Fight Club

Active imagination is the most powerful technique Jung ever encountered for metabolizing, digesting, and assimilating the contents of the unconscious and hence, becoming conscious. Instead of passively watching the manifestations of the unconscious, in active imagination we fully engage with and actively participate in a conscious, living relationship with our unconscious.

“In active imagination we find ourselves being asked to creatively respond and come to terms with the voice of the ‘other’ within ourselves. The psychological process of active imagination is the equivalent of the symbolic operations of alchemy. When the alchemists speak of meditatio and imaginatio (meditation and imagination), they are referring to developing an inner, creative dialogue with, and hence cultivating a living relationship to the answering voice of, the ‘other’ in ourselves, that is, the unconscious.

“When an unconscious content is about to become conscious, it first becomes partially conscious, simultaneously visible and invisible.”

-Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko

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“…the potential of your being and its associated relatively tiny subset of truth, is usually culturally based (particularly in the West), intellectually justified, and socially supported by the collective mind.

“The collective mind, unfortunately, always represents the lowest common denominator in concepts and understanding. It is relatively safe, easy, low risk, non-threatening, and not subject to ridicule by your peers. It is, therefore, particularly attractive to fearful, under-developed, insecure, under-powered, and materially focused minds.”

-Thomas Campbell, Book 2-My Big Toe

divider-horizon-line1999 could easily go down as one of the most brilliant years in cinematic history. Block busters and cult classics like The Matrix, American Beauty, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, Being John Malkovich, Eyes Wide Shut, The Blair Witch Project, Magnolia and Dogma are just a few of the memorable ones.

But for me, at the top of the list was the most controversial film of that year: Fight Club.

I know most of the conspiracy minded consider The Matrix to be the greatest allegorical take on humanity’s present situation, and I would concur. But Fight Club digs deeper into the shadow of the human psyche and the dissociative split that exists between the straw-man construct of civilization and the nameless, timeless authentic being that lays buried beneath the ego of the culturally sanctioned modern day narcissist.

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Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie has the star power of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf and Jared Leto backing it. Nor does it suffer from the directing brilliance of David Fincher, who also directed among others Seven, The Curios Case of Benjamin Button and Gone Girl. He is now involved with the excellent and successful ‘House of Cards’ Netflix series which I highly recommend.

From the beginning, the main character (who never has an established name, instead going under aliases until finally figuring out who he really is) is an employee of a major car company that assesses car accidents and weighs their potential impact on recalls. If the car company thinks it’s cheaper to pay out the lawsuits than the recall, they don’t fix the problem. Buyer beware.

One must consider how pertinent this issue is today, considering all of the recalls and scandals that have infected the auto industry, in fact most corporate industries, ever seemingly on the increase.

As a consequence of his job he suffers from insomnia and spends most of his free time either watching TV or ordering personal merchandise to define and complete his life. He makes this statement in reflection, “…when deep space exploration ramps up it’ll be the corporations that name everything: the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, planet Starbucks…” He becomes a slave to the ‘Ikea nesting instinct’.

Getting desperate for solutions and receiving none from the medical industry he starts frequenting cancer support groups, finding release for pent up emotions and utilizing meditation techniques to find solace.

This is where he meets the suicidally eccentric Marla Singer. Because she, like him, does not suffer from the afflictions that these support groups facilitate, it reflects his fraudulence. And as a consequence, he starts suffering from insomnia again.

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I find it interesting to note that the name Marla Singer is very similar to two other women in history: Margaret Singer was a clinical psychologist known for her study in mind control and coercive persuasion techniques. She also studied cults and published a book called ‘Cults In Our Midst’. She was harassed and received death threats, some possibly associated with Scientology. My knowledge of her is cursory at best but her work seemed to be of a service to humanity.

The aforementioned Singer’s ‘shadow’ might have come in the manifestation of Margaret Sanger with the founding of the American birth control movement and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is associated with work in eugenics and many other poisonous ideologies. Is it coincidence that these names are all so similar? Maybe, but maybe not.

On a business flight our character meets Tyler Durden and right away he can tell there is something intriguing about Durden after learning that he makes and sells soap, “…the yardstick of civilization.” And especially after Durden shares knowledge on how to make explosives, “Did you know if you mixed equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate you can make napalm?” A precursor of events to unfold, good times.

The first big twist in the story is when our innominate character’s apartment blows up, leaving him homeless and without all of his personal belongings for which he’s spent so many sleepless hours scrutinizing and perfecting.

With few options he meets with Tyler in a bar and engages in a conversation that has some of my favorite quotes of the movie. Tyler says, “We are consumers, we are byproducts of a lifestyle obsession.  Murder, crime these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra. Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha’s polishing the brass on the Titanic. It’s all going down, man. So fuck off with your sofa units and your string green stripe patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve; let the chips fall where they may. The things you own end up owning you.” Bingo.

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This movie is full of memorable quotes and insights into the nature of the culturally warped mindset of modern society. Feeling empty and abandoned, without purpose, without hope, left to find solace in the corporate machine that pumps out shallow auspices of a dream who’s purpose is to pacify the masses into a catatonic state.

Tyler explains:

“Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, He hates you.

“It’s not the worst thing that can happen. We don’t need Him! Fuck damnation, fuck redemption! We are God’s unwanted children; so be it. First you have to give up. First you have to know, not fear, know that someday you’re gonna die. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do everything.”

The Path of Surrender is to choose the center path, to express the authentic self and to transcend the ego. We find evolution in higher ideals but the first step is to recognize a change needs to take place. Second step is to shed the cloak of Fear. The third step is to transmute the ego into a compassionate state of being.

Without giving too much of the movie away (for it’s a must see for anyone who hasn’t) the boys create their own terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of corporate property. It starts with men gathering in the parking lot of a bar after closing time to fight each other in an attempt to release frustration and find purpose. Club members do find purpose and eventually commit themselves to saving the world through the destruction of credit card companies.

I’ll end this blog with a motivational speech Tyler gives before one such meeting:

“I see all this potential and I see squander. Goddamn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables. Slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.

“We’re the middle children of history, men. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Fight Club is cultural nihilism at its finest and maybe that’s just what is needed to break the trance of a sociologically indoctrinated belief system of consumerism and the broken corporate model. The writing is on the wall: For too many reasons an ideological dissolvement needs to take place before it’s too late. Out of the ashes, and with a fresh understanding we can build the world anew.

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Paul Levy: Dispelling Wetiko

Dispelling Wetiko is one of those rare, courageous books that leads us where we would prefer not to go: into the depths of our own shadow. Yet this is the most essential journey for our present time…. It is a must read, without a doubt.”       -Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

“The world would be a better place if everyone read this book.” -Sting

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The maxim inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi reads: know thyself. This is without question written to foment the idea that the greatest endeavor one can set on is the journey within. Stated at the core, it is the only real journey we will ever know. The trick is in recognizing that one is ultimately on that path.

The road is a harrowing one but like a compass, written works can be a most powerful tool in navigating the seas of consciousness. Books written by knowledgable and experienced authors can solidify a conceptual road map for the mind.

Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil is one such work. Paul Levy masterfully plays the role of trail guide into the world of the sub-conscious and the paradoxically abstract by analyzing and breaking down the shadow in ourselves.

A term coined by C. G. Jung, this definition from Dispelling Wetiko, “the shadow is typically conceived of as the underdeveloped, undesirable, and inferior parts of our personality, the aspects of ourselves which we repress the most; it is the part of ourselves we are least proud of and want to hide from others.”

We live in a time when our shadow hides in plain sight.

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There have been many ways to express this concept over the centuries. The word wetiko comes from the Native American Cree tribe, “…a term that refers to a diabolically wicked person or spirit who terrorizes others by means of evil acts.”

Levy understood through his own experiences and studies of other researchers, Buddhism and C. G. Jung that wetiko fit his idea for the expression of this force. And yet is as mysteriously open to creative interpretations in relating it to our present circumstance, sociologically.

He says, “Wetiko to me ‘sounds’ like a mantra, in that it is not a known, Western word associated with a literal, conceptual meaning in the same way that English words are. Mantras operate on the level of sound vibration, in that they carry a phonemic, sensual level of affective meaning which is not translatable into conceptual definitions, speaking to and resonating with a nonverbal part of our being.”

Wetiko can ultimately be seen as a psychic virus that infects the host with a psychotic cannibalistic need to feed on and infect others. The virus itself is not a physical entity but more of a psychic hyper-dimensional parasite that morphs the infected individual into a psychoneurotic predator.

Like a vampire, those most infected are truly the antithesis to all life and move without empathy toward obliteration. Think of the most infamous characters in history and one can achieve a clearer picture of this expression.

Be as it may, the purpose of this study is to recognize how this virus may exist within us and how to understand the role we collectively play in its expression. A key element in fully contemplating this information is in observing it in others, but ultimately recognizing it in yourself.

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On page 129, “It is the denial of the humanity of the other that lies at the heart of the mystery of evil. To quote theologian and philosopher Abraham J. Heschel, ‘The opposite of humanity is brutality….Brutality is often due to a failure of imagination. …Man turned beast becomes his opposite, a species sui generisThe opposite of the human is not the animal, but the demonic.’ In full blown wetikos there is a perverse enjoyment of domination over another person(s), which involves a process of dehumanization, of transforming a person into an object, a ‘thing’, in which the other’s freedom is taken away; this process is the very essence of the sadistic drive. Their sadism is a way of transforming their feelings of powerlessness and impotence into a delusional experience of omnipotence.”

Understand, the world is run by these full blown wetikos. In order to truly begin evolving and healing the outside world, people need to come to this realization and affect the change in the world on the inside. Step 1 is to recognize this truth.

I believe a strength in Levy’s presentation is his conceptual grasp and articulation of the paradox.

Paradox: Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxon, from neuter of paradoxos contrary to expectation.

1:  a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true

2: an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises

3: one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases

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In the chapter entitled Evil, on page 146 Levy states, “In the Gnostic Dialogue of the Savior, it says, ‘Whoever does not know evil is no stranger to it.’ Wetiko forces upon us the evolutionary responsibility to become intimately related to and come to terms with the evil within our own hearts. The art of alchemy was an attempt at a symbolic integration of evil, locating the divine drama of redemption in humanity itself. This involved a process of coming to terms with the unconscious, which always becomes a necessity when we are confronted with its primal darkness. There is no escape from the world, the flesh, and the devil; they can only be truly renounced by being faced and overcome. The less evil is recognized, the more dangerous it is. To the extent we have not rooted out the wetiko bug within ourselves we are complicit in the co-creation of the evil playing out in the world. The Gnostic text The Gospel of Philip says,

So long as the root of wickedness is hidden, it is strong. But when it is recognized, it is dissolved. When it is revealed, it perishes….As for ourselves, let us each dig down after the root of evil which is within each of us, and produces its fruit in our hearts. It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive, to make us do what we do not want, and what we do want, we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it.

Contemplative study of the self, moving deeper into the recesses that we call the subconscious; shining light with the power of truth exposes the shadow that finds expression in us all.

Engaging in this work will leave one deeply affected and reflective of one’s own personal dynamic expression. I am left a little more lucid and aware of the dots connecting up the puzzle pieces in the exploration of my own personal drama.

One of my favorite passages is in the section entitled Four Valued Logic. While there are areas of information assessment that do require the axiomatic position of true or false, right or wrong, this approach has been utilized in manipulating the mind into a limited perspective without deeper thought. An example would be G. W. Bush’s speech about the ‘War on Terror’. He said, “Either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Exactly.

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From the chapter entitled Understanding Wetiko starting on page 40 we have this explanation, “The apparent paradoxical nature of wetiko cannot be resolved within the framework of the standard Aristotelian, two-valued logic which is basic to Western analytical thought, where things are either true of false, or either exist or don’t exist. This paradox is itself a direct function or artifact of the intrinsic limitations built into the nature of a mutually exclusive, binary, two-valued logic. Having a definite utility, two-valued logic works by contrast, giving attributes to things and making distinctions, thereby limiting them; something is ‘this’ only by defining it as not ‘that.’ Our very language itself, in categorizing things and ideas, conditions us into a dualistic, two-valued logical way of thinking. The axiomatic set through which we view the world and its logic conditions our minds. To get insight into the nonordinary reality of wetiko, we have to introduce a higher form of logic in order to wrap our minds around what we are dealing with.

The solution to such apparent paradoxes as wetiko lies outside our conventional way of thinking: its re-solution lies outside the box. An example: something as basic as the wave/particle paradox of light requires an expanded logic to be addressed. It is well known that under the conditions of various experimental arrangements, light displays either wavelike or particle-like properties. But what, then, is the essential nature of light? The question is not amenable to the usual two-valued logic, and may be better addressed by what is known as four-valued logic, a type of logic that is foreign to and outside of Western thought. Two-valued logic is based on the law of the excluded middle, in which things are either (1) true or (2) false. By contrast, four-valued logic includes the middle and the ends surrounding it, so that things are (1) true, (2) false, (3) both true and false (4) neither true nor false.

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It is impossible to use exclusively two-valued logic to show the full range of possibilities in any given situation. The alternatives offered by four-valued logic, however, represent all the possible standpoints from which every problem can be viewed. Four-valued logic covers the range of any idea we could possibly have about something. Four-valued logic lies between the polarities created by the two-valued logic of duality. Four-valued logic is the logic of interdependence, unlimited wholeness, and the unity of all things. Overcoming the arbitrary confines of the rational mind, four-valued logic deconstructs the conditioned mind into a natural state of seeing holistically. It literally changes the awareness of the mind to allow for a new and expanded understanding of reality, allowing the mind to transcend its own grip on and grasping of reality and thought. Truly subversive, four-valued logic undermines our ability to hold on to any fixed position whatsoever. By rejecting any one view as well as all views, four-valued logic is in essence rejecting the competence of standard Aristotelian reason to comprehend the fundamental nature of reality, a reality which ultimately transcends thought. Expanding the dimensionality of logical thought, four-valued logic describes and is an expression of a non conceptual system of thought that leads beyond thought itself, engendering an intuitive awareness of the timeless existence of the underlying nonlocal field that pervades everything.

Quantum physics points out that our seemingly objective universe is more like a dream than we ever imagined. The dreamlike nature of our universe is articulated in a modern scientific context through what is called the Observer Effect, which points out that, just like within a dream, in the act of observing we affect and evoke the very universe that we are observing. It therefore makes no sense to talk about an apparently objectively existing world separate from an observer such as ourselves, or an independent observer such as ourselves separate from the world observed. Just as in a dream, the observer is the observed; we live in a participatory universe. Returning to our example, the true nature of light is not accommodated by either a wave or a particle, because the way light manifests depends on how it is observed (‘dreamed up’). Speaking of the wave like quality of light, for example, four-valued logic would assert that light is a wave (which under certain conditions it is), light is not a wave (which under other conditions is true), light is therefore both a wave and not a wave, and light is neither a wave nor not a wave. This truly encompasses all possibilities. Likewise, wetiko exists, it doesn’t exist, it both exists and doesn’t exist, and it neither exists nor doesn’t exist. To be able to see through this more holistic view of the world is to be in an expanded state of consciousness in which we are not creating or investing in an unnecessary state of duality.

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Both light and wetiko are inscribed in and expressions of the same underlying unified field. Like wetiko, light is not an object that solely exists in space and time. Its photonic aspect exists in three-dimensional space and time, but another aspect of light does not. Four-valued logic gives us a greater range of possibilities with which to grasp the reality of certain phenomena such as the nature of light, and four-valued logic will assist us in getting a handle on the nature of wetiko. A spiritual path in itself, four-valued logic is a mind-expanding and mind freeing path to spaciousness and compassion.

Another example of four-valued logic is the Schrödinger’s cat paradox, a famous thought experiment in quantum physics which showed that the universe can’t be said to exist in a particular form until there is an observer to experience it. The key to this paradox is what is referred to as the principle of ‘superposition,’ which states that until we look and collapse the infinitude of the wave function, the universe is actually in all possible states simultaneously. This is to say that in Schrödinger’s experiment, the cat is both alive and dead at the same time until it is observed. On the level of the conventional mind and ordinary reality, this is obviously false and nonsensical, but it shows the limits of Aristotelian logic, which is to say this paradox is not consistent with two-valued logic. Just as with the light paradox, using four-valued logic we can say that the cat is neither alive nor not alive at the same time; this is the real meaning of superposition of states in the quantum mechanical wave function. To say that Schrödinger’s cat is neither alive nor not alive is a statement that can potentially dissolve the conventional strictures of the conceptual mind so as to reveal naked awareness itself, the basic essence of unconditioned mind. We are unable to conceptually understand four-valued logic, however, with a mind that has been conditioned to think with two-valued logic. Four-valued logic points to and introduces us to a direct experience of reality beyond the straitjacketing conditioning of two-valued logic. Seeing the world through four-valued logic gives us greater degrees of freedom of choice, in that it actively empowers our free will.

Four-valued logic sheds light on who we are. For example, on one hand we are a body existing in space and time. But on the other hand, we are clearly not just a body. As a bodily organism, we are finite, mortal, and subject to suffering, but at the same time, we are not a body but a consciousness, living in a multidimensional universe. We are a part of a consciousness outside space/time, participating in a higher-dimensional, nonlocal universe. We are both a body and not a body. And we are neither a body nor not a body. Four-valued logic illumines how we are able to be both a self and not a self, both separated as bodies and not separated in consciousness. Four-valued logic, the logic that wetiko demands in order to understand, introduces us to who we actually are beyond the constraining limitations of the mind/body dualism.

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As we deepen our contemplation of wetiko, it is becoming clear that wetiko is the source of the darkest evil, while at the same time potentially freeing our mind, curing us of our wrong attitude, expanding our consciousness, shifting our identity, helping us to achieve gnosis of the divine, and potentially waking us up. Can we therefore still say that wetiko is evil? Four-valued logic would assert: wetiko is evil, it is not evil, it is both evil and not evil, and it is neither evil nor not evil. In other words, wetiko is not only the archetype of evil, but understanding wetiko also means gaining insight into the deeper place that evil plays in the cosmic plan of creation, salvation, redemption, and incarnation of the Divine.

 Though one of the channels that wetiko manifests is through individuals, ultimately speaking, wetiko can’t be said to exist in individuals separately from the surrounding field, for the simple reason that individuals, as separate, discrete entities isolated from the surrounding field, don’t exist in and among themselves. Unable to be seen or understood from the fixed viewpoint of the separate self, wetiko is a relational phenomenon, in that wetiko happens in the space between us (as well as the space between ‘parts’ of ourselves), as we relate to each other, ourselves, and the world at large. It is as if wetiko ‘places’ the unconscious between self and other. There is no wetiko disease that only exists in one individual. Being imaginal, wetiko does not exist as an isolated, objective entity separate from our subjective awareness. The subtle body of wetiko is an (im)materialization of the interactive field between us. Wetiko exists in the ‘in-between’ place in which we are all inseparable interconnected and, in the deepest sense, don’t exist as isolated entities. We are not the passive victims of the wetiko psychosis. Wetiko is something that we are potentially participating in and are actively co-creating with each other in each and every moment. Wetiko is a dreaming phenomenon, in that we are all dreaming up the wetiko epidemic together.”

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the Darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable, and therefore, not popular.” -Carl Jung