SHOULD YOU TRUST YOUR GUT?
Love is a sub-category of the biological imperative of attachment. It is defined, shaped, and aimed by the culture. In a culture of materialism and marketing it is all about money and things. But under all that cultural shaping is the imperative of successful conceiving and raising babies to the point of fertility in the next generation or the species will not survive.
There are two kinds of birds, one kind that emerges from the egg helpless and nude, only able to make noise, eat food, and drop out the excess. The parents must do all the rest. This is one model for love: the nurturing of those who need it. The other kind of birds come out of the shell covered in down, ready to run and peck food. But they need to stick with the parent for protection and guidance so they have a compulsion to follow that is intense but a little indiscriminate, so they don’t always follow a parent. They just follow whatever. This is the other kind of love, sometimes called imprinting.
Humans, of course, have both kinds of love, plus the kind that comes from the prefrontal cortex ability to create and process the culture. A few millennia ago Europeans developed “Romanticism” which was a system for managing love of all kinds. It was very much influenced by religious ideas of devotion. But it never took into account the underlying survival-driven factors hidden in the subconscious. Now that we know about them, how can we persist in thinking it is a preordained and divinely inspired phenomenon of the soul?
The pre-frontal lobe of the cortex is a sub-category of the human brain, but it contains the parts that make us most human, exceeding the capacities of primates or crows. This aspect of the brain — the humanities and executive functions, the ability to be logical for math and science but empathetic enough to sustain society has been crucial since it developed in the neanderthals, though sadly it did not save them from us.
Alas, today it seems that many people’s prefrontal cortexes are partial, undeveloped, missing, unused, or misused. This is the part rendered inoperative by dementia, along with other functions like memory or the way home. But many people get by with little or no prefrontal cortex action — witness our former president, not that he used it for much morality or executive function. The damage might come from child-raising practices, social violence, the dispersal of families, or a major deficit of thiamine due to junk food. But something is shutting down a part that enabled survival.
Attachment is the natural development of a happy physical sensation from a person, thing or place, the code of what is out-there made familiar by contact and recorded in the brain cells. This is the aspect of thought that enables both poetry and love, that expands enlightenment into embodiment.
The subconscious is not a spillover storage of what the conscious mind doesn’t use. It is the BASE, the source, the biological mammalness from which the subconscious — badly named — emerges. The subconscious operates the body — no subconscious = no animal. No regulation of fluids and organs.
A “collective unconscious” is a metaphor to explain why many people believe something that is outdated, provably untrue, and often destructive. The most stabbing example right now is the idea that a man can make himself immortal by killing others. In war, in a gang, in mortal combat, in principle, this idea is lethal.
But something parallel is the “pretty woman” conviction that no matter how low a pretty woman goes, her beauty will attract someone wealthy and powerful enough to save her. The corollary is that getting pregnant will secure him forever.
My preoccupation has been with the Enlightenment values which I accepted and still respect, but now with the Embodiment thought that has no real name yet but can reclaim some of the values we’ve been denying, including the biological basis of human behavior as a species. Earlier breakaway thought included the Surrealists, who often used anthropological discoveries as new patterns, like Picasso learning from African tribes.
“The legacy of the Enlightenment, which tried to advance humanity through rationality, represented for the surrealists [who argued and resisted] a kind of devolution, an impoverishment of the true human essence. In their view, good culture is simple, primordial and still connected to the originary forms of human consciousness. The more complex and advanced a society becomes, the more its people fall victim to an alienation from their own psychical structures.”
Always this idea comes back and comes back, especially around Native Americans and white people still clinging to the 19th century, or maybe adolescents who can’t quite give up childhood, or German nature-spirit believers. It is a foundational conviction of those who believe in love as an unmitigated comfort and nourishment. It is harshly opposed by those who feel that humans must be shaped by authorities and so in support invent a Big Guy in the Sky who resorts to violence.
We used this idea to justify our opposition to the King of England, saying the Ultimate King was on our side. We put that on our money, “In God We Trust.” The Bill of Rights does not include the Right to Violence, which is a term I only recently came across. It is about survival with invented divine authority as justification for violence, one that challenges the mammal-body imperatives of attachment and protection to create the next generation.
Rationality tries to control violence and should do that if it’s guided by the wisdom located in the prefrontal cortex of the human brain. With a mis-functioning element of thought as well as a suppressed subconscious that loses the flesh-wisdom of mammalian instinct and self-regulation, we are doomed.
Apparently the issues are resolving into wars between cultures that break through the safeguards of nations and religions. Not so much with violence — except in parts of the globe — as with subversion, lies, and species-ending famine. Boebert and Green are sideshows, distractions. The real enemies are those who parasitize the logical Rule of Law the way toxoplasmosis invades the brains of rats and teaches them to love cat pee, so that they will be caught and eaten. Cyber infection subverts brains. Our best defense against such gaming — in my view — is stories. More thought needed, as well as gut knowledge.