27 March 2012

Sturm & Drang (or: back to psychology)

Chaos Marxism Aphorism #1 is: you are what you do. (I just found out the other day that this is also a lyric from a KMFDM song, cool beans.) And what you do is about 80-90% habit and conditioning, the power of which "it is difficult to exaggerate" (R. Fripp). It's just more efficient to run on automatic, even though you become half-ape and half-robot instead of a human being.

You can't change "what you are" - your wants, needs, desires, likes, dislikes, etc. - in any direct sense because you don't have the kind of objectivity necessary. "The only thing more powerful than the human mind is the human ego" (I. Stang). But your habits and conditioned reflexes are learned in the process of daily life - problems are usually solutions to previous problems (Hubbard) and if you kneel in the same place and recite the same prayers for long enough you will believe in God (Althusser).

And it is possible to do so consciously, as an act of will - you can change, first, your conscious choices of behaviour; and, secondly, learn to notice your habits and conditioned reflexes, at which point you can begin "reprogramming" them gradually, using magick or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or psilocybin or Scientology or revolutionary political struggle, whatever's most convenient at the time. Of course, you can only do this through practice, which - when we translate this into politics - means that simply lecturing the workers about how they and the boss class has nothing in common will just get them pissed off at you. To do any good, your activism must have practical suggestions for the here and now which reinforce your goal-message.

Perhaps "you cannot walk the path without a Master" (Rumi) because the Master offers a necessary "stable datum amid confusion" (Hubbard) to act as a truly objective reference point. And to be a stable datum you must submit to that stable datum absolutely, no matter whether it's actually "good" in any objective sense. This is why "any act based on principle is a good one" (R. Fripp), and why some people have even got positive results from the teachings of Joseph Smith or Bhaghwan Shree Rajneesh. But eventually the goal would be to "find the Master (or the hero) inside yourself" - uncover the heart as an internal stable datum, not the endlessly fickle feline ego/nafs.

The Scientology goal of "clearing the reactive mind" - i.e. having no habits or conditioned reflexes - seems foolish. Imagine if you had to remember to breathe, as apparently some psychonauts have ended up doing to themselves. No, the more feasible goal is to be fully conscious of all your habits, and edit them in accordance with Love and Will.

Couple of fun readings for you: my old buddy Michael Lebowitz argues against John Holloway that you have to struggle against the Black Iron Prison, not just opt out of it, since only struggle makes it possible for you to learn to live outside a prison cell (see above); and our favourite junkie queer literary genius William S. Burroughs reminds us that, at one point in the past, cool people like himself and Leonard Cohen were attracted by L. Ron's research project.

(Note by those offended by the positive references to Scientology teachings and concepts: L. Ron Hubbard was a massive plagiarist and of course even a blind squirrel finds a few tasty nuts once in a while, and it's those "tasty nuts" that Independent Scientologists are interested in promoting, rather than that bat-shit crazy stuff about Xenu or the fascist antics of the existing "Church" run by pope-on-a-box David Miscavige.)