Confusion is part of the message

Let’s be clear. Confusion is part of the message.

This fact has been elusive. One effect of confusion is that we struggle to find some simple way to untangle it. The real lesson of confusion is that it is a sign we are perceiving complexity as complication.

Linear thinking and the Machine Model lead us to want to eliminate complication, or at least manage it. In this mode we don’t even see complication for what it is: Complication is a condition of perception. It is not inherent in what we are looking at. When we see something as complicated we have misunderstood complexity.

It’s no wonder. Trapped in the Machine Model: considering everything we encounter as if it was organized in the same way as a machine, or an array of machines; our perception is blinded to complexity. All we see is confusion, “This does not compute!”

Even when we develop complicated machines, like computers, to unravel apparent complications in the world as it impinges on us; we strip-down an analogue reality into binary, digital input. This quantification removes the qualities of our interaction with complexity in hopes that this will make everything intelligible. Seeking to understand everything we rob our selves of the chance to relate to anything at a level of subtlety and with a responsiveness to Quality.

John Michael Greer has been looking at why civilizations cycle through collapse on a regular schedule, lasting about a thousand years. He noticed a distinction between the way so-called Primitive Peoples and the civilized perceive and interpret their realities. The non-civilized are immersed in their environment. They are confronted by the subtlety and complexity of the world at every turn. Civilization attempts to replace this immersion and engagement-with-everything with a built-environment that is filtered through human agency.

This filter shows us how our reaction to perceived complication works. A vicious cycle. Increasing unfamiliarity with subtlety and Quality breeds fear of what is now regarded as confusing and complicated. This reaction breeds further efforts to insulate and isolate us from what we see as an increasingly confusing and complicated world-in-opposition, leading to further attempts to wall us off. The more we succeed at hiding from complexity the more we come to believe that complexity is mere complication, something to be avoided. This process continues until its ultimate insanity can no longer be avoided. The only way the balance can be restored is for a civilization to collapse.

The reason for this necessity should be obvious; but it is equally invisible to us when we are hiding behind our wall. Inside our walled enclosures we have been busy. Civilizations are incubators for the illusion of Power.

Power is an illusion in that it is not true that it gives its believers what they think they want. Power is all too real in its actual effects which are to degrade and destroy life and the possibility for life. Power turns us into the undead. We proliferate and convert more and more of the fabric of a living world into barren day-coffins in which we hide from the light. At some point we erode the world’s capacity to resist our onslaught. This leads to a general collapse of over-all diversity and a loss of any capacity for abundant life to persist. At this point all we have striven to hide from rushes into our carefully tended fantasy-world. It all comes crashing down, taking so many of us with it.

When we find hints of this Fate leaking into our defended enclosures we tend to react in a binary fashion as well. We either up our commitment to ignore what we don’t want to hear or we imagine that everything will fall with us, Apres moi? Le Deluge!We have atrophied to the point at which even our imaginations fail us.

This is where we are. This is the world into which I was born and have found myself.

If there is some arc to what I’ve been working on all these years it has been an effort to discover the conditions that have made life so precarious – psychologically precarious. This is a very different thing from the fact that all life is transient and subject to alteration and loss at any point. This latter is the existence of misery. The former is the condition of suffering.

This distinction is a compelling example of what we have lost by conflating complexity with complication and seeking solutions to our predicament by treating it as a barrage of atomized problems. Every living creature deals with misery. The body is fragile and the awareness of pain cannot be avoided if any creature is to survive long. But, the condition of suffering; the mental construct that generates mental suffering and therefore proliferates and increases the misery already found in the world; is not given. It is assumed.

What if we could redevelop our imaginations? What if we could change our attitudes towards complexity? By-pass our tendencies to bounce off of the first little twinge of discomfort at the confusion brought on by our reactions?

We’ll never get there without passing through confusion. This fact brings clarity. Confusion is part of the message.







7 Replies to “Confusion is part of the message”

  1. At this point all we have striven to hide from rushes into our carefully tended fantasy-world. It all comes crashing down, taking so many of us with it.
    Which is where we are poised, globally this time, at this very moment.

    “…up our commitment to ignore what we don’t want to hear…
    Normalcy bias.

    Misery and Suffering

    Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world.”

    There is a single factor that overrides all. As long as essential psychopathy is a part of the human condition, as long as essential psychopaths are able and allowed to participate and rise to power in the hierarchic institutions of societies, a functional civilisation with large populations is simply not possible.

    Yes. Confusion is part of the message and, more often than not, there is no need to unravel it. Things, at their center, in their essence, are usually much simpler than they seem.

    Just my opinion

    1. I think there is a psychopathic tendency in the reflex operation of thought in general. Without “proprioception of thought” (as Bohm meant the phrase), thought is basically “running us”, and running us without regard to anyone else. Without proprioception of thought (which is still the rare exception) I believe we are confusing the thought with the thing, and treating other human beings, other animals, our earth in a psychopathic, manipulative manner. To face this aspect of our daily lives takes rather a big leap. But it’s that rejected (fought and fled) aspect of ourselves that tends to give even worse psychopaths than us permission to take control. That’s just an opinion too. But it’s the perspective I”m testing.

      1. Proprioception is linked strongly to physicality, awareness of the body and stimulus originating from proprioceptors. This form of perception was vital to the survival of our species. It goes back the fight or flight response to a given set of conditions in situations where such “thought” would mean the difference between Life and Death. This might be considered a sort of “protothought” but, I think, most people would classify it as instinctive reaction. Certainly not something to be thought of as “psychopathic“.

        I have no idea who Bohm might be but I’m guessing he was a philosopher? Or do you mean Jakob Böhme? Whomever, I think he may have taken liberties with the concept of proprioception. But taking such liberties is sometimes necessary when one is swimming in the murky waters of relativism, “abstract” thought and philosophy.

        When virtually all our actions were dictated by stimuli from a wild natural environment, proprioception would have been crucial. I suppose it’s still useful at times but is probably more akin to our vestigial tail for most of us. Maybe professional athletes have need of it or police and soldiers in harms way but the average “civilised” consumer zombie probably wouldn’t realise that it’s involved when they experience some gut-level emotion that emerges from the reptilian brain, the brainstem and the cerebellum. Once again, not something that can really be defined as “psychopathic“.

        Psychopathy has been linked more closely to the amygdala, which, I think, is part of the limbic system that, if memory serves, first emerged in mammals. The amygdala is the center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation.

        “Other investigators, such as neuroscientist R.J.R. Blair of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Md., regard psychopathy as the result of a still-unspecified genetic disorder. The inherited defect interferes with the workings of the brain’s emotion system, which is centered in the amygdala, a structure especially concerned with perceiving dangerous situations.” (source)

        I don’t think the externalising of our inhumanity to each other, the normalisation of racism, misogyny, gender discrimination and the general tendency to dehumanise of the “other“, is “instinctive“, part of our standard package. I think it’s the result of constant indoctrination, over several millennia, to this culture of domination that first arose around ten or twelve thousand years ago in the region around the Persian Gulf and is now the dominant culture on every continent on Earth.

        Just my opinion

  2. I think you misunderstand what I meant. Proprioception is certainly nothing pathological! It’s basically the body knowing where it is in space. What David Bohm proposed — a theoretical physicist and philospher — is that thought is also a kind of subtle physical movement. The natural proprioception of thought — the instantaneous awareness of its own existence as a mere thought (not the “thing) — is generally missing. The reason for this is less important than the fact that it tends to be missing. But the reason may be connected to the unique quality of thought to create what are more or less halls of mirrors within its folds — to fool itself with its own imagery, to not realize that much of what we find problematic in “life” are actually only in thoughts. Nations, identities, ideals with which we’re willing to die, etc., all of these seem to have an external existence, some reality apart from thought. In not having this proprioception of thought, we’re in the same predicament as someone who loses proprioception of his limbs, and in the night feels this “external, unrelated leg” in the bed with him and fights it as if it were attacking him. This is the same predicament we face with regard to so many constructs for which we fight to the death. A kind of schizophreny in the absence of proprioception. It’s the absence of proprioception that appears to lead to psychopathy.

    Here are some quotes by Bohm on this:

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