Sunday, July 31, 2011
We make ourselves blind to the fact that our lives are not actually ruled by reason. They are ruled by pursuing whatever makes us feel all right. We then apply reason to tell ourselves that what makes us feel all right is “the truth”.
This thought needs full explanation. All I can do here now is promise to provide one, some time, some place, & meanwhile assign it a simple label: “universal life-illusion”.
Look up “life-illusion” in Google and the first two pages are mostly about a couple of bands, one from Sweden in the genre “Metal / Black Metal / Funeral Doom”, and another from Ukraine, which describes itself as a “Depressive Black Metal project”. Perhaps one is a tribute band of the other. An investigator from another planet, equally perfunctory in his research, might deduce that illusion is a deadly disease. (I’m also told about an album called “Traitor Life Illusion/Hatred Cumshot” by a band called Zarach ‘Baal’ Tarach/Karbonized. Enough already.)
Actually I got the term “life-illusion” from John Cowper Powys. Adding his name to the search, Google yields another author who’s fond of the term: Amber Paulen, who has a website DescriptedLines. Life-illusion is a category she applies to some of her essays / blog posts. Working through them, I soon come to the conclusion that their common theme is self-definition. To be human, in the imago or adult form, is to define yourself. The larva of the species perforce accepts the definition thrust upon it by others. Like clothes. In pathological cases, the adult fails to develop a suitably protective and nourishing self-definition, or more accurately life-illusion. It’s a figment and a garment, inconstant, varying with the conditions we find ourselves in, affecting how I see myself, how I see the world, and how the world sees me. A million self-help books have been published on the premiss that I can choose my own life-illusion. Except they don’t talk much about illusion. It’s a bad word. They are more likely to talk about “turning your dreams into reality”. Reality, you see, is a good word.
But it’s not as simple as that. And there’s lots more to say, both on life-illusion and the notion of pursuing whatever makes us feel all right.
Posted by Vincent at 11:35 am