
dreams a week and most of the time we just spend discussing them I mean God he
and I had another client who could be lucid in her dreams which is more common
among women she could ask the damn characters what they represented and
they would tell her it was like okay that was pretty weird and like a lot of
the things they told her were really helpful and they were not things that
she wanted to hear she she basically one of them told her she if she was gonna
live she’d have to go visit a slaughterhouse and the reason for that
was because she was raised as a little princess and protected from horrible
mother nature until she hit puberty in which time she turned into an evil
villain because that’s how the family worked perfect child
evil teenager overnight and then well that was hard on her and she wasn’t
prepared because she thought the world was princess world and you know she
couldn’t go through a butcher store without having a fit and no wonder you
know like really Jesus you know it’s no wonder but you do it but she couldn’t so
we used to go to butcher stores and that would make her cry and and that she was
a vegetarian that would make her cry and you know bemoan the cruelty of the world
and it’s like yeah fair enough man those are bloody slabs of meat it’s like I
don’t know why everyone isn’t screaming when they walk through the butcher store
but but you got to get used to it man because you can’t live in the world
otherwise and so the dream character who was a gypsy told her that she had to go
visit a slaughterhouse which seemed rather impractical and so I asked her if
she could think of anything else to do and she saw it well why don’t we go
visit a funeral home and and watch an embalming and I thought oh how good that
sounds that sounds like a fun way to spend a day and so I phoned up a funeral
parlor and I said I had a client it was terrified of death yeah and I was the
therapist who was also a little shaky on the concept myself and so they they had
no problem with that they deal with death all the time which is really
something to think about right a human being can actually have an occupation
where they do nothing but deal with death and they don’t go stark raving mad
it’s like what the hell’s up with that it’s like working in a
palliative care ward where your your clients that you you know have a
relationship all they’re gonna do is die this week next week the week after
people do that it’s like those people are tough man they’re tough so anyways
we went and watched this embalming which was I have a rather high level of
disgust sensitivity so it was a little on the rough side for me but she sat
there and first while she was not we were outside this little room she was
not looking at that man no way and she kind of go like this and you know that
was pretty good and then she’d go like this and then she go like this and then
and she watched it and then she asked if she could go in and she put on the glove
and she touched the body and she didn’t have a fit she didn’t have a panic
attack and so she walked away from there learning that there was a hell of a lot
more to her than she thought there was and that she could see things that she
didn’t think she could see and live and after that she sort of had a touchstone
it’s like well I’m kind of afraid of this well is it as bad as going to see
the embalming no it’s not that bad well I guess I can
do it it’s like an initiation right she had an initiation and so did I you know
and I learned a lot from doing that I learned that one of the things you need
to do if you’re going to be a human being is to prepare yourself to be
useful in the face of death and so when you have a parent that dies which you
know shatters people’s ideas often they can’t even think about it if you can’t
even think about that man you’ve got some thinking to do because you need to
be able to at least think about that because otherwise you’re just gonna be a
wasteland when it happens and you never know you could even have a higher
ambition maybe you could even be useful when it happens instead of being part of
the heap of destroyed people who also have to be taken care of you know and
that’s brutal you have to be brutal to be useful in the aftermath of your
parents death you know you don’t get to crumble and fall apart and no you have
every reason to so you got to be kind of some tough monster to manage that but
you want to be useful in the face of tragedy or do you want to be
well you make your choice so out of the unconscious you get ritual you get
dreams you get drama you get stories you get art you get music and that sort of
buffers us we have our little domain of competence and we’re buffered by the
domain of fantasy and culture and that’s really what you learn about when you
come to university if you’re lucky and and the professors are smart enough to
actually teach you something about culture instead of constantly telling
you that it’s completely reprehensible and should be destroyed it’s like why
you would prefer chaos to order is beyond me and the only possible reason
is that you haven’t read enough history to understand exactly what chaos means
and believe me if you understood what it means you’d be pretty goddamn careful
about tearing down the temple that you live in unless you want to be a denizen
of chaos and some people do you know because that’s when the impulses that
you Harbor can really come out and shine and so a little gratitude is in order
and that makes you appreciative of the wise King well being smart enough to
know that he’s also an evil tyrant it’s like that’s that’s a total conception of
the world it’s balanced it’s like yeah we should preserve nature but good god
it is trying to kill us and you know yes our culture is tyrannical and
oppressive people but it is protecting us from dying that’s helpful you know
and yes we’re reasonably good people but like don’t take that theory too far
until you’ve tested yourself and you know that’s wisdom at least in part and
that’s what these stories try to teach you
there’s a nice mythological representation I love this one it’s like
the Dome of the known and the seeker looking outside you know that’s a that’s
a metaphysical representation you know and then that is the world as it looks
to us right you go out in a field and it looks like there’s a dome covering it
it’s a circle a big circle with a dome over it and you know what’s outside the
dome well the unknown right that’s where heaven is theoretically
you know it’s a projection obviously heaven is in the unknown well it was
localized in space I suppose that’s partly because when
people looked up in the sky they were overwhelmed with all so it’s a
reasonable conclusion you know it it’s a projection of an unconscious
presupposition it’s a projection of fantasy you know heaven is a fantasy and
and I’m not denigrating fantasy by the way and it’s projected imaginatively
onto the sky and that’s part of the way you discover what’s in your fantasy well
this is us man we mediate between chaos and order and you know those are the two
archetypal representations fundamentally you know and I think they apply to both
genders you know like women can act as the individual who holds the world on
his or her shoulders and males men can play a maternal role you know meet
female human beings are quite masculine and male human beings are quite feminine
and so you know maybe maybe this archetype dominates among men and that
archetype dominates among women which I would say is that is the case as far as
I’m concerned although there in our individual conceptions and of course
those two things have to work in conjunction but that’s you the eternal
mediator between chaos and order which also has its enemy so that’s that’s
Horace there and that Seth who’s eventually turns into Satan as though as
the West progresses so to speak and that’s represented there as well the
temptations of I would say resentment and hatred which everyone has to fight
with all the time all right initiations so this is cool this is a
standard hero story and initiate initiative rights are a part of human
heritage and so let’s take a look this is from el yada
I would like even now to stress the fact that the psychopathology of the shamanic
vocation is not profaned it does not belong to ordinary
symptomatology it’s not mental illness it has an int initiatory structure and
signification short it reproduces a traditional
mystical pattern the total crisis of the future shaman sometimes leading to
complete disintegration of the personality and to madness can be
valuated not only as an initiatory death but also as a symbolic returned to the
pre cosmogonic chaos to the amorphous and indescribable state that precedes
any comes Morgan II well what he means by that is that I suppose the
mythological view of the emergence of order that’s a cosmogony is that there’s
a state of potential and chaos out of which order emerges and you know here’s
here’s how it is that you think that way because you do think that way so you
know imagine what you’re facing when you’re facing the future right well you
might say well the future is full of potential right it’s full of potential
what the hell does that mean you know you act as if that you act as if that
potential is really a real thing and you’re confronting it all the time I’m
confronting the potential of the future well it doesn’t exist yet so did what
you’re confronting doesn’t even really exist what you’re conceptualizing
doesn’t really exist and in some sense you bring it into being by plotting your
path through it well the pre cosmogonic chaos is the same as the potential of
the future it’s exactly the same idea it’s the realm of possibility from which
actuality emerges and you participate in turning that possibility into actuality
that’s what you’re doing all the time now can I explain that well no I have no
idea how consciousness and the substrate of the world interact
i I can only say that that’s how it looks that’s how it feels
you know that’s how people act and they’ll get into trouble if they don’t
manifest their potential whatever that is that’s all those things you could be
that you’re not well where are those it’s just potential well that’s the
chaos this is a that’s the I would say that’s the the cosmos that’s the cosmos
that you live in all the time it’s a little story it’s the thing that you
extract out of the chaos it’s – consists of your conception of where
you are now and your conception of where you want to be at some point could be
ten minutes could be three years if you can slide it and then you have a little
plan about how you should move your body to do transform one in into the other
that’s your action powder and that’s a little story and when you ask someone to
say what they were up to you they’ll tell you a little story like that you
know I was at some place and I went somewhere else and here’s how I did it
then they might tell you more interesting story which is I was
someplace and something happened that I really didn’t expect and it knocked me
for a loop you know and that’s a good divorce story I came home one night and
my wife was gone it’s like yeah chaos and probably a bit of willful blindness
preceding it we might suspect anyways down into chaos and then well
maybe you learn something down there and maybe you don’t but hopefully you do and
you put yourself together if you’re lucky and then pop bang you pop up into
another little structure of order and that’s an initiatory process it’s like
you’re some more stable falls apart or maybe you break it apart on purpose you
do it voluntarily you know people do that all the time you know they do that
for example when they experiment with drugs and they do that when they go on
wild adventures and you know when they break themselves out of their normal
routine and throw themselves somewhere they don’t understand and hope that
that’s going to produce a transformation of personality that’s the basic story
that’s the initiatory story now this is William James who was the one of the
establishes of modern psychology and a kind of an odd guy he was an early
experimenter with psychedelics of course they’ll never tell you that but he was
and he is his drug of choice was nitrous oxide which is an inhalant gas which
seems to be inert no one really knows why it works but it produces quite
intense hallucinogenic experience mystical experience although if you
breathe too much of it then you die because it doesn’t it doesn’t have any
oxygen in it so so don’t do that and and he wrote some really bad hippie poetry
back in the 1880s well he was you know
experimenting with with nitrous oxide I’ll read a little bit of that to you
pure experience is the name which I give to the original flux of life before a
reflection has categorized it only newborn babes in persons in semi coma
from sleep drugs illnesses or blows can have an experience pure in the literal
sense of that which is not yet any definite what though ready to be any
sorts of what’s both full both of oneness and of many ‘no specs that don’t
appear changing throughout yet so confusedly that its phases
interpenetrate and no points either of distinction or of identity can be caught
1905 William James Journal of philosophy you know a lot of these old guys that
established what we regard is you know fairly stable bodies of knowledge we’re
just as crazy as you could possibly imagine they’re just the most peculiar
damn people and they get sanitized you know as they are represented in history
and that’s no fun you know I mean it’s much more interesting to know what they
were like they were just so bloody peculiar and and strange and involved in
all sorts of weird things that’s a lot more fun to know that here’s his poem
Wow it’s like right from 1968 no verbiage
can give it because the verbiage is other incoherent coherent same and it
fades and it’s infinite and it’s infinite don’t you see the difference
don’t you see the identity constantly opposites United the same me telling you
to write and not to write extreme extreme extreme something and other than
that thing intoxication and other nest and intoxication every attempt at
betterment every attempt at other menthe is a it fades forever and forever as we
move it’s like it’s just about as incoherent as post modernist philosophy
so we know for archaic and traditional cultures that a symbolic return to chaos
is equivalent to preparing a new creation it follows that we may
interpret the psychic chaos of the future shaman as assigned
the profane man is being dissolved and a new personality being prepared for birth
transformation here’s a way of thinking about it paradise
Paradise Lost redemption classic story of mankind always it was a great past
we’re in a state of chaos we’re heading towards a better future everyone thinks
that way the stories are based on that well that’s that now Ellen Burch a who
wrote a lot about the psychoanalysts believed that Freud and Jung in
particular had a creative illness which he regarded as a sort of spontaneous
shamanic transformation and he said a creative illness has these elements it
follow succeeds a period of intense preoccupation with an idea and search
for certain truth it’s a polymorphous condition that can take the shape of
depression neurosis psychosomatic ailments or even psychosis Jung was in
that state when he wrote this book called the red book which was just
released last year which is full of visionary illustrations and hands very
strange poetry and it contains the the communications he had with imaginative
beings that he conjured up when when practicing doing exactly that he
practiced that for years and he had these autonomous beings manifest
themselves in his fantasy it had long conversations with them it just you know
while he was working as a doctor and having a sane normal life and well it’s
kind of well it’s really something whatever the symptoms they’re felt is
painful while he thought maybe he was going mad and some people think he did
if not agonizing by the subject with alternating periods of alleviation and
worsening throughout the illness the subject never loses the thread of his
dominating preoccupation it’s often compatible with normal professional
activity and family life but even if he keeps to his social activities
he’s almost entirely absorbed with himself he suffers from feelings of
utter isolation even when he has a mentor who guides him through the ordeal
like the shaman apprentice with his master the termination is often rapid
and marked by a phase of exhilaration the subject emerges from his ordeal
with a permanent Tran formation in his personality and a
conviction that he has discovered a great truth or a new spiritual world
many of the 19th and 20th century figures regarded universally as great
Nietzsche Darwin Dostoyevsky Tolstoy Freud Jung were all additionally
characterized by lengthy periods of profound psychological unrest and
uncertainty well you don’t generate a new theory
without some birth pangs right because your old theory has to bite the dust
first and when your old theory bites the dust it’s like where are you you don’t
know do you know if you’re gonna come up with a new one no here’s a cool thing
this is my daughter she was five years at this point
she was playing prince or in princess with Julie and her three-year-old she
said dad if we killed a dragon we could use his skin as armor
wouldn’t that be a good idea I thought hey yeah that’s that’s a hell of an idea
kid you know you go right after the thing that frightens you the most and
you develop something that protects you from doing that it’s like where did she
get that idea well good work kiddo she had plenty of
dragons in her life so the following dream was described by my daughter
Mikayla three years nine months old about my son Julian one year Julian was
in the process of toilet training and rapid speech development was having some
trouble controlling his emotions Mikayla liked to call him baby
we had several discussions about the fact that he wasn’t really a baby
anymore she told me this story while I was at the computer so I was able to get
it for Batum she wasn’t very happy with the idea that he wasn’t a baby anymore
because she kind of liked the baby she took care of that baby a lot and her
little brain was having a hard time with the notion that whatever that thing is
now it isn’t a baby it’s like well where’s my baby and believe me plenty of
mothers go through the same thing then they attempt to keep their children
babies for the rest of their lives so this is what Mikayla said the dream
Julian’s eyes fell out and then he falled into pieces I said what sort of
pieces she said Julian pieces and the bones fall doubt too then a hole got him
and there was water in it and when he came out he was big mom Julian isn’t a
baby anymore no he a big boy and a bug with legs got him
out cuz bugs can swim and the whole was in the park and it moved into the
backyard and he fall into it a tree burned and left the hole I thought wow
that’s so amazing it’s like it was a it was a shamanic transformation dream it
was like the tree that’s The Tree of Life had burnt and left a hole the kid
fell into it it dissolved him right down to his bones this little bug which would
be a union representation of the self like Jiminy Cricket by the way in
Pinocchio the bug was the thing that was alive that helped him through the
transformation he stepped out and now he was big it’s like that was her little
brain conjuring up the notion of radical transformation so this is cool I hope
this works this is a dream that my my nephew had
did someone animated Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist from the
University of Toronto Maya do disagree with some of his fundamental ideas but
his thoughts and facing problems merge with my stoic values within one of his
maps of meaning lectures he tells a true story about a four year old boy his
nephew who for months was suffering from terrible night terrors terrors that were
waking him up screaming this boy by the way did have some areas of instability
in his family life Jordan visited the young boy’s house and the boy was
running around dressed as an eight with a sword a shield and a helmet at night
aim he would take a sword and shield to bed so Jordan got speaking to him and
the boy described his dream and the dream he’s standing surrounded by
knee-high Dwarfs these dwarves had beaks and every time you would try to move the
dwarfs would jump up and bait him a very fretting scenario for a young boy and if
you look behind all the dwarfs away in the background there was a dragon and
every time this dragon would puff out fire and smoke more dwarfs would be
created so there’s no point fighting off the dwarfs because more would just be me
it so Jordan tapped him and asked what
could you do about that so the kid says he could jump up on the Dragons head he
could poke out his eyes with a sword so he couldn’t see then they could go go
down the throat to the box where the fire came from carve a piece out of that
box thereby destroying it and use that piece as a sheet its shamed before
Jordan arrived was already a keynote in life what he knew he had to do and after
that conversation he had no more Nate pears this is what Marcus really is
meant when he said the impediment to action advances action what stands in
the way becomes the way he was tell not us that we must not shy away from
problems or shown or personal responsibility we must be willing to
sacrifice her comfort Goethe source of her problems to solve them and then take
something away well there you go so yeah he was waking up screaming at night for
four weeks that’s night terrorist he couldn’t
really remember what hell was going on and there was instability and his family
his parents got divorced soon after and he was off to kindergarten and that was
kind of destabilizing him too and so it was fun to watch him zip around as a
knight it’s like you know where’d he get that idea well you know he watched TV
watch movies see his little imagination was aggregating the picture of the hero
and then he was trying to act it out that’s what he was doing pretending
right I’m pretending to be the thing that takes on the unknown and then he
has this amazing dream it’s like it’s mind-boggling it’s so sophisticated it’s
like well here I am and there’s troubles everywhere and
they’re biting me they’re jumping up on me and it’s like a Hydra you know in the
Hydra you cut off a hydras head and seven more heads grow it’s like that’s
life man solve one problem seven more appear right so also that that was the
Dragons at the background chaos itself and chaos kept breeding these are the
evil little Dwarfs which is what it does it’s like it’s one damn trouble after
another we fight this one off fight this one off it’s like who cares the dragon
the dwarf generating machine is still working in the background so he
I asked him and that was purposeful what could you do
see that’s a leading question that implies that there’s something that he
could do he said well I take my dad that was missing in the animation and we go
well poke the dragon’s eyes out go right down to the source of the problem
extinguish it make a shield right so that meant that he would have
strengthened his character by the encounter so brilliant and then and I
talked to his mom for months afterwards done no more night terrors what had
happened he identified with the mythological hero he did identified with
st. George and the dragon he identified with that little bloody tree dwelling
primate who 20 million years ago was the first one to drop a stick on a snake he
adopted the classic human mode of being in the face of uncertainty and construed
himself as that which could prevail end of terrors well I guess we’re done E so
we’re gonna do something a little different than the syllabus today
because you know we got this one hour to our problem and I really can’t cover
constructionism reasonably in two hours or one hour that was supposed to be
today so what I’m going to do is instead is
continue on the line that I’ve been pursuing but I’m going to expand it up
more into Union psychology which is the what we’re going after after
constructivism anyways and so I can weave the constructivism and the depth
psychology together and it’s nice to do that because it gives you a kind of a
coherent view so just so you know we’re one lecture ahead at the moment roughly
speaking and I’ll do constructivism on Tuesday for two hours so all right so I
showed you that anime animation I told you about my nephew’s dream which is a
remarkable dream you know really it’s just amazing amazing dream and it’s it’s
got this archetypal pattern you know and the pattern is that there’s a threat and
worse than not that there’s there are threats
and at the back of it there is the the fact of threat itself you see so human
beings were so smart hey so this is so amazing that we figured this out so you
imagine well human beings are the only creatures that can really conceive of
the class of all threatening things right and that’s kind of why we can be
permanently anxious there’s so it’s sort of annoying so you know here you are and
it’s safe there’s no Lions here or or anything that might prey on you but you
can think of something to be anxious about no problem you know I’m certain
you’ve got some little skeleton rattling around in your closet somewhere that’s
like eating away at you and so I think part of the reason we’re so damn awake
human beings is because we’re always anxious like and you have to be awake
when you’re anxious and the the anxiety system actually activates your reticular
activating system and that that that actually produces its the substrate for
consciousness if you snap a few fibers in the back of your brain that are part
of the reticulating activate reticular activating system in a car accident or
something you’ll go into a coma and that’ll be that here you’re not getting
out of it doesn’t take much of an injury either in the right place so anyways so
human beings have been struggling with this problem of threat forever
really for as long as there’s been life or at least as long as there’s been life
with a nervous system and you know that’s several hundred million years
it’s a long time and of course it’s easy to you know to respond to a particular
threat think about zebras they’re out there on the veldt and there’s lions
everywhere right but the zebras are like they’re calmed because there’s lions are
sleeping and so the zebras don’t think apparently oh my god what was going to
happen with those Lions wake up because they don’t think that way you know and
they’re not going to be happy if the lion goes into a hunting Crouch and
starts its hunting approach obviously but it’s not like the zebras are
freaking out non-stop because there are Lions around you know so they can react
to specific threats but human beings partly because we discovered the future
which was a big mistake was a big mistake
because the future is an uncertain place we realized that well there isn’t any
threat right now but there might well be some tomorrow and if there isn’t some
tomorrow well maybe next week or next month or next year like it’s coming and
so there’s danger so it’s the category of danger you know and out of the
category of danger emerged specific threats and the dragon seems to be a
symbol of it is a symbol I believe of the ever-present fact of predatory
slightly predatory threat but our nervous systems as they’ve become
capable of abstraction have used that underlying architecture to represent
more abstract categories so it’s not it’s not a predator like a dragon is not
a predator because there are no dragons but maybe a dragon is a snake and a and
a crocodile and maybe a leopard and maybe a predatory bird all mangled into
one monster because a monster is actually technically something that’s
made out of disparate parts and so it’s a good symbolic representation for the
unknown as such that which lies beyond the campfire let’s say and what lurks
out there and so the eternal problem is what the hell do you do with the dragon
and that also explains why the dragon typically is a treasure garter right
because it’s even more the problem is even worse out there
in no-man’s land out there in potential there’s threat and and and like mortal
threat but there’s also endless opportunity and riches and wealth and
and and the possibility of attracting someone and all of that and so well the
dragon you can’t just be afraid of it you just
stay in your burrow the whole time and lots of animals more or less do that is
you know especially the nocturnal ones they just hide away but that is what
human beings alight because we’re not only prey animals right we’re also
predators and then of course we’re crazy we’re absolutely insane chimpanzees
right we’re crazy and so we’re always out there mucking about with things and
with our you know fingers and and our thumbs and and taking the world apart
and putting it back together and we’re crazily exploratory and and in
troublemaking and so we don’t just run from dragons we go hunt them down and so
and so there’s a story here there’s the oldest story that mankind knows and
literally it is the oldest story that we know is this stories in this story
basically is there’s a bounded space a walled garden a walled city you know on
all the original cities were walled because if they weren’t barbarians would
swoop in and they’d just steal all your stuff and so you know that was kind of
pointless so you know you wanted to have some major-league walls surrounding your
territory and so that’s inhabited space and inside that is here little dominance
hierarchy and so all you primates knew exactly who was who inside that space so
you didn’t have to fight with each other and you could predict each other’s
behavior because you believed the same things and saw the world roughly the
same way and acted the same way and so you were sort of secure but then the
problem is is that that can always be breached there’s always something
outside of it that’s a danger and so that’s signified by this this little
creature here this is dragon and that that twirl in its tail is very common
among dragons actually it’s actually a symbol because you imagistic languages
imagistic symbols have an ancient language and it it’s referring to
something that’s basically eternal and so it lives down here in this in this
cave because it’s an underground thing it’s an underground thing and you can
kind of imagine what that’s like and sometimes this happens in initiation
rituals among archaic people they’re gonna when they’re gonna initiate
usually the young men because nature initiates women know by itself usually
the young men maybe they’ll put them in a cave and leave them there you know for
like well who know who knows how long and Sagada think what’s in a cave that
caves are dark man I don’t know if you’ve ever been in one but like they’re
dark and they’re really dark and so not only is there whatever there is in the
cave and you don’t know what the hell’s in the cave there’s whatever you
imagined might be in the cave and so when you’re in that cave and you’re
alone you you’re confronting the devils and demons and monsters of your own
imagination you know and so then you have a chance to perhaps deal with that
and overcome it and that’s perhaps part of the initiation ceremony you know and
that’s part of growing up because you have to learn how to face the things
that terrify and upset you and and we cast them and put them back
together we talked a little bit about this idea of the pre cosmogonic chaos
that that Iliad it refers to and and that’s this stuff out of which order is
produced at the beginning of time and it’s also the stuff out of which you
constantly reproduce order and the young unions the psychoanalysts especially the
really deep psychoanalysts like young Freud was a more surface psychoanalyst
and that’s not an insult there’s some things that Freud figured out they’re
absolutely amazing he was a precursor to Jung for sure for Jung the hero’s
journey was the journey inside the unconscious and that would be perhaps in
some sense that the the willingness to face everything terrible that’s happened
to you and to think it through and to articulate it and and to come to grips
perhaps with your own capacity for malevolence that was a really important
part of Union ideas that the first step towards individuation which is the
manifestation of your full self let’s say was the discovery of your shadow and
your shadow is the part of you that will do terrible things under the right
circumstances and maybe even without that much provocation and you know and
it’s a terrifying part of you to come into contact with because it’s sort of
it’s sort of the way that you’re specifically attached to the archetype
of evil that’s a that’s a good way of thinking about it and you know modern
people they don’t really think much about think much about the idea of good
and evil but that’s because the most of them are so they I’m naive you can just
barely even comprehend it you know if you read any history if you really read
it like and you and you don’t come away with the idea that evil exists it’s like
you’re just reading the wrong kind of history you know it’s just unbelievable
what people can do to each other and we’re so imaginative you know and one of
the things I figured out about people the reason that we’re we have the
knowledge of good and evil let’s say is that because we’re self conscious and we
know about ourselves we know about our own vulnerability right you know what
hurts you you really know what hurts you way more than an animal knows and so
when you’re all so creative and so once you know what hurts you man you can
really hurt someone else and you can do it in such a creative way you can draw
it out you can make it excruciating you can take people
apart physically and psychologically and you can keep them say even right on the
edge of death so that you can keep doing that endlessly and you know that happens
hell of a lot more than you think it happens it happens a lot and so well and
you think well you know that doesn’t involve me it’s like oh yes it does man
that’s the problem because you know you’re human and that’s the sort of
things that human beings are capable of and I’m not saying you’re all it’s all
probable that you do that ever or or that but I’m saying that you know you
got to take that into account when you’re looking at the world and you
think about all the perpetrators out there it’s like it’s not like there’s
perpetrators and there’s victims that isn’t how it works it doesn’t work that
way at all and so the horrors of humanity as well as the noble elements
of humanity are all elements of your central being and for you and this is
the terrible thing for young the pathway to higher wisdom was through the
terrible portal of well you could say hell for that matter really in and so
who wants to do that man it’s like no you know like maybe you’re resentful
about something well you probably are because like everybody’s resentful about
something you know and resentment is just vicious emotion it’s really useful
it’s really useful because if you’re resentful about something it either
means that you should grow the hell up and accept the responsibility and quit
sniveling around and whining or it means that someone actually is oppressing you
and and pushing on you too hard and bullying you and demeaning you and you
have something to say or do that you’re not saying or doing and no wonder you’re
not saying or doing it because you know it can be really dangerous to say things
or do them to free yourself from from being oppressed you can get in a lot of
trouble in the short term for doing it so it’s easier just to not say anything
sort of day after day in the short term you protect yourself but just crushes
you and then the the resentment comes up and resentment and that can just get so
out of hand you know it starts with resentment and then it starts it goes to
the desire for revenge you know because you’ll play nasty
little tricks on the person that’s opressing you
at any chance you’ll talk about them behind their back and if they want you
to do something you’ll do it badly or you’ll do it grudgingly or you’ll do a
half rate job and you’ll set up little traps and you know so it puts you in a
poisonous space and then if that if you really start to dwell on that say in
your basement for three or four years about just exactly how terrible the
world is and how that’s focused on you and how everyone’s rejected you and how
you get to this point where you’re thinking that you know existence itself
is a kind of poisonous endeavor and that the best thing for you to do is go out
there and do as much you know create as much mayhem as you possibly can and if
you really get to a dark place you think I’m going to create as much mayhem as I
possibly can by targeting the most innocent thing I can possibly imagine
and then you end up shooting kids in Connecticut and that’s how you get there
and so that’s a bad road man there’s dark things down there but you can go
there and people do and they go through the hole of resentment and so resentment
can tell you you’ve got something to say you bloody well better say it you’ve got
a free yourself from what’s oppressing you you have to stand up for that
because otherwise you become oppressed and then once you’re oppressed that’s
just not so good and so like in your marriage and your relationships you got
to tell people what you’re thinking you don’t have to assume you’re right that’s
a whole different story because you’re not cuz you’re you know ignorant and
you’re biased and you know so you’re not right but you can stumble towards your
this the expression of yourself and then you can listen to the other person and
hope that they tell you some way that you’re stupid that’s useful so you can
be a little less stupid in the future because that wouldn’t that be good and
so you know you go after the unknown you don’t protect what you know you already
know what you know you go after what you don’t know that’s why you have to talk
to people you don’t agree with that’s where you have to talk to your enemies
because they’re gonna tell you things you don’t know you could even listen to
them it’s possible they know a thing or two you don’t know but people don’t like
that you know they just talk to people who think the same way and then they
just stay stupid and so that’s and that’s not
because if you’re not wise the world will wallop you it’ll flatten you and
and far more than it has to and then you’ll be better and resentful and
you’ll be part of that force that Wallops instead of the force that fights
against that so well so you go after the dragon and that’s what that’s what this
guy is doing he’s going after the dragon it’s it’s threatening the society
because it always does chaos what’s outside of order always threatens order
always always and so you have to step forward you know in this manner
voluntarily and and and go after that when it’s still manageable right and
that’s the case in your own life too so you know if you’re if you’ve had a
proclivity to be bullied in the past you know and you want to get out of that
what you have to do is you have to make yourself awake to the to the Maite to
the to the what would you say to the to the initial stages of that sort of
bullying emerging in your life again that sort of domination and you have to
step forward against it when it’s still in its developing stages because maybe
you can just not have it happen that would be better and so you have to be
ready to speak what you have to say more or less at a moment’s notice you can’t
be impulsive about it you know like if you and I are talking and you make a
mistake or I make a mistake even if it’s bothers one or the other of
us we should just write it off because it’s like one encounter what the hell
you you know maybe we had a bad night’s sleep or something you know you gotta be
a little forgiving and what if it happens twice then you know you should
be a little awake and you should remember both times and then if it
happens a third time it’s like that’s when you that’s when you act and you say
look we talked and this happened and I thought yeah whatever and but then you
did it again and then you just did it again well then
the person is basically like what are they gonna do you know no well maybe
they might argue with you but you kind of got them and you’re generally if you
just point that out to people just like that just that you noticed and they’re
willing to say something about it they’ll back the hell off they’ll often
apologize and sometimes you even make them a little more conscious which is
like hey that’s not such a bad idea that’s what all this
means and so this caught this chaos idea it’s so for young it was the unconscious
right it was the contents of your unconscious and so that might be the
unknown past the threatening past that you have never dealt with there might be
the threatening future it might be the threatening present but you realized as
his as he got older that that the unconscious was also the world and you
think and so the chaos is not only your unconscious mind which meets the unknown
but it’s actually the unknown itself mingled together you think what the hell
does that that’s why the dragon is a land creature and an air creature it’s
matter and spirit at the same time and this sort of gets us into constructivism
because the constructivist think that basically what happens is that you
encounter those elements of the world that don’t fit into your theory and out
of those new elements you make the world through your perceptions and you make
yourself by incorporating the information and transforming yourself
and that’s how Piaget explains the development of a child if the child
starts out with some reflexes basic reflexes and manifesting the reflexes
produces results in the world and then the child has to reorganize its
perceptions to take into account the transformations and so then it it gets a
little more sophisticated and then it can do a few more things and then it can
manifest more changes in the world and then it martyr it attracts them and
modifies its perceptions and actions to account for them and it just keeps doing
that that’s how the child boots itself up like a computer does it’s a very cool
idea and so from from the Piaget Gian stance so it’s constructive the stance
you could think of the world as a latent pool of information it’s something like
that with a structure obviously that you can interact with with your little
fingers in your body and your mind and your eyes and your mouth and you make
changes happen and you track them and you model them and you build your skills
and as you continue to do that in the safety of your house initially under the
care of your parents who who fill in where you’re ignorant you you you just
emerge more and more competent and confident and ready to move ahead so
that’s that’s how the constructivist idea works and so so there’s kind of a
chaos idea at the bottom of that which is that out of which you emerge and the
world emerges at the same time because you know you don’t see reality not at
all you see almost like an animated version of reality you know like when I
look at you I just see the front of you I just see the outside of you I see you
at this height I don’t see any of your internal structure I don’t see the the
back part of you at all I don’t see your family I don’t see your history I don’t
see your future you know I just see this slice of you you’re so complicated I
just see this little like oversimplified slice of you right now and I think
that’s the reality that’s it’s it’s sort of the reality the way that the Simpsons
a Simpsons character is you it’s like it’s sort of like you and it’s enough so
that you can watch the story but the real you man god only knows what that is
and that’s a union idea you know that the real you is something that radically
transcends your perception of yourself or your conception of yourself and that
you get to that higher you at least in part by going into the darkest place and
so it’s a hell of an idea man it’s really but it’s the old idea of
initiation it’s as old as time that idea and and there’s something to it and we
definitely recreate it in psychotherapy like this isn’t an airy theory it’s
quite the contrary because what you do and as a psychologist always always a
behaviorist say that the most the most logical clinical type of psychologists a
behaviorist is it an initiatory shaman even though he or she doesn’t know it
because what they do is they say okay well let’s take a look at your life like
okay you got a bunch of problems and they’re like massive dragons and you’re
just like you’re not going anywhere with those problems you’re just cowering in
the corner and what the behavioral therapist does is cut them cut that
dragon into those little Dwarfs until the dwarfs are small enough so that you
can really kick the hell out of them and so and that by the way they do that is
they they take the problem and they decompose it into elements that are
small enough that you have a reasonable probability of mastering them so you
take that problem apart into into its micro problems careful careful
process and then you think okay well how could we progress a little bit this week
and some of that is to face to practice facing things you’re afraid of so like
if you’re a graphic and you can’t get on an elevator you can’t get on a taxi and
you can’t stand up to your husband and I’m saying husband because most
agoraphobic sar women most of them are middle-aged women and most of them were
too dependent for most of their life so that’s a monster
it’s like society husband elevator taxi subway it’s a monster and it’s that
place you will not go and that’s because you feel this high and everything else
looks this big and so and partly that’s because you’ve run away and when you run
away from something it grows and chases you which is well it’s exactly what
happens to a prey animal man if you go in the woods and you find a bear
especially a grizzly well you’re in real trouble if it’s a grizzly but if it’s a
black bear you know generally speaking if you stand your ground and make a hell
of a lot of noise that thing will leave you alone but if you run well what’s it
supposed to think it eats things that run from it so that’s exactly where that
idea came to come from you turn tail and run and then the thing that you’re
afraid of is really a monster and it’s gonna like get you and eat you it’s like
well that’s true psychologically as well and and the same circuits that we use to
when we were you know out in the forest even even in trees the same circuits
that we used to parse up the world then into safe territory and place where the
predators loom is the way we parse up the world now which is safe territory
and the place where the predators loom it’s just become abstracted way up
abstracted way up so but it’s the same damn circuits it’s we know this like the
same circuits you used to forage for information
it’s a dopaminergic circuit is the circuit that squirrels use to forage for
nuts and you think well why well it’s because there’s no difference between
information and food like you trade information for food all the time that’s
what you’re doing when you’re working especially if you’re working on a
computer so the idea that there’s there’s an equation between information
and food it’s like well obviously obviously there’s an equation between
them so of course you’d use the same and I mean the damn squirrel has to
remember where the nuts are and so for him information is food even so when
what happened to human beings is that we started thinking hey maybe it’s better
to go after information than it is to go after food because going after
information produces more food than just going after food and so that was a
pretty damn smart idea so we’re still doing that so anyways this is what
you’re supposed to be doing and so and this is what behavior therapists do they
decompose your problems what are you afraid of well okay you’re afraid of
everything well let’s get something specific you’re afraid of
well I’m afraid of an elevator okay an elevator so I have a client she’s afraid
of elevators the elevator door open she goes that’s a tomb and I thought oh wow
I thought it was an elevator but for you it’s not a bloody elevator
it’s death and so that’s what you’re afraid of it’s worse than that you’re
afraid of being trapped inside there in the dark alone alone not knowing if
anyone is going to rescue you stuck there with your damn imagination
freaking out it’s like and if that’s not and then maybe you have a heart attacks
because you’re so terrified and you die it’s like you know so that’s the
elevator well it’s no bloody wonder there no
one’s gonna get into something like that and then maybe underneath that is your
distrust in the mechanisms of society right because you know a normal person
those weird creatures they’ll get an elevator what the hell they don’t care
and partly it’s because they have an implicit belief even if the thing stops
somebody will come along and rescue them and usually you don’t even think about
it right it’s like no what the hell it’s an elevator it’s like the danger is
invisible to you and it’s partly because you implicitly trust the structure and
so maybe you go into the unconscious presuppositions of the person who is
terrified of the elevator in the subways and you find out they have a real
problem with trusting Authority that’s partly why they don’t get along with
their husband why they’ve never been able to stand up for themselves so then
you say okay well you’re afraid of the damn elevator but it’s not an elevator
it’s a tomb and the tomb is partly you and partly it’s partly the elevator and
partly your unconscious mind and so well what can you handle can you go look at
an elevator from and feet away it’s like yes okay how
about 9 feet away yes 5 feet yes 4 feet no okay no problem four and a half feet
we’re gonna go from that elevator we’re gonna look at the damn thing until
you’re bored of it because that’s what we’re trying to you should be bored of
the elevator because then you’re not afraid of it obviously it’s like it’s an
elevator you just don’t notice it right all these things around here that you
don’t notice I take you out of here and ask you what color the walls are you
haven’t got any idea you know yeah I suspect for most of you there’s not a
chance you’d be able to identify the gender of the person who’s sitting next
to you unless you know them it’s like you just don’t remember anything and why
should you everything works like you don’t have to pay attention to it it’s
like is that staying up yeah it’s still up yeah still up still up if it’s like
really no you know you get bored of that real quick and so then you just ignore
it and but the agoraphobic has had that veil of ignorance torn away and what
they see behind it is mortal threat and so that’s really what you’re helping
them deal with and so this week there are four and a half feet from the
elevator next week they’re a foot from the elevator and the week after that the
horrible gates of Hell open and they look inside and they don’t run and so
hey they’re tougher than they thought they were and that’s what you’re
teaching them actually you’re not teaching them that the world isn’t
dangerous because that’s a stupid thing to teach someone bloody right the world
is dangerous it’s terrifying and sometimes people under they realize that
and the veil lifts and they see horror everywhere they see that and then they
think well I’m just a little rabbit I’m over here in the corner
I can’t move I’m petrified and then they can’t move they hide it home they cower
at home because everything has become a predatory domain and so what you teach
them is you’re not as much of a rabbit as you think and part of that is that
you help them grow some teeth so that they can go home and have that fight
with their husband that they should have had 25 years ago and it happens very
frequently with agra phobic clients that you get them so they can go on the damn
elevator and they can go on the subway and they can take a taxi
maybe they learn to drive Wow they get some autonomy and then they’re a little
tougher and so then they can stand up from loot for themselves and they go
back and like their husband might not be very happy with any of this really it
depends on what sort of guy he is you know if he’s a real tyrant he might be
just perfectly happy that he’s married to someone who you know was afraid of
her own shadow because then she won’t ever leave and so that’s a nasty little
story and believe me it’s not uncommon so she gets tougher by facing what she
fears and what she finds out is there’s a hell of a lot more to her than she
thought and that’s really what happens when you do behavior therapy with
someone who’s agoraphobic it isn’t really that they get less afraid it’s
that they get braver that’s way different it’s because brave is alert
and able to cope naive is there’s no danger it’s like hell yeah right there’s
no danger Jesus what a stupid theory that is so anyways that’s what all this
is that’s that’s the story man and it’s a it’s a major story it’s the story of
human transformation and growth it’s the evolution of mankind it’s like it’s a
major story and we’ve been working on the damn thing for like god only knows
how long you know snakes and primates co-evolved and our vision are sharp
sharp sharp vision seems to have been an evolutionary adaptation forced on us by
the presence of predatory snakes and we’re talking tens of millions of years
ago and human beings have unbelievably sharp eyesight the only thing that can
out see us is birds of prey and they have eyes like an eagle a bald eagle has
eyes as big as ours and it has two phobias that phobia is the central part
of the vision so an eagle is all eyes man and so but human beings we’re kind
of like that too and like half our brain is devoted to visual processing we have
acute vision in Madagascar where there are primates with no predatory snakes
there are lemurs they can’t see worth a damn and I’m a anthropologist named Lynn
Isabelle did a comprehensive study worldwide trying to account for the
acuity of primate vision and what she found was that the more predatory snakes
in the vicinity the sharper the eyesight of the primates
and so we have a really sharp eyesight so that means a lot of us were eaten by
snakes and none of your ancestors fortunately because otherwise you
wouldn’t be here but a lot of those who fell by the wayside were snake snack and
you know when you’re little and living in a tree a snake is no damn joke and
even now lots of people get bitten by snakes and people are phobic of snakes
at quite a rate and some of that actually seems innate there’s arguments
about cycle between psychologists about this but even the ones who don’t accept
the fact that it’s innate accept the fact that you can make someone afraid of
a snake by conditioning just like that we’re trying to make them afraid of a
flower by conditioning is really really hard so we’re at least at minimum
prepared to be afraid of snakes minimum and I believe it’s I don’t I believe
this fear is actually an 8 although you can learn to control it
so anyways so that’s that story and like what a story man it’s an amazing amazing
story you see the the den of the dragon here is littered with skulls and bones
that’s what that is so either thing is no joke it’s like look the hell out and
that’s this you know and look it up at the top right hand corner there you know
that’s from Peter Pan right well you remember Captain Hook we talked about
him already he’s a tyrant and he’s a tyrant because he’s afraid of death and
that’s all he sees in life and so it makes him cruel and better and death has
already taken part of him right that’s why he has a hook and that damn
crocodiles chasing him tick tick all the time and of course that’s the same
situation you’re all in man there was a crocodile with a clock at its stomach
chasing you and it could easily turn you into a tyrant it can turn you into a
tyrant or a cowering victim or a hero those are the options fundamentally so
and that’s the Gorgon looking at her own the Medusa looking at her own reflection
you know mother nature with a head full of snakes you know a terrifying vision
and that’s actually to some degree an archetype that men get confused with
women and you know that’s the witchy part of women and that’s the part that’s
attractive attractive attractive but rejecting rejecting rejecting it so many
men are petrified by women they won’t approach them at all they have no idea
how to talk to them they’re just petrified into
and that’s way more common than you think and so that breeds resentment like
you wouldn’t believe you know you hear the guy who shot up like Dawson College
it’s like what the hell do you think motivated him it’s like he that’s what
he saw and and it was because well he was my opinion is he was too goddamn
useless to be attractive to anyone and so that’s a hell of a place to be in
you know it’s then that’s the problem too if you’re chronically rejected by
people it’s often because of your own insufficiencies you know whether that’s
cowardice or lack of social skills or whatever it is it’s like you can’t just
brush it off as oh well you know no one likes me but really I’m okay it’s like
no no wrong if everyone rejects you there’s probably something wrong and
it’s probably deep and difficult and it’s going to be horrible to fix and so
it’s this isn’t a trivial problem it’s not a trivial problem at all and so you
know that’s mother nature for man too because from from the sexual selection
point of view if they if they’re not selected as a mate Nature has taken them
out of the game right and so you know people don’t really like that they’re
not that happy with that and so but getting all whiny about it and then
getting violent it’s like that’s just not all not really very helpful although
it’s very common so this is Lyndon Isabel an evolutionary arms race between
early snakes and mammals triggered the development of improved vision and large
brain in primates a radical new theory suggests these are old representations I
really like this one this is I don’t remember
I think it’s Greek but it doesn’t exactly look Greek it might be older
it doesn’t matter anyways you see it’s the same thing same ideas as Graham’s
dream right it’s like there’s this thing that exists this this multi headed snake
and it’s got this infinity problem it’s everywhere that’s that little circle
down there and the problem is well what do you do with it you cut off one head
seven more growth that’s the eternal problem of life and the problem is there
there there is the category of problems in life and it ain’t going anywhere and
so the question is can you deal with the whole category at the same time
that’s the thing that’s how to be in the world is to deal with that category all
at the same time and so how did how did human beings what did they come up with
as a solution and that’s so cool too because the solution they come up with
not only was the heroism that allows you to approach what you’re terrified by and
what you find offensive and to learn from it but also the idea of sacrifice
and and that was played out by cultures everywhere including human sacrifice and
you think what the hell was up with those crazy bastards so long ago they
were sacrificing two gods all the time what kind of clueless behavior was that
burned something and please God burn something valuable and please God it’s
like what was with them what were they thinking well they weren’t stupid those
people if they were stupid we wouldn’t be here they were not stupid and believe
me they lived under a lot harsher conditions than we do so those were some
tough people man you know back then you’d last about 15 minutes and so you
don’t want to be thinking of your ancestors as stupid like there’s no real
evidence that we’re much different cognitively than we were a hundred and
fifty thousand years ago so anyways sacrifice what does that mean
sacrifice well it’s a discovery man it’s the discovery of the future it’s like
the future is actually the place where there is threat and it’s always gonna be
there so what do you do you make sacrifices in the present so that the
future is better right everyone does that that’s what you’re doing right now
that’s what you’re doing here that’s what your parents are doing when they
pay money to send you to university they think you can bargain with reality it’s
amazing you can bargain with reality you can forestall gratification now and
it’ll pay off it at a place in time that doesn’t even exist yet it’s like who
would have believed that it’s like that’s a miracle that that occurs and
it’s not like people just figured that overnight you know we were chimps for
Christ’s sake like how are we gonna come up with an idea like that well it’s like
well we thought about it for seven million years and you know we got to the
point where we could kind of act it out but we didn’t know what we were doing
but it was a merge it’s like a dream it was
so the terror of the future is a dream and the solution to the terror the dream
of the terror of the future is another dream and and it comes out in mythology
and in fantasy and in drama where you act out the sacrifice and then it’s a
step on the way to full understanding so we can say sacrifice now instead of
doing it you know although we still do it it’s just not concretize like it used
to be we do it abstractly and we all have faith that it will work you know
and we also set up our society so that it’ll work and one thing about you know
I’m not a fan of moral relativism for a variety of reasons partly because I
think it’s an it’s an extreme form of cowardice but anyways apart from that no
no no no there’s minimal ways that you can set up a society that will work and
so one of them is is that the society has to be set up so that your sacrifices
will pay off or you won’t work and then the society will die and so it has to
make promises people have to make promises to one another and that’s what
money is money is a promise that your sacrifice will pay off in the future
that’s what money is and so if the society is stable you can store up your
work right now you can sacrifice your impulses and you can work and you can
store up credit for the future and then you can make the future a better place
but Society has to be stable enough to allow for that hyperinflation will do
you in so the promise that’s implicit in the currency is the promise that what
you’re doing now will pay off in the future and if people don’t have that
promise then well we know what they do because in in gangs for example and say
gangs in North America the time horizon of the gang members shrinks rapidly
because they don’t really expect to be alive at much past 21 and so they get
really impulsive and violent and like why the hell not that’s that’s what you
do when when the future doesn’t matter when it’s not real you you default back
to living in the moment and you take what you can get right now and no wonder
because you don’t know if you’re gonna be around you know in a year and you get
whatever you can well you can bloody well get it and that’s like anarchy that
state and so you don’t want to live and some people
like to live in that state because they’re really wired for that you know
and so they’re they’re much more comfortable in those conditions there
they’re kind of like warrior types I would say in some sense but you know for
most people that’s just where that stress will just do you in you know the
stress of a life like that so that’s a pretty horrible picture the one on the
right I think and you know it’s it’s a creepy picture and don’t you think
doesn’t it seems like a creepy picture to me yeah and so that’s quetzel a codel
if I remember correctly who’s me who is an Aztec dragon God and that’s the Eye
of Horus by oh by the way this little thing here and that see the Egyptians
they worship the eye yeah well that’s cool because well why
did they worship the eye well wake the hell up and look at the world that’s
your salvation to do that pay bloody attention especially to the things you
don’t want to pay attention to and use your vision have some vision and you can
use your vision to see into the future and that is your that’s your Redemption
and the Egyptians they didn’t know how to say that but they knew how to
represent it and that’s how they represented it like the pupil on that is
completely open completely dilated and that’s a God as far as the Egyptians
we’re concerned it’s Horus and I’ll tell you Horus a story at some point so early
primates developed a better eye for color detail and movement and the
ability to see in three dimensions traits that are important for detecting
threats at close range humans are descended from these same primates all
right so now the initiation when you go into
psychotherapy or when you make any supreme moral effort which is roughly
the same thing you have to confront that which you do not know now I mentioned
the called prima cosmogonic chaos and the idea that at the end of Jung’s life
he sort of thought of the unconscious and the world as the same and you think
what the hell does that mean but here’s what it means so let’s say you’re in a
long-term intimate relationship and you get betrayed okay so what is it that you
see when you see your partner at the moment you know of the betrayal well you
see the pre maganda chaos and here’s why well it
rattles your unconscious up because you don’t know anything anymore you don’t
know what the past was right you don’t know what it was and it’s supposed to be
real and all of a sudden you don’t know what it was and so you come up with wild
ideas about what it might have been and what it represented and then you don’t
know what the future is gonna be anymore so then your fantasy fills that space
and you don’t know who the hell you’re looking at that’s for sure and you don’t
know much about human beings and you certainly don’t know anything about
yourself and so all of a sudden not only is
everything in chaos inside your mind but everything is in chaos
in your world and it actually is and there’s no telling the difference
between those two things you know and so then they you’re just shattered and so
then you go talk to a therapist for like two years and you think what happened
what was the reality and the reality is because who knows what the reality was
like but as far as you’re concerned the reality is I better represent this
properly in my head I better figure out who I was who that person was what we
did together and what it meant because I do not want this to happen again and so
you’re healed when you get to the point where you’ve
grasped the bloody moral of the story what went wrong and how can I not have
that happen again because that’s the purpose of learning
right that’s the purpose of memory it’s to prepare you for the future and so you
have to pull out of that massive chaos a functional representation that increases
your wisdom so that you’re not this naive target the next time you enter
into a relationship so at least you can have another relationship without being
so traumatized that you know you you’re done and you know it can take people
years to talk that through because this landscape of potential opens up when
when they’re betrayed it’s like well anything could have been the truth well
you to sort through that you have to wander through all that mess and it’s
really painful and and emotional as well you have to sort through all that mess
to come out with the new you right there renewed you and so
well this is a representation of it this is how people act this out by but
whatever method he may have been designated the shaman is recognized as
such as only after having received two methods of instruction the first is
ecstatic dreams trances and visions the second is traditional shamanic
techniques names and functions of the spirit mythology and genealogy of the
clan and the secret language well one of the things that happens this happens to
you even if if you encounter something terrible like a betrayal what happens is
that you have to take a journey into the domain of morality essentially which is
how did I act and how did that person to act and how should have they acted and
how should have I acted and so and that’s part of your cultural structure
and so that’s the idea of rescuing the dead farther from the depths right and
that’s what we’ll show you some examples of that so this is a critical issue with
regards to the shamanic transformation is that people go through these terrible
terrible experiences often drug-induced by the way with regards to the shaman
they usually use psychedelic chemicals of one form another often mushrooms but
but they’ve come up with some very strange concoctions like ayahuasca down
in the Amazon and ayahuasca is an amazing substance it’s made out of the
bark of one thing and another plant whose name I don’t remember that hardly
even grow in the same place and that have to be cooked together in a special
way and no one has any idea how the damn Amazonians figured that out it looks
impossible and if you ask them they say well the plants told us how to do it
which you know Western people don’t find very helpful but the shamans are
perfectly helped happy with that that description in ayahuasca takes them
apart and it does that in part because its effects the serotonergic system very
very powerfully like all psychedelics do and it transports them to another world
and that’s how they interpret it and and and and what we know about psychedelics
you could put in a thimble and then throw the thimble away we know nothing
about psychedelics there’s new experiments going on at Johns Hopkins
for example with psilocybin which is part of this active chemical in magic
mushrooms same structure basically as LSD and mescaline
all the real psychedelics have basically the same structure except the one that’s
derived from Amanita muscaria which is called muscarinic acid and it’s a it’s
its own weird thing that no one knows anything about anyways they have
profound neuro chemical effects in very small doses and the research group at
Johns Hopkins has given psilocybin to research subjects
you know purified psilocybin because they started the new experimentation
with psychedelics and that’s been banned for like 40 years
because psychedelics were so terrifying to our culture that we just put them
away it’s like oh no we’re not going there and so even from a research
perspective and even though some of the psychedelics look very promising for the
treatment of disorders like alcoholism they recently used psilocybin to help
people stop smoking down at Johns Hopkins and I think they had an 80%
success rate which is just like that’s just absolutely mind-boggling
and so but if you give people psilocybin and they have a mystical experience
which is very common among people who take these sorts of chemicals then their
personality transforms permanently such that one year later their one standard
deviation higher in openness and openness is the creativity dimension and
that seems to be a permanent transformation so that’s really
remarkable and about 80 percent of the people who undergo the Johns Hopkins
experiments report that the experience is like one of the two or three most
important things they’ve ever that’s never ever happened to them and so well
that’s that’s something you know it’s like and then there’s this guy named
Rick Strassman down at I think he was at the University of Texas and he did
experimentation with DMT and DMT dimethyltryptamine I remember I remember
correctly is the active ingredient in ayahuasca and you produce it in your
brain and it’s in plants it’s like a very common chemical but DMT is a weird
hallucinogen because it has an extraordinarily short mechanism of
action it’s like and people who take it report that they’re blasted out of their
body like out of a cannon and then they go out somewhere and encounter beings of
various sorts and then ten minutes later they’re back and virtually everyone
reports that which is really strange and and so strassman was giving people DMT
intravenously so that the trip would last longer he this was all all
you know nih-funded experimentation all cleared with the
relevant ethics boards all conducted within the last 10 years and he
basically quit doing it because he was a pretty straight scientist you know he
was measuring heart rate and pulse and all that sort of thing trying to look at
the physiology and then the people he was giving these chemicals to kept
coming back and telling him these these crazy stories and well it just it was
too much for him you know and no wonder you know cuz they all said the same
thing and he’d say well that was a dream and they’d say no and it was the most
real thing that ever happened to me and he’d say well you know it’s an
archetypal experience and they’d say no no no that was no archetypal experience
I went somewhere else and I saw things and I’m back and like I don’t care what
you think and like who the hell knows right because it’s all subjective but
but the weird thing about it is that everyone’s reporting the same thing how
the hell do you account for that and then the shaman you know when they take
these psychedelic chemicals they basically say the same thing they say
well first of all it more or less killed me that’s this you know i dissolved two
skeleton and then I climbed the tree that unites heaven and earth and I went
into the realm of the gods and they gave me some information and I’m back it’s
like okay well you know we don’t really know what to make of that and we and
certainly that’s what Elia describes when he describes the shamanic the
shamanic procession not the shamanic initiation and you know there’s
dissolution to a skeleton first and then like a death the symbolic death or
experienced as an actual death and then bang up into the realm of the gods and
then they come back there’s a very old idea and that’s a medieval
representation of the tunnel that people travel through at the end of their life
to you know to find the light which is a very common near-death experience report
and people don’t have any idea what the hell to do with those reports except say
well it’s the paroxysm zuv the dying brain which you’d expect to be a hell of
a lot more random in my opinion and the idea is there’s a rebirth after that and
you know here this is the Scandinavian representation of that tree that unites
earth with heaven and so there’s the Scandinavian representation it has a
snake snakes down here eating it and and that’s the amazonian representation
it’s like how the hell he account for that I mean those those pictures are so
similar that it’s just it’s beyond belief well you know we lived in trees
for a long time a long long long long time millions of years and there were
lots of snakes around them and so the idea that reality is a tree that’s
surrounded by a snake is that’s in us man it’s down there it’s deep and
there’s something about it that’s true now not true like we normally think of
truth a truth true in an entirely different manner so and all that’s
pretty damn strange we’ll stop with this my son drew this when he was seven years
old blew me away man I thought it was so cool so I had it laminated and so here
is what it is on the right hand side that’s ordered it’s like the yin-yang
thing that’s order left-side chaos right and those are all mushroom houses which
I thought was amazing and then there’s this river that runs right down the
middle like the line for order and chaos and then there’s this tree that goes up
to heaven and that’s heaven up there it’s like there st. Peter there’s the
pearly gates there’s the clouds it’s like it’s he never went to church you
know it’s like what the hell and then there’s a little bug there that goes up
and down from heaven to earth and that was him and I thought he had a very
organized psyche that kid he was a very very stable kid and still is and I he
drew that and I thought Jesus that’s just bloody will unbelievable and I
still think that when I look at it and that’s a great example of an archetype
and so we’ll see you Tuesday you

100 thoughts on 2017 Personality 04/05: Heroic and Shamanic Initiations

  1. The spirit of the way the dragon speaks of breath of fiery anxiety…. that causes man to slay… like parent of error in truth speaks of the way of the dragon in error of spirit, the way of anxiety and unrest, that children fight against, the attack, going in the way of the dragon of the gut that he can be shielded and slay.

  2. I have greatly benefited from these lectures. I have the uttermost respect for Dr. Peterson. Common sense is very uncommon.

  3. Dr Peterson, what is the time?
    Well it depends what you mean by time, you see Young…
    Thats ok dr Peterson. Could you point me to the nearest toilett?
    Well, it depends what you mean by that. Dostojewsky…
    😀

  4. What are the dostovesky novels he advocate s reading? I am aware of two, crime and punishment and the brother karamazov, unaware of the other three.

  5. Parents need to understand the lesson that JP teaches about knowing you have teeth but not using them when teaching their kids to "Turn the other cheek". I spent a year and a half or so allowing myself to be pushed around by a few kids in school and never once did I feel like the "Bigger Man" I was promised I would feel like. Had I stood my ground and fought back I know for a fact that the bullying would have stopped and I would have gained personal power from the experience. I later learned how to "be dangerous" in HS from wrestling and I still carry that initial lesson with me, near 10 years later.

  6. I love the lectures, on third part atm. Mr. Peterson often mentions good vs. Evil. Aren't those social constructs as well? Sometime in history ppl thought somwthing is good but it wasn't. So, imo, there's not good and evil. Just 1's and 0's. And you are keen on 1's cause you dont want not to be. Anyway, ramblin'.

  7. 49:00 Again with the idea that a single person can have more female ancestors than male. No. Any child born must have one parent of each gender, and only one of each. The ratio of men to women that pass on genes has no impact on the number of ancestors any person has. If every child born must have a biological parent of each gender, then the ratio will never deviate from 1/1.

  8. I am curios about Peterson's examples of Pinocchio and other Disney's characters. Do he really like them more than Iliad, etc or because our students finally lost the Canon (Closing the American Mind). I met students who did not know even the plot of Hamlet,
    Paradise Lost, etc. And those students were from Sociology Dep. of U. of Toronto. His lectures on personality are great. I am really envious.

  9. 2.24.30-40 why is in the west chaos,mayhem and destruction frequently associated with anarchy? -no top to bottom rule is bit different from burning suburbs so wtf?

  10. You made me order Crime and punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. Cannot wait to start reading when they arrive.

  11. As a hindu I want to tell about the Kali representation you gave. According to mythology at this time she was angry and on the verge of destroying whole world. The person beneath her foot is her husband (and not her child) who was trying to stop her but nothing could stop her at that time. He lies in front of her she keeps her feet on him and suddenly comes to her senses. Shiva(the husband) is God of destruction with snakes around his neck, kind of represents he has mastered everything so he stays uninvolved in the working of world untill absolutely necessary and prefers to remain in meditative state.

  12. 1:55:20 Brilliant advice. Resentment is like trying to contain bacteria: it will just grow and eventually explode.

  13. If anyone here loves watching Marvel movies or Series and you know "The Iron Fist" is the hero narrative of facing the Dragon in the cave right???

  14. Wow… I'm getting chills listening to these dreams. I had some recurring dreams as a kid that I will never forget. I wish I had someone like you to guide me through them, because my parents didn't know what to make of them.

  15. Well, I had a shamanic initiation during my meditation when I was 21. Since then I have a lot of knowledge about the emergence of structure out of the potential nothingness (including the emergence of "I" or "me"). He (JP) explains the WHY to me pretty good! I was wondering about this experience since it happened and I am still wondering because it gave me a kind of super-power to see through illusions and personalities and its structures. And it changes me from an atheist to kind of a knower of 'god'. I think just believe in god is dangerous and stupid but you can definitly have an experience of "him, her, it, all, the one or which frame you wanna pack the unframeable in " which can proof to you that its true as you know that you exist by experience. Anyone here with similar experiences? Im 25 now and search for peope who understand this knowledge by their own experiences?! I also feel very very grounded in nothingness (the foot in the known territory is very stable because my known territory is the unknown since that experience) so i am a big fan of exploring psychedelics and write a lot of papers during my experience with existential knowledge. I want to become an expert of experiences (exper-t-iences haha) and like to find like-minded people.

  16. Very happy to hear muscumol in this lecture. Gabaergic hallucinogens are weird and need more recognition

  17. Folks, remember to ‘like’ videos. This is a dual purpose statement, because I’m reminding myself also. 🧠

  18. A muslim from Yemen says: thank you Mister Jordan so much as our prophet said once," those who are not thankful to people, are in fact not thankful to God" .

  19. Jordan Peterson has changed my life. I am now on the cusp of a six-figure employment contract and woman love me. Thanks for suggesting Crime and Punishment and The Brother Karamazov, I read them and they had a profound impact on me too. Man I love this dude.

  20. @1:18:43 Highly Open people in his practice, who are smart and self critical to the point of nihilism, and the solution

  21. @58:15 Introducing the representation of the Hindu goddess Kali,
    @59:09
    @59:26 Making Sacrifices to gods (What does it mean? Why did ancient people do it?)

  22. the dream about the baby falling into pieces signifiying the boy isnt a baby any more reminds me of a dream i had about my dog when she was growingout of the puppy phase and she broke into puppy pieces too , it scared the hell out of me , i finally understand it , thanks doctor . jbp

  23. I'm very happy that the resentment I felt which prodded me to produce my video concerning legislation around the DSM-5 has at last abated…

  24. https://youtu.be/wLc_MC7NQek?t=6842

    That's some Lord Henry Wotton stuff! I wonder if there's a chain directly from Wilde through Jung to Peterson. However it's more likely that Peterson read Wilde. Or that he found it elsewhere…

  25. Strange that Stalin is so admired for his brutality while people who have done everything in their power for worldpeace doesn´t get nearly the same kind of attention in worldhistory.

  26. How amazing it is that we can watch this online for free from any part of the world. Him not getting this online would've been a real waste. His lectures need to be seen by millions, they're really interesting and he's giving his all delivering them.

  27. I always listens to these lectures when at work or walking to and from work. I really appreciate the vast knowledge that I accumulate for free. Education should be digitalised and not only be avalible for university students. Thank you Jordan🤗

  28. Its incredible that without hearing this lecture, I have followed the heroic road discussed here which funnily enough culminated in the ayahuasca experience! Everything Pr. Peterson says has resonated with my journey so far. Incredible and stupefying at the same time.

  29. Thank you so much Jordan Peterson for putting these videos on youtube. I've always been curious about the human mind. I chose to become an engineer so until now I've never looked at psychology in much depth. However I have previously had very little respect for the field of psychology and as such seldom came across or bought any literature. I'd never have come across this or anything like it were it not on youtube where I would stumble across Peterson and his work. I hope your success continues.

  30. This :: Points-up :: is THE REASON I so adore the Internet…
    People from all over the world, sharing thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams, facts and insanity…
    Mr. Peterson shines above most of us simple humans. For that, I feel a sense of hope for our species!
    Thank you for sharing!

  31. Apparently, I am not a usual Peterson fan 1. mature female 2. left wing 3. intelligent 4. reasonably well educated hahaha….. they will say anything to discredit him and take him down. I think he is one of the most influential thinkers of our time and I am having a blast binge watching and reading everything he has to say. So suck eggs to all who would silence him and all power to those
    who would like to explore the world alongside him.

  32. Сталин. Борьба за абсолютную власть.

    https://galinapop-russia.blogspot.com/2014/04/blog-post.html

  33. The single-most interesting talk I've ever listened to. The good doctor really should get off the talk circuit and get back to the classroom. He's an excellent teacher, but he may need the framework of planning a curriculum to organize his thoughts. If he keeps recording his lectures free for everyone to watch, humanity wins a little.

  34. F*** you Google Voice to Text translator f**** garbage. All I wanted this f**** piece of s*** translator to say is that Jordan Peterson makes a lot of f**** money and so he's able to keep a hot wife oh, he also uses his psychology to keep the relationship balanced but that's still not enough he has to take psychotropic drugs, if you was in a healthy relationship his mate would be helping him through the stressful times and not have to rely on the crutch of experimental psychotropic drugs that mess with the chemical balance of your brain and basically make you crazy. Cheese's f*** sakes so much you can say so simply but he has to constantly and persistently demonstrate that you can utilize some of the most weirdest 12-letter words to show how smart he is. And he is very crafty and smart as it continues to focus on symptoms and his religion of symptom ology rather than getting to the root cause of societal social problems, and that is diminishing economic freedoms in the absence of sound money which are the two key ingredients is in determining our misery index. Some know how hard was it to say that? There you go now you know the source of all societal problems. Finishing economic freedoms and absolute absence of sound money

  35. 1:21:39 J.P. channels Dennis Hopper … "You got to get used to it man, cause you can't live in this world otherwise."

    Dr. Peterson's ability to literally and/or metaphorically look you in the eye and make a human connection to drive a point home is one of his greatest gifts. He had a moment on Theo Von's podcast where he is discussing alcoholism in a way that every active alcoholic should hear. I had been sober for some time when I heard it, but it's something that really resonates… because it's the truth, and that's one thing that people who are in distress really need. Jordan Peterson is making a difference in this world. In a good way.

  36. It's funny, watching this is really interesting & entertaining, if I was in his course knowing that any of it could be crucial to passing I don't think I'd enjoy it.

  37. I have confronted the unimaginable….finding my oldest daughter dead. She'd been dead some 30-40 hours, alone (she was 28, my firstborn). It's been over three years…I was seized and pulled down into the maw he talks about …these lectures help understand my helplessness and confronting chaos….I just hope to emerge someday. Been rough. Nothing will ever be the same again, and the "future" has become a foreign concept. I guess I share in hoping a morsel of hope or insight or support might ensue.

  38. me: You grew up watching lots of movies..
    Mr Peterson: They were books and novels.
    me: well okay. umm…..
    Mr Peterson: NO, NOT WELL OKAY.

  39. I think what made me enjoy these vids the most, aside from having what I thought was the onset of psychosis put into context (via Jungian inspirations), is that it very much reminds me of those Royal [something] lectures that came on the telly around Christmas time in England. Everything from the theme music to the general feel.
    I used to watch those with my father, who passed when I was around 20 years old… I find it hard to remember the exact date. It was sudden; a result of a road traffic collision – always watch for motorbikes, people. My father was a responsible road user, but accidents still happen. Sometimes you can do everything right (even with advanced motorcycle training) and still "buy the farm" by the actions of a third party.
    ~
    Anyway…
    I've since moved on to listen to John Vervaeke's work more atm, and Daniel Schmachtenberger, but will still come back to Peterson, now and then.
    Anyway, there's no benefit to sharing this info really, other than to share a little warmth, maybe.

    Cheers!

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