I keep reading, listening these days, looking back, and everybody has something to say and no-one believes there is anything new and folks keep sending me back to this or that great mind and it’s all great fun but nobody gets it, ideas of human nature come before all of that. All of it. Plato and Moses already had ideas about people, they all did. I mean, I get it, you really can’t proceed without one. I’m not saying don’t have a thought for that, of course I’m just saying don’t have an unexamined thought for it.
You never look at it, you never account for it in your thinking, then you are the slave of this thought, as are we all and victims of it also. You never look at it, you probably think there’s only one possible thing there. This is not consciousness: a human sitting, wondering, what am I? and in denial of the answer it is already operating from. Again, you really can’t move without one, what do you do when you encounter a human in the world? How many do you suppose you would have to meet before you realized you wanted some kind of policy about it?
Of course you have one. Wondering about it is like a child screaming because someone “stole their nose.”
Aggression is the policy. That’s a policy, which of the fight or flight options is automatic, the first response, flight is some creatures’ policy and fighting is others, really large bears and people, mostly. When it’s not the crazy abundance of the salmon run, inasmuch as bears are territorial, they seem to have a negative idea of bear nature and tend not to tolerate bears themselves. Ha – that is why the bear is our brother, the same bad attitude, our brother, like we were all raised by some overarching abusive parent, divided and conquered, territorial and with a low opinion of our own kind.
Derailing my own dialogue with the heartbreaking scene of a mother bear violently one day driving her child away. If we worried about their psychology, I guess we would assume every bear is completely broken and confused for life.
You want to say aggression is not so much a matter of choice, that policy is too soft, a policy would still be a decision and the response often too swift for any such process, I know. I don’t mean then, again, that’s why the policy, so you don’t have to lose milliseconds thinking about it. The decision happens not there in the moment, we decide upon the policy elsewhere, every elsewhere. Everyone signs on to the company policy or they can find another job. It’s a policy in every sense except the absolute unconscious immediacy of its application, I’ll admit, that looks a little magical, but in every sense, including that it is not arrived at through a process of consensus, but that authority sets the policy.
With a spanking. Straight through to the old bits, the fast bits of the brain.
Everyone has problems, right? I mean, right around the kitchen table, correct in our personal lives. Well, do you believe it or don’t you? You believe it enough, right? Who doesn’t believe it? So it’s science, a job for science. Otherwise, what? Sure, it’s everybody, but never mind everybody, let’s talk about you? Everyone has problems, but how about me and my problems talk to you and your problems, in private? That should fix it, huh. Who needs science?
Failing anything else, I’m all for therapy, or talking as one might call it. I’m just saying science doesn’t have to fail at it, that there’s some rule says it must and that rule has got to go.
No-one liked their spankings, right?
That’s science, damnit. I assume if the everywhere presence of spanking doesn’t seem to call for science to you, then I imagine you also do not worry about the traumatized and suddenly abandoned young bears, that you simply label them as aggressive and carry on, with some vague but extremely useful idea about awful bear nature and not worry about why it would be that way, I mean who really cares about the absent gentle bear society, who cares how they treat each other? How they treat us is the somewhat more salient thing. Evil bear nature, bear original sin, whatever, as long as you remember the gist, LOL, us, but apparently also smaller bears. (Perhaps bears are on my mind, I was traumatized recently by a video on Twitter where a person harassed a bear and their phone recorded the bear eating them. The bear’s num-num-num noises were of course horrifying.)
Is this a model, doesn’t matter what made the bear antisocial, doesn’t matter what made Dad antisocial? The bear doesn’t say that, but Dad kinda does, doesn’t he? It’s true enough, again, in the moment, the bear or Dad’s back story isn’t the main thing.
I mean, unless you’re a creature that prides itself on being able to ponder the past and peek into the future. Unless maybe this incident wasn’t the first one or wasn’t ever going to be the last one. I swear, the damned bears would get this. As bad as their world losing moment must be, at least it’s over, bears haven’t got an entire pyramid of bears over them constantly threatening their every selfish move. I bet they know they’re hard to get along with and maybe they’re even allowed to know why, unlike some species I know.
Don’t we all agree, again, personally, that we are hardened, made aggressive, I mean don’t you blame someone for your own frustrations, maybe your own anger? Or is it bears that give you grief, is my one reader an Alaskan hermit, someone who escaped human society and then somehow forgot why? Every one of us, either pissed or something beyond it, depressed personally, to me this ought to be science. It seems clear that even if I solve my own problems, that doesn’t solve everyone else’s, clearly, even if I can feel better, fixing me is just putting out one fire and someone is setting us all alight. Putting out fires is not science, science learns where fire comes from, I mean usually. I should point out that in this case science hardly even wants credit for the firefighting, it holds psychology at a distance of plausible deniability, so that apparently if you even think of looking into the matter of who is starting the fires, biology wants anything to do with you only in the most restricted of circumstances.
It’s been too long since I’ve said it maybe: my gonzo science says that idea we have about punishments and deterrents is wrong, that it is exactly these efforts that cause human problems, that these efforts were evolved to increase our aggression and success in conflict and that this strategy has worked too well, look, everywhere, someone winning some conflict that probably never should have come up, that our strategy is conflict first because of our systems of moral abuse, not in spite of them.
It may be science that we have such systems, but these systems are not science, and mainstream science endorses them, unconscious of it all, falling back on bad old human nature in more scientific terms, aggression. I just heard the Pavlov stuff again in this torturous podcast, the exultation, “We can increase desired behaviour, we can decrease unwanted behaviour . . . ” the optimism! Yes you can, all you have to do is create systems of aversion and hurt and decide that those are not unwanted behaviours, or not in fact behaviours at all, not subject to scrutiny themselves.
Nowhere in the history of western thought is there a hint that punishment is a behaviour in itself, it always presents as a natural law. I’m all the way back to Plato’s Socrates, I suppose Plato missed it and that was that, for all the world will tell me, I was the first person to have this thought, and that is not possible, ridiculous, except show me someone. Maybe they never wrote it down. I’ve seen elsewhere that Plato was rather obtuse and authoritarian, I already knew I wasn’t going to find it there, I didn’t know that all anyone had to do to ignore it forever afterwards was follow tradition that leads back to him, I thought it was philosophy, I wasn’t thinking about it as law.
I don’t know how true the chain is there, “western thought” reads like a progress story, one building on the next, but if it’s all flawed then the narrative is lost, isn’t it? They weren’t building on one another, they were refuting one another, starting again every century, but we apparently don’t think punishment is a behaviour that warrants an explanation today, same as then. That bit survived all revisions, didn’t it? Until now, I fantasize, until now, when I earn my place atop all those flawed western thinkers, the one-eyed idiot savant king of the blind, with my only thought!
I understand there are mechanisms in place, something keeps this from our sight, and I find that suggestive that it is a behaviour we think we need and depend on, a thing we hold dear, so dear that we ourselves are not allowed to know about it so we can’t accidentally stop it, like breathing and digestion, they are safe from our thoughts, or the lack of our thoughts. Survival-level dear to us, but look, it’s not working, our aggression has gone from saving us from the neighbors or getting us their stuff to the world is burning, there is no place to run, and we and the neighbors are all going to suffer and die together in a broken world.
It’s time, now or never, face it already.
Sept. 12th., 2020