Heroes

I quoted blogger Tim Boucher back in 2010 in this blog.

The link in that post to Tims page is only available on the Wayback Machine.

I dug it up today as I was thinking of mentors and heroes. I look back and see how admired them, I fell in love with some and idolised some. I still do! They are all different, they teach different things some are enemies of the other. I’m thinking of them as people I have learned from. Mentors might be the right word.

I still like what I wrote:

“I like to think I am not into having heroes but most of these from tb are my heroes. I’d add a few: J.L. Moreno, James Hillman, Jim Rough, Karl Marx, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Kurt Vonnegut, Peter Pinney… of course they are all a bit flawed, but that is where the light gets in… I’ll add Leonard Cohen, and there are a lot of non-famous real people who have had a bigger impact!”

And Tim replied:

“it’s not that your heroes need to be perfect, so much as it helps to have ideal images after which to model oneself. its a lot easier to build a car if you know what a car looks like, how it feels, how it operates!”

I’ll make a list, with some quotes and links. Maybe in rough chronological order of then coming into my life. I’ve begun the list!

Wisdom is not Consciousness

Skills, knowledge, spontaneity, intelligence, creativity and wisdom are not consciousness.

 

Easily and often confused. Consciousness raising, so effective in the 70s brought with it the idea that learning and education developed consciousness.  Maybe the miss-use of the word began with Marx?  Class consciousness, does he even use that word?  If he did he did not mean that it could be developed by reading books or classes alone.  Learning comes through experience. Why is using the word consciousness now in the 2010’s a problem?

Hmmm, bear with me…  I’m exploring something.

People do not have higher or lower levels of consciousness. People have skills and abilities including the ability to warm up to spontaneity and creativity. People learn things in practice.  Experience and relationships build ethical wisdom. Discrimination can be taught. Spontaneity can be trained.

To learn, people need relationships, access to teachers and books and crazy people ( typo) I meant craft people.  Being around people who can sing, converse, act, make things, helps people learn. Generous people who share what they know are real teachers.

Action, involvement, engagement, immersion and courage to act and to make mistakes is how people enrich themselves and others. Out of action we get knowledge and ideas. Action first reflection second. Collaboration and interaction before contemplation.  All of this makes us wiser.

Wisdom is not consciousness, it is attained through practice and living. Consciousness is a mysterious quality of knowing we are alive and exist. We just know it, but it is a mystery.

Becoming more able, relational, effective and wise is less mysterious, it takes access to good teachers.  Courage to act. Willingness to seek advice. Ask questions. Discrimination. Love

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This is a simple ideal I’m trying to express. Dewey, Marx, Moreno all promoted action learning. Experiential learning.   Now more than ever the dominant culture works to keep us passive, ignorant, isolated.  Consciousness, higher, lower, altered, psychological, even radical, by any name is individual, private, personal.

~

One of the reasons I’m exploring this line of thinking is that there are plenty of movements that promote the idea that if 10% (or whatever) of people reached some sort of higher state of consciousness then the world would be fixed.

It is more dialectical than that.

We are in process and as the world changes, we change.  Action by action.  Not only thought by thought.

Wisdom

Snapped that off my Kindle – it is a chapter title half way into Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral – by Mary Doria Russell –  Amazon

I thought, wow that is well worded. Google:

“So on they fought like a swirl of living fire –
You could not say if the sun and moon still stood secure,
So dense the battle-haze that engulfed the brave
Who stood their ground to defend Patroclus’ body.”

Book 17, Illiad

Their filthy heart

“The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws.  That’s just the way it is.  This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last.  You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake.  Love is something different.  Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart.  Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate.  Love is hard.  Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.”

 

This is an internet thing, everyone quotes it.  Attributed to The Great Kamryn whoever she is.  Famous it seems for this one quote.  Or is there more to it?  Maybe in some library of physical docs?

Anyway, I like it.

Invisible threads

http://inthemessy.com/tag/advent/

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”

The space between is invisible – we can only talk about it in metaphor e.g. “broken heart”, “bound together”, “muddy path” and here as “sympathetic fibers”. Not only do we use metaphor, we can use images and symbold – rings, hearts. And in psychodrama we have the simple act of concretisation: place people or objects at a distance to show where they are in your life. Distance becomes visible and conveys meaning.

The quote above from https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500800.Henry_Melvill (not the Moby Dick man) seems to be saying that our actions can live after us and multiply. Then come back as karma. And then impact everyone. Be careful what you say and do it can reverberate into the future.

I think of this as Moreno’s sociometric matrix. Sympathetic is a nice word there with its roots in symphony – all the parts of the network working together.

The network of course is a physical metaphor for something unseen, the space.

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Background

http://melvilliana.blogspot.co.nz/2011/09/finest-thing-herman-melville-never-said.html

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Lenin used the concept often

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/7thconf/24c.htm

All humanity is thrown into a tangled bloody heap from which no nation can extricate itself on its own. Though there are more and less advanced countries, this war has bound them all together by so many threads that escape from this tangle for any single country acting on its own is inconceivable.

Community-Based Research: Creating Evidence-Based Practice for Health and Social Change

This is an interesting and valuable paper and link to kindred spirits. Something to integrate into my long paper on methodology.

http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001388.htm

Community-Based Research: Creating Evidence-Based Practice for Health and Social Change

Marcia Hills, R.N., Ph.D.

Jennifer Mullett, Ph.D.

Community Health Promotion Coalition
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, Canada

Paper presented at the Qualitative Evidence-based Practice Conference, Coventry University, May 15-17 2000.

Evidence-based practice usually refers to gathering quantitative data upon which to base decisions about what constitutes effective or efficient practice or what is sometimes referred to as “best practices”. The authors argue that, when gathering evidence about practice concerning people in communities which is often the case in the health sector, different evidence is needed and, consequently, different methodologies and methods for collecting that evidence must be used. In this context, the notion of basing practice on evidence raises the question “what do we accept as evidence upon which to base our practices that involve people in communities?”

Identity

I recall a social work teacher I had saying the main purpose of the training was to develop the professional identity of a social worker. I liked that idea. Especially once I saw that as a social worker I embraced a set of values, a body of literature and a community of practice. We valued a social systemic rather than individual approach, this meant seeing the world in quite a different way to, say doctors whose only systems were the human biological ones, who could make individual diagnosis but not social ones. Even better it distinguished us from psychologists, who adapted the medical model to the psyche, enviously creating a system of diagnosis based on the medical one.

Maybe it was a good thing at the time. There were variations on the theme, there were Christian social workers who I did not identify with and radical social workers who I did identify with. This blurred the edge between personal and professional identities. My family was not strong on identity. Atheist/Agnostic Dutch/Australian, humanist left rather than right. I must have craved a more defined identity as my first forage into this realm was to be able to say ‘I am a bushwalker”. In Sydney at the time, for me it had an almost religious existential meaning. Value words included intrepid, nature, hard, travelling light. It distinguished us from mere tourists, and I’m sure there are still people around who are part of that circle, and have let it define them to some degree. Now, 56 years later I retain some of these values. I trained first as a teacher but did no embraced the identity. Bushwalker softly morphed to mountaineer – but I saw it as an extension of my BW ID. Traveller was another extension I aimed to embrace, Peter Pinney style (See my blog post) but I was too much of a settler.

Philosopher, hippie, marxist were all on the journey. Now I’m writing a paper: “Being a Psychodramatist.” I don’t think I’ve landed in a fixed place. Identifying with groups and activities is one thing, belonging to a community is another, being conversant with a philosophy of life… All ok and maybe steps in the developmental pathway. As a trainer in psychodrama I want trainees to become psychodramatists, not just learn some techniques. To that end it is good to hold fast to a tradition and to embrace it. Not to cling to it, not to hide behind it. And the value in this particular tradition is that it is aware that the tradition is a conserve and that from a conserve we warm up to spontaneity and creativity. That is – from the old to the new.

Lynette Clayton wrote about the personality emerging from the roles we enact. Maybe it is also right to say that it emerges from the identities we embrace. Hmmm maybe the identities are things we discover in our selves, and then embrace. Over identification with a philosophy or group is a form of narrow mindedness, yet to be forever eclectic and skeptical is just confusing.

We need to develop an ego, personality, self, identity – all words, all useful especially in their respective philosophies. And there are stages of life for each.

In Erikson’s scheme

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erikson’s_stages_of_psychosocial_development

“The teenager must achieve identity in occupation, gender roles, politics, and, in some cultures, religion.”

Thankfully he adds somewhere that this phase can go on for many years. And it is also clear that in his scheme there are many identities, professional being just one of them.

I think I developed a stable professional identity, did not get there till well into my 30s though. I see it as a cluster: psychodramatist, psychotherapist, counsellor, philosopher. Within that identity there is a lot of scope as well:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Psychological Imperialism

Turns out Trump does not write his books.

In a way it does not detract from the pernicious psychological philosophy that is Trumpism.(I wrote about it here) He does not build his hotels either. And the ghostwriter Tony Schwartz, is now ashamed of his collaboration on the first book “The art of the Deal”. When I saw the list of book titles on Amazon by Tony Schwartz I assumed he was a perpetrator of the same philosophy – GCP – goal centred positivism, or psychological imperialism, or what Marx called idealism, the same standpoint a colleague called “The idolatry of quantitative methods in the teaching of psychiatry”. And I think maybe he was, maybe he still carries the dark seed.

But Tony Schwartz is more complex than just reading the titles suggests. Judging a book by its cover is a bad habit of mine. I still have not read one his books but I have listened to one of his talks on YouTube. It seems he understands one of the hallmarks of the “positive thinking” philosophy, the denial of the “shadow”. He even quotes James Hillman quite well on the need to embrace the shadow (though Hillman could not embrace his own). To accept what is, not just what you desire. He certainly is afraid of a Trump presidency.

Schwartz claims he wrote “The Art of the Deal”. I imagine that what is said in the Guardian is more the case: “In it he translated Trump’s coarse ramblings into charming straight talk”.

I have some hypothesis I’ll continue to investigate.

Schwartz attributes the problem with Trump to his “character”. He is a champion of the philosophy that Trump is a narcissist and a baddie. If he was a goodie then his positivism would be ok.

Trump is a victim at the success end of the American dream. He embodies ideology that is much larger than him, an ideology at the heart of the superstructure of the capitalist system. The rags to riches myth is meant to keep workers in their place, working hard, while they remain poor. Occasionally one of the rich believes the myth, that it is his own character that makes him rich.

Belief in being the biggest, the greatest, the best, the most successful etc. does “work” to some extent. I can imagine the US booming in the most crass and vulgar way, till it crashes and burns and maybe takes the world with it. It is not just Trump, he is the product of a system rotten at the core.