8097150301_48d39d4b9c_bMatthew Thomas, Kyoto

This post was originally published at craftfollowsconcept.com

Introduction: This little piece is a lightly structured meditation on aspects of the past and clarification of intentions concerning the future.  It appends my previous statement of intent from four years ago (posted below).  Although there is some continuity of concern, specifically around the nature of the demands that playing a role or roles in society places on the individual actor, and some continuity of theory through the continued influence of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, hopefully there is some new material and new thinking as well.  I should acknowledge a debt to several writers whom I have read intensively over the past four years: most especially this piece bears the fingerprints of Carl Jung, James Hollis, and Dane Rudhyar, and many of the ideas here would not exist, or at least not be as fully articulated, without their assistance.  I should also acknowledge that I have been experimenting with different means of writing, different approaches to producing a text, and to the extent that anything herein bears traces of the spirit I can claim no credit.

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“I wanna dedicate this to someone out there watching tonight, I know she knows who she is.”

Bob Dylan, spoken introduction to “Oh Sister.”  From the bootleg record “Songs for Patty Valentine.”

Today I feel as if I stand at the edge of a new world.  The journey through early adulthood has drawn itself to a close, in stages, over the past several years, and I am alive to the fact that a new journey must now be set out upon.  In order to face any new journey properly, with intelligence and intention, we are called upon first to recognize the altered nature of the landscape we will make our way across in the new phase.

The longer I live, the more I understand the words of Ecclesiastes, “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.”  Each era of our lives, each season, sometime even each week or set of weeks, seems to take on a certain coloring and certain characteristics that differentiate it from what came before, just as each zone of time seems to require different things of us.  The strength of our intention and will, as well as the quality and effectiveness of our reactions and decision making, are forever put to the test in small ways, and large ones, and we are forced to define, if only to ourselves, the nature of our relationship to our surroundings, our community, our dharma, our fate.

When we are young, time seems to stretch on almost indefinitely.  The summer of my eighth year, for example, was experienced as a vast expanse of almost undifferentiated time; two or three weeks would pass in a barely conscious haze of biking around my parent’s property, hiking and collecting stones from quarries in the area, or sitting on the roof in the sun, a child in the flow of nature, without “problems” of his own.  Looking back on such a period today, it indeed has a coloring of a kind, and this coloring is so loaded with low-grade nostalgia and barely remembered circumstances that my memories exist not so much in the form of events, rather in the form of a “feel.”  I have a sense of what it felt like to be eight, a sense of the patterns into which life energy fell or was collected, pooled, also a sense of my budding interests, which would in time round into what we are pleased to call “personality.”  There was nothing specific that I was “up to,” and I never had the need to think more than a day or so in advance.  The expression of my energy was essentially aligned with the desires of my heart as much as at that age we can know these at all–or perhaps that is just the point, in a state of primitive unknowingness we are naturally and effortlessly aligned with the desires of our heart, and only when we begin to have to analyze or ask after these do we begin to lose connection with them.

As we grow, the process of socialization begins to crowd in on us, and no person, no personality, is wholly free from the pressures of socialization, of collective expectation, of the reactive categorizations and projections of the always slightly behind-the-curve zeitgeist.  Depending on our own type and manner of apprehending the world as it appears to us, we react and position ourselves in some relation to, at some angle toward, the categories and projections that surround us.  Indeed, both the conformist and the rebel define themselves in relation to and reaction to “the system,” and in many ways their respective positioning is far more similar than otherwise.  Dane Rudyhar makes this point clearly, as do, in more elliptical and elaborated terms, Berger and Luckmann.  Even those (myself for example) who purport or imagine to be able to live outside of collective expectations, to create their own life and write their own script, yet define themselves primarily through the categories that the zeitgeist makes available–it takes work, huge, lasting work, to even begin to transcend one’s era and circumstance in even the smallest part.

The first part of life is necessarily a struggle to find one’s footing in the swim of society, to demonstrate value, usefulness, and the ability to check whichever boxes one is asked to check.  Occasionally, we meet someone who in significant ways seems to have wrenched herself free of some of this static at an earlier age, but even such persons habitually define themselves in terms of existing categories and remain to some extent still a prisoner of them.  For most of us, the child turned young adult, buffeted by external events and demands, adjusts herself over a period of years by applying her core characteristics, tendencies, and abilities to the game as it seems to present itself, and in the process slowly relinquishes immediate touch with that inner voice that provided direction to the child of nature who knew instinctively what was and wasn’t good for her, what was and wasn’t desirable.

At the same time, the goals that one identifies for oneself in youth are not to be lightly dismissed.  They do often provide a symbol sufficient, to borrow Jung’s phrase, to drive libido up a gradient steeper than nature; one learns to accomplish “work,” and to appreciate both the material and ego-related satisfactions that comes from this accomplishment.  Jung says as much when he tells us that it is essentially heathy and necessary when a young person becomes “entangled with fate” which “(involves) him in life’s necessities and the consequent sacrifices and efforts through which his character is developed and his experience matured.”  This dance with fate leads us into a variety of positions and stances, some of which we may carry out with grace and ease, others of which require contortions which we preform without a clear sense of the relationship between the presented or required form and our ability to functionally engage with that form.

Under the pressure to make something of ourselves, to build a career, a business, an image, a body of work, to make more of time by trying to subdue it, we may come to feel that we have found the game, we are on the fast track, we are properly situated under the stage lights, playing the part as it is supposed to be played. Read the rest of this entry »

Matthew Thomas, Kyoto

This post originally published at craftfollowsconcept.com

Press Release:

Good evening.  I am here to introduce to you a new band.  You will always remember this evening, as you are the first audience to hear about the band, which will go on to shake the music industry to the core.  However, I’m sorry, I’m very sorry, but you will not be hearing from the band this evening.  They are very busy preparing for the possibility of contemplating their first show, which you will hear about in a few minutes.  At that time, you will be given a inside tip about how to score FREE TICKETS for this gig, but first I should explain the membership arrangement of the band, as it is a bit special.  The band is a trio consisting of two humans and a third member, a “third term”, which is referred to as “the floating concept.”  The floating concept triangulates the members and makes the band structure as we know it possible.  The band structure is therefore equivalent to a trinity.  Without the floating concept, the band would spill apart in a matter of hours due to its own frivolity and according to the second law of thermodynamics.

Who are these band members, you will want to know?  Of course you do.  When something this special, this fresh, this frankly white hot, comes along it draws all eyes.  Well, I can let you in on this much–the members are multi-talented young artistes on the cutting edge of fashion who are even as we speak enacting the first true artistic theory of the 21st century.  They are considering and arranging all aspects of their performance, except those aspects that relate to the music to be played.  There is a reason for this–the band can play no music, owns no instruments, and is in no hurry to learn their craft.  They are instead, busy, very busy, honing their CONCEPT,  Just as night follows day, and form follows function, the band believes, as its only tenant of belief, that craft follows concept (twitter hashtag #cfc).

Now, with the three members in place, is there room for more, you may ask.  Yes indeed.  In fact the band is actively recruiting a fourth member, and the position is wide open.  There are some conditions on this member, however.  First, the fourth member must be a woman, a female.  Second, she must be gorgeous and bewitching.  (For the time being, in advance of her arrival, we shall refer to her as the  “background term.”  Upon her arrival, the band will, momentarily, become a quaternary.)  Third, and crucially, she must break up the band almost instantaneously upon joining it.   There are no other conditions.

Now, you will be eager to know when and where the band will be playing as the break up of the band could occur at any time, in the blink of an eye, and is entirely at the mercy of the bewitching female, the eternal anima.  Fortunately, plans for the band’s first gig are already well underway.  The band will be convening in March of 2014 in Boracay, just 11 months from today, to discuss its next move.  At this point we are thrilled to be able to announce that in Boracay the agenda point of a concert or live event of some kind IS a distinct possibility.  In short, a performance concept MAY be discussed.

What that performance might look like is currently a matter of the highest secrecy not to mention massive uncertainty.  After all, as I am sure you will agree, the first true artistic theory of the 21st century, the theoretical descendant of surrealism, pop art, and the theater of the absurd, needs some little time to germinate.  It cannot be rushed.  However, there is some information that we are prepared to release tonight.  First, initial scouting has been undertaken on the island of Gibraltar, and very tentative discussions are being undertaken with representatives of the Zimbabwean government regarding possible locations.  At present, we are referring to these as “Plan A,” and “Plan B.”  In the event that either Plan A or Plan B materializes, you will be able to score FREE admission by simply attaching yourself to the flash mob which will storm the venue precisely 20 minutes after the band takes “the stage.”  In order to join the flash mob, you will simply need to locate third member of the band, the floating concept, who will be leading the mob.  Please be aware that the floating concept IS floating, and therefore by definition is subject to frequent re-definition and re-nominalization.   In other words, by the time the third term reaches this putative future time/space conjunction it may well be styling itself as something entirely other.

There is a Plan C.  Plan C will be referred to as “Plan C.”  Plan C is cancelation.  In the event of cancelation, the concert/event will be simulcast across all platforms for viewing in the comfort of your own home.

I know that at this point you will be salivating to know more, that you will already be scouring the internet for more information about the band and its concept.  What we can say is, anything you might read online is the purest of speculation.  The band does not leak, in fact it does not even hold water.  From an atmospheric point of view, however, the band is currently working under the following umbrella, and I quote:

“The new girl in Tahoe has swallowed Sinatra’s c**/ A Russian primadonna dances slow on valium/ After the game the benchwarmer can’t get a ride/ in space there is no center/ we’re always off to the side

Guinnevere orders one more beer in the smokey pick-up bar/ A burnt out tramp by the exit ramp waits for one more car/ The Latin teacher always smells like piss/ The census figures come out wrong/ there’s an extra in our midst.”

An extra?  A fifth member?  Is that a leak?  Does the band leak?  Does it, after all, hold water?

Come and see, follow us across all social media platforms at#cfc and craftfollowsconcept.com, tell your family, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, don’t tell a soul. The telos of the art world is about to be revolutionized, about to jump the shark, run rampant, build its own contingent, its own motherf***ing army.  Follow the band, tap into the excitement come and see a legend while it’s still being made!  Ladies, gentlemen, I give you, THE BAND.

487865889_9a402efd36Matthew Thomas, Kyoto

This post originally published at jungianintimations.wordpress.com

Dream: The night of December 31, 2012, long dream about climbing Mt. Everest.  This third Everest dream was very different from the first two.  First, I was at a school and then climbed up a small opening, kind of a snowy slit barely big enough to fit through.  There were some basketball games going on and I planned to be back in 20 minutes or so.  Therefore, the school was probably my high school.  At first, the slit was just itself, but then Everest loomed up over me to my left.  I entered the frame, from the left.  Everest was enormous, black, and composed of huge blocks of ice-like mini-mountains such that it was difficult to discern where the actual peak was, or the possible way up.  I was all alone and it seemed to be dawn, then two figures sleeping on the ice in orange suits started to stir.  They arose and then there were 20-30 more, mostly kids led my two overweight men.  We all spilled down to a kind of small clearing that may also have been a breakfast space.  The men explained that they could take the group only to 11’000 feet, no higher.  There was some disappointment, not much.  Everyone looked very well outfitted, except the speaker who was plump and wearing a kind of jersey.  This group went away and there were other climbers, one or two of whom I spoke to.  It all started to take a rather long time and I knew I would be late getting back.  I started to head back up to the ridge that would lead back to the slit, but realized that I had forgotten a shoe in the clearing.  Eventually I got back to the ridge with the shoe, looked up, and saw what was probably Everest’s peak.  It was rounded and covered in black ice.  It looked very far away, although at one point in the dream, perhaps before, I had analyzed what looked like a viable path toward the top.  Back at the snowy slit, I ran back down it at full speed, cheerfully.

First Interpretations: The Everest dream is the third in a series.  The first Everest dream I climbed Everest overnight.  It took about 12 hours.  Everest was covered in asphalt and climbing it was a breeze.  The second one I was with my son.  We did not get to the top, and the mountain was somewhat more realistic, craggly with ravines.  There were shops alongside the ravine we were climbing made of wood and we ate there and also climbed around through the shops that were all connected and made up a kind of maze.  There was no pressure to get to the top, lots of climbers on the mountain.  In this most recent one, Everest was at its most interesting and symbolic.  It was massive and loomed above me with presence.  It was to be revered, feared, awed.  The access is interesting as well–the slit almost like a birth canal, covered back over itself and very narrow.  Then, it opened unto another world entirely.

Impressions: The birth canal to a spiritual world.  Most people, even well equipped, cannot go above 11’000 feet (you can do this in a day hike).  Also, 11 could signal the 11th house, with the 12 house of mystery being difficult to access.  I could make out the top, but didn’t have the time and wasn’t equipped just now.  Still, it was an honor to have been there, and I came back exhilarated.

imagesMatthew Thomas, Kyoto

Original to Gemini Kid

Out on the town the other evening, our dinner was joined by a colleague who had been in a high position at my office about 4 years ago before being transferred to the central corporate body (university) where he was assigned to the events section, a section which, in practice, takes care of a lot of miscellaneous, relatively minor, activity.  I had seen him in this capacity when a delegation from my office visited a two-day conference in Tokyo.  He was one of the people checking the attendance of attendees from our corporate body, a nearly totally superfluous task.  He had experienced, as they say, a sideways move; a form of demotion for those who have moved high enough in the organization to be beyond strict demotion.

When I had seen him in this capacity, he had struck me as almost totally neutered; someone who had surrendered himself so entirely to the required form of his role that almost no personality, no being, remained.  A mannequin of ritual bowing and clipboard checking.  I wondered what it had been like for him to come to terms with his utter lack of necessity to the organization; wondered how one processes and balances whatever ambition had driven him to his original post with the terrifyingly banal judgment of the sideways move.  At least with a proper demotion, a stripping of title, a firing, one may take consolation from a specific failure to meet what is required, one can, if one wishes, reflect, learn, move on.

At dinner, his behavior was deeply at odds with the person I had last seen, indeed with his whole professional demeanor as I had known it.  He had shaved his head.  He spoke loudly and aggressively.  He nodded over-confidently, conferred the benefit of his agreement arrogantly.  He appeared to have been drinking earlier in the evening.  I also learned that he had been transferred yet again, this time to Sapporo, the far north, a land where labor is in demand and the employer not all that picky.

I wondered, and was not able to find out, what the nature of his position there was.  Another sideways move, almost certainly, but was it one that conferred the dignity of an outwardly impressive-ish title?  Or was he simply buried, entering that category of employee who is shuffled around the organization, taking four postings in eight years, a box filled at the end of the day by HR?  I liked to think the latter, not out of malice but in support of a micro-theory: that he had simply given up “behaving;” that his move north had freed him of the need to “maintain expressive control” (Goffman, 1959, p.51) so as to present the acceptable front or performance required by the atmospheric tonalities of the central corporate body.  Appearance transformed quite dramatically by his shaved head, his behavior at dinner was still banal, but in just the opposite manner of his earlier banality.  Two sideways moves in four years had juttered loose the remaining vestiges of his professional dignity and he had simply shed the learned social sheen required for those who would scale the organization ladder.  So I theorized, in any case.

Two notes; i) The sideways move is an under-investigated phenomena, worthy of deeper study.  What happens to people moved sideways, once, twice, three times?  Does this even happen much these days, or do such people fall victim to lay offs?  What should organizations do, if anything, to motivate the sideways shifted employee?  ii) In the first paragraph above, I describe the events section as dealing with minor matters.  This is in no way to suggest that events are of minor importance.  Rather, the way that events are considered and integrated in most organizations relegates them to mostly minor status.  The event may be sold and re-sold–it may be central to the branding of the organization, the centerpiece of the year–but too often the operation of the event is left to inertia and bureaucracy, especially if it has been run before.  This is a tragedy of great depth, as the event has the ability to transport participants out of the realm of the mundane and drop them into a field of transcendence and timelessness as deep as it is temporary.

15683455_b1fc405d34Matthew Thomas, Kyoto

This post was originally published at jungianintimations.wordpress.com.

Volume I of Jung’s Collected Works is titled Psychiatric Studies, and begins with his dissertation, “On the Psychology and Pathology of the So-Called Occult Phenomena.”  The editor’s preface to Volume I characterizes the dissertation as reflecting “simple descriptive research,” while acknowledging that many of Jung’s later concerns are foreshadowed herein (vi). In our posts on Volume I we shall attempt to draw out some of these foreshadowings, while also taking seriously this most “scientific” of the phases of Jung’s career and work.

It is of course highly significant that occult phenomena signify in Jung’s first major published work, as Jung’s reputation, for better or worse, is to this day closely linked with the occult, mysticism, astrology, post-material synchronicity, and the unconscious archetype. That Jung refers to “the so-called occult phenomena” here is suggestive, on its face, of at least some measure of empirical leaning in the young Jung.  As we shall see in later posts, Jung waged a decades-long internal battle to preserve his belief in himself as a man of science, rather than an artist, and the question of whether he was primarily a scientist or an artist would play a significant role in his mid-life crisis which set in during the decade of the 1910s.  It is interesting to note here that Freud also held fast to the label of “scientist,” even as critics such as Roger Brown have suggested that he surrendered all claims to the title as early as 1896 (Storr, 24).

It is well known that Jung’s early years were suffused with religion and spiritualism, with several members on both sides of his extended family being parsons (MDR 42), and from his earliest writings, however much he clung to the idea of himself as an empiricist (understood in its more typically narrow sense), Jung’s interest in the faint intimations of the “other world,” in the liminal zone between normal experience and those experiences or states which stray over the borderline of normal consciousness and everyday apprehension and into the dark underbelly of the unconscious, betrays the awestruck and bemused metaphysical wanderer who at seven would sit on a stone and wonder “Am I the one who is sitting on the stone, or am I the stone on which he is sitting?” (MDR, 20).

“Liminality” is defined nicely by Wikipedia as “a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the ‘threshold’ of or between two different existential planes” (Wikipedia, “Liminality,) and from the first paragraph of “On the Psychology and Pathology of the So-Called Occult Phenomena,” we can see Jung’s interest in liminality at play:

“In that wide domain of psychopathic inferiority from which science has marked off the clinical pictures of epilepsy, hysteria, and neurasthenia, we find scattered observations on certain rare states of consciousness as to whose meaning the authors are not yet agreed.  These observations crop us sporadically in the literature on narcolepsy, lethargy, automatisme, ambulatoire, periodic amnesia, double consciousness, somnambulism, pathological dreaminess, pathological lying, etc.” (Collected Works Vol. I, 3).

The author makes no claims to being a psychologist or to having any detailed empirical knowledge of the difference between automatisme and somnambulism, but briefly, for the sake of clarity, epilepsy refers to an overly active electrical circuit in the brain which causes seizures, neurasthenia is an outdated term that referred to deep exhaustion, what Jung and Freud referred to as hysteria we would more probably call neurosis, narcolepsy is a threshold state between sleep and waking which may include hallucinations,  automatisme, ambulatoire , and somnambulism, as far as I can make out, all refer to sleepwalking or other actions taking while one is technically asleep. Read the rest of this entry »

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