Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Curing a Disease of Consciousness

Four hundred years of unflagging racism in America is a disease of consciousness.  It cannot be legislated out of existence, it cannot be scolded, condemned, preached to, or punished out of existence. None of that will cure the disease of racist arrogance and hatred that caused the holocaust of Native Americans and enslaved Black people to lay the foundation of the American empire.

How to cure a disease of consciousness?  How to rise from paranoia to metanoia?
Images, not abstract arguments, shock the nervous system, jolt the conscience and awaken consciousness.   Case in point: The incredible image of four cops, three watching with approval, the fourth squeezing the life out a black man who’s saying he can’t breathe.

A new perception, a new awareness is needed, not just new laws, new economic opportunities, and less policing.  They’re all essential, but what we really need is a change of heart and consciousness, a more sensitive lens of human awareness.  A new worldview.

Our everyday consciousness is so narrowly riveted, so contracted by our needs and fears, we can’t see the humanity of others, and all our technical proficiency is not the same as human sensitivity.

The poet-philosopher Friedrich Schiller wrote a book called The Aesthetic Education of Humanity that speaks to us today.  His thesis was that aesthetic education is especially needed to humanize people, especially politicians.  Cultivating the more refined mental faculties would help prevent the lower instincts from overriding our better angels.

Schiller was right to call attention to the arts and their modes of magic.  The hope was that the arts would evolve our capacity to feel and enter into the different worlds of different people.  Our technical, money-worshipping culture operates on the opposite principle, which is to manipulate human reality with one absolute ideal: profit—and more profit.

The only thing I can imagine saving us from the catastrophic results of living out the premises of the reigning techno-capitalist ethos is a revolution of perception. It has to make a difference in how we experience the world.  A difference in the quality of our awareness.

A revolution of perception would be non-violent.  As such it would be the opposite of Donald Trump ‘s fascistic inclinations to “dominate” all his foes, which are legion.  In the interest of fairness,  let’s measure Trump’s worldview against criteria that all sane, decent human beings are bound to honor and respect: truth, justice, and beauty.

It’s not easy trying to imagine the inside of Donald Trump’s mental world—his worldview, and therefore his perception of reality.  Using the criteria cited above—truth, justice, beauty—it’s frightening trying to imagine the architecture of Trump’s inner world.  We know that all living things have some kind of inner life, there is something it is like to be a bat or Donald Trump.

Now, when we try to imagine the inside of Donald Trump’s mind, the result can be disconcerting.  There is no place inside that bizarre region of mental space touched by, or glimmering with, any of the common icons of human value.

As for truth, that pillar of common humanity, it’s totally absent.  The entire planet knows that Donald Trump is a pathological liar. Experts from all fields (journalists to psychiatrists) have documented his daily atrocities against truth in withering detail.

As far as justice, I personally doubt if Donald Trump’s sense of justice is any keener than an average orangutan’s.  How likely is it that a man who lies so brazenly and spontaneously can be trusted as a person with a lively and disciplined sense of right and wrong?  A raft of psychiatrists concur that Trump is a malevolent narcissist.  I doubt if the records will ever show that Trump performed any act as president motivated strictly by his sense of justice. 

Finally, to connect the concept of beauty with Donald Trump’s inner life is beyond me.  On the contrary, Trump embodies the archetype of the ugly American in a wonderfully stunning fashion.  We can thank the man for providing us with an image of everything we need to abolish in American life.



Richard said...

That is arguably Trump's role, to provide a mirror of America's shadow side. On top of that Covid provides a much-needed dose of reality into the the USA (and the world's) ego. Facts and figures about Covid deaths can't be avoided. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the nations with the highest death rates have pathologically egotistical (narcissistic) 'leaders' (Trump, Bolsanaro, Johnson). Google 'magical thinking narcissism' (but ignore anything by Sam Vaknin, an extremely psychopathic individual and star of the documentary 'I, Psychopath', who presents himself as an expert on narcissism. Unless you want to go down a rabbit hole).

Check out 'goodmarriagecentral (dot) wordpress (dot) com, written by a very spiritual therapist who wrote a chapter in the book 'The dangerous case of Donald Trump'. She explores Trump's pathology and role in America's pathology.

Lobaczewski, (also very spiritual), and author of 'Political Ponerology' wrote that those who see reality most accurately are those most connected to the realities of life (e.g. farmers, peasants). And that the best way to get rid of national egotism is for individuals to be forced to see reality for what it is - he suggested the 'Peace Corps' could provide such a role.

Racism is probably a manifestation of the 'other' (scapegoats / the rejected shadow side that we don't want to see e.g. our own threatening dangerousness that we deny) as well as a blocking out of inconvenient truths (we've done this race wrong). Facing up to inconvenient truths is probably the best way to get rid of racism e.g. an accurate view of history, as well as allowing genuine Afro-Caribbean, Native American, Aborignal and other voices to speak center stage on a regular basis in the media.

Michael Grosso said...

Thank you Richard for this informative comment.

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