Coded gray.

Monday 1 January 2007

Screenshot anime Magikano

Pic of the day: This picture from the anime Magikano shows something as rare as a Japanese Christian girl, but the feeling is probably familiar to anyone with a conscience, regardless of religion or "race". Whether Christians are more "conscientious" than ordinary Japanese is something I cannot say for sure; many anthropologists have thought so, claiming that traditional Japanese culture is more shame-based and less guilt-based than European culture. But certainly what I see from Japanese popular culture is very close to our own way of thinking on these matters. Japanese anime and manga very frequently show young people drawn between temptation and conscience.

SD: Colors and shadows

One of the nifty things about Spiral Dynamics is that it is applicable not only globally or nationally but also on a personal level. As with the world and its nations, a person is rarely completely "monochrome". Usually we operate on different levels in different parts of our lives, and usually without thinking about it. This is partly a result of social conditioning. Here in Norway, for instance, it is common to be Blue on a very personal level (so personal that is rarely comes out except when drunk or terminally ill), Orange in everyday life and supporting Green politics. But there is also a special case: Our Shadow. (And this part is, sadly, not just for Norwegians.)

Freud used the word "id" about our entire "lower" subconscious. Jung used the word "shadow" (though I am sure poets have used it in this sense before) about the personal subconscious that we have repressed, whether we threw it down the stairs to the cellar and locked the door or just refused to unlock when it clamored to come up in the daylight. The word "shadow" is used in a similar meaning by postmodern philosopher Ken Wilber and his friends. He does not so much talk about repression as say that the shadow parts of us are "split off" during our development, and therefore have failed to grow up with the rest of us and failed to become integrated. As long as we have such parts that fail to become integrated, we are being held back as a whole. The further we come, the more integral we have to be, and the more integrity we need to have. This will fail if we have parts of our life that are more or less outside our control, or that operate on a completely different level.

Unsurprisingly, food and sex stand out as common shadowy areas. Food is probably our first interest in life. Most of us begin to eat before we even know what hunger is, acting on pure reflex when we get a teat in our mouth. But before long we experience the power of hunger on some occasion, and then (probably too early compared to what is natural for our species) we are weaned and depend on differentiating between different foods, some of which we like and some of which our parents like us to eat. It's hard to say how much is cause and how much is effect, but the USA in particular has a culture that is neurotic when it comes to food, a strange mixture of love and fear and guilt and shame. Whether the emotions are negative or positive, they amount to an obsession. These people do not react rationally (Orange), much less honest and for the common good (Green). Rather the power struggle seems to be between Purple (pre-egoic mythic) and Red (unrestrained egoic) or at best Red and Blue (lawfully deferred reward).

Wilber seems clear that the problem arises largely because our food consciousness (not his words) is split off from our main person early in life, and never gets the chance to grow up and integrate with the rest of us. He thinks the same is true for sex. This may seem strange if you believe that sex starts at puberty, at which point most of us are already in the Blue vMeme with our understanding and much of our behavior. (While teen years often see a fallback to Red, this is often associated exactly with this part of life and frustrations coming from that, which may be why teenage rebellion is a bigger theme in America than Europe, and almost absent in some other cultures.)

In real life, of course, sexuality is largely decided before we even start school. (I could refer to my own childhood here, but that would put me in a similar situation as today's picture.) Even Freud realized that these things started early in life, although his theories are largely considered wrong in detail today. In humans (and indeed apes) sexuality is not simply the act of procreation, but a much wider range of feelings and activities, some of which start very early in life. And if these feelings are derailed early on, it is somewhat random how far they develop, and not necessarily to the same level as the rest of the psyche. (Theoretically they could sometimes evolve further than the main ego, but this is obviously rare.)

Also less taboo-ridden parts of life can be split off to some degree. For instance, most organized religion is entrenched in the Blue vMeme, and religion is a particularly weak point in Orange. (It rebounds somewhat in Green, in the form of a vague and generic spirituality rather than strict dogma, and acceptance for Eastern spiritual philosophy, particularly Buddhism.) A person who is centered in the Orange vMeme but remains religious, will frequently remain Blue in that one area. So you get the strange situation that someone may work as a petroleum geologist, basing his work on knowledge of the relative age of various geological formations and life at those times, millions of years in the past, and then go to church on Sunday and believe that Earth is less than 6000 years old. It says something about the human mind that people can live and die that way without too much discomfort.

But for the most part, the benefits of an integrated self are obvious. You don't become a different person in certain situations, so you can more easily take responsibility for your life. If you are not integrated, then one part of you makes promises which another part of you will be called upon to keep; that other part may not want to do so at all. Therefore integrity without integration is hard to achieve, or rather it is largely a matter of luck. At the very least, it is important that we acknowledge the shadow shards and plan around them in a realistic way. Better yet would be to take responsibility for all we do and all we are. But who is capable of this?


Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Like killing your pets
Two years ago: "I have nothing"
Three years ago: Gamey new year!
Four years ago: New Years who cares?
Five years ago: Unfocused
Six years ago: Mars Now!
Seven years ago: Welcome to the future!
Eight years ago: A mild new year

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.


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