art, Buddhism, education, James Joyce, Jesus, Life, poetry, psychology, Relativity, spirituality
Holed up in a tiny motel north west of Calgary. Had a couple of beers in the hotel bar across the street all the time playing with things that our conversation set in motion. No goal in mind here except expression, except summarizing thirty years of self study, heartache, joy, laughter, solitude and loneliness, and learning.
Psychology as the rational end of a spectrum who’s other pole is pure spirituality. Either taken exclusively misses the point. I began over thirty years ago with liberal doses of Freud and Jung and immediately sensed that I was on to something. What an opening out is was for me! And yet with time I felt like I had hit a wall, gone as far as it could take me. And isn’t that an archetype, the following of a path as far as it will take one, and then certain soul’s taking that leap into the unknown, beyond the bounds? Joyce did it, and that is precisely what he is writing about in his books. But I’ve grown tired of my Joyce videos. The point beyond the books, back to Life, most people have entirely missed. It remains merely literature to them.
Freud’s limitations are easy to recognize. Jung’s a little harder, but no less there. Frankly, where it’s gone since those two, for the most part to a more rigorously scientific approach to the understanding of the chemistry of the brain and its nervous system, I haven’t followed. But from what I’ve seen and experienced I’d sum it up as a sharpening of focus on the understanding of pathology, of sickness, alongside an almost total ignorance or disregard for what is truly healthy, truly alive and involved in the flow of Life. For that, where are we to turn, but to the genuine artists and shaman types!
I am totally convinced and will work towards this end with my remaining years that we are on the cusp of something radically new, something never before elucidated.
So what, then, is it?
Well, up to now our Western form of learning, the stupendous broadening of humanity’s knowledge and indeed seeming command over nature, has been quite severely compartmentalized. Incredible advances have been made in each subject or field, but in the whole, in that which underlies or overrides each rigorously differentiated avenue of study, there’s been only tentative attempts. And what’s more, there is a natural resistance to such an approach in that the recognized leaders, the professors themselves are merely human, all too human. They are like Pharisees throwing up barriers, even lethal barriers, to a change which would overthrow their hard earned authority.
The subordination of the numerous categories and compartments lies at the heart of my frequently used phrase Life is ALL there is. Meaning Life being the only subject worth studying now, the one molten subject churning at the core of every other. Out of Life issues all that is, all thought, all idea, all system, all ways and expressions of life, all acts, all joys and all sorrows.
So I suppose what I am saying is we need throw out all systems, all ideas, all preconceptions and prejudices, all the words which subtly draw us back into the chains of the past which language unbeknownst to us reinforces.
As sort of a play on the Buddhas four golden rules I did a video on the Cafe’s Four Golden Rules.
One was Life is all there is. That’s all.
Two was, if Life is all there is then what exactly is Life? And I answered Life is nothing more or less than the ever ongoing flow from one generation to the next and onward and onward.
Three was that each species known and unknown was defined by how it accomplished the passing through from one generation to the next. Millions upon millions of species inhabit planet earth, though of course our fucked up activity of late is diminishing that number by the day, and each species is passing from one generation to the next in its own unique way, leading to what we see outside everywhere. Just a crazy concatenation of flowings moving forward and criss-crossing and feeding upon one another all in the grand game of generational flow. In India they call it Brahman for the totality of flow and Atman for each individual thread of flow.
And Omphalos Cafe Golden Rule number four was that humankind accomplishes that task, that flowing from one generation to the next, much like our closest cousins the great apes, in highly adaptive, communicative communities. And therein, as the great bard wrote, lies a great many tales. Indeed all tales ever told, and ever to be told.
I just finished reading a biography of Einstein. What he accomplished with his relativity we have yet to accomplish in the human, living realm. A humanistic relativity! An understanding that every expression known to us, art, writing, philosophy, every act, issued from individuals who were members of a specific human community. Specific in place and specific in time.
Now and then unique souls soared free of their bounded group and left a mystic record of what they awakened to. History is littered and enlivened with their leavings. Jesus was such a man, pulling himself free from the straight jacket that was his Jewish upbringing. And naturally the keepers of the straight jacket, the Pharisees, took part in his crucifixion.
And yet we tend to read all these venturers from our narrow perspective, from the limited bounds of our own Western culture which has pretty much spread its power and influence around the entire globe now.
Joyce too soared free. He didn’t leave us literature, he left us a pathway out of the labyrinth.
However, the labyrinth, as it always has, has evolved in the century since that Irish World Man.
So I’ll end this lengthy missive with the notion that it is us solitary voyagers, us shaman types willing to plum the depths of our own experience, willing to breast the waves of uncertainty and adventure who have something to give back to humanity as it gropes its way forward…. or back.
And humanity craves it, cries out for it!
A sports team can have all the talent and potential in the world but until the hero, the leader comes along around which it galvanizes, around which each individual discovers his own worth and potential, success will continue to elude it. It’s a magical happening. Something unexplainable passes through a group and makes of it an organic unit, almost like a living organism. And yet that too has a life span. The individuals grow old, some begin to think for themselves and put themselves before the group. The hero weakens, and yet sometimes he remains and even stands as a barrier to a new generation of heroes. The unity is lost and the championship team of yore slides back into the pack, to await new potential and perhaps a new galvanizing hero leader.
Or then there’s the miracle of a musical group such as the Beatles. Same process. Youth, adolescence, an awakening to adulthood, and then eventual dissociation. That undefinable thing that lifted it as a unit dissolves or dies.
We collectively are like such a team. Our civilization has achieved great and wondrous things, but that which was its driving heartbeat has died and what is left is a crass and materialistic chaos. “God is dead,” wrote Nietzsche, meaning precisely that. So it’s time to move on, as he did, only hopefully not as he did to go mad in his solitude.
How’s that for purposeless play?
I reread it and pronounce it ‘not bad.’ At present I feel my best writing is done with someone in particular in mind. I thank you for being that someone.
Take that into the world of psychology and then light the fuse!
It’s trite, but true: Best Wishes,
michael gregg said:
Hi Jeff, Greetings from Bristol, UK. I found your videos on YouTube a few months ago as I was contemplating my second reading of Ulysses. I first read it about 6 years ago. All of your videos completely hit the button with me, although I have been derailed from Joyce by other things at the moment. I really appreciate and value what you are saying in this email. I would be happy to reply with some thoughts at greater length but only if you will have time to read them. I hope you can let me know. In the meantime keep up the good work. I’m going to finish off “The most dangerous book” first. Its about the publication of Ulysses and is fascinating. Best wishes Mike
Hi Mike, I’d be happy to read what you have to say. But I will say this: if it is heavy on ideas, if it is infused with an agenda, if it comes from a person who can or has little more to learn because their cup is full with the few ideas into which he or she tries to shoehorn everything which comes within their narrow ken, then any correspondence will quickly go sour.
That’s not to discourage at all, but a great many people are closed and determine to impose their cramped little quarters on others. Here at the Cafe it is about seeking after those who strove to open things up, as I hope you’ve already gleaned from both blog and video.
So yah, bring it on, after all, emailing is or can be pure purposeless play!
And not to carry it on in the public sphere, though I won’t promise not to publish anything I write back, as I have done with this post, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,