We are going to turn, now, to what is usually our study of Norman 0. Brown's Life Against Death.
Life Against Death is the best and the most courageous attempt to apply the principles of Freudian psychology to the culture and to the individual that I know.
Brown is ruthlessly honest, and I love his effort for that.
It is wrong.
But it is the most open and difficult exposition of the Freudian attempt to understand man that has come out on the market.
So far as I have seen.
My job is to show you why that book, and that school of thought, are headed 180° in the wrong direction.
The only way I can do that is to fly exactly in the right direction and hope you can see that it is the right direction and that Freud's is wrong.
If you can't, that's o.k., since the only thing that will be lost is a little time on your part, because sooner or later you will see that Freud's direction is the wrong, and you will turn around anyway.
And time doesn't exist anyway.
The only thing that exists is the here and now.
But, only when it's seen from the standpoint of divinity, God's divinity, which makes it totally unthinkable to try to desire to live in the past or the future since here and now are more than enough to appreciate.
Our cup runneth over.
All the time.
As soon as you are open to it.
And stop believing in the reality of the third-dimensional experience.
Which is a dream.
To be awakened from.
As you are willing to trust.
And face what is given you courageously.
And with great and deep humility.
That all of this is happening to you.
Because of you.
And the way you have allowed yourself to entertain the possibility that the awesome material giant, who would assume all that power in your thought, is not really what is going on.
Insofar as you are willing to "put off the old man" and "put on the new," as Paul puts it, you will see your experience change accordingly.
You will watch the life around you shift from inharmony to harmony.
You will watch problems dissolve, resolve themselves into conclusions you never could have dreamed possible.
You will watch sickness and disease disappear, disintegrate, before your very eyes.
You will watch perplexity and misunderstanding turn from confusion to peaceful, joy-filled days of relaxed, restful appreciation of life.
You will watch uncertainty turn into gladness, springing from deep wells of knowledge that you never knew you had.
You will watch the fleeting shadows that seem to compose the essence of your daily experience turn into eager anticipation, as a constant state of mind, for what lies beyond the breaking of the storm.
You will take every last, bad, evil awful memory and bury them, bury them all, in the final understanding that they were needed, one and all, to bring your consciousness to the appreciation of the glorious life, the Heaven on Earth, that is ours--all of ours--to behold and live right here and now.
You will see no need to live in the future, because the present, the eternal here and now, is enough, and the only reason we try to live in the future, or create what we call the future (which doesn't really exist except in our minds, as a figment of our attempt to escape what is here and now): the only reason we even contemplate the future is because of our fear of the present, a fear which is based on absolutely nothing, since we are never given more than we can handle.
It is hard for me to criticize Norman 0. Brown, or Herbert Marcuse, or John Lilly, or Alan Watts, or any of the other figures we have been studying in Social Philosophy, including Aristotle and Plato, because we are talking on a plane that is completely separate from them.
Each of these writers and social critics still thinks that matter is real.
None of them can, or does, begin his observation from the Biblical promise of Jesus: to be of the same mind that was in him.
That was his message.
The only one.
And he set us the best example he could for how to achieve that.
And it has been misunderstood ever since, up until now, up until the latter part of the 19th century when what he was talking about was revealed again, in a form that was readily comprehendible to the age.
I think it might be good if we got the kind of thinking that we are addressing here out on the table.
Much as we got Nietzsche's thinking out on the table before us in the Ethics course.
I would like to review some of the major ideas so perfectly presented by Norman 0. Brown in his book Life Against Death: I feel that these represent the end of the thinking that so much of the thought in this country is headed for.
To the extent that your thinking overlaps or finds a coincidence with the thinking represented here you may be assured that those ideas will crash into a mountainside and explode into a million fiery bits.
In their own good time.
When you are ready.
To see something better.
Than the false lies presented to you by your body.
Which we are taught to love, and fear, and worship.
By the following kind of thinking:
Man is the neurotic animal.
Man is the animal with a history, because he is so discontented.
Man has split with the innocence of his past, where he was one with nature, one with the animal kingdom.
His restless discontent comes from his unwillingness to live and die like the rest of the species, whose individuals are content precisely because they do accept the role that is proper to their life as a species.
Man's problems come from repression: repression of himself in the service of higher cultural ideals than those that pertain to the "lower" baser functions of his "organic" instincts.
Man has tasted the fruit of the tree of life in childhood: he experienced pleasure, peace, satiety, and polymorphously perverse orgasm going back as far as when he was suckling on his mother's breast. And he has not forgotten the wondrous experiences of fullness that that experience has left him with. And he seeks to recapture it. In his adult life. And can't.
And the reason he has "time," or history, is because of his restless striving to recapture what he had in childhood.
Or wanted to have in childhood.
We experience life in terms of a subject-object relationship.
We are the subject, in-here, and we experience life as the object--out-there.
In fact, we experience many dualisms in our life, and we implicitly spend a great deal of time in trying to overcome them.
Young/old. Life/death. Rich/poor. Smart/dumb. High/low. Inside/outside. Happy/unhappy. Peaceful/agitated. Black/white.
And so on. Over a long, long list.
But the most important dualism is the one between mind and body.
And we are always running around paying attention to things of the "mind," usually associated with "work," and things of the "body," usually associated (hopefully) with "play."
And what we seek to do is to maximize the time we have to play, or, at least that is what we would do if we weren't so repressed.
By "repressed" here, I mean having to expend most of our energy in "work."
When we would rather expend it on play.
Getting drunk. Screwing around. Enjoying the little pleasures of life.
To the fullest.
In fact, each of us, if we had it all our way, would encircle ourselves in a world of warmth and pleasure, where we were the omnipotent king, with everybody else dependent on us, loving us, because we bestow our blessing on them.
Unfortunately, of course, the peculiarity of human infancy is that it is so long, and, while it does encourage this sort of narcissistic self-indulgence to a degree, it also makes one realize one's dependence on others; so he can't have it both ways.
He has to compromise to get along.
And he does this by repression, repression of the impulses to be a wild, self-indulgent, "greedy little pig" back into his unconscious mind, so that he is no longer really aware of it. Because that is the easiest way to handle the tension. On balance.
So the body ends up getting repressed, which feeds the mind lots of energy to expend on useful, productive labor, which is the last thing that each of us would spend it on, if we had the choice.
But, that is the price of civilization and its compromise.
Moreover, if we repress life, the life we would like to lead, we also repress death.
We spend countless hours of our lives working, one way or another, because of or out of our fear of death.
In fact, if we repress the life we would like to lead, we repress the death we fear to die.
Just as well.
In fact, one of the other reasons we live in a state of restless discontent, a state of history, is because we are afraid to face and accept the death that is natural to our species.
If we could accept this, just as if we could accept the life that we were meant to lead we would be o.k.
At least we would be a bit better off, closer to a state of equilibrium, homeostasis, or to a state of being, than we are now, where we are plagued by neurosis, discontent, unhappiness, or a state of becoming, trying to find out where peace and happiness are.
Hence the need to accept violence, death, and sex.
To whatever extent they are tolerable within the reasonable limits of the demands of society.
The technological demands required to keep it producing enough material wealth to support our dreams.
We have got to accept our essential nature: which means accepting, in some form or other, the deep dark urges that come from the recesses of our unconscious mind, which in turn come from our body, and the bio-impulsive nature of nature, and the bio-degradable nature of nature.
The goal, of a sane, healthy, strong man is to have an ego that is strong enough to live and strong enough to die.
That means that we should re-gear our education for our young to get them to accept the now unacceptable, i.e., to get them to make conscious their previously repressed unconscious motives and desires, to whatever extent that they can at any particular given point in time. Because only by accepting the repressed impulses can there hope to be a resolution of the conflict between the conscious and the unconscious life of the organism.
Freud was wrong: there isn't an unreconcilable duality in all aspects of the nature of man.
There has to be a way out.
The way out is to accept the conflicts into the conscious life of man, and let us lead the life we were meant to lead, as a species, fulfilling the demands of the life and death instincts, just like the other animals do in their ways.
Only by accepting the life that is proper to our species can we be strong enough to face the death that is proper to our species with as much heart and gladness of spirit as we find in living the life.
Death is nothing to fear.
It is the state of quiescence, Nirvana, as it is called in Buddhism, which the soul seeks after an active life.
It is peace of mind.
That is sought.
For the same reason that impels all organic life--to find rest after the wholesome, energetic, fulfilling expenditure of energy.
It seeks the peace that is rightfully its own after an expenditure of energy in a life well spent.
As we eroticize life in this way, i.e., give it the full meaning and investment of interest to which it is entitled, we will find that our energies have opened up!
We will find that all that psychic energy (libido) that we have invested in repression, the keeping down of instincts (of a sexual nature) that vibrantly seek expression with the very energy that they seek to express, all this energy will blossom forth to our benefit, and appreciation, and happiness, and glory.
The real meaning of orgasm will come out: little babies are interested in all parts of their bodies.
They are polymorphously perverse.
So too, when we finally see the glorious meaning of freely expressed sexual energy, we too, in the ripeness of our adulthood, come to appreciate the true possibilities of exploring all aspects of our bodies, modeled upon, but not limited to, the orgasm a few of us know in a limited respect as it pertains to the genital area.
People are polymorphously perverse: they are (secretly) interested in all parts of their psychosexual anatomy--the oral, phallic, and anal.
Just like children.
And, Jesus said, "Except ye become as little children, ye can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven."
The "kingdom of heaven" is the "resurrection of the body."
If you can overcome your resistance, your unconscious psychological resistance, which stems from the irrational way these things were tabooed in early childhood, and remains with us today as psychologically repressed defense mechanisms.
The enemy is repression.
The liberator is the freeing from repression.
The goal is a consciousness that does not negate anymore.
A consciousness that sees the irrationality of its own ways, how it seeks to spend huge amounts of energy in repressing the organism from doing exactly what it wants to do to make it a happy and fulfilled member of the human race (species).
Within the limits of civilized respect, of course.
You must realize, that violence is itself an irrational reverberation of the neurotic animal called man, (the disease called man, if you will).
Other species don't display the kind of irrational violence we display toward one another.
The reason for this is that we don't understand our violent natures.
Where violence comes from.
Which is exactly what causes the violence to come.
We can't accept the violence that is an essential part of our human nature!
And I don't mean violence expressed toward others.
Violence expressed toward ourselves.
Man is basically, fundamentally, a masochistic animal.
That is, he, along with all the rest of the animal (and plant) kingdom, has an innate inborn urge to die.
After the fight we call life.
This is part of what is fundamentally reflected in all of organic life--that it has a built-in, innate disposition to die--which is reflected by the fact that all organic life does in fact die, as an expression of that innate, biological disposition, ultimately resulting in the decomposition of carbon atoms in "living" molecules becoming "inorganic" molecules.
What we see expressed as "violence" is kinky, or at least it is secondary.
Violence is destruction turned away from ourselves, where it arises from the innate disposition toward primary masochism, manifesting in such things as sickness and death, turned outwardly toward a substitute object, by means of a process called in psychoanalysis "reaction formation," whereby an easier target than oneself is found to vent our self-destructive impulses upon.
What we need to do is accept the fact that we have the impulse to die, and then it won't come out in such kinky forms.
Some psychologists reverse this, and say that the aggression is primary and the masochism is secondary; but they are wrong.
In all of this we have got to accept the inescapable link between love and pleasure.
Love is love simply by virtue of the fact that it ties the organism to what will satisfy him.
It begins at birth, where we traumatically emerge from an insulated and absolutely fulfilling environment, the womb, to a state of separation, the greatest fear and cause of all our future experiences of dualism.
From there we move to mother's breast, where we learn to realize, again, that there is a difference between Self and Other, and we can be removed from Other at any time against our deepest wishes and longings and needs.
Other is the source of pleasure, however, and the association of the Other with pleasure is what protects us from the primal scream for help.
This indicates that the real search is not for pleasure, not even for love.
It is for unity.
Union with what would satisfy us the most.
And, since our picture of the life of the human spirit is one completely derivative from body, matter, or what seems to be body or matter, we have only that to return to to find salvation for the yearnings of our (human) heart.
And we must be strong enough to accept the consequences of that.
And that is the goal of psychotherapy.
Because Christianity is dead.
I don't want you people to get me wrong.
I'm all for sex.
I'm all for fun.
I'm all for sensuality.
But you must understand one thing: Sensuality is bondage.
It is not freedom.
No matter how much it tempts you into thinking it is freedom: it is bondage.
And it must therefore be approached with that in mind.
I have developed a little motto over the years, one that comes to me as I find myself in a situation that requires a decision: "We might as well enjoy it while we're here."
The Truth that is within us that will set us free, as the man said, will do just that.
Enjoy the things of the world the flesh and the devil while you are here, but when you start seeing things happen that turn you away from it, go with it.
Let yourself be turned away from the flesh, when the time comes.
Because you will always be turned toward something higher and better.
And you will be turned.
Whether you like it or not.
When you are ready.
When I was at Whitman College I used to peddle the Used Car Theory of Sex and Love.
I did this once in front of our two religion instructors, which I'm sure contributed mightily to their generally low opinion of me.
I was trying to show them the innocence of normal healthy sexuality.
I don't think it worked.
You see the metaphor is one that plays on your attitude toward cars.
People like different kinds of cars.
All kinds of cars.
For all kinds of people.
And they don't know what kind of cars they like till they get in a few and drive around.
Like it or not.
There are different kinds of strokes for different kinds of folks.
(A stroke is something that has to do with something in the engine, for those of you who don't know much about the inside of cars.)
You don't know what you like until you get inside and try it.
A car becomes a very personal thing when you have to spend a great deal of time in it.
So, I maintain, it's a hell of a lot better to find out what you're going to be comfortable with than to plunge into the commitment to one without having driven in it for a while.
Suppose you had never seen a car before. Or driven one.
Or you had only seen them in a showroom, or other people driving them along the street.
And you always dreamed of having one of your own.
How would you go about purchasing one when you came of age?
Would you go down to the showroom and pick out the biggest flashiest Cadillac and say, "I'll take that one; here are my life savings?"
You would apply the same common sense that you apply to any other major purpose or commitment.
You would know, among other things, that you are going to be stuck with this piece of equipment, if things work out well.
You want something that is going to wear well.
Apart from that there are all kinds of personal, idiosyncratic considerations.
Perhaps you will be a person who turns out to like low, sleek sports cars, that go 170 mph, say, a Masseratti aficionado.
Maybe you'll like security and protection, and like the feel of heavy steel around you--a Lincoln Continental.
Some guys are complete sports fans--chop it and rake it. Devote your life to it.
Maybe you'll be chintzy and like to save gas--a VW Beetle perhaps.
Cover it with chrome and put the most beautiful engine in it, for all the world to see.
Some go for straight class--a Mercedes Benz.
Some go for super class--a Rolls.
Some want the feel of separation--a limousine.
Some want the All-American family look--a Ford Station Wagon.
Some like the Plain Jane completely average innocuous look--a three-year-old Chevy sedan.
The freedom of being completely inconspicuous and anonymous.
I happen to go for reliability.
I bought a new Volvo in 1968, back when they made the model on which they had built their reputation for ruggedness, the 122S series; and I liked it so well that after 200,000 miles I bought another one--a 1967 Station Wagon, and had it completely rebuilt.
Back then, I happened to be the kind of guy who was really rough on cars.
I drove them hard.
I dented the door of my first Volvo on a telephone pole that would have wrapped any other car around it.
That's what I look for.
Something that's going to last.
Won't let you down in the crunch.
Another way of looking at sensuality is through booze.
Now I love booze.
I truly do.
Booze is my vice.
I have had to stop drinking it because I have found something about fifty thousand times better--a clear head--and--something that is worth thinking about--but I still love booze.
In fact, I like it so much that I barely let myself touch it.
Old Grandad is the best bourbon on the market.
Say what you like, but that's true.
I love Irish Whiskey, and Canadian.
If you are looking strictly for smoothness.
Jack Daniels if you like the flavor of nuts.
Scotch is good for flavor, and it is smooth, but it makes you wise.
And there is nothing worse than drunks who think.
Or try to think.
Gin and tonics have always been my tradition, however.
At one point I had cases of Gordon's and Gilbey's half gallons on my back porch, brought up from Reno, where they only cost $6.50 a bottle.
Get some limes.
And some Scweppeffevescence. . . . .
And you're in business.
When I was in St. Louis I was in Booze Heaven.
The mob ran the liquor stores; there was only one liquor store in fact--the 905 liquor store.
With about fifty branches.
Any other little liquor store that sought to open its doors quickly became a 905 liquor store.
Very persuasive people.
Well, the benefit of having the mob run your liquor store is that it genuinely caters to your taste.
They had, for example, real Malt scotch liquor. Not a blend.
Most of you don't have any idea what I am talking about, but you try going down and buying unblended real scotch whiskey.
They had wines from all over the world.
Cases of them.
Cases and cases and cases of $50-a-bottle wines going through the check stands at Christmas time, one after another.
I finally bought a credit card.
A credit card for the liquor store.
I still have it.
Occasionally they would have specials, on say, electric toothbrushes, or some other totally unrelated item to the liquor store business.
We always wondered where they got these weird items. But they had awfully good sales on them.
Well, sex is very much like these things.
Except for two little details.
The body you are getting your sensual satisfaction from belongs to somebody else.
And, there is a great temptation to mistake the sensuality in love for love itself. Where this is not a (real) possibility in cars and booze.
At least not as a rule.
I can think of some characters I have known where the confusion might have been just as tempting.
But not as a rule.
Groucho Marx seemed to have had that kind of attachment to his cigar, but I don't know.
As long as you respect sensuality for what it is--pleasure, a trap, something to enjoy while we are here--you're okay.
But the instant you start making a god out of it as something to be worshipped in itself, you're in trouble.
With any point of sensual attachment you know you are going to be led out of it, sooner or later.
Sensuality is a lie.
Unless you put it in its proper perspective.
It will do everything it can to try to convince you that it has power over your life.
And when it gets you good and hooked, then it seems to turn its back on you and leave you dangling in the lie that it seduced you into believing.
Which is a bucket of snakes.
But if you reverse what seems to be the bucket of snakes you bought by being seduced by the lie, and realize that the only power is the activity of the Man Upstairs, and let Him lead you out of your predicament the way He has chosen, you can coast through the letting go of your attachment like a breeze.
Let me repeat: what looks like a bucket of snakes is really the Man Upstairs leading you out of an addiction wilderness in the way that is best suited for you.
Once you realize this Once you realize this you can flow with the current without fear.
The problem is that the hypnotic attachments to material dreams have become so prevalent that the snakes seem real.
They seem like they are the reality of what's going on because we have been taught so thoroughly to believe in the hypnotic dream of the reality of material life.
As soon as the snakes are taken as real, and it is not recognized that that is just God leading you out of the mess in the way that is most effective for you, great fear, again predicated on the reality of the material dream, takes over in consciousness.
The more fear, the more the reality of the material dream is taken for granted. . . .
The more fear.
Until, what seems to be a thoroughly nightmarish crisis seems to surface, that may (or may not) catapult you out of the dream and out of the nightmare.
It seems to me that things would be an awful lot easier if we only knew that the appearance of what seems to be the cataclysmic nightmare is only God's activity in our lives. Then we would know that the appearance of the dream (the nightmare) would dissipate; because the only reason for the dream in the first place is to get us to see the activity of God in our lives, in terms that we could (would) understand.
The greatest mistake, at least that I can see in this day and age, that is made along these lines is mistaking love for sensual pleasure.
When you slip, from making your relationship on the basis of what you saw in that other person's eyes, one day long ago, which is a perception of Soul, to thinking that your attachment to that other person has to do with sex, which is 100% sensual pleasure, sooner or later, one way or another, you are going to be led out of that little point of confusion.
In ways that are usually unmistakably awful, to the personal sense of sexual attachment.
It seems like the whole world is being torn away from you, depending on how much of your relationship was physical.
If it is based on Soul, you can let it go and wish your lover every happiness, knowing that you are both being guided in ways that are perfectly harmonious for both of you.
And there is no real loss.
Because you have looked into each other's Soul.
And seen the common unity.
And know there is nothing to fear.
The thing about bodies is that, contrary to what people like Norman 0. Brown and Playboy Magazine would have you believe, bodies separate; they don't attract.
Even Aristotle recognized this.
Matter separates people from one another.
And the ingenious thing about this particular lie of material sense, or the material world, or the third-dimensional hypnotic dream, is that it (paradoxically) bills itself as ever so attractive and compelling.
Just look at the skin mags.
Actually, look at the ones from the early 60's, before they got into pubic hair.
The real Epicureans and hedonists, like Gypsy Rose Lee, know that you have to hide some of the goods, because if you let it all hang out, the limitations of the lie--the hypnotic dream--are exposed, and people see the false pretension of it in the first place.
I honestly can't imagine a worse sentence in hell than if we were to find our paradise in the human body.
If we take it as a god.
Or a power.
Because the instant we do it starts betraying us.
As the false god it is.
This is exactly what happens in sickness, by the way.
The reason people get sick is because they take their bodies, matter, to be a real power, in and of itself, and they learn to fear it as a kind of God in reverse. That is, as something that can take their happiness away from them, through some kind of mystical power that it possesses.
Well, as soon as you start up with a magical little belief like that, pretty soon you see it starting to manifest itself on your body.
As some kind of physical ailment.
Just as you feared.
The little god you feared became a reality.
Just as you feared.
Well, that too will be a thing that we will see that we can destroy through strictly mental means, just as we can destroy our taste for tobacco, booze, and sex.
By seeing the reality of something so much better.
When we are ready.
In exactly the same way, I am here to tell you, we can destroy any and all disease.
The physical manifestation.
Not just the idea of disease.
The physical manifestation itself.
Wouldn't that be an interesting development.
Of all disease.
Through mental means alone.