Freedom: Expanded Book 1—The Human Condition Explained
Part 3:11B Sobered and Depressed Adolescentman
Before describing the first, Early Sobered Adolescent Stage of Humanity’s Adolescence, adolescence itself should be briefly explained again.
Adolescence is the stage when we fully conscious humans search for our identity, for understanding of who we are, specifically for why we have not been ideally behaved. Unable to understand the corrupted state of our human condition, the only alternative to suicidal depression for humans once they became extremely upset was to resign themselves to living in denial of the whole depressing issue of the human condition. The result of this psychological estrangement from our true situation and true selves has been the horrifically deadening state of alienation that became the main characteristic of human life during the final stage of humanity’s two-million-year journey through adolescence.
Drawing by Jeremy Griffith © Fedmex Pty Ltd 1996
Early Sobered Adolescentman
The Early Sobered Adolescent Stage of Adolescent Humanity
The Early Sobered Adolescentman stage signals the end of Childhood and encompasses the time when we encounter, in earnest, the sobering imperfections of life under the duress of the human condition.
The species: the first half of Homo habilis’ reign—2 to 1.5 million years ago
The individual: 12 and 13 years old
Drawing by Jeremy Griffith © 1991-2011 Fedmex Pty Ltd
By the end of childhood we realise that lashing out in exasperation at the ‘injustice of the world’ doesn’t change anything and that the only possible way to solve that frustration is to find the reconciling understanding of why the criticism we are experiencing is not deserved. At this point, the child matures from a frustrated, extroverted protestor into a sobered, deeply thoughtful, introverted adolescent. While the main stages of maturation in non-human species are generally described as infancy, then adolescence when individuals are on the threshold of sexual maturity, and finally the sexual maturity of adulthood, in the case of fully conscious humans our stages of maturation involve a psychological journey, so our stages of maturation (from infancy to childhood, adolescence and adulthood) are fundamentally different to the infancy, adolescence and adulthood stages of other species. Indeed, as mentioned, the very significant psychological change in our psychological journey from the relatively human-condition-free state to the human-condition-aware state is recognised in the fact that we separate those stages into Childhood and Adolescence. As mentioned earlier, even our schooling system marks this very significant change that occurs at 12 to 13 years of age—when we humans shift from frustrated protestor to deep thinker about the imperfections of life under the duress of the human condition—by having children graduate from what is generally called primary school into secondary school. As also mentioned earlier, this critical junction in our species’ development was actually recognised by anthropologists when they changed the name of the genus from Australopithecus to Homo; ‘Childman’, the australopithecines, became ‘Adolescentman’, Homo.
Since the agonising psychological journey that adolescents have gone through as they engaged the agonising subject of the human condition (which for the extremely upset led to Resignation) has just been described in Part 3:8, it is not necessary to repeat it again here, or in the next stage.
The Depressed Adolescent Stage of Adolescent Humanity
The Depressed Adolescentman stage represents the time when adolescents struggled with the depression that engaging the issue of the human condition caused both ‘without’ and ‘within’. When the human race as a whole became excessively upset the depression that resulted from confronting the issue of the human condition became so severe for most individuals in this adolescent stage that they had no choice other than to resign to living in denial of the issue and any thinking that brought that issue into focus, which was almost all thinking—a process that resulted in the psychotic (psyche/soul repressed) and neurotic (neuron/mind repressed) alienated state.
The species: the second half of Homo habilis’ reign—2 to 1.5 million years ago
The individual: 14 to 21 years old
In the case of humanity’s journey, Resignation would not have become the key feature it now is in most adult lives during the time of H. habilis, or the H. erectus representatives of the next adventurous early adulthood stage of adolescent humanity, or even the subsequent H. sapiens representatives of the angry adulthood stage. This is because it is the upset from the lack of nurturing in infancy and early childhood that makes self-confrontation during the thoughtful early adolescent stage overwhelmingly depressing, and this lack of nurturing was not a feature of human life until the latter stages of humanity’s increasingly upsetting adolescence. The upset from a developing mind’s own efforts to self-adjust, while distressing and even depressing, was not sufficient to cause the mind to have to block out the truth of cooperative ideality. This is evidenced by the fact that even amongst H. sapiens sapiens, the 40-year-old-plus equivalent variety of humans living today, there have been adults who didn’t resign, such as the prophets Abraham, Moses and Christ. Also, quite a number of adults from relatively innocent representative races of H. sapiens sapiens, such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari, must not be resigned to be as happy and full of the zest and enthusiasm for life and as generous, selfless and free in spirit as numbers of them are, or at least were when they were still living as hunter-foragers. The English explorer and philosopher Bruce Chatwin acknowledged the soundness of Christ and also of innocent races when he wrote these extraordinarily honest words: ‘There is no contradiction between the Theory of Evolution and belief in God [Integrative Meaning] and His Son [the uncorrupted expression of our original instinctive self or soul’s orientation to Integrative Meaning] on earth. If Christ were the perfect instinctual specimen—and we have every reason to believe He was—He must be the Son of God. By the same token, the First Man was also Christ’ (What Am I Doing Here, 1989, p.65 of 367). More will be said in Part 5:2 about the soundness of Christ and so-called ‘primitive’ races.
Similarly, ancient Greece must have been home to quite a number of unresigned, denial-free, truthful, effective thinking so-called ‘prophets’ for that empire to have been so extraordinarily innovative, establishing as it did in that golden era so many of the foundation ideas for the western world, across politics, philosophy, science, psychology, astronomy, architecture and art. Certainly, the early Athenians Socrates and Plato were unresigned, denial-free thinking prophets; indeed, very early Athenian society must especially have been populated by relatively innocent people, because they were sufficiently ego-free to both seek out relatively uncorrupted, innocent shepherds to run Athens and, in turn, tolerate their authority. Indeed, the prophet Muhammad observed ‘that every prophet was a shepherd in his youth’ (Eastern Definitions, Edward Rice, 1978, p.260 of 433). It is the unnatural world of city living that is especially distressing to, and thus corrupting of, our original instinctive self or soul. Sir Laurens van der Post noted that during the turbulent period of Plato’s time, Pericles, a close friend of Plato’s stepfather, ‘urged the Athenians therefore to go back to their ancient rule of choosing men who lived on and off the land and were reluctant to spend their lives in towns, and prepared to serve them purely out of sense of public duty and not like their present rulers who did so uniquely for personal power and advancement’ (Foreword to Progress Without Loss of Soul, by Theodor Abt, 1983, p.xii of 389).
The human race is not so instinctively adapted to upset now that humans are no longer capable of being innocent enough to avoid Resignation. With sufficient nurturing and shelter from upset behaviour humans can still be sufficiently innocent to avoid Resignation. The reality is there has to be a great deal of upset in humans for that upset to become so unbearable that they have no choice but to pay the extremely high price of blocking out all access to their soulful true self. In the poem by Fiona Miller that was included in Part 3:8, in which she wrote that ‘Smiles will never bloom from your heart again, but be fake and you will speak fake words to fake people from your fake soul…From now on pressure, stress, pain and the past can never be forgotten / You have no heart or soul and there are no good memories’, etc, the terrible consequences of resigning to living in denial of the issue of the human condition and any truths that brought that issue into focus are palpable. The behaviour of a resigned person is essentially a form of autism; indeed, it matches perfectly the description a former president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott (1896-1971), gave for behaviour associated with autism: ‘Autism is a highly sophisticated defence organization. What we see is invulnerability…The child carries round the (lost) memory of unthinkable anxiety, and the illness is a complex mental structure insuring against recurrence of the conditions of the unthinkable anxiety’ (Thinking About Children, 1996, pp.220, 221 of 343). Later in this description of the stages that the human race has progressed through under the duress of the human condition we will see that when upset became even more extreme how an even more dishonest, alienating, autism-equivalent psychological strategy than Resignation was invented to cope with the human condition, which was to take up born-again, pseudo idealism.
Since it requires a great deal of upset for Resignation to become necessary, we can expect that it has only become an almost universal phenomenon amongst adult humans from about 11,000 years ago, when the advent of agriculture and the domestication of animals allowed humans to live in close proximity, the effect of which, as will be talked about shortly, was to rapidly spread and compound upset behaviour. The Biblical account of Noah’s Ark is actually a metaphorical description of this time when Resignation ‘flooded’ the world and our soul and all its truths went under, ‘drowned’—when our soul was pushed into our subconscious, out of conscious awareness, and the highly competitive egocentric way of living became all-dominant. The only creatures to escape the horror of Resignation, to survive this ‘drowning’ of our soul, were the animals and the very few unresigned prophets, as symbolised in this story by Noah and his floating zoo. As it says in Genesis, ‘Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God [he did not have to deny Integrative Meaning]…God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “…make yourself an ark…I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth…Everything on earth will perish [the soul and all the denial-free truths will perish when people resign to a life of denial]. But I will establish my covenant with you [but from here on prophets will have to preserve the truth of Integrative Meaning and all the other great truths that relate to it], and you will enter the ark…Go into the ark [don’t resign], you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation”’ (6:9,12,14,17,18; 7:1). And to think people have actually searched for the remains of Noah’s Ark, and tested ice cores from glaciers and sea beds in the Black Sea for evidence of a great flood event in the past, as if the story of Noah’s Ark was an actual event rather than the metaphor it really is! Understandably, however, and this will be elaborated upon shortly, the more upset and thus insecure humans became, the less they could afford to confront the truths contained in religious scriptures and the more they needed to interpret their contents in literal and fundamentalist ways—‘God is actually a person sitting in the clouds somewhere’, ‘Christ was actually physically resurrected from death’, ‘Christ’s mother was actually a virgin’, ‘Abraham actually considered murdering his son’, ‘Judgment day actually heralds an afterlife in which some unlucky souls will be judged as evil and burnt in a fiery pit’, etc, etc. But with the upset state of the human condition now defended, all religious metaphorical descriptions, parables and symbols—in fact, all mythology—can be safely explained and demystified, as will be shown throughout this presentation.
In this instance, ‘Noah’ symbolised the rare few individuals who, in recent millennia, didn’t have to resign to a life of almost total dishonesty. Some of the Bushmen people of southern Africa have, in the past, also used a revealing analogical term to describe prophets in their society, which Sir Laurens van der Post wrote about in his 1958 book, The Lost World of the Kalahari. Sir Laurens described meeting a Bushman ‘prophet and healer’ named ‘Samutchoso’, which he was told meant ‘He who was left after the reaping’ (1958, pp.159, 129 of 253). Christ has similarly been referred to as ‘the firstborn from among the dead’ (Col. 1:18). The reference by these Bushmen to one of them being called ‘He who was left after the reaping’ suggests that the majority of them must have been resigned/‘reap[ed]’, which is contrary to what I said earlier about quite a number of the natural living Bushmen not being resigned. However, ‘Samutchoso’ was a remnant of an almost vanished race of River Bushmen who, as Sir Laurens described it, ‘had all come together in the swamps [of the Okavango Delta] not by choice but when escaping destruction by the Matabele [Bantu/negro/black Africans who had migrated down from the north] in the time of Africa’s great troubles in the past’, and who were ‘withheld and profoundly reserved. Their faces too, were strangely uneven as if each one belonged to a different race from which he had been torn by a violent fate’ (The Lost World of the Kalahari, p.127). So while ‘Samutchoso’ was a now rare unresigned individual amongst the devastated River Bushmen, the existence of unresigned individuals amongst unmolested, natural living Bushmen might not in fact be a rare phenomenon—indeed, the happy, excited dispositions of so many suggests it’s not.
We now need to look at what happened in the years immediately following Resignation, as well as what happened in those same years, from 15 to 21 years of age, for humans who didn’t have to resign, such as our forebears who were alive during the second half of H. habilis’ reign and during the time of H. erectus and H. sapiens.
Firstly, in looking at the post-resigned situation of those who did resign to living a life of denial of the issue of the human condition and of any truths that brought the issue into focus, after resigning at about the age of 15 it normally took another six years of procrastination to make sufficient mental adjustments to embrace the new, extremely dishonest resigned way of living.
Drawing by Jeremy Griffith © Fedmex Pty Ltd 1996
To best describe the situation presented by this sobered and then depressed period leading up to Resignation, and then the six-year period of procrastination over having to take up a dishonest, soul-dead resigned life, imagine sitting on a ridge between two valleys. Behind us lies the valley of humanity’s enchanted childhood, the ‘Garden of Eden’ where everyone lived happily and extremely sensitively in a non-upset, cooperative, all-loving state. Before us, however, is a hell of smouldering wasteland of devastation and destruction, the wilderness of terrible upset and alienation. Of course, we didn’t want to go forward into that wasteland, but retreat was not an option. To leave all that happiness, laughter and togetherness behind was heartbreaking, but we had no choice but to turn our back on it; we couldn’t throw away our conscious mind, we couldn’t stop thinking, and while we practiced thinking upset was an inescapable by-product that could only be ameliorated by finding understanding of our corrupted state—understanding that lay at the other side of that terrible wilderness of devastation, aloneness and alienation.
Again, it is worth including more of Fiona Miller’s poem to illustrate the horrific consequences of Resignation: ‘Smiles will never bloom from your heart again, but be fake and you will speak fake words to fake people from your fake soul…From now on pressure, stress, pain and the past can never be forgotten / You have no heart or soul and there are no good memories…You are fake, you will be fake, you will be a supreme actor of happiness but never be happy…You will become like the rest of the world—a divine actor, trying to hide and suppress your fate, pretending it doesn’t exist / There is only one way to escape society and the world you help build, but that is impossible, for no one can ever become a baby again / Instead you spend the rest of life trying to find the meaning of life and confused in its maze.’
In Part 3:9, Joe Darion’s song The Impossible Dream was also used to illustrate just how awesomely courageous humans have been, for we, and all those who came before us, had to set out on our species’ corrupting search for knowledge, during which time we had ‘To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe / To bear the unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go / To right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar / To try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star / This is my quest, to follow that star / No matter how hopeless, no matter how far / To fight for the right without question or pause / To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause / And I know if I will only be true, to this glorious quest / That my heart will lie peaceful and calm, when I’m laid to my rest / And the world will be better for this, that one man scorned and covered with scars / Still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star.’ Also included in Part 3:9 as evidence of the immense courage of the human race was the famous parable of the Hottentot hunter who had to leave behind his happy village life to ascend, on his own, a great mountain in an attempt to reach the ‘White Bird of Truth’ that lived at its summit. Reference was also made to Jason and the Argonauts’ heroic search for the ‘Golden Fleece’, and King Arthur’s knights’ courageous quest for the ‘Holy Grail’.
There was no retreat for the resigned adolescent; like all the fully conscious humans who had gone before them, they had to find the courage to continue humanity’s heroic search for knowledge. Procrastination got them nowhere, and so, more typically in recent times, after a few years’ spent consuming lots of drugs and alcohol and partying long into the night to help them accept their fate, the adolescent had to ‘get on with it’ and take up the challenge of adulthood in a world where understanding of the human condition was yet to be found. In fact, it normally wasn’t until they reached 21 that resigned adolescents finally managed to orientate themselves to their extremely compromised resigned life. This orientation involved making two main adjustments: firstly, they had to block out the negative reality that living so falsely and thus so dead in soul and intellect would eventually end in the disaster of a completely corrupted life; and secondly, they had to train their mind to block out all memory of their innocent childhood and focus on whatever meagre positives they could find in the journey ahead. I describe these positives as ‘meagre’ because the degree of happiness they provided was, in truth, no comparison to the happiness the human race enjoyed while living in the magic state of our soul’s true world.
The first tiny positive was the prospect of the adventure involved in trying to avoid, for as long as possible, the inevitable disaster of complete self-corruption. We may have been about to ‘go under’—become totally corrupted—but at least we could hope to make a good fight of it. In fact, as will be described in the next 21-year-old-plus stage, by the age of 21 young resigned adult men in particular could have so blocked out the truth of another ideal, soulful, integrative true world, and so adopted belief in a selfishness-justifying, competitive, survival-of-the-fittest meaning to life, that they deluded themselves that winning power, fame, fortune and glory would genuinely bring them validation, prove that they actually were good and not bad—when in fact, winning power, fame, fortune and glory could, at best, only bring them some superficial relief from the insecurity of the human condition, whereas it would certainly lead to them becoming even more unbearably upset, corrupted and insecure.
The second, in truth tiny, positive in the resigned existence was romance, the hope of ‘falling in love’, which can be now understood as the hope of escaping reality through the dream of ideality that could be inspired by the neotenous image of innocence in women. (This concept of neoteny and the ‘neotenous image of innocence in women’ will be explained when the next Adventurous stage is described, but to summarise quickly, men could dream that women were actually innocent and that they could share in that innocent state, and that, for their part, women could use the fact that men were inspired by their image of innocence to delude themselves that they were actually innocent rather than just the embodiment of innocence.)
Although these two positives were only tiny, resigned adolescents gradually built them up in their mind to the extent that they became everything. They had to mentally posture themselves and their resigned environment in such a way as to be able to leave that ridge and take up humanity’s journey to find liberating understanding of our species’ upset, corrupted condition.
We now need to look at the journey into adulthood, and beyond, of those individuals who didn’t resign, including, as mentioned, our forebears who were alive during the second half of H. habilis’ reign, and during the time of H. erectus and H. sapiens.
Even for those who hadn’t become so upset that they had to resign to a life of living in denial of the issue of the human condition, their lives still followed a parallel path to that of resigned humans, who were living with the delusion that by winning power, fame, fortune and glory they could genuinely validate themselves, prove that they were actually good and not bad. The reality of this path, however, was that the resigned were inevitably going to discover that power, fame, fortune and glory didn’t bring them any real validation, but merely resulted in them becoming more upset, and thus more insecure about their meaning and worth, and thus more dissatisfied. While the unresigned were not living with the delusion that they could prove that they were champions and heroes of a competitive, survival-of-the-fittest, ‘red-in-tooth-and-claw’ world, they were living with the naive illusion, the optimistic hope, that all the wrongness in the world could be righted, that they could make the world a better, more ideal place. The reality for the unresigned person was that the situation all around them, and even in themselves, only got worse as the upsetting search for knowledge continued. Everywhere humans were becoming more upset and thus more destructive and mean spirited. So while their disappointments and frustrations were coming off vastly different bases, both the resigned and the unresigned faced overwhelmingly difficult paths.
In the situation, however, where most people were resigned, the overwhelming problem for the unresigned person was that the resigned state of complete dishonesty and desperate competitiveness was a total mystery to them—because those who were resigned to living a life of extreme dishonesty and deluded competitiveness never admitted so. It was the ‘silence’ of the resigned state that was the most destructive of innocence, be that in children or unresigned adults. In effect, the resigned imagined that everyone else was also resigned and that it was therefore self-evident as to why they behaved so dishonestly and fraudulently, but their behaviour was, in fact, a complete mystery to the unresigned. The idealistic innocence of the unresigned mind was so trusting and thus codependent to the resigned state that they were brutalised to the point where, almost invariably, their innocence was destroyed by the extreme dishonesty and defensiveness of the resigned state. As mentioned in Part 3:8, the Austrian psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich wrote honestly about the effects of upset on innocence when he described how ‘The living [those relatively free of upset]…is naively kindly…It assumes that the fellow human also follows the laws of the living and is kindly, helpful and giving. As long as there is the emotional plague [the flood of upset in the world], this natural basic attitude, that of the healthy child or the primitive…[or the unresigned adult, is subject to] the greatest danger…For the plague individual also ascribes to his fellow beings the characteristics of his own thinking and acting. The kindly individual believes that all people are kindly and act accordingly. The plague individual believes that all people lie, swindle, steal and crave power. Clearly, then, the living is at a disadvantage and in danger.’ As was also mentioned in Part 3:8, Sir Laurens van der Post described how the relatively innocent Bushman race struggled to cope with upset when he wrote that ‘mere contact with twentieth-century life seemed lethal to the Bushman. He was essentially so innocent and natural a person that he had only to come near us for a sort of radioactive fall-out from our unnatural world to produce a fatal leukaemia in his spirit.’
The problem for the unresigned was that no matter how much idealism, no matter how much selfless behaviour they threw at a problem, the bottom line truth was that only understanding of the human condition could stop the resigned from behaving the way they were behaving—simply because the resigned had no other way of coping in the meantime. We will see shortly how various mechanisms, like religion, were developed to try to contain the dishonesty and devastation of the resigned way of living, but ultimately such measures were limited in their effectiveness.
So, in the final 15-to-21-year-old stage of adolescence, while the resigned person procrastinated over having to take up such a dishonest, soul-less life, the unresigned person (or, in humanity’s case, the unresigned amongst H. habilis, H. erectus and H. sapiens) had to adjust to the prospect of having their idealism disappointed, resisted and frustrated at every turn. For the unresigned, facing that valley of devastation was just as difficult as it was for the resigned, but, like the resigned, they had no choice but to accept that fate. Just as the resigned used those years between 15 and 21 to condition themselves to taking up the challenge of ‘marching into hell for a heavenly cause’, so did the unresigned. The ‘adventure’ for the unresigned was to see how much they could resist the corruption in the world, and if not change it then at least contain it. And the unresigned also used romance to inspire their horrifically difficult and lonely undertaking. And so, after an initial period of mental adjustment, both the resigned and the unresigned began their 20s determined to make a difference, even if they were bound to become overwhelmed by the horror of life under the duress of the human condition.
Tragically, all the deadening effects of living with the human condition meant that the human race faced the very real prospect of eventually becoming completely estranged/alienated from our soul’s happy, loving and all-sensitive world. And that very nearly happened—humans came perilously close to an eternity spent wandering like waifs in the terrible wilderness of the darkness of denial and its resulting alienation, as it is so accurately described in the Bible: ‘Today you [Integrative Meaning/God] are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence, I will be a restless wanderer on the earth’ (Gen. 4:14).
As was emphasised in Part 3:9, and reiterated here, the courage of all humans who lived during humanity’s heroic two million years in adolescence, in which time they had to face the inevitability of total self-corruption by the end of their lives, has been so immense it is, and possibly will be for all time, out of reach of true appreciation.