July 13, 2008

If you want to know more about Steve Taylor who wrote The Fall (subject of the last post), he has a website which includes a collection of essays where you can get a feel for his writing and subject matter.

As Dan commented at the end of my last post there is another writer who has covered this territory, James De Meo. He also has a website where, in a circular moment, I found a link (near bottom of page) where Steve Taylor briefly discusses their differing position on what caused the intensification of our ego consciousness.

Anyway, from this article, here is James De Meo outlining how he think civilisation first began in the Saharasia region:

What I speak about is the effects of extreme drought, and the consequent death-giving famine and starvation which follows, and which often kills large percentages of people in a given social group, destroying virtually all social institutions (cooperative work, extended and nuclear families, the maternal-infant bond, etc.).

The effects of such severe drought and famine are brutal, no less than if an army had invaded your town, murdered half the people, stole every scrap of food and material goods, poisoned the wells, killed all the animals, and burned down everything remaining, leaving you to fend for yourself in the middle of a harsh winter, and with no hope of being “rescued” by anybody else, as everyone in surrounding towns would have suffered a nearly identical fate. And then, it happens again and again, every year for perhaps several hundred years, distorting and warping your original peaceful social structure, firstly in the development of defensive reactions, but later, the new generations grow up having known nothing else than this kind of deprived and traumatic existence, and all references to the former time of lush vegetation and happiness are recorded only as myths.

Meanwhile, mothers and babies do not interact so lovingly as before, and neither do young men and women, whose relations are governed more by anxiety and contraction, while the adults must create new social institutions to deal with their collective sadistic aggressions. Afterward, it is perpetuated down the generations by those new social institutions and belief systems, which demand punishment and pain and trauma be visited upon young people through rituals, and sexual pleasure be reduced and denied, through religion. Now, each new generation is armored up by social institutions, and desert climate only becomes a factor which occasionally makes things worse.

From the start of this essay, James De Meo also offers this summary of his theories:

My research was initially aimed at developing a global geographical analysis of social factors related to early childhood trauma and sexual repression, as a test of the sex-economic theory of Wilhelm Reich (1935, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1967, 1983). Reich’s theory, which developed and diverged from psychoanalysis, labeled the destructive aggression and sadistic violence of Homo sapiens a completely abnormal condition, resultant from the traumatically-induced chronic inhibition of respiration, emotional expression, and pleasure-directed impulses.

According to this viewpoint, inhibition is made chronic within the individual by virtue of specific painful and pleasure-censoring rituals and social institutions, which consciously or unconsciously interfere with maternal-infant and male-female bonds. These rituals and institutions exist among both subsistence-level “primitives” and technologically developed “civilized” societies. Some examples are: unconscious or rationalized infliction of pain upon newborn infants and children through various means; separation and isolation of the infant from its mother; indifference towards the crying, upset infant; immobilizing, round-the-clock swaddling; denial of the breast to, and premature weaning of the infant; cutting of the child’s flesh, usually the genitals; traumatic toilet training; and demands to be quiet, uncurious, and obedient, enforced by physical punishment or threats.

Other social institutions aim to control or crush the child’s budding sexual interests, such as the female virginity taboo, demanded by every culture worshiping a patriarchal high god, and the punishment- and guilt-enforced arranged or compulsive marriage. Most of these ritual punishments and restraints fall more painfully upon the female, though males are also greatly affected. Demands for pain endurance, emotion- suppression, and uncritical obedience to elder (usually male) authority figures regarding basic life decisions are integral aspects of such social institutions, which extend to control adult behavior as well.

These repressive institutions are supported and defended by the average individual within a given society, irrespective of their painful, pleasure-reducing, or life-threatening consequences, and are uncritically viewed as being “good”, “character building” experiences, a part of “tradition”. Nevertheless, from such a complex of painful and repressive social institutions, it is argued, comes the neurotic, psychotic, self-destructive and sadistic components of human behavior, which are expressed in a plethora of either disguised and unconscious, or blatantly clear and obvious ways.

I’ve spent the last few years discussing all these issues in somewhat piecemeal fashion on this blog and I have to admit surprise that I’ve never come across James De Meo before. I have yet to read the book but it seems to cast a long shadow across most of what I do here.


One comment

  1. […] « EFT and Eyesight Pay Attention July 20, 2008 In my meanderings around Saharasia and The Fall I also came across Eckhart Tolle, I think Dan may have linked to an article about him […]

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