The story of David and Goliath has been reversed. In modern times, the entire human race has been confronted by monstrous invisible powers – and, in a process lasting hundreds of years, has succumbed to them. It now exists in a greatly depleted state, from which it is unlikely to recover.
What are these forces? They are forces within us we have not recognized, and which we have allowed to take control. Our ignorance has not been complete, these forces have been recognized by many people in many ways – but their findings have not been consolidated. This weakness (which we poorly understand) has allowed these forces to consolidate themselves, and become a nearly unstoppable social force.
I speak as an expert here: an expert on how not to be, who has made a partial recovery, and is now struggling to understand what is left of the world he is in. I have no lack of source material: my bookcase is stuffed, and I get more books every week. But my main resource is myself – and that is a work in progress. As the Buddhists say, I have to become nothing – and then start from there.
Note the paradox: in order to be, you have to not-be. This makes no sense to the left hemisphere, as McGilchrist points out in his excellent book The Master and his Emissary, one of my main sources. I only have one objection to this type of intellectual analysis: these guys have never had a real job. I have, and I have been properly terrified.
My only difference is that I was consciously aware of this terror, while my fellow-employees were not. They were hard at work destroying the world – by fighting the War against Terrorism, ironically enough. They were simply doing what everyone else was doing – which, as far as they were concerned, completely justified their actions.
But let me back up a minute: what were these forces? The honest answer is “I don’t really know, but I am working on understanding them.” But one thing seems clear, and I have a lot of agreement on this – it is our obsession with progress. We don’t know what this is, but it seems to be the magic word that goads us to increasing efforts to be better and better. And to surrendering more and more of our selves.
One symptom of this is the increasing amount of mental disorders – and their accompanying physical disorders. It seems to me that these are much more widespread, and much more subtle than most realized. Here Oliver Saks is invaluable. Wikipedia says he is the author of numerous bestselling books, which must be true. But it is also true that he is preaching to the choir: the minority of Americans who are well-read, and have a good understanding of what is going on.
The majority have no such understanding, and don’t want it – but are clearly in charge. This is a crucial point that no one seems to be making – perhaps because they don’t want to seem superior.
It seems to me their modesty, if that is what it is, will result in their own demise – and they have to get off their butts and do something about it.