The Curse of Familiarity

So here is how the system I described in the previous post works in practice. Irrespective of the actual amount of money I make, I always find myself in debt, counting days until the next check, always short of money. No matter how much I get, I always engineer a situation where I don’t have enough. Give me a billion dollars, and I’ll get to the same situation fast enough.

Since this is something that remains unchanged in the face of my wildly different economic circumstances throughout my life, I have to conclude that I need this situation on a profound level, even though I detest it.

And when I think about it, this makes sense. In the USSR decent people couldn’t make decent money with their hard work, so I grew up in the environment of constant worry over money, debt, putting off this payment this month to make the other one, etcetera. So I recreate the familiar feeling because it’s all I know. I detest it but at least it’s familiar. For the psyche, the familiar suffering is easier to face than an unfamiliar joy.

And now that I’ve figured it out, I hope the problem will get resolved and go away. If it doesn’t, I will know that I haven’t figured it out completely and need to do more thinking.


2 thoughts on “The Curse of Familiarity”

  1. Here’s a comforting meditation I made recently. 🙂

    So I had a very deep level of awareness last night, as a result of drinking wine and not sleep so deeply, but mulling.

    It seems that one point I’ve always had in contention with what I take to be basically modern types, and I mean those who see civilization as basically a source or nourishment, rather than the wilderness, is that precise issue of the womb which is at the base of their sense of being.

    It seems that I don’t have this fundamental fall back position that these modern types do, which is to go back to the womb. (Well, in actual fact due to the differences in constitution, I have been largely misunderstanding this Freudian terminology over the years.) The idea seems to be that there is a kind of womblike state that one can reenter, or will automatically revert to if one is of weak character and/or has reasons to diminish one’s stature in order to gain sympathy or power through appealing to ones diminution. I think I understand this now, that in theory such a state exists, a state of COMFORTABLE REGRESSION.

    To me, though, any sort of regression is never comfortable. Rather it is a painful necessity, like having a cold bath on a very cold day because the water heater isn’t working. It’s really not deeply pleasurable in most ways, not at all, although it has the potential to be reinvigorating and reconstituting.

    Now, I think this awareness stems back to something I mentioned the other day – something about how my parents’ attitude to death disturbed me, for its relative nonchalance. Then, last night I experienced a reversion – a form of regression – to the mindset of the colonial culture I was brought up in, and I realized that this was precisely the attitude that was instilled in us. We were taught to be very nonchalant about violence and to treat it very lightly and dismissively.

    But this is quite a negative thing, if that needs to be said, because when the thermostat for violence recognition is set very high (so that it is barely recognized at all) and from a very early age, one is also likely to accept a huge amount of violence to one’s own being before one acknowledges a sense of discomfort. This means that at a foundational level of one’s being, one is prone to violating one’s own sense of being quite intensively.

    I know I could not speak to a Freudian about this, since what I am describing (the constitutional nature of the colonial personality) is so thoroughly out of their scope. The difference is entailed in their fundamentally different concept of the womb. They may impeach me not to regress and not to hurt myself, but if I do not return to myself every so often, but allow a different sort of womb, the cradle of civilization, to take care of me, I end up feeling very stressed and out of place, because it is vital for me to pay periodic visits to the wilderness. I’m not renewed otherwise.

    The Freudians, though, keep insisting that there is such a thing as self-diminution. I’m unable to experience that. At the base of my being is something that wants to explode violently. That is not diminution, or a strawlike nest, but an arms cache. To regress means I become a victim of my own aggression. But at least I keep tabs on it and know what is going on with me. I actually CANNOT UNDERSTAND how someone can regress and not become more vulnerable in relation to themselves, as if they were handling live grenades. Is it possible that for some people there is comfort in smallness?

    But Freudians insist on some kind of facile remedy. Can you imagine a very modern type, a type who takes civilization as a nest, trying to handle these non-civilized aspects of my being and doing it as deftly as I have learned to? Their whole map is different. The want to coax very comfortable people out of a warm self-diminution. “Risk something,” they say. “Try to engage with civilization.”

    Before I understood that the constitution of my psyche was VERY different from that of modern people, and when I was trying to understand HOW things were constituted, I went to a therapist to talk about the degrading workplace situation I’d experienced, because I thought there must be a means and method to move beyond it. But the map of modern minds is very different and this chap just tried to address me as if I had a fear of engaging with things in civilization. That was never it at all. I had a fear of engaging with MYSELF IN A DEPLETED STATE, because that is when I lose my sense of proportion and develop a tunnel vision and start to attack myself. As for the things in civilization itself, they do not bother me, or really interest me in the deepest ways.

    But then these types, who see things in this way, start to talk to you in a baby tone and keep demanding you make your mincing steps toward the thing that is supposed to be so terrifying to all and sundry – civilization.

    But actually the violence that underlies civilization and which is also at the base of my own being is much more terrifying to me. I don’t like, in a way, the right wing extremism that formed me. If I can get away from its sensations I will, but otherwise, in a collapsed or overly passive state, I fall back into its modality. I become the victim of my own thoughts and self-hatred, because I don’t find right wing notions very palatable.

    In the end I have to build some kind of distraction around the more jarring aspects of my being, like an oyster builds a pearl to protect itself from jarring things within its shell that cannot be so easily removed.

    But modern types, it seems, have an entirely different problem, that is the need to simply coax themselves out to engage more.

    Even my metaphor will be lost on modern types, perhaps after being radically misinterpreted.


  2. More minor response: on money, I was raised with the idea that you had to be struggling financially to be considered real, or to be recognized as a fully worthy person. To be respected. To have your integrity recognized.


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