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For certain fortunate people there is something which transcends all classifications of behaviour, and that is awareness; something which rises above the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games, and that is intimacy. But all three of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness’. This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.
Eric Berne, Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964)
Erich Fromm has convincingly listed man’s needs as an object of devotion, an ability to relate, a desire for unity and rootedness, the wish to be effective, and the need for stimulation. Every one of these needs may be answered in a positive or a negative way. The object of devotion may be God, love, and truth; or it may be diverted into veneration of perverse idols. The need for relatedness may be satisfied by kindness and altruism; or by dependence and destructiveness. One may find rootedness and unity in brotherly co-operation and mystical experience; or one may find it in drunkenness, drug addiction, and depersonalisation.
Brian Masters, The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer
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His father lost his fountain pen and thought his son had stolen it. He hadn’t, but his father refused to believe him. His mother, trying to protect him and calculating that he would be doubly punished both for stealing and lying, told his father that he, Laing, had in fact confessed to stealing it. His father went ahead and beat him. This confused Laing all the more. He became unsure whether he had stolen the pen — maybe he had. Then his mother discovered he wasn’t the culprit and told him so, ‘Come and kiss your mummy and make it up’ — it was a stupefying volte-face. Part of him longed to go to her, to be at one with her again, a feeling so strong as to be almost unendurable. Yet another side of him felt it would be wrong or ‘twisted’ to do so, it would be caving in, so he stood his ground and made no move. His mother then said, ‘Well, if you don’t love your Mummy, I’ll just have to go away,’ and she walked out of the room. He remembered that the room started to spin, his head in turmoil.
John Clay, in R. D. Laing: A Divided Self (Hodder and Stoughton, 1996)
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Mr Weiss became intrigued with the symbol meanings of cigars when a cigar campaign that showed a woman beaming as she offered cigars to men backfired. Mr Weiss ordered a depth study to find out why. The conclusion was that men smoke cigars to assert their masculinity and like to think the habit is objectionable to women. Any message that runs counter to this deprives the man of one of his main reasons for smoking cigars.
Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders (1957)
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One of the first things that Robbins ever explained to me was his observation that the eye will follow an object moving in an arc without looking back to its point of origin, but that when an object is moving in a straight line the eye tends to return to the point of origin, the viewer’s attention snapping back as if it were a rubber band.
Adam Green, ‘The spectacular thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket’, New Yorker.
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The central symbol of Christian art is not the mandala, but the cross or crucifix. Up to Carolingian times, the equilateral or Greek cross was the usual form, and therefore the mandala was indirectly implied. But in the course of time the center moved upward until the cross took on the Latin form, with the stake and the crossbeam, that is customary today. This development is important because it corresponds to the inward development of Christianity up to the high Middle Ages. In simple terms, it symbolized the tendency to remove the center of man and his faith from the earth and to “elevate” it into the spiritual sphere. This tendency sprang from the desire to put into action Christ’s saying: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Earthly life, the world, and the body were therefore forces that had to be overcome.
Aniela Jaffé, ‘Symbolism in the Visual Arts’, in Man and his Symbols, ed. Carl Jung
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The normal process of life contains moments as bad as any of those which insane melancholy is filled with, moments in which radical evil gets its innings and takes its solid turn. The lunatic’s visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony. If you protest, my friend, wait till you arrive there yourself!
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
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Mindfulness is a techne, neither a philosophy nor a passive trance but an active practice of probing and witnessing experience. The practice begins when we sharpen our awareness of the moment-to-moment flux of thought and sensation as it weaves itself through the warp and woof of body and mind. Slowly, we may begin to see how much of our reality can be traced to delusional projections, cultural programming, or the repetition of mechanical habits of categorization, emotional fixation, and greed. We begin, ever so slightly, to decondition ourselves, and another world begins to emerge, a world that is nonetheless basic and familiar: a world always on the fly, a self-organizing network of flows and events drawn through the shuttle of the passing present. By helping us become intimate with the endless brocade, mindfulness cultivates a kind of mobile center that can pliably and creatively interact with the morphing demands of a perpetually decentered world.
Erik Davis, Techgnosis
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Music performs a special action in arousing my memory, which is capricious and undisciplined, subject to lapses and slips that are often very annoying. More than once music has enabled me to retrieve from its hiding place, quite suddenly, some reluctant and elusive memory: Several years ago, a Neapolitan melody of no special merit, which was being played on a mandolin by a neighbour, enabled me in a few minutes to remember the subject of a manuscript I had lost years ago, also the ideas contained in it which I had tried in vain, at intervals, to put together again.
Mario Pilo, Psicologia Musicale, 1912
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