Bird Droppings April 13, 2020
How deep is the soul?
I received an email from a dear friend many years back after writing about humor and it truly made me think. As I looked back on some older notes and thoughts last night and as I pondered I found the response I sent to her. It scares me how we can humorize our dark side often to a point of disdain or callousness?
How about the humor of John Stewart and S. Colbert? Does anyone ever think that some incidents are too sensitive or horrendous to allow for satire or humor?
My response: I have an issue with humor that plays to our dark sides. Perhaps even primitive aspects of who we are. Movies like Jack Ass and the humor portrayed and Stewart and Colbert are mild compared to South Park, for example. Colbert is on a higher intellectual plane than South Park I think at times. But the audiences thrive on it sadly enough and I think it is this aspect of humanity that allows the atrocities of man to happen as well. I remember once in Sixth grade a girl in special education who lived in the worst part of the community not even public housing but simply shacks along the river outside town. The joke was calling people names derived from that community and or specific people that lived there. More recently the crazy attraction to Joe Exotic almost a comedic documentary.
I look back and I know I probably did this as well yet maybe it is my karma to be making up for my part. I still cringe when I hear the word retard even more so than the n-word. I am reading Foucault currently and much of his base philosophy in this book is focused on mental institutions and “normal” versus “abnormal” and I wonder as I read and see watching several older American Idol shows and how the judges belittle people some who were special needs what a sad state our society is in.
“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.” Aristotle
Often having been in teaching of special needs kids when with other teachers who have been in similar situations we will joke about events of the past not at a student’s expense as much as the moment and ourselves. Being bitten or changing a really nasty diaper which is often common place in some settings are good examples. One of my favorite over the years was an OCD student who once asked me 54 times if he could hold our class room pet, Stevie the wonder snake a ball python. I ignored him and was working at my computer this was before school and a general education student who did not have the capacity for patience and or ignoring that I do final blurted out to the young man “I love you” and tapped him on the shoulder. He took off to farthest corner in the room.
She then asked me did I not hear him and I said I use planned ignoring and really did not after three or four times. All it took was changing the subject to derail that OCD event and she had. I still have contact with this OCD student and he is in his twenties and never went back to school after that year. He was afraid of the new principal. When the new principal took over nine years ago he was so terrified from middle school of this man he couldn’t be in the same building so he still sits at home and watches TV. His disability keeps him from working. Occasionally he will not be hospitalized for his condition but still lives at home and can do little out side of his house.
“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.” T. S. Elliot
As I think and wonder maybe it is seeing the issues at hand and simply using as a medium for truth for opening eyes as I look at some of the dark humor of our time. But I do not see people viewing that way I see people watching a movie or show and laughing at often human frailty and those human aspects. Over the past years I have written several papers dealing with the search for the human soul. An aspect that Jung, Hillman, and Moore all psychologists and authors write extensively on.
“Education must ensure that not only the material but the inward life of the individual be developed. Education should address not the isolated intellect, as the advocates of standards suggest it ought, but the hopes and dreams of the self of which intellect – the complex reflective self – is merely a part.” Allan Block
We get so caught up in testing, pretesting, predictor testing and testing of testing we lose sight of who these children really are and could be. I have used the term funneling or forcing as much as possible into a bottle through a funnel till it will over flow. It is often these aspects of individuality and context for example that get left behind in the overflow.
“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” D. G. Smith
Smith continues to point to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why. Perhaps this is how groups are so easily manipulated by the politics of today. The illusions according to Smith.
“Obliterate the lines between fact and fiction” D. G. Smith
We live in a society where deception is part of life. We listen to politicians tell us what we want to hear and or think we want to hear and we follow blindly. Why do we have to win a war “divisively”? Why do we even care? I was very frustrated listening knowing how much was based on deception on lies and yet billed as we have to keep going whatever it takes. We are a world and society of immediacy. Sadly, is also is as we slowly lose are humanity.
“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the nobler one of laying down the outward things that enslaves us.” D. G. Smith
This inner look is mentioned often as psychologists and theologians struggle with the concept of who we are.
“We need to know more of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself” Carl G. Jung
Uncovering our past and memories is part of looking at who we are. The idea that soul or spirit is just confined to religion can be seen in the understanding of what constitutes that inner search. A word used often as a search word is faith and is explained in Dr. James Fowler’s book The Development of Faith published in 1981.
“Faith is not always religious in its content or context. To ask these questions of oneself does not necessarily mean to elicit answers about religious commitment or belief. Faith is a persons or groups way of moving into the force field of life.” Dr. James Fowler
The search and looking within trying to understand who we are trying to find soul is part of who we are. It is what makes us human and drives how we interact with the existing world and how we perceive that world.
“The subjective side of spirit is nature, matter and human life. But this subjective side that moves through us is unconscious” Dr. Marla Morris
Spirit is then who we are subjectively?
“Somewhere between reality and fantasy, between need and want, between the affect and the idea, and between dependency and autonomy, there can emerge the material from which the subject spins a life” Deborah Britzman
We end in metaphysical subjectivity as to what is this entity of spirit and or soul? Deciphering the concept of soul which too often is tied to a religious connotation is challenging. Thomas Moore, student of James Hillman, a former priest and now psychologist and counselor defines soul in his writings and lectures.
“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with the depth value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or something to do with immortality. When we say someone has soul we know what we mean.” Thomas Moore
“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn around and note that is when we are most human we have the greatest access to soul” Thomas Moore
Mary Aswell Doll, professor of Literature at Savannah College of Arts and Sciences, in the introduction to her book, Like letters in running Water, includes her thoughts which deal with her interdisciplinary studies on religion and psychology that help probe the inner workings of soul. She mentions, “It is only through coming to terms with inner understanding that we can address outer concerns”. It takes inner looks to stir and fire up the imagination and to build and develop ideas and expand learning.
“To talk about the “soul”, we might as well say inner life of children. My latest book Education and the soul talks about Soul in a moral sense, which is really taken out of a religious sense” Jack Miller
It is that inner being of who are that is our soul. Is it soul that we are leaving behind in our effort to be the ultimate consumer and to produce children who can test and test well and take another test and do well or who will listen without questioning the deceit of politicians and advertising and buy products they do not need and support wars not needed and politicians who are not needed. Many thoughts to ponder on this Wednesday mid- week morning so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)