Sunday, May 22, 2005

Drowning the Individual

“There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters...” - “Slaughterhouse-Five” (KURT VONNEGUT)

“Most people confuse ”self-knowledge“ with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities. Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which for the most part hidden from them. [...]

”In this broad belt of unconsciousness, which is immune to conscious criticism and control, we stand defenseless, open to all kinds of influences and psychic infections. As with all dangers, we can guard against psychic infection only when we know what is attacking us, and how, where and when the attack will come. [...]

“The bigger the crowd the more negligible the individual becomes. But if the individual, overwhelmed by the sense of his own puniness and impotence, should feel that his life has lost its meaning - which after all, is not identical with public welfare and higher standards of living - then he is already on the road to State slavery and, without knowing or wanting it, has become its proselyte. The man who looks only outside and quails before the big battalion has no resource with which to combat the evidence of his senses and his reason.

”But that is just what is happening today: we are all fascinated and overawed by statistical truths and large numbers and are daily apprised of the nullity and futility of the individual personality, since it is not represented and personified by and mass organization.

“Conversely, those who strut about on the world stage, and whose voices are heard far and wide seem to the uncritical public, to be borne along on some mass movement or on the tide of public opinion and for this reason are either applauded or execrated.

”Since mass suggestion plays the predominant role here, it remains a moot point whether their message is their own, for which they are personally responsible or whether they merely function as a megaphone for collective opinion.“ - ”The Undiscovered Self“ (C. G. Jung)

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