a neotenous new year to you

“Growing young
is a process that has played
a fundamental role
in the evolution of the human species

& in the development
of every human being who has ever lived.  

Moreover, its significance & its ramifications for the future of each of us & of humanity in general are so staggering that an understanding should be part of everyone’s equipment.  

Yet as a scientific principle it is known to only a few scientists; others – the vast numbers of human beings whose lives might be changed by the application of this principle – are ignorant of it.

the truth about the human species is that
in body, spirit, feeling & conduct
we are designed to grow & develop
in ways that emphasize
rather than minimize
childlike traits;
we were never intended to grow “up”
into the kinds of adults
most of us have become”

In this work that I do, my passion is about healing often via the medium of human truth/honesty. I feel the two are intimately connected, & stagnation & apathy are the price of avoidance.

This article is mainly comprised of the words of a man called Ashley Montagu from his book Growing Young (1981).

It contains immensely healing concepts.  I have chosen excerpts that I hope speak to the missing part of you that is calling for healing.

That part is the child.

The child is & always has been, the direct target of Western trauma.  That is why now, as adults we are pretty damn useless – because we were …

 

… ‘taken out’, as children.

Nations rise & fall by what they do to their children – you were one once – why did what happened to you, happen?

At the opening to this article we found these words.

“the truth about the human species is that in body, spirit, feeling & conduct we are designed to grow & develop in ways that emphasize rather than minimize childlike traits; we were never intended to grow “up”.”

“Why would that be”, you ask, “Whatever traits they have, I (surely) already have too”?

Take a look:

Curiosity is one of the most important; imaginativeness; playfulness; open-mindedness; willingness to experiment;

flexibility; humor; energy; receptiveness to new ideas; honesty; eagerness to learn; & perhaps most pervasive & the most valuable of all, the need to love.  All normal children, unless they have been corrupted by their elders, show these qualities every day of their childhood years.

They ask questions endlessly … They watch & listen.  They want to know everything about everything.  They can keep themselves busy with the simplest of toys … 

… they play games endlessly …… They accept change without defensiveness.  When they try to do something & fail, they are able to try to do it another way, & another until they find that it works.  They laugh … from sheer exuberance & happiness.  

Unless they suspect they may be punished for it, they tell the truth; they call the shots as they see them.  And they soak up knowledge & information like sponges; they are learning all the time; …

every moment is filled with learning.  

Apart from you yourself who of course still retains all these traits (denial is a BIG part of trauma), how many adults do you know who live like that?

Surely you have noticed they live like this:

They tend to stop asking those questions that will elicit information … Most adults draw back from the unfamiliar  … Nor can most adults content themselves with simple playthings enriched by the imagination …

… Most adults have lost, too, the ability to laugh from sheer happiness … Most adults have lost their ability to tell the simple truth; many appear to have lost the ability to discern a simple truth in the complex morass they live in.

Perhaps the saddest loss of all is the gradual erosion of the eagerness to learn …

… This hardening of the mind – psychosclerosis – is a long distance from a child’s acceptance & flexibility & open-mindedness.

There are many ways, (all taken advantage of) to kill the child.

Childhood was seen as a difficult period that was unfortunately necessary for the production of mature, no-nonsense adults, & the entire effort of the education & training of children was …

aimed at making adults of them as soon as possible … Imagination was frowned upon – feared, even – curiosity was derided (“Curiosity killed the cat”), free playfulness & humor were discouraged …

… open-mindedness was thought to be heretical, & honesty was often considered simple rudeness.  As for the most precious of all childlike qualities, the eagerness to learn, it was accepted by adults only so long as the subject of the learning was …

… a “proper” one.”

Why would something so fucked up as the education system be created?

“Anthropologists, psychologists, other social scientists & even some educators have begun to recognize that children are not simply small imperfect-adults who must be dragged as early as possible into the adult-behaving world.  We know that children are developing human beings …

… who will continue developing all their lives if they are not prevented.  And now we begin to see that the goal of life is to die young – as late as possible.”

Can the attributes of the child really be so important?

“In 1926 [Louis Bolk] pointed out that …  adult humans exhibit many physical traits that are …

… also features of the human fetus.  This is not so true of other animals.  He listed flat-facedness, minimum body hair, large brain size, structure of hands & feet, the form of the pelvis, & a number of additional physical characteristics that change in other animals but that in human beings persist into adulthood. Bolk called this principle “fetalization“.  Fetalization was effected by the retardation of the rate of development.

The importance of this slow development, or retardation, was seen by J.B.S.Haldane, as a major evolutionary trend in human beings.  In 1932 he underscored the fact that the essential feature of the latest stage of human evolution has not been the acquisition of new features but rather …

… preservation of embryonic & infantile traits that had been developed when the organisms were in the womb sheltered from violence … [he] further proposed that if human evolution is to continue along the same lines, “it will probably involve a still greater prolongation of childhood & retardation of maturity.”

Konrad Lorenz, German ethologist, writing in 1950, maintained that by far the more important features in the history of human evolution are not physical but behavioural.  He drew heavily on the ideas of German sociologist Arnold Gehlen … that the unique & outstanding human trait is that of remaining in an unending state of development.  The speciality of humans is nonspecialization, versatility, they have remained free to change as change is required …

… by whatever environment they encounter; they are able to develop special traits to meet special needs.”

But am I wasting my time & energy
trying to get through to
frozen adults
who worship their
prison of adulthood?

Frozen women imprisoned in their skin.

Calcified men who live in fear of emotion.

“It is a curious fact that humans are the only creatures who weep …  during emotional distress or joy … Indeed, at every point, at every stage, in every sector of human history, the outstanding characteristic humans have been called upon to exhibit has been sympathy, fellow-feeling, cooperation

… the crying adult becomes a child, & thereby tends to induce caring responses. Even callous males may find it difficult to resist a weeping female.  Emotional weeping in grief & sympathy constitutes a homeostatic mechanism designed to

restore the organism to equilibrium.  We often weep tears of joy at some celebration or reunion of those we love.  The Andaman Islanders make weeping an essential part of every social ceremony.  When friends meet after a separation of a few weeks or longer, they greet each other by sitting down, one of the lap of the other, with arms around each other’s necks, weeping & wailing for two or three minutes, till they are tired.”

“The emotional distress of which weeping is usually the external manifestation demands a delicacy of response of a peculiarly human kind

… It is, therefore, probable that weeping has exercised a humanising effect upon humans as individuals, as persons & also upon the human group as a community … it seems likely … the flow of tears – has played a powerful role in the evolution of humans as compassionate creatures … in such cultures, in which weeping is considered normal, healthy behaviour, there seems to be a great deal more human warmth, reflecting a more sensitive involvement in humanity in general.”

Interestingly, biology itself suggests we are meant to be allowed to weep …

“The very fact that humans possess prominent noses suggests that they might do well to weep, or at least humidify them more often”

Just how fucked up could a world become when it has emotionally killed its children?

“that extraordinary genius …

… William Kingdon Clifford (1845 – 1879) pointed out that the first condition of mental development is “that the mind should be creative rather than acquisitive“…  a race that is “plastic & capable of change, may be regarded as young & vigorous, while a race which is fixed, persistent in form, unable to change, is as surely effete, worn out, in peril of extinction … it is quite possible for conventional habits of thought to get such power that progress 

 is impossible

I see … so your saying quite, quite, quite fucked.

But I just don’t have time for all that childish shit, I have WORK to do – it’s a nice sentiment – we’ll get round to it when the important things are sorted.

“The extent to which the child has played a role in the development of humanity has been severely neglected.  The true worth of a people, it has been said, is that seen through the eyes of its children.  Awareness of the true nature of the child & of the …

important role the child is capable of playing in the furtherance of mental health – indeed the very survival of our species – is … a requisite first step.”

Among non-literate people children are generally greatly valued & cared for

The devaluation & debasement of children seems largely peculiar to the cultures of the modern world.

non-aggressive, cooperative behaviour is

characteristic of fetus, infant & child.  In the evolution of humankind there is little doubt that nonaggressive behavior has been at the highest selective premium … That human beings have always been capable of anger, rage, & violent behavior can scarcely be doubted, but such behavior is usually the reaction to specific environmental conditions

…  not the spontaneous expression of internally generated effects.”

Stop it I don’t want to change my thinking – this would be too hard to do.  How can caring for children matter so much. They’re tough & anyway they have to “LEARN”.

“It is of more than ordinary interest to note that four scientists without any knowledge of one another’s work (in three cases at least), arrived at precisely the same conclusion … concerning the length of the gestation period: …

… the idea that the human infant when born has completed only half its gestation, the other half having to be completed outside the womb … Babies must live in an atmosphere very different from that of ordinary everyday living, & its main principles of isolation & security closely resemble gestation itself …

… It is indeed an exterior gestation.”

It is not been adequately understood  how very immature the human newborn is, & how long his immaturity lasts … 

… Owing to this failure on the part of civilised peoples, the needs of the human infant during this precarious period of his development have simply not been recognized

If this has been understood for such a long time, we have to question Western trauma birthing.

“Contemporary obstetrics, with few exceptions, still treats pregnancy & childbirth as if they were diseases

… on the assumption that it is better to treat it as such in order to be prepared for the complications that may develop … An event that should be approached as a celebration & a ceremony is transformed into a technological medical procedure in which virtually every human need is outraged.”

We can begin to see how trauma in the West is systematically & cold-bloodedly begun at birth.

Then this ongoing trauma creates a people who are simply not capable of paying the hefty emotional costs required in the nurture of healthy human beings.

In many ways we are emotionally bankrupt.

For his adequate healthy development the human infant requires, beyond all else, a great deal of tender loving care.  Health at the very minimum is the ability to love, to work, to play, & to think soundly

… Love is the active process of conferring survival in a creatively enlarging manner upon the other, the communication to the other, by demonstrative acts of profound involvement in his welfare, giving him all the support, sustenance, & stimulation that he requires …

for the fulfillment of his potentialities for being the kind of human being that you are being to him, that he can depend on you whenever he is in need, that you will never commit the supreme treason of letting him down when he most stands in need of you …  

It is in this way that one learns to love, simply by being loved.

You may think these are scary times & love must take a back seat as we focus on  ‘survival’ …

In the evolution of humanity love has played a highly important role.  Except, however, for rare thinkers such as Charles Sanders Pierce & Petr Kropotkin, the roles of love & cooperation in human evolution have been wholly neglected.  In an unloving & alienated world wracked by strife & violence, such an idea appeared both unreal & ludicrous. There can be, however, little doubt that …

no early population of human beings could have survived had it not been for the dominant role that love & cooperation played in holding them together.

It is, in a very real & not in the least paradoxical sense, even more necessary to love than it is to live, for without love there can be no healthy growth or development, no real life.  The neotenous principle for human beings – indeed, the evolutionary imperative – is to live as if to live & love were one.

“Wow I never thought about it like that before”, you say.

Not only females, but males also, will often gather round the mother & infant & beg to be allowed to hold it.  This is almost a universal response among humans, except in some parts of the world there is what amounts to an unspoken tabu on males displaying anything resembling the interest in children customarily exhibited by women.  This is …

especially the case among the English speaking peoples of the world, in which the dehumanised & dehumanising gender role the male is expected to play calls for an abstention from behavior that is considered feminine.

Once again, we find practices that further (& further) remove a race of people from equilibrium & herd them into trauma.

In many nonliterate cultureschildren are seldom out of the arms of some adult or older child.  A great deal of cuddling goes on from the earliest days of life … Lorna Marshall writes of the gatherer-hunter Bushmen of Botswana:

The !Kung never seem to tire of their babies.  They dandle them, kiss them, dance with them, & sing to them.  The older children make playthings of the babies.  The girls carry them around … The boys also carry them, give them rides & drag them on karosses (a favorite game).

There are so many ways we do not see children or their value.

“We have often had descriptions of the unconditional love that infants receive in nonliterate societies from their parents, but though evidence is abundantly available it is seldom mentioned that children are also a great source of love for other children

not only their siblings, but all children.”

Try this on for size – though it might make you feel a little uncomfortable at first.

“The subtle alchemy by which love is transmuted in the child into what it most requires for bodily as well as well as behavioral development may defy complete explanation … caring for the infant consists primarily in satisfying his needs.  Such caring constitutes the commencement of the socialization of the person, preparation for participation in the social group.  As the child matures & socialization continues …

… the child becomes more & more dependent rather than more free, & this social binding continues throughout life.  It is this social bonding of early life that the person is designed to maintain, indeed to grow & develop, in all the days of his life.”

“This view of development of the person cannot be too strongly emphasized … The conventional view of the socialization of the person as developing toward greater & greater autonomy or individuality is seriously misleading

… Of course every person has a unique personality in the sense that it is never identical to that of any other.  Such differences are important … It should, however, be understood that every one of those differences has developed under the influence of specific socializing factors, & were it not for the creative action of those socializing factors, the functional-structural differences that characterize each person would not exist

Every person is socially bound to the group in which he has been socialized.  In a sense the “individual” is a myth … in any evaluation of a human being as a social organism it should be clear that he is as organically bound to others as if he were one of a number of cells comprising a colonial organism. Even physically & physiologically, humans are neither dissociated nor do they carry on a separate existence in any but an arbitrary sense. Even the emotionally arid psychopath is unable to do without others.”

“In the land of “Rugged American Individualism,” in which the focus in the conditioning of the child has been to turn him into a person who conforms to the stereotype of ….

… the “successful individual,” large numbers of persons are produced who, in the midst of the lonely crowd, live in an isolated narcissism that eventually leads to a chill … There are millions of them, & the damage they do underscores the myth of the individual … 

… namely that it neglects to teach the moral obligation of independent thought, the responsibility to challenge unsound ideas & conventions, the right to protest, the bounden duty to object. This is an essential aspect of health. Blind submission to a group has always utterly vitiated personal development & progress in humanity.

The enforced emotional isolation in the lives of every person in the West, is I think at the heart of our sickness – we do not know how to connect & so we suffer the most abysmal turmoil, alone.

“In the concept of “the individual” we have created separateness where separateness does not exist – where, in reality…

… the genuine condition is relatedness … a creature apart from a social group is little more than an organic being … The person is to a large extent a set of social interrelationships.  As Bogardus has put it, “As a result of intersocial stimulation he moves up from the biological level.  The interstimulation that occurs between him & the members of the group … explains him more than any other method of approach can do”.”

“Both the fallacy of absolute individuals & the excess of individualism, wrote the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, are vicious.”

“And as Gutking put it, “To think in terms of absolute individuals – absolute individuals are but things – is the outgrowth of our obsession with acquisitive urges. To think in terms of relations is human & paves the way toward the solidarity of mankind.”

“The important point for us to recognize is that the “individual” represents a reaction or response pattern that makes him part of a whole of which he always remains an integral & important constituent … The person is a product of a field of biological & social forces, & every person constitutes a part of that field all his life.”

“Each acts as he does, not because he is an independent individual, but because he is a dependent-interdependent person, bound to his social group by ties that impel him to maintain his relationships according to the requirements, in each case, sanctioned & demanded by the group.  This does not mean the person is without free will … but it is a will that functions largely within the limits & conditions determined by his own past experience within the culture of his own social group.

None of this implies that the group is superior to the person.  The obligation of the group, at whatever level, is to the person, to do everything in its power to maximise his potentialities

& preserve his integrity as a person, a unique person.  The obligation of the person to the group is to contribute toward the development of himself & of other persons.  The person is not to be conceived of as living for the group, or the group solely for the person; each serves the needs of the other.”

The long history of endemic horror that has pervaded the Western world concerning the nature of the child is only today being very slowly corrected.  There are still millions among us who believe that children are naturally depraved … This view of the child, to which many still subscribe, was an article of faith among the Calvinist-Puritan ancestors of contemporary believers:

“The Young child which lieth in the cradle (is) both wayward and full of afflictions: and though his body be but small, yet he hath a great heart, and is altogether inclined to evil . . . . If this sparkle be suffered to increase, it will rage over and burn down the whole house. For we are changed and become good, not by birth, but by education  ~Robert Cleaver and John Dod, A Godly Form of household Government, 1621

It is time for change – for our own good.

It is time for healing.

I’m seeing again & again how possible that is.  But we need to see how screwed our civilisation has been & begin to acknowledge the terrible emotional traumas that we, the lucky ones in the West, have endured in, & often because of, isolation.

If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it — the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.” ~ William Kingdon Clifford

I think when we start to see our own blockages, we begin to heal our world(s).

I was on the Celtic Rebels radio show last Sunday
looking at the traumatising of the West

He’s done a brave write-up –
which includes a link to the show.

December 31, 2011. Uncategorized. 19 comments.

living wild

Right, I’ve had enough of seeing a scary monster ice-cream sitting on top of my blog … it’s time for a change.

And while we definitely need to see what’s malignantly hidden,
we also have to put our energies into
reclaiming our wildness.

In Auckland right now, the Pohutukawa trees are ablaze – sometimes called the New Zealand Christmas tree, they vibrate with life even when hanging off the edge of a cliff, which incidently, is one of their favourite locations.

If they can blaze with life in precarious situations …


… then why the hell can’t we?
?

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Enjoy.

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p.s – apologies for not replying to the later comments on the last article – I was away for a wee while & when I got back I was ill & just didn’t have the strength – sometimes it’s easier just to move on than go back (unless of course, you’re on the wrong road) – but all comments were much appreciated & full of insight.

very best to all

December 24, 2011. Uncategorized. 16 comments.

Ad-versive

Here follows a short article because the upcoming quote made me think & remember:

According to … Advertising Age, the major publication of the advertising industry, “Only eight percent of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind; …

… the rest is worked & reworked deep within the recesses of the brain, where a product’s positioning & repositioning takes shape”.”                                   Can’t Buy My Love ~Jean Kilbourne

Onz upona time this ice cream gave me a hell of a fright.

No, it had nothing to do with size.

It was because it vaulted out of a bus shelter & straight into my peripheral vision.

Had I not been such a lady or I might have said:

“Arghhh … what the fuck was that?”

If you’ve done those magic eye 3-D pictures …

… you’ll have had a similar kind of experience where the image suddenly jumps out at you from the page.

I was so shocked at being assaulted by an ice cream that I went back with my camera & took his picture.

It is a ‘him’.

It was not as easy as I thought it would be, to get people to see the monster – to blur their eyes enough to stop SEEING an ice-cream because that’s what they were being told it was.

And anyway who expects to find something demonic in an ice cream?

When my son got it, he told me that the face reminded him of the Gentlemen from the Buffy series:

The Gentlemen were …

… bald, pale humanoids that never spoke but were always grinning maliciously through metallic teeth …  They did not walk, but instead hovered about a foot above the ground, standing perfectly straight.

“Can’t even shout.
Can’t even cry.
The Gentlemen are coming by.
Looking in windows,
knocking on doors…
They need to take seven
and they might take yours…
Can’t call to mom.
Can’t say a word.
You’re gonna die screaming
but you won’t be heard.”       ―Girl in Buffy’s dream

The sound of a human voice was fatal to the Gentlemen, so upon arrival in a new town they stole the voices of every inhabitant through a …

magical box. This forced silence had the added benefit of none of their victims were able to scream for help as the Gentlemen cut their hearts from their still-living bodies

How wonderfully coincidentally strange that that poem should link the Gentlemen to ice-cream:

You’re gonna die screaming” 

Come on … lost your voice?  Sound it out!

You’re gonna d-ice creaming“.

Well really! If you’ve got no voice, you won’t be screaming.

That’s not the only place I’ve seen ice cream linked to horror & death.

Understanding that the English language is a tongue of supreme mind-fuckery, the twin sounds of ice cream & I scream, should really be leading to questions.

Here follows the other bus-stop reason I originally wrote about the demon ice cream.

A completely harmless, though highly coloured gelato-ensemble.

Nowt wrong with that surely?

Well you have a couple of choices.

  1. call me a looney & then bugger off
  2. blur your eyes & see for yourself

Cherchez la skull

Now ask why you would someone put a skull in an ice cream ad?

These are I /eye tricks –
so they’re stylised –
but they’re there –
quite clearly there.

Why are they there?

It’s all very well to look for subliminal sex tricks, but what if there’s a lot more going on.

A lot about trauma & a lot about death.

Only eight percent of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind; the rest is worked & reworked deep within the recesses of the brain, where a product’s positioning & repositioning takes shape”.

This isn’t meant to be a scary monster article – rather just a suggestion to look more curiously at the shapes of mindfucks ads because once you’ve seen something, I think a lot of their dirty magic is broken.

Additional … One last thing I left out of first draft.  The first ‘monster’ ice cream is really, really big so that’s why there’s a whale, right?

Let the thesaurus double-speak:

… and even more.

Thanks to all commenters for inspiring extra thoughts:

Even as little children, we screamed for ice cream… I forgot about that. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” ~ Joanne

I can’t stop thinking about this “ice cream/ i scream” thing.  For starters, why is that always the go-to reward in TV shows or movies?” … “what is the deal with the creepy ice cream truck driver? I’m not sure if this is common in NZ, but here in the US, many neighborhoods an ice cream truck that goes around in the summer playing creepy music (usually nursery rhymes, I think) to lure the children over to buy ice cream. ” ~ Kathy

… plus a little something from Rebel Country:

December 14, 2011. Uncategorized. 41 comments.

two percent doubt

Central to his [Nietzsche’s] philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation“, which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be

~  ~  ~

Comments from friends assured me that my last article was both helpful & welcome.

Those comments helped me decide to carry on down that path, & put aside a certain reluctance to share a few personal details in the hope that openness might lead to bigger questions & healthier opportunities.

So let’s begin.

Pondering on the
napalm girl
led to an
unexpected match
made in hell with …

twin story elements
suddenly coinciding
in a weird way.

Naked sacrifices
Skins flayed
Arms akimbo

Seared
&
Frozen
in
Agony
&
Memory.

Both images are sick.  It is a sign of our own sickness that we have not been able to recognise this.

New question:

Did we swallow images like these because they were subconsciously familiar?

Contemplating the napalm girl’s burned skin along with the Western culture’s regulating of pain & sorrow reminded me of a personal sync – whenever I have tried to put into words my own struggles with trauma, the description has always been same:

‘It feels as if all my skin has been sand-papered off’  

In a world where pain is disregarded, that statement probably sounds like ‘over-dramatisation’.

Yet that remembering brought back another memory …

I have always understood that emotional pain is real.

As real as the chair you are sitting on or the computer screen you are reading from.

I don’t know why its effects are hidden …

why our eyes are blinded to it,
why our senses are blocked
from its tangibility.

But it is very real.

Many years ago I was ‘institutionalised’ for anorexia.  One of the weekly “healing” practices was for a group of ‘therapists’ to …

… swoop into your cell & torment you – I believe you were supposed to get angry & thus have some sort of emotional healing – having grown up in a family where anger was the worst of the seven deadly sins, that was never going to happen.

One day feeling particularly defenceless, desperate & enraged at these vicious people, I resolved to show them what their assault really looked like – & in front of their eyes I dug my fingernails into my skin & ripped long trails down my arms.

I don’t know how much they understood, but the attacks stopped.

I hated myself at that time, so I guess it made it easier to do that – but somehow it also showed to me the truth of this truth – that emotions are real/physical & some of them are flesh tearing/burning.

So I return to the napalm girl.

I started to wonder why I chose that particular image for my last article?

Which leads to:

Why does that image exist?

 Why was it pushed so much?

Is it because it resonates with certain people?  Certain emotions?

This leads to new questions.

What if the particular images that stick in our minds …

… get glued there on purpose?

Is there a reason why certain images traumatise certain people?

Playing with this theory I asked some friends if there were specific images that had stuck in their minds & why – (names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Clark:

“[this is] the image that made me feel so ice cold and ill when I saw it …

… I know my first impression was it made me cold and want to throw up, feeling how life was stolen

As soon as I read that, I thought “bingo“.

For ten years my friend Clark went through an extremely traumatic time, where, he has often told me, he felt that his life “was stolen from him“.

Clark saw this image before his own painful experiences.

It’s just a devastating thing you know? Stayed with me all this time, and I think I saw it back around high school time

The death of two beloved people within a year drove my friend onto a long, downwardly-spiraling path.

Could there have been a …

‘triggering‘ effect brought about by this photo?

Did something from Clark’s past leave him in a vulnerable place … then along came a shattering image that keyed in a code  …

Now in the scheme of all things Western, my friend’s emotional state matters not one whit – & why should it when these selfless truth-seekers risked life & limb to bring vital NEWS to a waiting world.

I just followed the three of them as they walked towards us, making an occasional picture. When they were close – maybe five feet away – the soldiers stopped and backed away. I saw a man walk into my camera viewfinder from the left. He took a pistol out of his holster and raised it. I had no idea he would shoot. It was common to hold a pistol to the head of prisoners during questioning. So I prepared to make that picture – the threat, the interrogation. But it didn’t happen. The man just pulled a pistol out of his holster, raised it to the VC’s head and shot him in the temple. I made a picture at the same time. Eddie Adams (photographer)

So we’re told that this was a set-up – a photographic set-up:

When they were close – maybe five feet away – the soldiers stopped and backed away.  I saw a man walk into my camera viewfinder from the left

The moment is everything in this ‘SHOT’.

I wonder if the photographer would have won the awards if the photo was taken a second later…after the trigger was pulled. The photo would have completely different

The people who were deeply affected by this picture traded places with the condemned man – they put themselves in his shoes & in-bodied his fear – so that it was their life being stolen’.

its really horrible!!! (i could not ease this image in my mind! ;(

Yeah, I do remember this image… shocking!

It is an act of supreme folly to underestimate the effects of these photos.

Eddie Adams, [Vietcong execution] Henri Huet and Nick Ut [Napalm girl] wrote our history with perfect, singular newsphotos

Now I’m not interested in trying to prove how staged these photos may have been … but because of the effects they have had on my friends, I am going to work on creating a two percent doubt – never underestimate the health-giving properties of 2% doubt.

Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images–one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past”  ~ Susan Sontag

You see the still picture …  and then you see it again some other place … so you not only have the first impact, but then there’s the second impact and the third impact, and pretty soon, that picture is just imbedded in your mind as fully and as completely as it can be

Time to sprinkle on a little organic …


… doubt seasoning.

The photo of the execution at the hands of Vietnam’s police chief, Lt. Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Loan, at noon on Feb. 1, 1968 has reached beyond the history of the Indochina War – it stands today for the brutality of our last century

Well that surprised me.  How about you?  What are the lucky odds of such a famous chance execution taking place at …

high noon.

Not so long ago my Nigerian friend casually mentioned how the biggest sacrifices take place when the sun is at its highest point i.e. Noon.  I remember that I was really surprised for I’d been movied into believing that

such things take place …

… in the dark.

He recently re-reminded me that the most violent rituals & sacrifices are always connected to sun worship.

So let’s look at Imbolc:

Imbolc … or St Brigid’s Day … celebrated on 1 or 2 February … [is] one of four “fire festivals“, which make up half of the eight holidays (or “sabbats”), of the wheel of the year… traditional time for initiations

Goddess of the Sun and Christian saint of the Eternal Fire are equally invoked in the beautiful  invocation known as Brighid’s Arrow:

Most Holy Brighid, Excellent Woman, Bright Arrow, Sudden Flame;


May your bright fiery Sun take us swiftly to your lasting kingdom

Interestingly, in keeping with our theme of mind-fuckery & great balls of fire, 1st February comes up trumps a few more times:

“1893  –  Thomas A. Edison …

… finishes construction of the first motion picture studio, the Black Maria in West Orange, New Jersey” … “It is widely referred to as America’s First Movie Studio

2003 – Space Shuttle Columbia …


… disintegrates during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard

Perhaps a dash more seasoning –

I’m not sure if the next bit is 100% organic, but if you’ve started wondering, it may help the questions to flow

The execution was originally to take place inside a nearby building. The Colonel decided that the photographers needed more drama, better angles and light … The execution was staged on the street with a careful setup of the photo opp. Apparently it was important to the Colonel how his profile was displayed

Ok time for a change of scenery.

I asked my friend Don, if there was an image that had always stayed with him.

He showed me this one, which I had never seen.

Don: I remember this one from the school library when i was a kid i guess the platoon icon image was copyed from this one just reminds me of the futility of war most probably because my father was in one

Alex: Is there something in your life, in your emotions, in your pain from life that connects with this photo?  I think we remember certain images because they mirror something in OUR life.

Don: indeed being a son of a war veteran, oh yes surely something deep … i had the martyr complex thats the double sense of that photo …

Alex: being shot down? being a loser? a failure?   Could this image be a symbol for you of your life?

Don:  yes back then for many years … now i see the coding … you see the war is invisible in many ways … they leave a powerful poison everywhere … ironicly creativity was part of my “salvation”

Alex:  it always is.

‘Tis the time for seasoning:

New evidence has emerged that one of the most famous war photographs, shot during the Spanish civil war by Robert Capa …  was taken miles away from where the civil war was being fought at the time

Last night I had a conversation with a young woman who shall be known as Bella.  Again I asked her THE question – “Was there a particular image that had deeply affected her?”

Once again our Napalm girl was hauled into view.


I think I overwhelmed Bella at first by suggesting that she may have buried trauma that this picture was symbolising for her.  She could not/would not equate anything in her past with the unquestionable horror of that image.  And yet … time & time again words & phrases saying just that, appeared throughout our conversation  – exactly as I am now coming to expect.

If , even for a minute of two, we could contemplate these images …

… as a dream that we had dreamed, rather than a vicious depiction of (questionable) REALITY, we might just do ourselves a very big favour.

Let’s take note of the tone of these dreams:

The results of your images can be more startling in black and white…You can lose the true meaning of a photograph with too much colorArt images beg to be made in black and white

Black-and-white photography is popular with journalists and artists. It presents stark contrasts and a purer image

Black-and-white photography is stark. It forces you to see the image rather than the color … It can also convey remarkable purity of emotion or action. This is one reason newspapers continue to print pictures in black and white

“[it] is all about contrast … Low light conditions often reveal subtleties not seen in color pictures. Also … patterns, shapes and irregularities… These are what stand out in a black-and-white photo

Let’s add the suggestion that the
Black & White Show-ing
turns a human moment into an …


inhuman monument
where the warmth of flesh
is frozen into immortal marble.

Let me just state here that the reason for this article is unreasonable.

Because it is
about
emotion.

The more I look the more it seems that the ‘reason’ humanity is so fucked up is because emotion …

… has been ripped out of its chest.

This should be very worrying  – for it seems that we cannot be reasonable without our emotions.

What follows are morsels for thought generated by “leading neuroscientist” – António Damásio, who has lovingly prepared a “theory about the relationship between human emotions, human rationality, and the underlying biology“.

 “Damasio’s most influential contribution to date is the demonstration that emotions play a critical role in high level cognition … and are required for the self processes which undergird consciousness

I became convinced that the traditional views on the nature of rationality could not be correct. I had been advised early in life that sound decisions came from a cool head … where emotion should not be allowed to intrude… But now I had before my eyes the coolest, least emotional, intelligent human being one might imagine, and yet his practical reason was so impaired that it produced … a succession of mistakes, a perpetual violation of what would be considered socially appropriate and personally advantageous

reason may not be as pure as most of us think it is or wish it were, … emotion and feelings may not be intruders in the bastion of reason at all: they may be enmeshed in its networks, for worse and for better

patients … with prefrontal cortical damage …

… can no longer generate the emotions necessary


… for effective decision-making

Emotions are also vital to the higher reaches of distinctively human intelligence. Contrary to some popular notions, emotions do not ‘get in the way of’ rational thinking – emotions are essential to rationality

It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad or indifferent … the tandem of fact & associated emotion is critical & of course most of what we construct as wisdom over time is actually a result of cultivating that knowledge about how our emotions behaved & what we learned from that

For as long as you & I have been alive, we have undergone relentless bombardment of our emotions by the media.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it had been acknowledged as such.

But it was presented as
Objectivity,
REALITY,
TRUTH,
Information.

This has been a crime.


You know lies are really not evil – most often they are a human protective mechanism against shame or attack or to keep safe something that matters very much to you.

So we confuse ourselves greatly by getting caught up in the idea that media & governments are lying to us.

Really!
You’re telling me the media are
trying to
save face
or
protect themselves
from embarrassment
.

Ummm … do you want to think that one through again?

Central to his [Nietzsche’s] philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation“, which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energieshowever socially prevalent those views might be

I’m not well-read enough to know if Nietzsche was a good egg, but some of his thoughts are priceless.

Our culture was created by parasites for parasites who effectively & thoroughly drain life’s expansive energies.

Nor am I smart enough to understand just how they do it, but it seems that very, very high on the list of fuckery is emotional-assault combined with emotional road-blocking – propagating intense emotional reactions & then choking their expression.

Let’s have a look at another masterpiece.

Had I not started wondering about other famous pics …


… would I have dared to question this one?
Everything about it places it at the tip of the top-sacred-never-to-be-questioned list.

But I have questioned.

And maybe because I have been starving myself (yes, yes self-inflicted so it doesn’t count does it … or does it?) – I had trouble seeing this particular child at death’s door.  Because of the lighting in this photo, shadows create a reality that I believe, did not exist.  The child is malnourished yes, but she does not have the …


chiseled bones in her arms & legs that are characteristic of starvation – I know because I had them myself.

So we can ask some questions:

If she was dying how did she manage to drag herself that far into this field?

Was the the vulture really interested in her or something outside the image?

She wears jewellery which tells us that she has been cared for & loved – once again we must ask:

“Where are the parents?  Where are the adults in these shots of naked children?”

A little seasoning:

The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane, so they had left their children only briefly … This was the situation for the girl in the photo… A vulture landed behind the girl. To get the two in focus, Carter approached the scene very slowly so as not to scare the vulture away …  it was a feeding center, and the vultures came from a manure pit waste

if you grab a telephoto crush the child’s perspective in the foreground and background and it seems that the vultures will eat it, but that’s an absolute hoax, perhaps the animal is 20 meters

The power of this shot comes from the story it tells you it is telling.  The shot of course, ends up in your head.

But then it always does.

That vulture-picture was taken by Kevin Carter in March 1993.

On 27 July 1994 Carter drove to the Braamfontein Spruit river, near the Field and Study Centre, an area where he used to play as a child, and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning, aged 33

Seasoning anybody?

During a lunch with a colleague he mentioned that he was thinking of forming a writer-photographer free-lance team and traveling Africa. This clearly shows that he was harboring ideas for the furthering of his career. It is therefore strange that barely a month later he was found dead in what looked like a death by suicide

It seems the most obvious thing in the world is that we are meant to become more than we have been before – we learn & experience & then take that learning & experience to learn & experience even more.

Emotion is foundational to this learning – through emotion, through feeling, we know what feels good & what doesn’t.

Emotion causes learning to be hardwired into us – for better or for worse.

  • When emotion is not fucked with & allowed to move freely, wounds heal – no matter how dreadful.
  • When emotion is not fucked with & allowed to move freely, we are healthy.
  • When emotion is not fucked with & allowed to move freely our bodies & minds remain supple.

I think, though I certainly can’t prove it, that our emotions become our flesh.  The skin with which we face the world today, was the emotion we experienced or blocked, yesterday.

I wrote this article for those in pain – that’s everyone in our culture, because in this plastic world feeling is denied & then denied again.

I will categorically state that …


… an emotionally wounded person is as dangerously & life-threateningly injured as one whose flesh has been burnt off & that they need immediate tending.

It is never about the size or media-drama of the wound – only one question is relevant:

Did the wound heal?

Somehow emotional wounds become living entities, that grow & grow & grow.  They are strange & greedy parasites that they will devour the mind & body of their host until nothing is left.

  • Two suicides in my world this year have shown me that.
  • Extreme paranoia & delusion in my mother has shown me that.
  • My own ongoing personal struggles have shown me that.

We carry wounds that are as merciless as the parasites who are eating up our world – you know it’s really, really TIME we ‘got’ that connection.

Otherwise what are we left with?

The West now sponsors just three looks & their corresponding emotions:

You can have the look of success –


that designer smug face & attitude of  ‘making it’

or

you can have the face of fear


… of cancer, terrorism, rising prices, threats of job loss, house loss or
god forbid, loss of friends on Facebook

The third acceptable look is when the …

… light has gone out of someones eyes.

Why do you think we have been given a zillion words in this parasitic language of ours?

Here, have a clue.

Emotional release comes through the expression of sound – just ask any baby.

But as you grow ‘up’, your formula gets changed.  Instead of expressing an emotion through its sound e.g laughing or wailing … you are taught to short-cut it with a word.

“I am really happy” – replaces a whoop of delight

“I am really pissed off” – replaces a growl in the throat

When you are all grown-up, expression of emotion is more unwelcome than flatulence –

 noooooo …. for the love of god hold it in!

You know I could allow for the stiff-upper-lippedness of the West if it wasn’t for the vicious emotion-havocing by the controllers– whipping up frenzies then denying humanity a chance, a place, a time, to release it.

Emotions are all about the body.

The body is a very, VERY wise friend that desires connection, but does not speak our language.

It speaks emotions

Maybe we will find  that a healthy, emotionally flowing, ‘listened to’ body

=

the

Nemesis

of the Parasites of the West.

There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom

Nietzsche

December 7, 2011. Uncategorized. 34 comments.