We set God up, to knock Him down

Now we seek to destroy Him…

I was reading a passage by Donald Winnicott about the development of self. How the infant initially believes they are omnipotent and needs to seek to destroy their mother, as a test of their capacity to be held.

Isn’t it probable that God is not male, or parental at all? Hindus have a far older belief system and think about spirituality entire differently. We – Christians, Muslims and Jews alike – have created an archetypal father figure; which many now revile. But maybe it is necessary for us on this journey that we try to destroy God, and it is in the ever-loving survival of our destruction – that we finally perceive His (or Her) loving reality? Perhaps revealed as something different from the father figure we set up?

What Winnicott said

Donald Winnicott (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) studied the development of the Self within the child. He found that an infant is reliant on a “good-enough” mother (he was writing in the ’40’s, ’50s and ’60’s) to reveal to the infant that their feelings are real. Initially an infant believes he/she is omnipotent. He/she does not know there is a Not-Me. The reality of the loving mother as an “external object” is established by her survival of the child’s attempt to destroy her – and doing this whilst continuing to love. It is a parent’s fundamental role in allowing their child to develop a sense of the their reality in relation to all-else that they provide a “holding” environment within which the child can develop. In Winnicott’s words.. “The self is first made real through recognition, the object is first made real through aggressive destruction; and this of course, makes experience of the object feel real to the self. The object is placed outside omnipotent control by being destroyed while, in fact surviving the destruction”. In an illustrative dialogue about the process “The subject says to the object: ‘I have destroyed you’, and the object is there to receive the communication. From now on the subject says: ‘Hullo, object!’ ‘ I destroyed you.’ ‘ I love you. You have value for me because of your survival of my destruction of you. While I am loving you I am all the time destroying you in (unconscious) fantasy’ ” (The Use of an Object and Relating through Identifications 1969). “Shall I say that, for a child to be brought up so that he can discover the deepest part of his nature, someone has to be defied, and even at times hated, without there being a danger of a complete break in the relationship” (Home Again 1945).

Dream relationships

Intimacy can be a nightmare. Or dreamy. Which is it to be? It’s within our gift. To ourselves.

They want to take. Do I give?

Maybe. Probably, but do they understand that you are giving, and what they’re taking? It shouldn’t just be giving in. Just  It seems to me that this is how it works. I have my own image of who I am. You, my beloved, have your idea of what is “me”; it’s quite different from mine. When we started out on our journey together –  you needed me to be that person. Remember all of the friction back then? It was all around my idea of me and your idea of me. (Oh, and the versa of course. In fact probably more so!. So many years later our ideas and images of me have jostled toward each other. Giving and taking.

Mirror, mirror, you’re my all

It was a bit gritty sometimes, but looking back; thank you. Without your idea of me – I wouldn’t have become this facet of me-ness. You have been my  mirror; which seemed to be distorted at first. Not so much giving and taking; more pushing and pulling; cajoling, believing, shining a light.

Here’s what I think. All  the  versions of self  – are all dreams. Stories.. There is no real thing called me. Except perhaps the sum total of everyone’s idea of me. So can I change? As easily as changing channels. I can become how you see me, or how I’d like to be – just by thinking it.

Four in a bed

Really  there are (at least) four people in our relationship. Me (according to me). Me (as you imagine me). You (who you are, to you). You (as I need and imagine you to be).

And we dance, don’t we. So many steps and pirouettes and sore toes.; but it’s the stuff that’s kept us going through the years. Holding our our gaze. An emergent quartet. That’s us.

We have trodden on each others toes  quite often; but thank you for staying on the floor with me.

Think of all the fabulous stories that could be told. If we stuck, rather than twisted – when our dream of ourself is confronted. We’ve all walked out from friendships and marriages; all to preserve a fantasy of one particular me-ness or you-ness. Give, but don’t give in. Take, but not to cause heart ache.

To the lighthouse

For my daughter

For a reading click here…to the lighthouse

As we walked out that golden afternoon

Toward the lighthouse, brisk o’er skyward road

The isle arose from bed of cirrus brume

Haar-spun candyfloss of light bestrowed

Melting butter incense scented gorse

The watchful pines conspir’d in secrecy

Disporting hares’ balletic spring discourse

Construed your nature’s green-fused ecstasy

Stepp’d you light through dunes to surf’s samphire sand

Sun crowned halo loosed hair engarlanded

Sea-flensed bottle strewn sapphire scattered strand

Whence garnered sea -cleansed shells sleight-handed

My evanescent love, my April show’r

Foregathered here-by thy dominions pow’r

We are inexplicably dual

“We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do”  Einstein (in relation to wave-particle duality)

Quantum mechanics has repeatedly proved that energy and matter is contradictory – it is both a wave and a particle at the same time. In addition, it is observation that crystallises out our particular reality from the infinity of possibilities.

“When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove” John Donne

There is almost incontrivertible evidence that there is meaning within the universe. The physical constants are incredibly finely tuned to allow even atoms to form, never mind reflective consciousness. There are those who fervently wish to deny this meaning. (Why?). Their only defence is what is called the multiple universe proposition – that there are infinity universes and we happen to live in the one that has these constants aligned. Their problems are these. Firstly, there is not a shred of evidence for the proposition. Secondly it fails the test of simplicity (this is certainly not the simplest solution).  Thirdly, even were it true – what then is the origin of the multiverses? Indeed, by definition Universe is all that is, and so multiverses are subsets of that. I personally dismiss this concept for what it is, materialist desperation. The Universe is significant and not simply material.

Material is but one aspect of reality, there is another a dual aspect. John Donne would call that “soul” as distinct from “body”…

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
.. and the great Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin distinguished a Within from a Without, of all things. He posited consciousness within all matter, evolving through physical, chemical and biological realms through waves of emergent realities. Man represents a new dimension with the arrival of reflective consciousness – self awareness. It was Teilhard de Chardin who proposed that evolution has now moved from biological into the realm of ideas – what he called the noosphere. *

“The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience. The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds…human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships”  Ich und Du, Martin Buber

Martin Buber expresses this duality in his wonderful verse-philosophy “Ich und Du”. Not only is there duality in all-that-is, but it is in the dance – the relationships between the Within-Without, the wave-particle, the Ich-Du – that meaning exists.

People have called that meaning by all sorts of names. Who cares about semantics – a rose is still a rose by any name. If you’ve felt the connectedness of the Universe, then you’ve known joy in all its emphemerality, within the life of this body at least.

Dual, we certainly are, and inexplicably so. Although maybe…

“And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flames are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one” TS Elliot

*   There is a tradition of theft within evolutionary science. Dawkins stole the concept of evolution in the noosphere and clothed in the language of the “meme”. He did not credit Teilhard de Chardin. Charles Darwin stole the concept of evolution by natural selection from James Hutton, who in 1794 wrote “in conceiving an indefinite variety among the individuals of that species, we must be assured, that, on the one hand, those which depart most from the best adapted constitution, will be most liable to perish, while on the other hand, those organized bodies, which most approach to the best consitution for the present circumstances, will be best adapted to continue, in preserving themselves and multiplying the individuals of their race”.

After Linear Time: Anthropological Ruminations on the Afterlife

A review of “After Linear Time: Anthropological Ruminations on the Afterlife” an article by Phoebe Cottam UCL

At heart this essay questions the basis and nature of anthropology. This academic discipline is apparently caught up with a desire to be seen as a formal science – however “that anthropology is a science is a significant point of contention within the discipline”. Certainly within UCL there appears to a striving to prove anthropology’s objectivity. This is reflected in the seminar on discussion on “afterlife” which prompts this essay response. The seminar appears to have commenced with a demand to disavow any belief in afterlife and to consign any non-materialist beliefs to the “observed” and presumably inferior races and civilisations.

Cottam asserts that anthropology is a science – “firstly for its positioning within an ontology I call scientific, secondly for its commitment to objectivism”. The first half of this statement appears to be a statement of an axiom and the second to anchor the study of humans within objectivity.

The essay quotes Wallach and Schmidt (Repairing Plato’s Life Boat with Okham’s Razor) with their definition of scientific worldview comprising:

– The atomist hypothesis
– The mechanistic hypothesis
– The materialist hypothesis
– The time irreversibility hypothesis

The rest of the article questions the earlier assertion that anthropology is a science, essentially by attacking the latter time irreversibility hypothesis, which is a fundamental assumption of both mechanism and materialism. Anthropologists find many societies have a concept of co-existing linear and non-linear time , for instance “the two forms the Maya imposed on their past, historical time and cosmic time”. Essentially if existence transcends linear time then a fundamental tenet of the ontology of science is undermined. This leads to the essays’ eventual conclusion that there is a belief system operating within anthropology that wishes to suppress other beliefs – “we cannot presume an anthropological discussion of the afterlife to be apolitical”.

The essay might equally have made a significant evidence based challenge to each of the three other pillars of the scientific-materialist paradigm. However at heart it is pure logic that undermines any claim by anthropology to be a science. A study of man by man must always involve the subject with the object, and it has been proved within mathematics (Godel’s incompleteness theorem) and science (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) that because of an infinity of self-referential feedback loops that all “knowledge” is unprovable and can ultimately be traced back to an original axiom or belief.

As Douglas Hofstadter puts it (Godel Escher Bach) “By the way, in passing, it is interesting to note that all results essentially dependent on the fusion of subject and object have been limitative results. In addition to the limitative Theorums [eg Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorum], there is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which says that measuring one quantity renders impossible the simultaneous measurement of a related quantity. I don’t know why all these results are limitative. Make of it what you will.”

Faith is at the core of all, and we would do well to step outside the edifice of thought that it gives birth to, and openly acknowledge our intrinsic beliefs. Atheist materialists simply start from that as an axiom (see above for the 4 hypotheses underlying the scientific worldview). Their dishonesty is to pretend that the resultant logic chain somehow proves the initial premise. Other great religions at least simply state their belief as just that – belief.

Warp and Weft

It’s knit one and pearl one my darling
The pattern’s a smile for your skin
A pulled-over fabric for living
Whose weft is the kith of your kin

Don’t look away now as i ravel
The knots of the skein of my strife
Don’t leave me alone as i travel
The stumbling first steps of this life

I’m here right inside you, as sister and mother
Im here right beside you, here with our brother
The centre cannot hold (so they say)
But its us, we and love, that is truth

So its knit one and pearl one my darling
You must work out your pattern of loving
To fill your vortex of loneliness
With the ocean of joy that is life