When you hear someone say "Ignorance is bliss", the proper and logical response is to have compassion for them.
Reality as it is cannot be metabolized. By metabolize, I mean that when reality is thought-about and related-to in a coherent way, the self feels
disenlivened and dissociated. Existence seems to lose all meaning because meaning "tyrannizes" the self. If the Self says "reality is
meaningless", it is still nevertheless a meaningful statement for the self-saying it, and therefore contradicts itself by making the claim to begin
with. This fact - that the meaningfulness of reality is intolerable to interact with - conceals the layers upon layers of existential, interpersonal,
and sometimes sexual and bodily trauma that intercedes as semiotic facts between "reality as it is", and "reality as it is known".
The above video - which I've shared before - shows what happens to animals that experience a state of existential-threat. The polar bear is running
away from the helicopter and is manifestly terrified; after the humans shoot him with the dart and analyze him, the polar can be seen engaging in
what's called a 'traumatic discharge' - where all the energy of the sympathetic nervous system built up for escaping the threat is released through
a tremoring process. All mammalian animals do this following life-threatening episodes, and given the nature of the mammalian nervous system, it seems
to represent the fact that two layers of the brain - the lower level physiological/regulatory networks, and the higher level
affective/cognitive/social networks - interact in a gated like way, so that, if the social/cognitive/affective network is overwhelmed by an external
reality, the organism becomes unable to properly regulate its energy, which is what were seeing in the discharge: the release of energy from higher
level brain networks into lower-level brain networks i.e. those which control moving and shaking.
Narrative, Time-Awareness, Interpersonal Recognition, and Mourning
Like all animals, humans need to process traumatic existential affective experiences; but unlike all other animals, our narratives can "trap"
unresolved emotional issues such that we come to dissociate it, and since dissociative affects can't stay down, "re-represent" them in scrambled
form by a projection-meaning which has absolutely no semiotic relationship with the experience underlying the existence of the affective energy.
Humans need to mourn - because mourning expresses what we know about reality. With death, with less, we need others to recognize what we experienced
in order for us to be able to properly represent what happened and what it means. Hence, if mourning doesn't occur, or occurs in a way that is less
than optimal, the human mind will continue to embody feelings - meanings - that ultimately go back to the earliest years of development with the
others around you.
Isn't this then the ultimate reason for civilizations decadence - the inability to properly recognize the necessity of mourning? It seems impossible
for early humans to have had this sort of awareness, but it may have occurred to them. However, with civilization and the transformation of the
external environment, mourning became transformed so that the self's relation to death became obscured and reprogrammed in ways that began to
preserve machismo, masculinistic and "hero-based" personas, and so never really allowing a proper processing of trauma.
With the self out-of-sync with reality, and yet still at the same time being processed by reality, something has to give - that is, something
must be done to help the self. This something is 'narrative', and narrative, in order to emerge, must emerge out of symmetry, or self-other
communication processes where ideas and beliefs - propositions - are shared. Since affect - or self/other relations determine what we feel in the
presence of others - if this part of the process is excised by naïve-narrative, any non-sense can appear to be true simply because
naïve-affirmations between humans is a source of positive affect. If I really don't know better or haven't interacted with anything more coherent,
than perhaps reality really is turtles upon turtles upon turtles. But this ok'ness with belief derives from ignorance: ignorance is bliss only
because you don't know better. It doesn't mean that what you know - i.e. "ignorance is bliss" - isn't constituting you; it merely points out that
the concept "ignorance is bliss" seems plausible to you only because you haven't allowed yourself to know better. By preventing or denying
something i.e. dissociation, you can preserve your "bliss"; but at this point you seem to have lost all control over yourself. There are walls
within you which are beyond your control, and these walls, you believe, are your source of protection and blissfulness. You project the content that
"this is bliss"; but the conditions from which you project are limiting your range of perceiving: by being so afraid of your feelings, you cannot
see what you are doing to yourself and where you will ultimately end up.
Compassion as the Third
People with this sort of issue can only be helped by other people. Complexity in human brains only grows with reference to the faces, voices and
concerned care of another. Things become more tolerable because love acts as a salve; a lubricant that makes the poison less abrasive, allowing some
of it to be 'sucked out' by the experience-of-being-known by another.
If we only knew how much our existence is literally embodied by how we live, we wouldn't exaggerate our feelings in the present and build a whole
philosophy out of them.
Instead, we would realize what we have to do right now to get where we want to be.
It is possible that our lives are inherently ignorant, quite on purpose, and that full knowledge would nullify the experience to the point that it was
useless. Consider watching a movie. We know going in that the events in the movie did not really happen. Indeed, some of the scenes depicted in the
movie could not happen at all. Yet we are willing to "suspect our disbelief" enough to immerse ourselves in the plot and ultimately enjoy ourselves.
OK, now escalate this a few notches to virtual reality, like the Holodeck, where your senses are not good enough to tell the difference between fake
That's essentially where we are now, on the Holodeck, where ignorance is, indeed, bliss, else we screwed up. True story, this, but be careful actually
believing it because if you do, you may have screwed up. If you do not believe it, well, then, you're living proof ignorance is bliss.
I call it doing the "funky chicken."
I've seen it before, a variety of critters, humans included.
Severe physical trauma, drug and alcohol overdose.
Best you can do for them at that point is make sure they don't injure themselves.
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