As we enter the world we are infinite. We have no boundary. We are also zero. At three months, or so, we begin to distinguish that there is an “other” – the breast as part object. By 6 months old the boundary between us and the other (usually mother) is clear; and often frightening. Warmth, food, security and affection can be withdrawn as well as present. Our world is strait, though we do not know it. As we age and explore we push the boundary back; and back. If we are fortunate, and conquer our fear, we realise once more that there is no boundary. We are existence and all of existence is us. Death is an illusion. When we leave the world we can then fade to white and lose the loneliness and fear that haunts life, to experience all that is directly once more.
Loss, Cry, Redemption
The sensation of loss is the consequence of boundary and separation – the disintegration from the beginning which we all struggle in our own way to heal.
But.. another word for disintegration (at least in Maths) is differentiation. The very boundary that signals loss enables an integration. The one that is created from the re-combination of two is infinitely larger than the original one that is single.
Loss is poignant; sometimes almost more sweet than bitter. This is because it resonates with its antithesis. Connection. Loss and Connection – in other words the sensation of differentiation and integration. Together these create the harmonics of life. It is not that you can’t have one without the other – it is that one IS the other.
We define by creating boundaries; where we place them. (That is you, this is me); what kind they are (a kissing gate or a prison wall). Most important, though. is what they are made out of. The foundations of Nationalism are laid on enmity. Yes, there can be other building materials – ideals, even love. How often though does aspiration end in vitriol?
A friend put to me on Saturday that it is possible for nationalism to be a force for good. He cited the British resistance to Nazis. He won me over, but to the possibility,, not the reality.
Boundaries are existential; or at least to our experience of “being”. We have to feel an “other” in order to sense our “self”, this is because all experience is relative. We live inside the uni-verse (the one thing), and so have no absolute external measure, no yardstick or objectivity. It is only by differentiating and re-integrating that we create reality.
Boundaries make things real; but they also separate. Each from each. Technically a form of good nationalism could come about through a specific kind of boundary. If nationals could stay open and inclusive, by having semi permeable social cell-walls, then well and good. But…
The problem is that “nation” is so often a short-hand for racial grouping. Indeed why else call a community a “nation”? And race memories are there in our unconscious lurking as Archetypes. Irrational and enormously, darkly, potent. The perfidious English to the French, the Lord Snooty English to the Scots, the chippy Scots to the English. In our collective unconscious our neighbour is the enemy who raided in the night, raped and stole our livelihood.
.. And so – enter mass manipulation by politicians and other self interested parties ( corporations for instance). We have our psychic buttons, all they have to do is to to push them; and they can’t help it. The end (their end) soon justifies their means. Where community is defined by nation, then you have the cybernats’ outrageous vilification of the “English”, and the Daily Mail whipping up a response (which helped the Tories back to power last month). Roll up the Bosch, the Hun and the Frogs. Come on in to the EU debate. How much pent up grievance does it then take to move us to internment camps and war. No, this really isn’t hysteria. In the early 1930’s Germany was an pluralistic and active democracy. It only took ten years…
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less that everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”
TS Eliot, Four Quartets; Little Gidding (extract)
“..Nietzsche stated that God was dead, Jung rediscovered God as a guiding principle of unity within the depths of the individual psyche. Jung’s belief in the ultimate unity of all existence led him to suppose that physical and mental, as well as spatial and temporal, were human categories imposed upon reality which did not accurately reflect it. Human beings, because of the nature of thought and language, are bound to categorize things as opposites; that is, all human statements are antinomian. But these opposites may, in fact, be facets of the same reality. Through his collaboration with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Jung came to believe that the physicist’s investigation of matter and the psychologists’s investigation of the depths of the psyche might be different ways of approaching the same underlying reality. It had long been recognized that analytical psychology could never be wholly “objective,” since the observer was bound to exert an effect on what he was observing by the fact of paying it attention. But the same point had also been reached in modern physics. At the subatomic level, it was recognized that it was impossible to determine a particle’s momentum and its velocity at the same time. Moreover, the consituents of matter could be considered to behave as waves or particles, depending on the choice of the observer. Physicists came to realise that it was possible to look at one and the same event through two different frames of reference which, though mutually exclusive, were nevertheless complementary. The Principle of Complementarity, which became a cornerstone of modern physics, could also be applied to the mind-body problem. Perhaps mind and body were simply different aspects of a single reality as viewed through different frames of reference.”
Anthony Storr, The Essential Jung: Selected Writings
We think in terms of opposing forces, opposites. Duality flows from the fact of boundary created as we separate from the whole of existence – initially physically at birth, and then psychically in infancy. This schism has been expressed in many ways, often as opposing forces.For instance – good / evil ;life / death; aggressive / erotic ; Me / Not Me ; extrovert / introvert. I believe that the point of duality is in our response to it. There is a fundamental difference in outcome between choice between, and integration of – opposites.
Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein conceived of opposing Life and Death instincts. However surely a “Death” instinct is incompatible with evolution, what purpose is served by a “Death” instinct? More natural is Donald Winnicott’s expression of an Aggressive component, born of opposition and an Erotic component, born of complementarity – the birth of these components arising as an infant realises that there is a Me and a Not-Me. Carl Jung conceived of the struggle to integrate opposing forces. Many of us are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality typing that arises from Jung with its 4 dimensions – Extrovert-Introvert; Thinking-Feeling; Sensing-Intuition; and Judging-Perceiving. From the dawn of our species we have observed the difference between Light and Dark and described our nature as Good or Evil. Martin Buber gives us the double-dual-whammy of I-Thou way of being “over against” I-It.
“There is, Buber shows, a radical difference between man’s attitude to other men and his attitude to things. The attitude to other men is a relation between persons, to things it is a connexion with objects. ..These two attitudes represent the basic twofold situation of human life, the former constitutes the world of THOU and the latter the world of IT” Ronald Gregor Smith, translator of Ich Und Du
It appears then that fundamental to our reaction to the fact of our existence; woven into the fabric of our way of thinking and being, is duality – expressed as an opposition of forces.
What then is our response? Is it passive as in choice or balance or active – as in process or integration? Admitting polarity in all things – what should be our reaction. Do we choose – for instance between Good or Evil? Should we seek balance between different drives into a kind of dynamic equilibrium – for instance striving to be at the centre point of extroversion and introversion? Is reality in fact a process budding eternally at the very boundary that arises out of duality – life within Winnicott’s Transitional Space or Whitehead’s point of prehension? Or is it there a further truth behind this duality – the point being what arises out of unification of opposites ? After all paraphrasing Beethoven – there cannot be loud without soft, it is in contrast that music arises.
Perhaps its personal taste. If so then, at least for me, integration of duality is our purpose, and one which is unceasing because there is a counterveiling force of differentiation. There is a flow of existence which is driven by splitting and unification, birth and death. Duality is dynamic not static and the fundamental creative contrast is actually that of differentiation and integration. Freud’s Life/Death instincts replaced by Integration/Differentiation forces. This isn’t an original thought, and it’s not mine. It is inherent in the world-view of eastern tradition (Yin-Yang etc) and possibly our western ancestors (see Wisdom of the Wyrd, Brian Bates). It was one of Carl Jung’s fundamental insights – “Much of Carl Jung’s writings are linked by the theme that mental illness is characterized by disunity of the personality, whilst mental health is manifested by unity” (Jung: Selected Writings, Anthony Storr).
If then we conceive of a schism-powered flow, what is the destination and what is the fundamental motive impulse? Well there you have Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the fundamental duality being spirit and material – an inner and outer. For him underlying existence is the force of Love, which powers evolution. An evolution conceived as complexification through spheres of the physical, chemical, biological to that of ideas – until we become conscious of God that is Love that is all. “There is a duality of material and spiritual, which he calls the “without” and “within”. He traces the development of the “within”, an evolution of consciousness. He names man as a stage in that process associated with the phase-shift from the evolution of biology to the evolution of ideas”.
In Teilhard de Chardin’s words:
“If there were no internal propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level — indeed in the molecule itself — it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, with us, in hominized form. . . . Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.”
I spent this evening with three vibrant and interesting people. Worth listening to. The debate moved between Scottish Nationalism, feminism and social justice. I lived through that shift in Britain from an integrated society toward a materialist “me” and money driven culture.
There is a frustration, almost a scream across many parts of the United Kingdom, raging against social inequality. The facts speak for themselves – since Thatcher and Regan – the rich have become indescribably wealthy, whilst the poor have become excluded. The argument for Scottish Nationalism that is based around the desire to create a new socially cohesive society is seductive.. There is a heavy burden – the cause of social justice that weighs on their side.
The argument is waged by politicians and the satanic ally they have called up, wittingly or not, racism pure and simple. Anti-English views are just that. Racist. All and any Scot who even jokingly or in aside to themselves justifies a nationalism on this basis is equivalent, in my view with the worst of the past century’s infamous racist leaders. All of them should consult their motivation in the privacy of their homes. Many will not be honest with themselves. To strive for independence on the basis of social justice as a cloak for racism is just despicable.
Is independence the ONLY route to social justice in the British Isles? Would independence promote social justice? If so – then it needs to be seriously considered. But what about a vote for socialism. This is the traditional, integrated and well trodden path which successfully confronted unadulterated capitalism. The conservatives won’t be in power in the UK after the next election if you believe the polls and history. Indeed they are not in power in the UK now except in coalition. Without Scottish MPs then most of the British Isles would have conservative rule for the foreseeable future. How socially responsible is that?
There are serious and heavy issues in the balance. On the one hand certainly the UK has significant inequalities, injustice and poverty which in an enormously rich nation are scandalous – indeed evil. On the other, a bail out by Scotland (which I believe would immediately become poorer) would only add to the tensions, conflicts and difficulties. And certainly, absolutely with utter certainty – if won by an emotional appeal to anti-English racism – would be set on a dark path.
Which is the path to a just and integrated society? It is more complex than the simply question that will be put on September 18th. For me however the name calling that the SNP indulge in is the wrong path entirely.