Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"It's no big deal" -- the religion of cool part II

This is part II of last weeks "it's no big deal" -- the religion of cool part I

I have offered the definition of Primalism as a world view (see a primer on primalism). Now, from time to time in my writing, I will refer to Primalism as an active noun for the sake of clarity and convenience. I will say things like "Primalism has..." "Primalism understands...", treating it as a sentient force that comprises a) the beliefs and practices therein, b) the individuals who follow those beliefs, and c) the gravitational force that Primalism has a social movement that is greater than the sum of its parts. I do so, in part, because individual Primalists on the street are usually not aware of all that comprises Primalism and because Primalists themselves treat the "times"--the social phenomenon greater than the sum of its parts--as a "collective mind".

As I said in my lust makes the world go 'round, Primalism is the unconscious repository for many people's latent drive for meaning who do not otherwise believe that "meaning" exists as a real thing outside of feelings. This latent drive for meaning contains the latent need that people have to organize life according to some ethical system that is larger than themselves. To the extent that Primalism serves this need, people become bonded to the ethical imperatives that flow from following the wisdom of the collective id. Here, the wisdom of the collective id is understood as the "times" wherein new forms of id expressions are being negotiated into the fabric of social acceptance. I refer to these id desires and expressions that are in the process of being woven into the fabric of social acceptance as the "emergent id".

In this context, Primalism has a value for each individual to experience the primal feeling of expressing his/her individual self ("it's all about you"). Primalism, however, places a premium on each individual giving deference to the collective id so that others throughout the collective can have their id based individuality too. Individuals within the collective are expected to protect and nurture each new id experience that is being woven into the fabric of social acceptance -- this, so that those who are discovering their individuality in the new id experience can have as much individuality as those who have found their individuality in id experiences that were ratified in earlier "times".

As such, Primalists understand themselves as being part of a matrix, a social economy of individuality, that maximizes id based individuality across all the members of the collective. Here, each individual Primalist within the collective needs to do a lot of "fitting in" and suppressing of his individual judgement ("who's to say?") to make it work. It is on this basis that Primalism has the ethical imperative for an individual to fit-in to the "times" in such a way that he/she does not present a threat to the emergent id. In this way, Primalism values the individuality of one's id but not individuality of one's mind.

The Primalist idea of being "cool" is based on this value system. To be "cool" is to experience one's id at the expense of one's mind so that one's individual id does not conflict with wisdom of the collective id. In this way, Primalism is a secular attempt to turn the collective id into a sort of tao. Exploring only a similarity in ideas, An enlightened Primalist has "blown out" his mind to follow the collective id in a manner similar to that of a Zen Buddhist who has "blown out" his mind to follow the Tao. In the secular, Primalist sense, to be cool is to be enlightened. Primalism, is, of course, vastly different from Zen Buddhism in that it does not involve the "blowing out" of primal desires. Rather, Primalism is an ethical system that works upward taking for granted that society is made up of self-aggrandizing people with churning desires who all follow their id, even if they don't admit it. In Primalism, people submit to the Primalist ethics, believing it to be a system of "checks and balances" on their own self-aggrandizing and on the self-aggrandizing of others.

An individual who is bonded to the Primalist idea of being "cool" will have his/her latent drive for meaning bonded to the mandate to advance the Primalist ethical system as a superior ethical system above all others. As such, Primalists are apologists for the Primalist system of "checks and balances" on individual self-aggrandizing in the face of those who would pose a threat to its assumptions. Being an apologist for Primalism as such involves protecting the emergent id from any threats that come from someone asserting their own individual wisdom above the wisdom arrived at by the "times"(see WWAD and "don't judge me").

To the extent that Primalism is a post-articulate belief, Primalists consider the very act of argumentation to be a sign of regression out of individuals' allegiance to the collective id. For this reason, Primalists very often don't construct arguments when faced with criticism as much as they rely on slogans that encapsulate Primalist ideas. In this way, a Primalist confronts criticism that is threatening to the emergent id by asserting what he/she considers to be the ethical superiority of Primalism as something that is beyond argument.

A Primalist has arrived at the idea that a thing's normalcy is a status that is granted to it because it has been ratified by the collective id. As such, the fact that something is normal is reason enough to let it be left alone and protected from contradicting opinions. A Primalist often will employ a variety of slogans to enforce this idea. Sex, fashion and money are examples of powerful things -- indissoluble from the id experiences that are highly valued within Primalism and are integral parts of the Primalist social economy. When a Primalist wants to suppress incorrect scrutiny of these things, he will often say something like "it's no big deal" "it's just ... fashion ...the times ...what people want ...etc..." or any similar saying that is based on the its normal because it's normal axiom.

Fierce mundanity is a term that I use to describe what happens when something that is "no big deal" is also the proverbial "elephant in the room". Fierce mundanity is the intellectual phenomenon of people asserting the commonality of a thing as a means to quell the scrutiny of that thing. Fierce mundanity is used to suppress the scrutiny of something powerful when there is a tacit payoff in not having that power examined. A Primalist will use the it's normal because it's normal axiom as fierce mundanity for the tacit payoff that he gains advancing the collective id in a non-articulate way. Not only does he satisfy his unconsious drive for meaning by advancing the ethical demands of Primalism at large, he also gains the tacit payoff of enjoying the id experiences that are being made available to him in the emergent id. Another important tacit payoff for him is the status that he reinforces for himself among fellow Primalists as a "post-articulate" person who "gets it". Thus, being "cool" in the Primalist sense is to experience these tacit payoffs by expressing "fierce mundanity" with ease throughout one's words, demeanor and behavior.

In Primalism, the ethical imperative for an individual to "fit-in" reinforces the individuals' ethical imperative to have a "thought-ethic" of non-examination and non-judgement. For a Primalist to experience his individual id in concert with other Primalists across the collective requires that he sacrifice his individual attempt at making judgements on what has become normal around him. To do this he must apply the same it's normal because it's normal axiom to himself that he asserts to others. In other words, he must suppress his own scrutiny of what is normal by saying "it's no big deal" to himself.

To the extent that there is any latent dissonance that an individual Primalist has fitting in with his fellow Primalists and with progress as it is defined by the "times", he will subconsciously harbor anxiety. A Primalist who wishes to experience all of the payoffs of being cool will be bound by its claims on his mind, feelings, words and behavior, and he will try to remain "cool" even while harboring dissonance and anxiety within himself. To be cool, a Primalist must look out on what has become normal and say "it's no big deal" as a means of pledging allegiance to the collective id. Here, a Primalist will internalize "it's no big deal" and subconsciously apply the "it's no big deal" idea onto his inner life. In this way, a Primalist confronts the dissonance within himself as being something that is "no big deal" and thereby suppresses his anxiety enough to maintain a "cool pose".

In Primalism, a certain amount of latent anxiety is actually taken for granted as just another churning primal drive that humans have. This latent anxiety and insecurity is part of what makes the world go 'round and is the engine for the Primalist social economy and the business economy that is based on it. As such, the Primalist social economy is one of negotiated insecurity that operates as an undercurrent under people's "cool pose" -- more on that later.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"it's no big deal" -- the religion of cool Part I

As I talked about in "my lust makes the world go 'round", people who don't consciously believe that life has any true meaning nevertheless retain a latent drive for meaning. This drive compels people to find something that serves as a focal point for their subconscious drive for meaning. Without a belief in truth, many these days are subconsciously serving their drive for meaning with the Primalist notions of what is "authentic" for the self and notions of what is "correct" for the times. The changing times, negotiated by the collective id, represent an "emergence" of new expression of primal desires that are being woven into the fabric of social acceptance.

The emergent "times" move through the air faster than the speed of any individual person's thought, and are undertsood as trumping any individual's attempt to articulate reality and place it into a coherent system of thought. Primalists consider it a sign of progress that people adhere to the "times" and not try to assume mastery over the times by scrutinizing them (see "don't judge me"). In this way, Primalism is a "post-articulate" belief system, having the idea that it is a sign of progress that people follow the times without debate or scrutiny.

It is for this reason that the essence of being "cool" for a Primalist is to be hip to this new emergence and to be able to behave the fact that one "gets it". One's coolness is determined by one being able to know the times without having to ask, thereby proving one's status as a post-articulate person. Here, one's coolness--one's tacit understanding and approval of the emergent "times"--is something that must be behaved and "if you have to ask you'll never know".

It is true that aspects of Primalism are found in many of the arguments articulated by various intellectuals. As I said in my WWAD essay, postmodernism is one intellectual movement, among others, that has ties to Primalism. Nonetheless, Primalism is mostly a populist movement wherein people who are not able to articulate complex ideas can still be hip and on the cutting edge operating with Primalist slogans and behavior.

A Primalist understands that things that have become normal have become so because they have been ratified and accepted by the collective id. It is in deference to this ethical system of following the collective id that a Primalist uses a thing's normalcy as a justification for its existence. In other words, Primalists express their allegiance to the collective id by operating on the axiom, it's normal because it's normal.

Primalism is a belief system that places the id and the feelings that flow from the id as the essense of what is most vital and real. Even as Primalism encourages people to say "but I feel like it" as a justification for their behavior, the very structure of Primalism results in a system of belief and behavior that encourages people to experience certain feelings and suppress others. Primalism encourages lust and id based anger and hubris that have been determined to be within the bounds of what is "correct". As Primalism appeals to these primal desires that people actually have on some level, Primalism encourages people to cultivate them in ways that they might not under different circumstances and even to cultivate certain anxieties.

Due to the emphasis that Primalism places on an individual to be "cool" and "post-articulate", Primalism elevates the need for people to look to see what the others in the collective are doing and saying. Its is in this context that Primalism encourages people to experience the primal desire of being comfortable by cultivating the desire to avoid conflict and the desire to fit in. The desires to avoid conflict and to be accepted are encouraged for Primalists to meet the ethical demands of looking to the "times" for guidance. (Part II next week)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"Don't judge me!"

For a Primalist, the changing "times", negociated by the collective id, represents a continual "emergence" of new expressions of primal desires that are continually being woven into the fabric of social acceptance and public space. Primalists place a premium on this emergence, and seek to nurture and protect this emergence from incorrect ideas from individuals and groups, and even from themselves.

There are many ways that Primalists protect this emergence of primal desires in society from notions and criticism that would hinder its progress. When a Primalist is faced with public criticism directed at his behavior, he will often say "don't judge me!". Speaking as the Primalist, "don't judge me" means that I, as the individual criticized, should be given the latitude to exercise my personal judgement in regard to what is right for me by being protected from you, the criticizer. On the surface, it appears that I, the criticized, simply want to protect my perogative to judge without it being violated by others. Dig one layer beneath the surface, and "don't judge me" is actually based on a world view that makes claims on the very nature of judgement.

"Don't judge me" is part of a dialogue ethic, which is a set of social rules that dictate how, if and when individuals my share their opinions with one another. Primalists have a low view of any persons attempt to judge apart from deferring to the wisdom of the "times" via the collective id and frown upon any person making public any judgements that deviate from the wisdom of the collective id. In this context, "don't judge me" is part of a Primalist dialogue ethic that says "no one should publicly criticize anyone with judgements that deviate from the times" -- I, the Primalist, should not be exposed to your judgements that deviate from the times, and you should not be exposed to mine. (I'm reminded of a porn star who, during an interview, referred to the clinic where she was tested every month as a "very safe place". What she meant by "safe" was that the people there were uncritical of her choice to be a porn star.)

Primalists believe that when an individual attempts to judge others, he/she assumes too much mastery over what is right and wrong. It is believed that when an individual assumes this personal mastery over what is right and wrong, it will necessarily lead to that person operating out of fear, hubris and ignorance -- if not his hubris, fear and ignorance directly, then the fear, hubris and ignorance of those he influences. It is understood that an individual's judgementalness, left unchecked, can spread like a cancer to become society's judgementalness (see the essay what would assholes do? -- WWAD). A Primalist who wishes to nip this judgementalness in the bud will say "don't judge me" as a way of enforcing a social contract that says that criticisms have no claim to public space and should not be made within earshot of the criticized.

Given the fear that Primalists have of judgementalness and the premium that Primalists place on the deferring to the "times" for wisdom, "don't judge me" does not merely make claims on public criticism by saying in effect "don't publicly criticize me, "don't judge me" also makes claims on the mind by saying in effect " don't use your mind to judge me or anyone else with any yardstick that extends beyond yourself and/or the times". In this way, "don't judge me" is not just part of Primalist dialogue ethic, it is also part of a Primalist "thought ethic". "Don't judge me" is a statement that no one, not even the Primalist himself, should use the mind to judge beyond what is being decided by the collective id. In the context of primal desires, one should not allow one's conscious intellect to judge so that the primal desires that are being ratified by the "times" can have free reign to be expressed.

This is why "but I feel like it!", when spoken by a Primalist as a justification for his actions, is a corallary to "don't judge me". Speaking as the Primalist, my feelings have spoken and, as long as my feelings are within the boundaries of what is correct for the times, my feelings and the behavior that flows from them are a better and more authentic expression what is real and true than your judgements about me. As such, speaking as the Primalist, the unfettered expression of my feelings has the claim to public space, while your contradicting opinions do not.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

WWAD -- what would assholes do?

(The following essay assumes that you have read "My lust makes the world go 'round" and a primer on primalism)

Primalists do not like the idea of truth as something that can be known. For Primalists, "correct" and "authentic" are more palatable terms that approximate the idea of truth. Within Primalism "correct" is a term that is oriented around the "times" and "authentic" is a term oriented around the self.

The primal desires of lust, anger, greed, fear and hubris are seen as the essense of one's authentic self. It is only in the interest of being correct that one should supress any of these desires. Suppressing one's primal desires other than to be correct is understood as the act of repressing one's authentic self. Primalists have a low of view of an individual's higher consciousness as being anything other than a repository for primal desires and understand people as creatures who are driven by emotions and primal desires and not by rationality. When evaluating a person's words, Primalists are primarily interested in the underlying motive. In evaluating a person's words, the only question relavent for a Primalist is which emotion/primal desire-- lust, greed, anger, fear or hubris-- is lying underneath the words and that the person is allowing to dominate him/her.

Suppose that one is suppressing one's primal desires on the basis believing in an idea of truth that makes claims on desires beyond what is correct for the "times". A Primalist interprets this person's belief and supression of his desires as being an act of fear, using his belief in truth as a vehicle for his fear to repress his true authentic self underneath. As such, this person's fear is understood as an "incorrect" fear. If an individual is calling others to suppress their primal desires on the basis of an idea of truth that lies outside of what is correct, that person is seen as using his belief in truth as a vehicle for his hubris to elevate himself self above others. As such this person's hubris is an "incorrect" hubris.

Primalists understand that violence leads directly from the hubris and fear that is connected to individuals and groups believing and propogating an idea of truth outside what is correct. If an individual or a group is making broad claims of truth that apply to others, that individual or group is necessarily in intellectual conflict with those who do not "see it that way". If an individual or group making a claim to truth is granted any power, their hubris will drive them to create a society and create institutions capable of imposing that belief on others by force. Primalists have a view of history that when individuals and groups make claims to truth it leads to violence over others that don't believe in that truth. Better that individuals relinquish their claims to truth and defer to "progress", as progress is negociated through the changing times by the collective id. And so it is operating in deference to the collective id and calling others to do the same that Primalists attempt to hold this dark side of primal desires in check.

Postmodernism, at its most vague and generous, allows for the possibility of truth but says that it can only be arrived at via different view points -- that no truth, as true as it may be, can be absolutely commicated to everyone via a singular source. An idea of Postmodernism that allows for the intellectual acknowledgement that truth may exist is a form of Postmodernism that is friendly to debate and inquiry. However, for a Postmodernist to be able to
a) sincerely believe that he/she has the truth
b) allow that others may only see it as a point of view, and
c) to able to operate peaceably within a community of debate,
requires that the Postmodernist have the ability to "think in stereo". "Thinking in stereo" is the ability to see the truth that one believes in while also seeing outside of oneself to the world that doesn't see it that way. Thinking in stereo requires sophisticated emotion processing (which I'll get into later) .

Primalism is a social application of Postmodernism that is oriented around the masses. A Primalist may not be sure whether "the truth is out there", but a Primalist is very sure that any one person can't know it ("Who's to say?). Primalism does not give individuals much credit for an ability to "think in stereo". Primalists operate on the premise, stated by the Tommy Lee Jones charater in the movie Men in Black, who said, "a person is smart but people are stupid". Primalism looks at individuals throught the prism of the masses and the potential for masses to "think in mono" and act stupidly -- like assholes.

Based on this assessment, Primalists evaluate any intellectual idea on how it could be interpreted by the worst instincts of the masses. In other words, Primalists are most interested in the social utility of an idea by asking the question "what would assholes do if they found out about it?" It is on the basis of the danger that ideas have to inflame the masses with the wrong primal desires that Primalists evaluate ideas to see which ideas can operate as an organizing premise of society. A Primalist on the street might utter a slogan such as "times change" and "who's to say" to quell an idea that does not pass this "asshole" test. Among intellectuals, there are a variety of more sophisticated ways to try to quell ideas that fail the test -- more on that later.

Primalists are most favorable to intellectual ideas that are seen to maximize pleasure and freedom among a society of people driven primarily by lust, greed, fear and hubris. As such Primalists are interested in an "asshole equilibrium" accross society that maximizes the primal expression of these desires throughout society in such a way that causes the least amount of violence. Based on this "gain calculus", Primalists do look the other way for certain types of violence (more on that later).

Among the primal desires, lust, greed, fear and hubris, lust is seen as having an important utility for a social equilibrium that mitigates against the violence connected to hubris and fear that is connected to broad claims of truth. If people are finding pleasure in lust and sex, they won't be so pre-occupied with obsessing about grand ideas of "truth". "Make love not war" from the 1960's is a statement that contains the 60's starry-eyed conflation of boffing with "love" and sets it up as the antidote to violience. Current Primalists mostly eschew the abstraction known as "love", but still hold lust as a social force that can operate as a substitute for violence-via-truth-claims.

That is why if one is questioning a primalist expression of lust/sex on the basis of a broad claim of truth, politically incorrect truth, a Primalist will counter saying "Why do you care so much about sex? what about violence?". Reading between the lines, it is not actually true that a Primalist believes that sex is "no big deal" -- the full expression of one's primal sexual desires is key to happiness. It is only half true to say that a primalist thinks that sex is not worth one's mental energy to address but violence is. In truth, intellectually diminishing the importance of lust/sex actually has utility in suppressing incorrect intellectual scrutiny of lust/sex so that sex/lust can continue to operate throughout society as a Primalist force to mitigate against violence.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

a primer on primalism

Primalism, as I talked about in "my lust makes the world go 'round" is the belief that experiencing primal desires is the key to happiness, that ones id is the essense of one's authentic, true self and the key to enlightenment and freedom.

I identify five aspects of primalism -- collective id, neo-marxist id, neo-primalist id, desire id and emotive id. Desire id is simply ones wants and delights, and Primalism is a belief in the full unfettered expression of one's desire id ("it's what you want") for happiness. Emotive id comprises all of the raw emotions that one feels, and Primalism is a belief that the full, unfettered expression of all ones raw emotions is essential for one's therapy and mental health. Neo-marxist id is the Primalist belief that certain expressions of the id address social inequalities. Neo-Primalist id, closely related to neo-marxist id, is the Primalist belief that we must get back to the full and unfettered experience of our id that has been thwarted and repressed by adulthood, civilization, religion, etc... Collective id is the collective intuition expressed through popular trends. I'll elaborate more on these later.

Primalism's notion of progress is based on a teological meta-narrative of id catharsis. In other, easier words, the Primalist idea of progress is the advancement of id expressions within society that advance primalism's ideas of happiness, therapy and social equality; progress is the continual unfolding of id expressions within society that had been repressed in the past or that are simply being discovered by new products, services and artforms that facilitate new id experiences.

Primalists believe that the collective id is the path of wisdom to know what new aspect of the id to weave into the fabric of society's acceptance to advance this progress. The collective id is felt as that something that is "in the air" and that precludes any one persons ability to lay claim to it as the source. The question of what aspect of the id to allow and how to allow within any given "time" it is the situational ethic that is decided by the collective id. When a new form of id is being expressed, a primalist justifies it by saying "times change". In other words, a primalist is saying that the collective id has negociated a new form id expression into social acceptance for these times and we must defer to what the collective id has ratified.

"Who's to say?" is a rhetorical statement that can be translated, "which individual among us is to say?" that has the collective id as its default. In other words, "who's to say" is a slogan that is code for saying that one should not attempt to make judgements with the use of one's own personal mind but should rather defer to the collective mind whose engine is the collective id. Here, the collective id is the supercomputer that negociates primalist progress, a supercomputer that no one individual can comprehend or should try to question.

The marketplace is a primary "voting booth" where the collective id votes for and ratifies what is newly acceptable by purchasing and consuming it. If something "sells", ie. "sex sells" it is understood that the id experience associated with it is being ratified by the collective id. The collective id's use of the marketplace as a medium of making decisions is one way that primalism partners with with economism (see "my lust makes the world go 'round) in using the marketplace as the basis of making ethical decisions.

Though most people do not self-identify as being primalist, much of what is "Politically correct" in our society is correct because it is connected to a Primalist sense of progress. Though not all political correctness is primalism, much of what is "correct" for the purposes of being advanced social, legally, intellectually and policitally, is correct because it advances primalism.