so, continuing the theme of wayward links and sundry fellow travellers, it’s good to consider the dimension which we might call ‘spiritual’, which I increasingly think is an obscurantist and unhelpful term and perspective, or the meditative/cognitive, which is not tremendously better, but at least more clear. As a ridiculously quick yet at least somewhat cogent aside, the more I study western philosophy, the more I get the horrible sensation that a lot of the western discourse on enlightenment, as imported in the form of buddhism or vedanta, is badly recapitulating the work of early modern philosophers like david hume, and getting utterly mired in the ditch of metaphysics and cognitively meaningless gibberish. I defy anyone to read something like hume’s treatise of human nature alongside almost any enlightenment text you care to name, and see which one describes our moment to moment experience more clearly. Much of what’s being peddled out there, is the would-be enlightened getting lost in the weeds of what are known as the corruptions of insight. From Plato on down, western culture has been grappling with questions more devastatingly real and obvious than most gurus or teachers would dare tell you, we just don’t do it consciously that much.

Which I suppose actually leads me back on track, because what I wanted to talk about was the toll taken in the form of what I will call ‘insight casualties’ to coin another category to go with our ‘doomer fatigue’ from last time. In some ways they are actually sides of the same coin. If they are not the same thing, they are at least closely related. Insight casualties are more from introspection than outward premonitions of doom, and tend to follow a characterstic pattern best described in the stages of insight of vipassana, but appear in similar forms in many traditions, even something as banal as kubler-ross’s stages of grieving. It’s about how the mind processes and eventually transcends identification and loss of identification with its own contents, or all of our experience basically. The doomer tends to experience this as outward instability and the insight casualty as inward destabilization of the sense of self. One can easily see how these can go together and often do. The main difference is that doomers are often at least partly grounded in a hard analysis of objective facts, and this is what brings on the distress, while the insight afflicted get into trouble from a reflective self-observation that many doomers will simply lack.

The other main difference with the insight casualty is that there is an explicit exit to this situation, or at least, periodic exits that come from fruitions, paths, or peak enlightenment experiences. That is, if your practice is well-articulated enough for you to find the exit, which it frequently isn’t, often for the reasons I’ve described above. I cannot tell you how many chronic dark night meditators are wandering down blind alleys of impenetrable bullshit and deepening in the identity of spiritual basket case, or even worse, projecting their inner disorientation and distress onto the world, but it’s a lot. There is the odd person who manages to find their way out of this rat maze and if their internet presence was tied into their period of rat-mazery, one can easily see why these folks would just as soon drop that shit and move on. So whether you’re up and out or down in the ditch and simply non functional, I’m willing to bet this accounts for more than a couple missing voices. Since some of these I would consider my friends and collaborators, I will tactfully not name names, but you know who you are, and you probably even know which category you’re in, better than I do, anyway.

2 thoughts on “broken links II

  1. Thats a devastatingly accurate breakdown there. Oh to find that blue pill.

    My anecdotal view is from that of a consumer rather than producer of links. I’d guess the nature of the casualties in the consumer class is even more grotesque than the producers. Lots of consumers turning over rocks we ought not turn over, consumed by chaos out there. If I didn’t have a young son to hold onto or have a family member who ate a bullet long ago, I don’t know how my inability to find an escape hatch would have turned out. (spoken as if I’m no longer rat)

    I have forgotten how or what it was that crossed me over into the space where I know I will never be able to think as simply as I did before, now intending better actions, lest I find them compelled. Its all blurred now. I crapped my pants in ’08 and was effected financially like everyone else. Today I’m significantly better off financially and our company is significantly stronger, facing less risk. But the despair, goddam the despair. So wtf to do.

    I think this dude sums up pretty well the weight coming down as we are all confronted by collapse in our own personalized way. Which has a cumulative effect. Its a matter of time right? You can only ignore the intuitively obvious for so long before dissonance wins out.

    And there is an uncanny level of cross pollination in the spiritual/insight and doomer/occupy camps. Almost indistinguishable at the base level of despair they channel. My path led me to postmodern christianity where Peter Rollins weaves Zizek into his raps as well as any occupier or maybe even Zizek himself. Maybe I’ be swallowed one too many gigabytes of Terence McKenna but all paths do seem to be converging.

  2. I appreciate what you are saying here. In some ways I regret not having started blogging years ago, but in other ways I understand the feeling-tone of those times was much more the ‘rat maze’ than these days. I have a good sense of the atmosphere of the rat maze. In some senses, it was fun. But for the most part it was characterized by anxiety and acidic doubt. I used to like to tell myself it was part of my ‘secret’, what set me apart, but now I realize it is just the opposite. I wore down my body with injuries that accumulated and I accomplished much less than I could have in the same span of time had the abiding I felt the lack of been present.

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