‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 8 The Greatest, Most Heroic Story Ever Told
Chapter 8:13 Pseudo Idealistic Adolescentman
The sub-species: Homo sapiens sapiens — 0.2 million (200,000) years ago to the present day
The individual now: 40 to 50 years old
The Born-Again, Pseudo Idealistic Late Adulthood Stage (of Humanity’s Adolescence) encompasses the time of the ‘mid-life crisis’ and, for those who had resigned, the adoption of Pseudo or False Idealism—the ‘born-again in support of cooperative idealism’ lifestyle.
In this 40-year-old stage, upset compounded at such a rapid rate that the graph charting its intensity did go into free fall, rendering social disintegration an imminent risk. But with upset intensifying throughout humanity’s adolescence, we always knew that if we didn’t find the relieving understanding of the human condition in time then eventually the human race would enter a final end game stage where the levels of upset anger, egocentricity and alienation would threaten to destroy humanity. And this fear did play out: the 2-million-year race our species has been involved in between self-destruction and self-discovery did finally enter this crisis stage some 200,000 years ago and the variety of humans involved was Homo sapiens sapiens—us, the anatomically modern humans who emerged from Homo sapiens around that time. In the case of the individual growing up during humanity’s human-condition-afflicted, insecure adolescence, this was the time when, at about 40 years of age, we entered our so-called ‘mid-life crisis’.
At this point in our personal journey, our upset had become so great that, on one hand, we were hating the condemnation from the cooperative idealistic world of our soul with such fervour that we were beginning to become murderously behaved—while on the other, we were despising ourselves for being so upset and destructive of the world. Although we had, through the measures taken through our 30s, developed a very great deal of instinctive capacity to restrain and conceal—civilise—our upset, it was becoming so great that it all too readily broke out, revealing the extremely angry person that lay beneath. So despite all our efforts to ‘conquer the world’ if we were resigned, or ‘fix the world’ if we were unresigned, all we had to show for ourselves at this stage was an immensely embattled, overly upset, despairing individual. In the words of Man of La Mancha, we had finally ‘march[ed] into hell…[and become] scorned and covered with scars’—that was the price humans had to pay for pursuing the ‘heavenly cause’ of trying to prove that our species is, in fact, fundamentally good and not bad. But what could we do to resolve such an untenable position? The ‘mid-life crisis’ long associated with turning 40 was certainly upon us.
To answer this question of what we could do now that we had entered this overly upset ‘mid-life crisis’ stage, we need to look closely at the situation both of the unresigned and the resigned individual. As has been explained, the upset in humans that resulted from searching for knowledge didn’t become so great that humans needed to resign until the reign of H. sapiens sapiens, which began 200,000 years ago, and even during this time it only became an almost universal phenomenon during the last 11,000 years when the advent of agriculture had the effect of greatly compounding upset. So during the vast majority of H. sapiens sapiens’ reign humans weren’t resigned—but they were now so upset they were bordering on having to resign when they were adolescents and fully engaging with the issue of the human condition. Every human born during the reign of H. sapiens sapiens who lived a long life grew up progressing through the stages of childhood innocence, early adolescent distress about the human condition, the adventurous 20s, the angry 30s, to becoming an extremely overly upset 40-to-50-year-old. And with all humans now maturing to this 40-to-50-year-old immensely embattled, overly upset, despairing ‘mid-life crisis’ state, the overall condition of the human race during this time has been of that immensely embattled, overly upset, despairing ‘mid-life crisis’ condition. During humanity’s childhood australopithecines stage, all members of the australopithecines only progressed psychologically to that childhood stage, so childhood was the mental state of adults then. Today the state of adult humans is the extremely upset ‘mid-life crisis’ 40-year-old-equivalent state, and, as we will see later, even the ‘hollow’ 50-year-old-equivalent state. To grow up to be an extremely upset individual and to encounter a world of extremely upset mid-life-crisis-afflicted, and even hollowness-afflicted adults, was the destiny of members of H. sapiens sapiens. Basically, there was so much upset in the human race by now that every human growing up was almost having to, or, in the case of virtually all those in the last 11,000 years, having to, become resigned to living in denial of the human condition when they were adolescents.
To describe the situation of those who almost had to resign but didn’t, they were encountering so much upset in the world and in themselves they were finding their ideal-world-and-behaviour-expecting instinctive self or soul very difficult to live with, and, as a result, they too were encountering the need to block out of their mind that condemning soul part of themselves. Such resignation was mightily resisted because, firstly, it would mean becoming a soul-repressed and thus soul-dead person; secondly, it would mean becoming a person who uses all manner of denial to hide from the truth that they are an extremely upset, angry and psychologically distressed individual, and, as a result of all that denial, a ‘fake’, ‘phony’, deluded, dishonest, superficial, artificial, escapist person; and thirdly, to try to maintain their insecure self-esteem, it would mean becoming an extremely selfish, competitive and egocentric power-fame-fortune-and-glory-seeking person. While Resignation was therefore a state that was being mightily resisted, these individuals were nevertheless almost having to give in and resign to adopting that extremely compromised life. Significantly, however, since they didn’t resign, they didn’t lose access to the inspired, enthusiastic, alive, sensitive and vital world of our soul. So the essential characteristic of the nearly-resigned-but-still-unresigned, pre-11,000-years-ago H. sapiens sapiens, 40-year-old-equivalent-stage person—or a rare person during that 11,000 years who managed to avoid Resignation—is that throughout their life they were living in a denial-free state of honest awareness of the world’s and their own extreme state of upset, and living in a state that still maintained access to the all-loving and all-sensitive world of our soul. We saw how much soulful sensitivity humans still retained in this pre-resigned state in the exquisitely empathetic drawings of animals that were done by presumably unresigned humans in the Chauvet Cave some 30,000 years ago, and we can also see something of their awareness of their own and their fellow humans’ extremely upset, corrupted condition in their apparent lack of desire to draw themselves.
So the life of someone living in the extremely upset but not yet so upset that they had to resign state, was one that was characterised by great sensitivity, but also great distress about the corrupted condition of humans. The great prophets Moses and Christ were very rare examples of unresigned, exceptionally truthful thinking individuals living during the last 11,000 years, so in their lives we can see something of the unresigned state where there is still great sensitivity as well as extremely despairing awareness of the corrupted state of humanity. Being unresigned and thus still able to access all the sensitivities of our soul, the full horror of the extremely upset world of humans around them, and also in them, would have been very clear to them; so much so they realised there was an absolutely paramount need to do something about it—as Christ said about all those who were resigned around him, ‘I stood in the midst of the world and…found all men drunken [behaving in a mad way]…And my soul grieves over the sons of men, because they are blind in their heart, and see not [they are alienated from the truth of their horrifically corrupted condition]’ (Gospel of Thomas, saying 28). (This is the same soul-sensitive insight the great prophet Plato had when he described resigned, ‘cave’-dwelling humans as being ‘fuddled [drunk]’ and unable ‘to see clearly’—see par. 679.) In the case of Moses, this absolutely desperate need to do something about all the suffering his sensitivity allowed him to see in the world led him to establish the ground rules—his Ten Commandments—for living in an overly upset world. And in the case of Christ, it led him to realise that he needed to create a religion around his soundness for people to defer to and live through. Earlier Bruce Chatwin was quoted as saying Christ was ‘the perfect instinctual specimen’, meaning he was free of upset, as a member of the completely innocent early Childman variety of humans would be, but he wasn’t. While he was exceptionally innocent and sound, he nevertheless was a member of extremely upset and despairing, ‘mid-life crisis’ Homo sapiens sapiens. Prophets were only relatively innocent. For example, all the frustration and despair in modern humans was apparent when, as young men, Moses ‘killed the Egyptian’ he saw ‘beating a Hebrew’ (Exod. 2:11-12), and Christ angrily ‘overturned the tables of the money-changers’ in the temple (Matt. 21:12 & Mark 11:15). Moses’ and Christ’s relatively corrupted condition was also apparent when they found they had to fast for ‘forty days and forty nights’ (Deut. 9:9 & Matt. 4:2) to break up the alienation in their minds and gain the deep access to their all-sensitive souls that they needed in order to think completely truthfully and thus effectively. Interestingly, with regards to the alienation-clearing powers gained by fasting, when describing the effects of losing 47 pounds to play the role of an AIDS sufferer in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club, the American actor Matthew McConaughey described how ‘Every ounce of power and leverage I lost from the neck down, I promise you I gained it from the neck up because I became hyper aware and acute’ (Inside the Actors Studio, 20 Feb. 2014).
We now need to look at what has been happening in the minds and lives of the desperately overly upset and distressed H. sapiens sapiens, the 40-year-old-equivalent resigned person—and since this resigned state is the almost universal condition of humans during the latter years of the reign of H. sapiens sapiens, it is this state that will be described from here on.
The situation for these desperately overly upset and distressed humans was that they were unable to resist Resignation when they were adolescents. And once resigned, their lives were then characterised by the three features of life in resignation that were described above—of becoming soul-dead; and ‘fake’, ‘phony’, deluded, dishonest, superficial and artificial; and extremely selfish, competitive and egocentric seekers of power, fame, fortune and glory. Living in this extremely corrupted state meant that by the time they arrived at their immensely distressed 40-year-old ‘mid-life crisis’ stage, their crisis was severe. In fact, so severe it has parallels with the situation they encountered in their early adolescence when they were approaching Resignation and becoming overwhelmed with the extent of the corruption both in the world and within themselves. To elaborate, the most masterful writing on the mid-life crisis has to be that penned by the great Italian poet Dante in his epic poem, the Divine Comedy, which famously begins: ‘Midway through our life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost. To tell about those woods is hard—so tangled and rough and savage that thinking of it now, I feel the old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter. And yet, to treat the good I found there as well I’ll tell what I saw’ (c. 1308-1320; tr. Robert Pinsky, 1995). Yes, by the time the resigned adult approaches 40, the power, fame, fortune and glory trip has lost all its lustre, leaving them ‘in dark woods, the right road lost’. And ‘To tell about those woods is hard’ because the transparency of the ‘fake’, ‘phony’ world they have been living in reconnects them to the issue of the human condition that they blocked out at Resignation. To see that their world and the world around them has become so corrupted forces them to question why it is like that; honesty shatters the denial they have been using to block out the issue of the human condition. So they’re now confronting the human condition again, which is an extremely ‘hard’ position to be in because there is so much ‘tangled and rough and savage’ truth to face. And so they are taken back to ‘the old fear’ they faced as an adolescent during Resignation, an experience so terrible ‘death is hardly more bitter’—which is how Kierkegaard described confrontation with the human condition: ‘that despair is the sickness unto death, this tormenting contradiction [of our ‘good and evil’-afflicted lives]’ (see par. 119). So ‘what’ Dante ‘saw’ when he plunged down into the pit of terrible self-confrontation was an ‘Inferno’ of horror, which was followed by terrible self-condemnation, or ‘Purgatory’ as he titled the first two sections of the Divine Comedy. The incredible courage Dante demonstrated in confronting the human condition when he was obviously a resigned person and thus not sound enough to do so safely was eventually rewarded when he fought his way through all the doubts, until, with a great lift of spirit, he reached the ultimate realisation of what life for humans would be like when they finally completed their heroic painful journey through ignorance and were reconciled with the ideals or God—namely ‘Paradise’, as he titled the third and final section of his poem; the time when the souls of all humans would be rehabilitated and everyone would be at one with everyone and everything. So Dante experienced mid-life crisis to the absolute full, a test of endurance few sufferers of the mid-life crisis would inflict upon themselves. No, as will now be described, rather than continuing to try to confront the human condition, the resigned mind in general found a very different way to again avoid the whole unbearable subject.
In an article titled ‘Turning 40 and Frantic, Mid life crisis’, the journalist Ali Gripper acknowledged this parallel between the mid-life crisis state of mind and the crisis experienced at Resignation, writing that ‘Mid life is undoubtedly a recycling of adolescent issues. It is as if the psyche goes back and picks up the threads of what we were dealing with as teenagers’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Mar. 1996). Yes, as with the situation that occurred in their early adolescence when they were faced with extreme states of despair and depression about their circumstances, at 40 resigned individuals also encountered variously extreme states of desperation about their situation. And, most significantly, like what happened when they were adolescents struggling with extreme despair and depression, the resigned 40-year-old’s mind also searched frantically for a way to solve the problem of their now untenable situation. And just as their unbearably upset and psychologically desperate adolescent selves came up with a desperate solution to completely put aside the reality of their circumstances by resigning themselves to living in denial of cooperative ideality and thus the depressing issue of the human condition, so too did the, by now, extremely corrupted, resigned 40-year-old—BUT this time the evasion was achieved through focusing on the positive, guilt-relieving effect or feeling that came from being civilised. The angry 30-year-old had learnt to restrain/civilise their upset, but what the desperate resigned 40-year-old realised in their frantic search to find a solution to their problem was that being civilised or ‘well-behaved’ or ‘good’ produced a guilt-relieving positive feeling and that this was the one positive in their life that they could derive some reinforcement from.
When humans are psychologically cornered they typically ‘scan the horizon’ for any positive, no matter how small, and make a huge deal of it, and this situation was no different. Frantically scanning for any positive that could be employed to escape condemnation and depression, it was the side effect of feeling good when we behaved in a civilised way that the resigned 40-year-old latched onto to develop. Indeed, in the case of the extremely upset, resigned 40-year-old, so desperate were they for relief from the horror and guilt of their situation that their mind decided to focus so completely on the positive that they were good when they behaved in a cooperative, civilised, ideal, loving way that they deluded themselves that they weren’t actually corrupted, that they weren’t massively upset human-condition-afflicted people. They convinced themselves that the mask or facade of civility was not actually a mask or facade at all, but a true representation of their real self: ‘I am behaving in a cooperative, loving way, therefore, I am an upset-free, guilt-free, human-condition-eliminated, thoroughly good, cooperative, loving, sound human.’ It was an extraordinarily false/dishonest/‘phony’/‘fake’/deluded interpretation, but the depression from feeling guilty/bad/worthless about being so upset was so great that their mind was well and truly capable of making, accepting and living with such a grand delusion. The situation was similar to the resigned person being so overwhelmed by the depression caused by their predicament that they were capable of making the extremely false interpretation that instead of having integrative, Godly, unconditionally selfless, moral instincts, we actually live in a non-integrative world of random, directionless change, and have selfish, competitive, survival-of-the-fittest animal instincts that make us competitive and aggressive, and as such there is no psychological dilemma of the human condition to have to contend with, let alone have to explain or ameliorate.
This resigned 40-year-old, ‘do good in order to delude yourself that you actually are good, that you actually are free of corruption and thus the dilemma of the human condition’ strategy was an extremely deluded way of coping with the problem of the now massively corrupted human-condition-afflicted state, but it has, nevertheless, been so seductive that it developed into an industry so huge and so influential that the dishonesty involved now threatens to destroy humanity.
To elaborate, while being civilised—that is, using self discipline to restrain and contain your upset so it didn’t show—did help contain destructive behaviour and provide its practitioners with immense relief from doing so, what happened during the resigned 40-year-old stage was that this relieving, ‘feel good’, ‘warm inner glow’, ‘blissed out’ positive of having restrained your upset and behaved in a ‘good’/ideal/cooperative way became the entire focus of existence. In the end, as we will see, when humans became extremely upset—saturated with the problem of the corrupted state of the human condition—their whole mental preoccupation became one of searching for situations and opportunities where, through doing ‘good’, they could derive ‘the rush’ of relief from the condemning issue and truth of their corrupted state. So again, while the 30-year-old used civilising self discipline to restrain and conceal their upset, they—unlike the resigned 40-year-old—weren’t using it to delude themselves that they were an ideally behaved, upset-free, guilt-free, human-condition-eliminated, sound person.
The immense danger of this preoccupation with relief-hunting through ‘doing good’ was that it could become so consuming, so addictive and thus so selfishly indulged that it could stop the all-important search for knowledge, because if there was too much preoccupation with ‘doing good’ it could result in insufficient tolerance of the corruption that unavoidably resulted from pursuing humanity’s heroic search for knowledge. If there was too much emphasis on cooperative idealism humanity would be denied the freedom necessary to find the liberating understanding of the human condition, and if it didn’t find that liberating self-knowledge humanity would be condemned to the eventual emergence of terminal levels of upset—in particular, the unbearable levels of the psychosis and neurosis of alienation that result from having to adopt excessive amounts of psychological denial and delusion. In short, the dogma of doing good could oppress and even stop the all-important search for knowledge by denying the freedom to be, to a degree, corrupted. As we will see, this extremely dangerous situation did arise; humanity did face a death by dogma, a fate only the finding of the liberating understanding of the human condition—that science has made possible and which is being presented here—can save humanity from.
The danger of excessive oppression of freedom has been particularly great because of the massively seductive nature of relief-hunting. If we return to the Adam Stork analogy for describing the human condition, at any time Adam could surrender to his criticising instinctive self and ‘fly back on course’, obey his instinctive orientation, and by so doing stop and thus relieve the criticism emanating from his instinctive self, but that meant abandoning the all-important search for knowledge. And, of course, in the case of humans, when we ‘flew off course’ and became angry, egocentric and alienated the sense of guilt we accrued from defying our cooperatively orientated, all-loving, Godly, moral instincts was immense, so ‘flying back on course’ was an extremely guilt-relieving, and thus an extremely tempting, option.
There was, however, a further, very significant dimension to the problem of ‘flying back on course’—being, as we revealingly say, ‘born again’ to supporting instead of resisting the cooperative ideals our instinctive self dogmatically demanded—which was that since our instinctive self was orientated to behaving cooperatively, when we abandoned the search for knowledge by taking up support of cooperative idealism we were not only abandoning the battle to champion our ego or conscious thinking self over our idealistic instinctive self or soul, we were also siding against those fighting the battle. We weren’t just ‘taking a rest’ to recuperate, we had actually switched camps/allegiances to side with the ‘enemy’. It was completely subversive, mad behaviour—an act of cowardice and treachery—because in switching sides the individual was basically saying, ‘I don’t care about humanity anymore. I only care about making myself feel good and relieving my own guilt.’ They were being totally selfish, the complete opposite of the selfless and ideal and cooperative person they were deluding themselves to be. And since the lie they were maintaining was so great, they had to work very hard at convincing both themselves and others of it, which meant they were typically a strident, extremely intolerant, belligerent even fanatical advocate of their position.
Yes, in choosing to be ‘born again’ you had to work very hard at maintaining the conviction that what you were doing was right because, although we haven’t been able to explain, confront or talk about it, the truth is all humans who have lived during humanity’s adolescence have intuitively been aware of the battle of having to overthrow the ignorant idealism of our soul; when we shook our fist at the heavens we were saying, ‘One day, one day we are going to prove that we humans are good and not bad.’ We knew that to give up the battle against our idealistic soul, and not just give it up but side with the ‘enemy’ and against those trying to win the battle, was a crime against all those still fighting for understanding, and against humanity as a whole. So despite how tempting it was, siding against humanity and those fighting the battle was, in reality, such a repulsive course of action that it took a great deal of despair and fear of depression about being overly corrupt to actually do so. The delusion, dishonesty and betrayal involved was extreme, but for ever-increasing numbers of people the need for relief from feeling loathful/guilty/bad about themselves became so great it could not be resisted.
Again, the great danger was that, since upset was the price of searching for knowledge, if everyone became addicted to selfishly indulging their need for relief through ‘doing good to feel good’ there would be no tolerance of non-ideal upset behaviour, and humanity’s all-important search for knowledge, ultimately liberating self-knowledge, would be shut down, condemning humanity to terminal levels of alienation and thus extinction. So while Resignation to living in denial of the issue of the human condition and taking up a competitive, egocentric, selfish power-fame-fortune-and-glory-seeking lifestyle was, in itself, extremely desperate and mad behaviour, it did at least involve participating in humanity’s great battle to overthrow ignorance.
Certainly, the upset behaviour that resulted from participating in humanity’s heroic search for knowledge was increasingly causing immense human suffering and environmental devastation, but if we didn’t continue the search for knowledge then there was simply no hope. To put it in political terms, although the harsh, brutal reality associated with what became known as ‘right-wing’ politics was bringing about immense human inequality, hardship and suffering, and was destroying the planet, it was the search-for-knowledge-oppressing so-called ‘left-wing’ politics that posed the real threat to the survival of the human race—because only the search for knowledge could lead to the finding of understanding of the human condition and the liberation of humans from that totally unbearable, crippling, soul-sickening, black-dog-depressing, real-person-extinguishing, deadening, human-life-denying condition! While, as the journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft recognised, ‘the great twin political problems of the age are the brutality of the right, and the dishonesty of the left’ (The Australian Financial Review, 29 Jan. 1999), and, as the scientist-philosopher Carl von Weizsäcker also recognised, ‘The sin of modern capitalism is cynicism (about human nature), and the sin of socialism is lying’ (included in a speech by Prof. Charles Birch that was reproduced in the Geelong Grammar School mag. The Corian, Sep-Oct. 1980), it was NOT the ‘cynicism’ and ‘the brutality of the right’, BUT THE ‘lying’, ‘dishonesty of the left’ that stood like a colossal ogre over the human race, threatening to destroy it!
To return to the Adam Stork analogy once more, Adam knew from the outset that he had to continue with the upsetting search for knowledge, that he could never afford to stop until the liberating understanding of his corrupted condition was found. That was his fundamental reality, and it has remained our fundamental reality. Again, the Statue of Liberty is as good a symbol as any of the fundamental responsibility humans have had to maintain freedom, which we can now understand means freedom from the cooperative ideals in order to continue the upsetting search for the knowledge that would allow humanity’s ultimate liberation. Yes, paradoxically, real idealism, the real path to an ideal world, depended on continuing the corrupting search for knowledge until we found the human-race-liberating understanding of the human condition. The strategy of hunting for guilt-relieving, feel-good causes was, in fact, pseudo or false idealism, because it meant abandoning, and, worse still, oppressing, and—even worse still—actively opposing that all-important search for knowledge.
In summary, while humans have had to counter the effects of the extreme upset that now plagues human life, and thus our world, with a degree of idealistic, concern-for-others-and-concern-for-the-world behaviour—and, in truth, becoming civilised did involve a degree of abandonment of the upsetting battle in favour of being idealistic and showing concern for others and the world—what has happened is that the feel good aspect of behaving ‘ideally’ has evolved into what is now an extremely dangerous industry.
Yes, given it has been so hard to explain and argue why not being ideally behaved is good, and so easy to argue that being ideally behaved can’t be anything but good, ‘the left’ has had a field day mocking ‘the right’ as selfish, immoral and evil. As such, this quote by Nietzsche, which was referred to in par. 302, stands out as a brave and rare pronouncement on the need to hold our nerve and continue our species’ great heroic battle to champion the ego over the ignorance of our instincts: ‘There have always been many sickly people among those who invent fables and long for God [ideality]: they have a raging hate for the enlightened man and for that youngest of virtues which is called honesty…Purer and more honest of speech is the healthy body, perfect and square-built: and it speaks of the meaning of the earth [to face truth and one day find understanding of the human condition]…You are not yet free, you still search for freedom. Your search has fatigued you…But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!…War [against the oppression of dogma] and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your pity but your bravery has saved the unfortunate up to now…What warrior wants to be spared? I do not spare you, I love you from the very heart, my brothers in war!’ The author and journalist George Orwell was another who bravely recognised the very real danger of humanity losing its nerve when he famously predicted that ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face [freedom]—for ever’ (Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949, p.267 of 328). And, in fact, as will soon be documented, this end play, death-by-dogma fate for the human race has all but descended upon humanity and can only be prevented by the eleventh-hour arrival of this understanding of the human condition.
As pointed out, all humans have been intuitively aware that when they took up the born-again, pseudo idealistic way of coping with the human condition they were siding against humanity, siding with the enemy, and that doing so was a loathsome act of cowardice and treachery. So while the desperately upset, mid-life crisis of the resigned 40-year-old stage made taking up the born-again, pseudo idealistic way of coping a tempting option that was worth trying, the revulsion of living so treacherously caused many to change sides yet again and return to the upsetting battle of searching for knowledge. However, in returning to the battle they could only expect to become even more upset, angry, egocentric and alienated, which introduces the final stage that living under the duress of the human condition has resulted in: the extremely tragic ‘Hollow Adolescentman’ stage.