[iDC] (no subject) - ethics. Fun in the Sun.

mlahey at artic.edu mlahey at artic.edu
Tue Jan 29 09:33:30 UTC 2008

Sorry to be breaking into a post addressed to someone else :)

The concept of illusion is something I find hilarious.  It goes back to the
slave history of Europe, in my totally not-humble opinion (hey we're talking in
English here, and I know that Aboriginal Australians don't invest heavy energy
into if what is going on is "real".  If it's going on, it's real.).

The tribal history of Europe gave way to a serf history.  This later gave way to
a balls-out, spiritual abyss of slave history when the culture migrated to
America.  Fun in the sun, folks.  The Inquisition reinforced it.  The
scientific Enlightenment shifted the slave metaphor to Nature (Francis Bacon,
founder of the scientific method).  

Have you ever seen the film "Once Were Warriors" about a contemporary Maori
family?  The wife accuses her husband of still being a slave.  He often
complains about the abusive slavery his ancestors experienced.  But she points
out that he's feeling sorry for himself because HE is still a slave, in his
mind.  He's a slave to his addictions.

Well, I would argue the point for Europeans as well.  The evidence is
everywhere.  Why did Europeans come up with the idea for calling their God
"Lord" - the title of a serf's master?  (I sure ain't praying to no Lord!  The
worst thing about church...having to intone “Thank you, Lord, for creating me”
like a dang robot!)  What is the meaning of the ubiquitous sexual fetish of
being abjected by a master, or dominating over someone cruelly?  Why is there
an excessive amount of emphasis placed on respecting superiors in an academic
hierarchy, even when you know their ideas are wrong, or when they are doing
something unethical?  That one kills me (and my grades, and my grant
applications).  At work or at play, one is meant to curry the egos of those who
have more power than you, not because you respect their craft or their ideas,
but because you want some of that nice power that they have.  You can even
convince yourself that you have respect for their ability to win power, thereby
upping your sincerity.

Well, that is very sad and all, but what does it have to do with illusion?

When the Master (speaking in the Jungian sense of archetypes) senses that the
Slave could become emotionally or materially independent from that relationship
- look out.  Well, the Master's job is to dominate, so naturally this Master
(male or female, any race, any ideology) will use all possible craftiness (in
the sense of Kraft, the German word for power or energy) to prevent that
independence from coming about.  

In many cases, that entails psychological battering, including the insinuation
that whatever the Slave believes will rescue him from the Master is "an
illusion".  And this is a very hard argument to refute, because the Slave's
independence is surely born of immaterial desires that are something very like
illusion indeed.

After something more than two thousand years of slave history in Europe, the
conviction that hope=illusion=fantasy=unreality is almost complete.  And one
can blow any idea straight to Oz by labeling it with that deadly label.

But what is it, exactly, that makes that label so deadly?  What makes is so
poisonous and lethal?  

The answer is not in the equation of the Master-Slave relationship.  The answer
cannot be included in that relationship because if the answer was permitted to
exist, then there would be some Kraft inherent to the Slave, and any power held
by the Slave inherently threatens the Master-Slave relationship.  So we write
papers which are analyses of choices which lie before us, cite the canon of
whatever field we are in, submit it to the journal which has the highest
standing that we have access to.  You see, we have gotten used to this
relationship.  The system has jogged into a nicely repeating pattern of
stability, and when it does that, it requires an enormous investment of energy
to change it.  Slaves are by definition disempowered.  That's why they often
choose not to disturb their relationship with the Master.  They conform to the
expectation that they will be sweet, kind, harmless.  They lick the Master's
knee, in a metaphorical manner of speaking, and they have an ideology and
experience to protect their right to do so.  The Slave identity has been more
than two thousand years in the making.  

The Vedas, in a system which is as different from our Science as English is to
binary, describe five layers to the human body.  The most superficial one is
the food body, and that is also the coarsest one.  The food body is your flesh
and bones which are made of food, but it also extends to the elements in your
daily life which are eventually incorporated into your body (extends to all of
the material world in other words).  There is the energy body, which is based
largely on the process of respiration and metabolism.  The mental body is
third, where ego, identity reside and where desire originates.  This is where
our manipulativeness, cleverness and Karma take place and is somewhat analogous
to the conscious mind.  The fourth body is the knowing body, where understanding
takes place, and is somewhat analogous to the subconscious mind.  The fifth
layer is the bliss body, which is what induces that euphoria when you

These layers house the Atman, the soul.  It is synonymous with the Brahman, the
universal consciousness.  Universal consciousness is the origin of all reality,
a formless state without characteristics of any kind.  This is the true nature
of a human being - Atman is a droplet of the great ocean of Brahman.   The
beauty of Brahman is that if consciousness is applied to Brahman, then it
manifests from this formless ocean of energy to create.  In other words, every
living being, but especially humans, have a droplet of unlimited creativity as
their soul.  And this is the power that the Master-Slave relationship can never
completely eliminate, even if the Slave *wants* to eliminate it!  

This is the hilarious nature of the word "illusion".  Because we create reality
using our consciousness, our reality which has been built up and reinforced
since the beginning of evolution by all the living beings which have ever
existed, may seem very solid to us, but it is still *created*.  Everything
which exists was created.  Every decision ever made was created.  THE MASTER
SLAVE RELATIONSHIP ITSELF WAS CREATED.  It is an illusion.  Countries are an
illusion.  Money is an illusion.  It is the energy and creativity which we
invest in them, that make them tend to become "real".  

There is one way to lie – rather than simply, innocuously “creating”.  That lie
is that the system is a priori, that it is not created!  (“Thank you, LORD, for
creating me”
)  The lie is that we do not have an inherent ability to change the
system materially or psychically.

If a Slave is attempting to escape from a master, all the entailed plots and
plans, meshed with hopes and dreams - in other words, the fertile compost of
human creativity - are a tiny bit of illusion, which becomes manifest through
the energy which is put into them.  We give the name "Love" to the tender work
of making something real.  Remember Pinocchio?

Community only happens when people make it happen.  You can call that illusion,
but that name belongs to a negative Master-Slave relationship that I would
rather not reinforce.  So I will call it creativity, or love.  Community is
when people call a certain state of living into being, where EVERY person, or
organism, or whatever living thing belongs.  No matter what.  Previously, I
think the word Gaia was dropped in this list.  Well, that's Gaia.  The
negotiation of THAT relationship is so complex that the folks data-mapping the
stock market simply can't wrap their heads around it and they never will.  Any
phenomenon dependent on community is so complex as to demand an intuitive
system of guidance.

We aren't going to need light speed rockets to travel the universe when the time
comes, just as bacteria didn't need cars to travel the earth.  They just got
together and formed a community (Mitochondria, anyone?  Now that was a coup,
getting *Mitochondria* to endorse the primordial soup community and swim into
our cells) and now they can travel the earth like crazy!

Remember, if the enemy gives you two options: take the third one.

Peace, baby.


Quoting Sal Randolph <salrandolph at gmail.com>:

> Hi Robert,
> That's a really intriguing quote from Ethics of Luxury, but I'm not  
> quite sure how to interpret it - can you offer a little more context  
> for those of us who don't have a copy of the book on hand just yet?
> > Randolph postulates community as a common illusion
> > produced by the exercise of imagination in ways that involve trust  
> > and a
> > shared ethics:
> I'd be particularly interested to know with what sort of tone or  
> valence she (and you) are using the word "illusion" here, and in what  
> way this illusion is thought to influence actions and realities.
> Personally I love Winnicott, especially for his notions of   
> transitional objects and transitional space - what I take from his  
> ideas is specifically that the "transitional" occupies a middle zone  
> between imagination and reality, a way for the two modes to meet and  
> transform one another.
> (For anyone here who isn't yet a Winnicott fan, the classic  
> "transitional object" is something like a child's blankie - a real  
> thing infused with the imaginary presence of another, for instance  
> the child's mother.  The blankie works for the child -- it feels  
> comforting, it can be thrown away and retrieved, played with, and  
> ignored -- precisely because both its real and imaginary properties  
> operate together).
> This implies that transitional spaces (for instance, art or play) are  
> pathways by which imagination (illusion?) can have an influence on,  
> can matter, in the real world (and vice versa).  Or to put it  
> differently, it's one way of thinking about how imagination can be  
> political.
> - Sal
> On Jan 18, 2008, at 11:30 PM, R Labossiere wrote:
> > I've just had the great pleasure of working on a book that tackles the
> > difficult question of ethics and creative production and would like  
> > to quote
> > a part of it (below) that I believe is particularly relevant to  
> > this thread.
> > The book, as I proofed it so many times, struck me as so pertinent  
> > not just
> > to the visual arts but particularly to our new media milieu. Jeanne
> > Randolph, the author, is an artist and psychiatrist. Informed by  
> > object
> > relations theory, Winnicott in particular, she conceptualizes the  
> > positions
> > of creators and artists in terms of ethics, while tackling the ornery
> > reality that our positions are fundamentally 'tainted,' by the  
> > reality of
> > superabundance -  luxury. Randolph postulates community as a common  
> > illusion
> > produced by the exercise of imagination in ways that involve trust  
> > and a
> > shared ethics:
> >
> > Randolph:
> >
> > "I continue the make-believe of a group of basically imaginative  
> > people, a
> > group formed on the basis of shared illusion of the experience of  
> > ethical
> > imagining (or, if this is really a new idea, a group formed on the  
> > basis of
> > the hypothesis that there is such a practice of ethical imagining).
> >
> > It would be our joy, whenever given the impetus primum non nocere  
> > [from the
> > hypocratic oath: before all else, do no harm], it would not be  
> > contradictory
> > to suppose that in our enclave of luxury:
> >
> > We would converse gladly;
> >
> > We would delight in curiosity;
> >
> > Certainly we would abhor objectification of any person anywhere;   
> > this would
> > include abhorrence of reacting to another person as a mere function  
> > of our
> > own agenda;
> >
> > Each of us would maintain equanimity about holding individual or group
> > power;
> >
> > We would never enforce judgments on the possible, to remove  
> > obstacles to
> > playfulness;
> >
> > If we witnessed someone(s) who rarely had the opportunity to  
> > participate in
> > situations like ours, our saddened response would include  
> > reconsideration of
> > the relevance of their situation to our enclave of luxury;
> >
> > After many conversations we might even come to believe that the  
> > illusory
> > experience we had conjured -- ethical imagining -- keeps us  
> > together even
> > while we are dispersed ... working in separate enclaves of luxury."
> >
> > - excerpted from Ethics of Luxury: materialism and imagination by  
> > Jeanne
> > Randolph  https://nt2.nshosts.com/yyzartistsoutletorg/books.asp? 
> > language=en
> >
> > Robert Labossiere
> > http://www.readingart.ca
> > http://www.robertlabossiere.com
> >
> >
> : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :
> Sal Randolph
> salrandolph [at[ gmail [dot] com
> http://salrandolph.com

More information about the iDC mailing list