Write to life

Been thinking the heavy thoughts about the id again.

There’s a fundamental flaw in Western thinking that I think causes a lot of our problems : we make an enemy in our own mind.

We declare war on our primitive selves when we accept the idea that “higher” emotions are good and “lower” emotions are the enemy and the root of all evil. We lock our id away in a deep dark closet and only let it out when it behaves itself and we feel that it is a safe environment to do so.

This mental bifurcation is extremely destructive because we are not our egos OR our ids. We are both. We are monkeys with big brains, animals that can think,  the beast that walks on two legs.

And that means that our ids are as much a part of us as the rest. Trying to punish one part of the mind and lock it away because we identify it with evil is like choosing to be paralyzed on one side of your body because it’s the “evil” side.

The only way we can be happy beasts is if we see ourselves as a complex blend of animal and savant. In fact, the distinction is not really worth making.

Eastern thought, from what I have seen, does not fall prey to that particular absurdity. They avoid that type of moral dualism. This can be very hard for the Western mind to understand because we’ve been raised on such a steady diet of the battle between good and evil that we can’t help but see things in terms of whether the “right” side won or not. Did good triumph over evil? Did the good guys win?

We don’t really understand the sense of balance that a more Eastern point of view embraces. In fact, we’re liable to interpret a story where both sides come together to live in peace and harmony as a partial loss at best, and the good being forced to swallow the poison that is the Bad Guys at the worst.

I had my mind blown open on this subject at an early age by a little known  movie called the Dark Crystal.

(Apologies to those of you who have already heard this story. )

Spoiler alert on a movie from  1982 : I am going to reveal the ending.

In most of said movie, which I saw when I was 9 years old, the moral equation is really simple : our hero, the Gelfling, is the pure and innocent orphan raised by deep, wise, and benevolent creatures called the Mystics, and the Skeksis, a race of vulture-like beings, are evil.

Really, really fucking evil.

Like just…. SO evil.

Words cannot describe how much I hated the Skeksis when I saw that movie in the theater when only 9 years old. They were horrible, filthy beings who had nothing but evil motivations and lived in a society filled with deceit, backstabbing, boot-licking, and every other unpleasant and horrible aspect of human life.

And remember, I had been raised on (mostly) American cartoons that had very clear heroes and villains and there wasn’t a heck of a lot of moral ambiguity.

Throughout the movie, in the background of the main plot, the Mystics are slowly walking to the place where the Skeksis live, and I truly believed that when they got there, the Shit was going to Go Down and the evil Skeksis would be exploded into tiny pieces very painfully.

I am not exaggerating. That is exactly what I wanted to happen at the end. I was visualizing that quite vividly as a way to handle the loathing I felt for the Skeksis, which at times was so intense I almost asked my father if we could leave.

In fact, I think I might have done so once. But he gently declined and told me to hang on, which was quite good parenting and exactly what the father is supposed to do in the nuclear family : encourage their kids to take risks and get stronger.

Anyhow, at the end of the movie, the Mystics finally reach the Skeksis stronghold, and the epic and brutal battle I was counting on… never happened.

Instead, the Mystics merged with the Skeksis, and became a higher form of being of the transcending the flesh type. [1]

And I just couldn’t handle that kind of ending at the tender age of nine. My mind was blown to pieces by it. The bad guys had won, right? I mean, why should evil creatures like them get to be higher beings now? That’s not fair! That’s not right!

Thus, I was introduced to the idea of balance being the key, not victory.

It’s obvious to me now that the Mystics were the ego and the Skeksis were the id. And there is no peace without bringing those into balance.

And the thing is, our idiotic Zoroastrian world-view blinds us to the fact that all our “higher” feelings come from the id as well. Love, compassion, nobility, the quest for knowledge, you name it. They all come from our social instincts just like the messy stuff, and that means that you can’t just take some of those instincts and label them good and the rest bad.

It’s all just instincts. Our higher brains simply do what those instincts say.

And I am not saying that we should all act on our emotions all the time. That idea is, in fact, a product of the very false dualism that I am talking about. Like one side has to win and rout the other side.

Self-mastery comes from embracing ourselves in our entirety and negotiating a peace treaty between ego and id that relieves our tension and lets the two sides of the equation work together as easily and fluently as our hands do.

After all, you need both. Right? Right.

I feel like this seeking of balance is my road to travel now. Like most intellectuals, I have let the ego side of things dominate and choke the life out of the id with fear and restrictions and vastly overgeneralized rules.

All the while complaining of feeling unmotivated, tired, and weak.

But now, I know that the id is the source of all motivation and that true self-mastery and spiritual growth comes from harnessing the id’s power, not suppressing it.

Every day, I work to hook more of that motherfucking id power supply to the rest of my psyche, and slowly, one by one, parts of me that were in the dark for decades suddenly power on and start working.

Maybe I am a lot more like my fellow human beings than I thought.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Rarely are higher forms of being made of meat like the rest of us. That tells you all you need to know about transcendentalism.

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