The Importance of Death in Reality

It’s pretty safe to assume that when death enters our lives the perception of our reality changes yet again. I have already stated my take on reality as one that changes over time and the non-existence of objective reality. My experience of what tomorrow brings will change how I see the world today. In other words I will be a different person tomorrow. I met new people today and they will now be in my reality. I learnt something new from my son today so that changes me forever. And reality can only exist subjectively. But when death comes along it changes reality like a seismic tidal wave hits a populated coastline.

As a newly qualified bereavement counsellor, I have already seen and felt the evidence of how death creates devastation to people’s lives. One of my clients described it in the same way that I felt when I lost a parent a few years ago. Time seems disjointed and unfixed, and the mind shifts alternatively into different realities. In a moment you’re in the death reality where thoughts and emotions are overwhelmed by the grief; in a different moment, the mind shifts into a different place, busy with the tasks of the day, immediacy enveloping the anguish. In those moments there is no grief until the death reality slips into our consciousness once again. We phase in and out of these two realities. It becomes disconcerting and tiring. But somehow we find the strength to carry on. We don’t know how we do it but it happens.

I believe that in these moments of our daily activities and chores, the mind reverts back to an earlier time before the loss occurred. Thankfully, for those brief, blissful moments, we forget that the death has taken place. We somehow lose awareness of the deceased. With a parent who lives apart from you I think it’s easier to slip into this state. Slightly. But if you lived with the person you have lost it must be a different matter altogether. Constant reminders of their previous existence are everywhere; photos on the mantle-piece; clothes in the wardrobe; toothbrush in the bathroom. That must be pretty tough to experience.

Keeping busy certainly helps but there is no escaping the authentic reality. So the grief comes back and topples you like an emotional sledgehammer. You wake up in the morning and you might experience very brief moments of ignorance and then comes the painful realisation of what has occurred. Literally you are taken back and forth between different realities. You don’t want to believe the true reality and wish that you could stay in the reality that your loved one still existed in. I believe that a sign that the grieving has alleviated is when you wake up one morning and the shock value between these two realities has subsided and have somehow merged into one reality. This is the time that you can truly say that you grieve no more; it is time to live your life with the accepted knowledge that your loved one is gone, but not forgotten. It takes an undetermined period of time for some peace of mind and an end of a turbulent transition to an acceptance of a reality without that person.

Death is the most prominent existential problem we know. The relationship between life and death seems on the surface to be poles apart but in fact are more intertwined than most of us think. Death is a taboo subject and some people can hardly talk about it. This is because it is hard to face the reality of one’s own death. I, for example, cannot face the prospect of making a will, not that I have a lot to leave! But I want to believe that I can live almost forever. Who doesn’t. I have a lot more to do with life before I meet my maker and in a lot of ways I think that I haven’t really lived at all. I have read numerous reports that some people realise the importance of life when they have faced death. Even terminally ill people seem to “get it” when they realise that they have something precious to lose. People who bungee jump, throw themselves off planes and other risky sports are perhaps searching for those death defying moments to experience life as it should be felt. Not all activities must be as daring, but life enhancing events, such as a holiday of a lifetime, or buying a Jag, will suffice. Things do seem important when we are on the verge of losing them and we begin not to take things for granted any more.

Although death destroys us physically the idea of death saves us (Yalom, p.30). This sounds weird but on close inspection it actually makes sense. Life has no meaning without death. It would be a long and somewhat meandering existence. The fact that we will die some day motivates us to do things in life. It’s a wake up call to do something with your life before it’s too late. Time has a habit of creeping up on us. The philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote that we exist in two states: state of forgetfulness of being and the state of mindfulness of being (Yalom, p.31-32). The former is described as an acceptance that the things that exist around us are taken for granted; there is no pursuit for the reasons why they exist. Rather like what I mentioned before, we interact with things with a haphazard awareness at best that have a convenient value to us. That sense of wonderment you might get from holding the remote of a TV set might escape most of us, but just spare a couple of minutes and realise how special it is!

An example. I used to regard the weather in a nonchalant uninterested way, but now I take a few moments and observe the wind blowing through the trees, to hear the sound of the rain hitting the window, and feel the warming sun as it casts long shadows on a perfect summer evening. This is the state of mindfulness, that allows us to experience a state of being and be aware of the things around us. It is living in the present and an authentic way of existing, an appreciation that comes out of experiencing a deeper meaning through our senses. Many dying people have reported this conversion (Yalom, p. 35) to a higher awareness to the beauty of our objective world; a sense of importance has come over them and the small things that they previously took or granted now become very significant. Their reality is now subjective and very personal to them. So the influence of our future demise becomes very much a real concept. It is being in this mindful state that personal change in self can happen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could realise this before we are about to die.

The concept of death propels us to cherish life, provides the motivation for achieving something of note while we live. So death has a purpose despite the fact that most of us prefer to push it aside and forget about it (the state of forgetfulness) but the very idea of our mortality should force us to stop and smell the roses once in a while.

Bibliography

Yalom, Irvin D., Existential Psychotherapy, Basic Books, [1980]

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The Perception of Reality: Objective or Subjective?

perceptionREALITYWhere best to start a discourse on the concept of reality than my own perception of it? First of all, let me explain why I am a supporter of the theory that reality is subjective and created within the mental structures of our minds; that reality, objectively, does not exist, which can be for some a pretty hard concept to get to grips with at first.

 

How can we describe reality?

It is tempting to accept that what we see around us is real and part of reality. The wonders of nature and the diversity of our architecture, in fact all that we perceive fill our consciousness every day; the people we interact and live with, the technology at our fingertips. In fact, everything we see around us makes up only the perception of reality. But, is this enough to explain what reality actually is? Is reality simply a vast collection of atoms, their physical existence explained by quantum physics alone? Or does reality completely exist within perception, linked to our ability to create meaning to the objects we see?

It is also safe to assume that for reality to exist there has to be a sense of awareness present to be in touch with the reality we perceive. This statement suggests that reality is uniquely subjective and personal. We can only be aware of our own experiences and
perceptions. For instance, I am aware of myself writing this post right now, on my laptop, in my bedroom, on this sunny day in May, birds singing sweetly outside my window and my wife clattering the dinner plates as she prepares our evening meal. Those experiences are perceived by my senses as real, and there is no denying it. What I just experienced was a perception of real events occurring within a collection of consecutive moments in time, as I was sensing them. If I had not been here, I would not have experienced the perceptions and therefore they would not have become part of my reality. Now, as time moves on, other sounds are entering my awareness and providing the continuity of reality, as experienced from this space and in this time.

Therefore, reality must work in conjunction with time, or rather the awareness of time. Does this same reality exist when we are not in a state of awareness, such as when we are asleep where the sense of time is not perceived, but often altered and distorted? The dream state is a different kind of reality, one where the subconscious is free to create whatever the hell it wants! But I wonder if we would dream if we had no sense of a conscious reality? I suspect not because the material that prolifirates the dream world originates from the conscious world. Many a psychoanalyst will tell you that dreams are created from our past experiences and associated feelings and emotions and cannot be formed by using ‘new’ material that we have never experienced before. They may appear surreal and unfathomable but the core of the dream material is always rooted in what we know and have experienced, although presented sometimes in highly confusing scenarios.

Perceiving objects and concepts that cross our path both unconscious and conscious exist because we place a value on them, given differing ratings if you like; some will rate higher than others because there are stronger meaning-value to them. If no value is afforded then these objects are not perceived by our sensory systems, but I would hazard a guess that this is rare. Objects that tend to have no value are those that are clearly not within our sphere of influence and therefore not part of our reality. For instance, I know that there are millions of trees in Alaska, which exist because I’ve seen photographs and films showing that they are there. I can freely choose to pick one of those trees as an object that I want to include into my reality. But while I’m convincing myself that it still stands in that wintry, cold forest in the wilds of Alaska, I don’t have evidence that it still exists. because my awareness is not continually monitoring its existence. That particular tree may have been felled recently and converted into planks and for sale in a hardware shop in Anchorage. If I carried on believing that it’s still part of that forest, then I am suffering a delusion, dare I say a wish-fulfillment; a belief that it still survives despite the dubiousness and lack of proof of its existence. So, that specific tree cannot be part of my reality (i.e. I have no access to perceive it because I live in a different part of the world). There is a fine line between belief and perception. How can I perceive an object when I don’t even know that it still exists?

So, everything we detect with our waking senses, creates a relationship with the world and the objects within it, but these objects can’t exist without sentient beings making sense of them. Take a chair as an example. I can see that as an object it exists, taking up a space in the corner of the room. I can see it, touch it, hear it when I move it around the room and I can possibly even smell the wood that it was made with. There is no doubt about it, the chair definitely exists in the real world, 3 dimensional and occupying time and space. But would it exist if we couldn’t detect it with our senses? Think about it. It would be pretty difficult to know it was there if it could not be seen, felt or smelled, wouldn’t it? If I lost my senses now, after experiencing the world for all of my 50 years I would still be able to detect that a world exists out there, full of objects, which I can draw from memory and help me form a reality, still subjective because of the relationship I had fostered with these objects and preserved safely in my memory banks. Any new objects that are created and occupy my sphere of influence will not become part of my reality because there would be no way for me to sense their presence. With no communication with others nor the ability to create a relationship with that object it would simply not exist in my reality. Reality would be non-progressive to me; stuck in the same reality permanently. But what if I had been born with no senses? I would not be able to form any personal relationships with objects and unable to communicate with other sentient beings to help me create my subjective reality (though if this was possible I would only interject the subjective realities of those other sentient beings. Wouldn’t reality be non existent to me?

How is our reality created in the first place?

At a very young age, we learn to identify objects we encounter (and very quickly too may I add) and attach linguistic attributes to them, which creates the world that we call our reality. How complete this world is depends on the amount of consciousness a person has
access to. Some people, bless them, go through life with little awareness of what is going around them. And I mean really going around them, failing to notice the minute details that lies within perception, that sometimes gets overlooked, moments lost forever, never to be re-captured. Perceiving objects in our awareness helps to ground them into our reality. They fit into a category-based memory system that is essential if one is to function in everyday situations. It is perfectly obvious to me that we all are capable of labelling these objects in our own, unique way. For instance, whenever I watch a programme on my television, its not just the material from the programme that constitutes the complete concept of the object (i.e. the television) for me. I have other unique investments
with the TV, importantly that it was my dad’s last TV before he died. Anyone else who views programmes on it will not have that private, emotional attachment as part of the whole concept of the object. They may, of course, have their own special attachment to my dad’s TV which I have no access to. They may communicate the personal significance to me, but I will always revert back to my personal meanings first rather than theirs. It may sound strange to write about an emotional attachment towards an inanimate object, but we as a species love to possess things and feel something for them. Think of a classic car that an enthusiast restores with loving care, or a photograph of a loved one which remains special forever. But those objects that are regarded as non-important also have some investment embedded within them. Only not as much.

So, what do we use to help us perceive reality?

Our senses, namely our eyes, ears, touch and smell help to confirm that these objects are real and exist as solid objects. Non-solid objects, such as ideologies and concepts exist because a group of people once used their mental structures to create them, formulate
and test them and finally made others aware of their existence. If such ideas had not been conceived by their originators, they would not exist and therefore not be a part of our world. It would have been as if a child had not been born because conception had not
occurred between that particular egg and sperm. The concept of Marxism (to use as an example of a random conceptual ideology) would not be part of human thinking if Karl Marx had not become a noted political philosopher. One wonders what ideas, concepts and technical marvels as yet not invented/created which will become part of our future reality. Think of what the world is like today compared to, say, 50 years ago, and try and find anything that is common with both. Isn’t the reality of the 1960’s different to the one that is experienced today?

So, historically, reality to us doesn’t stay in the same place, though it is locked in time if we were able to time-travel. It doesn’t have solid properties, one that can be touched, prized or kept. In fact it relates closer to a concept rather than categorized with the world of physics, a collection of atomic matter that can be found in the world around us. It’s ‘properties’ shift because of changes in society and technology and other progressive elements, largely propagated by ideas and decision making that originate from the mental structures of human beings. In fact we as a species create the world we live in, and a relatively small proportion of us succeed to make significant impact in instigating important and irrevocable change. Steve Jobs comes to mind. The introduction of computers and the internet is a classic case in point. Over the last 20 years the availability of high tech gadgets (I also include the prolific advancements in mobile technology here as well) has transformed the way we live so much that it would be unusual to find anyone who do not possess any of them. They have become part of us and our world as the television set did to our parents (or grandparents) decades ago. For someone who has lived through the recent whirlwind transitional period in technology in our society, I would argue that reality has changed so dramatically, that we now live in a world that has mutated to something that could never have been envisaged decades ago.

More investigations soon…

Image credit http://purposeguide.com/2012/05/perception-is-reality/

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Personal Realities: Do they exist?

Relationships, personal or otherwise, have always been of  interest to me in a variety of ways. I am fascinated at how people interact with each other and being one of those who has had many interactions in my life (as have we all) I would like to discuss my views on what really happens when people meet. Studying psychology and counselling in particular has enlightened me to the different ways we interact with each other. It’s not as simple as two people talking to each other. There is a lot of influences and strategies going on in the interpersonal space between the conversants, and interestingly enough it is heavily influenced with the question of objective and subjective realities.

To question the concept of reality is something that filled the imagination of philosophers for many centuries, but I suspect that the majority of us take reality for granted. We are here so what else is there to say or find out? Religion has tried to explain why things exist but I never really took to such explanations. Science has also tried but where is the hard evidence that shows what is happening and why? By sharing social, economic and cultural values, do we also share reality with thers? Does reality co-exist and indeed interwine with existence? Does existence come first then reality is created from it, or vice versa? Well, we all should investigate our reality because there’s a certain resposibility that has been thrusted on to each and every one of us; the opportunity of an existence. We exist but is there a need to know that there is an important reason as to why we are here?  Life is a precious thing and not a second of it should be wasted, but do we notice this unique thing called life, or do we just accept it, be glad we have it, no questions asked?

Of course we can’t make every second we experience a fulfilled wish but we can make the most of our time and learn to accept that this is as good enough as we can make it. I am myself guilty of feeling this pressure of having to maximise every second to its full capacity. If I find that I have wasted my time I feel that I have somehow let myself down. I conduct a personal admonishment where I internally take on the role of a loser, someone who has failed. To my relief, I always find a way to stop this process of self-punishment before it takes me to a place that I wish not to go; a place where depression reigns and keeps you a prisoner for an undetermined time. We didn’t ask to be born and some may use this as an excuse, or a ‘get out clause’ to avoid the resposibility of living a life. And this life, make no bones about it, is judged by others, a significant band of individuals who, in their own way, exert an influence on how we see ourselves. This pressure is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east every day because of the expectations of these others. Friends, peers, family or any group deemed to us as significant (not necessarily important) are pivotal to how we live our own lives. We may perceive that we are in control of our own destiny but there are an awful lot of factors that we are unaware of which are silently deciding our future path in life.

But do these pressures take on the guise of the realities of these significant others? Are we but vehicles for the continuation of their realities? Is what we think is real, that is the life we are living, really our own? These questions are impossible to answer scientifically because all reasoning, that is everything that cannot be measured in a scientific way, can never be categorically proven. For one thing theoretical thoughts are by and large subjective. The results from experimental theories are interpreted by the experimenter’s perspective. In other words they are from the originator’s own reality, therefore subjective.

For example, if I believe that aliens are landing on Earth every so often, it doesn’t mean that anyone else has to believe this is true. I can show the doubters all the available evidence I have which has determined my conclusions. But it is all subjective and comes from my perspective of what I believe must be true. In my reality aliens exist and have visited Earth. A non-believer of aliens visiting our planet can not and will not commit to my beliefs, because they have their own reasons, or have a different view of reality, to mine. But what about the millions of people living here on Earth who exist in all kinds of environments, who come from different backgrounds, and trying to make the most of their lives? Is the goal of life to find happiness? Can true happiness ever be found and what does it take to find it?

I have only been truly happy, as far as I know, a handful of times in my life. My early years were possibly my most prolific period of hapiness but I can’t remember what it felt. I was too young and emotionally undeveloped. My wedding day was a happy occasion but all I remember is being worried about whether everything was going to be ok. Took the shine off it really. The birth of my 2 sons definately were  happy moments. But on the whole, my life has felt to be one struggle after another, always something to worry about, and not being able to fulfill the things I would like to do, that would take me to a state of happiness and remain there. No. that has not happened, and I feel that I am always trying to reach this state. I have equated success with happiness, but I have not experienced success and would like to test this personal theory out. I wish! So, despite the early promises of being able to live a successful life, I find myself in the midst of middle age and in a miserable, poor life, with little prospect of reaching the heights that I desire to be. I am a ‘have not’ rather than a ‘have’, and it is very uncomfortable. The modern machinations of life do not seem to run smooth or trouble free, and I feel trapped in the many cogs that are made to make this society tick. In fact the cogs are probably in me, or rather in my mind, enabling me only to move forward at occasional times rather than with continual movement, every waking moment, and lubricated with a consistant positiveness.

The reason, I believe, that so many people have lived or are living unfulfilled lives is due to these covert factors that conspire as to who becomes a ‘have’ or a ‘have not’. Of course it’s a question of being given, or inheriting, favourable conditions for personal growth, but I feel this pressure to fulfill one’s potential is, I’m afraid, a heavy burden for some, and provides an unconscious de-motivational factor towards success in life, based on pre-conceived standards that are really not our own. We measure ourselves with the standards of others but disguised as our own, so that we can accept and adhere to them. So, is being successful the ultimate factor for happiness? Do we not pretend to others that we are successful at something in order to save ourselves from being condemned (by others) as failures?

Success is increasingly measured through external societal factors which decreases the chances of finding personal satisfaction in one’s self. External approval from others is the enemy of personal autonomy and will eventually lead to negative feelings in regards to the self. Very few, I believe, actually get the opportunity to be successful in their lives based on their own valuations. For example, the majority of us are workers for employers who themselves benefit financially, and to a certain degree socially, from the largely monetary motivational values of their employees. The pressures associated within capitalist structures in modern western societies will always have a corporate finger hovering over the desires, hopes and motivational goals of most of us. We also commit ourselves to such unwanted attributes such as financial debt and relationships of convenience because a capitalist society demands that this path is the right one for all who want to feel ‘normal’, or belong to a particular favourable group. The nature of the employer-employee relationship dictates where the real power lies, and de-lineation of power exists in all relationships, which determines, in effect, which realitity succeeds to be realised. Therefore there is a power struggle in existence here, a battle between both subjective and objective reality, blurred by layers of attitudes, prejudices and needs cultivated through previous generations. How do we know if our belief systems were a product of genealogy, passed to the present generation through the continuation of environmental stimuli? Influence from social learning has been a key communicator for ideas and attitudes, which ultimately become belief systems. Political voting and religious indoctrination are clear examples of social learning.

It can be argued that objective reality is an impossibility because all reality is subjective. There are simply too many varibles involved in a person’s mental schematic systems to completly divorce one’s own self perceptions to incorporate another person’s view of their reality. Imagine completely removing every atom in one person’s brain and putting them all back together into another person, all in exactly the same way. One misplaced atom and the whole process would be a failure. It certainly gives a perspective of how delicate and complex a person’s construction of reality really is. The closest anyone can hope to enter another person’s subjective reality is to somehow develop a high level of empathy, a super-sense empathy if you will, that could feel what another can feel, to experience wholly what that person has experienced and is experiencing. Even Carl Rogers, the founder of person-centred counselling admitted that no-one can attain such a level of empathy, not even him. So, how should we regard ourselves?

Re-reading my Open University text books recently I came across the ideas of eminent early psychologists such as James, Cooley and Mead, who figured out that we have multiple selves. Which one showed up depended on who we were interacting with, and how we are judged by them. We would interact in such a way that fitted our perceived ‘take’ on the situation we find ourselves in. How many times have we fretted on how people that you’ve never met would think of us? Why is that so important to us? Who put that idea into our heads in the first place? What these theories try to put forward, of course, is that potentially we have a self for each person we meet, for not every meeting, however similar in context, will be identical. For instance, I might act slightly differently between two of my friends, though to the unobserved eye (or rather my inner self) I might not notice the difference in how I interact with each of them. I think it is essential that we adopt some measure of self-evaluation when we interact in different situations, but appreciate that it isn’t so easy in practice. I still see a meeting between two people as a coming together of two very different realities, and it’s very rare to find realities which compliment each other. Most of us will probably agree that we accumulate a very small number of real trusted friends in our lifetime. People who can accomodate each realitiy with an acceptable degree of tolerance, which maintains that interaction, enabling the conditions for establishing a meaningful relationship. And I believe that when you do meet someone special in your life, then it is something that must be cherished and appreciated for what it is. A special bond that somehow circumstances have conspired to bring people, with different realities, together. Therefore, one can view friendships as excercises in accomodating other people’s realities, that will have an acceptable degree of tolerance, which, in time, will keep within the boundaries of a mutually agreed space. There will be times, of course, when this level of acceptibility will drift outside the zone of tolerance but these times may actually indicate the value of the relationship. There will be enough acceptable experiences invested whilst within the zone of tolerance to be utilised in times of crisis. How many times have we heard the phrase ‘I need some space’ or ‘this relationship is too claustraphobic’. As in most situations in life there needs to be found a balance where harmony can exist.

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A personal perspective. How influential was Nietzsche?

Of all the philosophers,I found Friedrich Nietzsche the most difficult and complex to understand. Recently I came across a quote that without Nietzsche there would probably be no Freud, meaning that the father of psychoanalysis was heavily influenced by Nietzsche. Freud wasn’t the only one. After his death, Nietzsche’s writing became more important, and relevant, to us as a species. He postulated about the future development of humans (the Ubermensch) and our fate after the fall of religion.

He believed that religion was the antidote to nihilism, and when religion loses its grip on man’s consciousness, where will humanity look for a sense of purpose? Certainly there has been an increase in secularisation which seems to validate what Nietzsche wrote.

As all approaches in counselling originated from Freud’s work (even Person-centred) I thought I’d try again to understand his philosophy. His views on religion and individualty certainly strike a chord with my own beliefs. I take note of the irony of my interest in counselling and especially the various approaches to achieve the ultimate goal of healing disharmonized minds, and Nietzsche’s ultimate demise into madness, something he suffered with in the last decade of his life. Having been personally placed in mentally demanding situations in my recent years, I like to think that what appears on the outside to be a time of suffering, that within I can also recognise that it can also be the most productive time for my self. By facing such worry-laden situations, I have had to combat the stress and the anxiety with inner resources of which I am glad were there for me to call on in times of need. This proceeds to give me a further, deeper understanding of my self, face a few personal truths that were very well hidden in my unconscious, and come to realise that I am no perfect human being. I, of course, knew this all along, but did not have the courage to admit it. When it happened, I felt a weight being lifted off me. This weight was a burden, a collection of pretentions of the many faces that had become me.

For psychological health to prevail, there must be a balance to be maintained, and boy doesn’t existence like to shift weights from both ends of the see-saw of life! Is this perhaps what Nietzsche meant when he wrote about the Apollonian and the Dionysian dichotomy in ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ (1872)? Writing about the nature of Greek tragic dramas that reflected the essence of Greek culture When opposed elements of chaos and order (represented by the Greek Gods Apollo and Dionysus) are fated to clash but need to co-exist in order to survive. Is there also a precursive nod towards the personality theories of Freud, the concept of the ego and the id? Life is a balancing act and most of us have no choice but to suffer misfortune as well as times when lady luck smiles.

Why Nietzsche’s Cave? Well first of all Plato’s Cave had already been taken! Plato wrote one of the most interesting allagories, as part of his ‘The Republic’, which theorised the orgin of reality itself. He supposed that there were a group of people who had lived all of their lives in a cave, shackled by their feet and necks by chains, with only a wall to stare at. There is a fire burning behind them, and a walkway in between the fire and the prisoners, where people are moving to and fro carrying various objects. The only source the prisoners have of reality are the shadows that move along the wall in front of them. These form all they know, and they base what they know of the world on them. Any sounds they hear are believed to come from the shadows on the wall, which is false and illusionary.

At some time, a prisoner is freed and led out of the cave where he learns of an outside world of which he had no knowledge of before. He sees a bright sun shining in a blue sky, trees, and people going about their business. In time he rushes back into the cave, eager to share with his fellow prisoners the new knowledge he has gained. He is dismayed to find that they disbelieve him and think he is a fool, and the more he insists that what he says is the truth, the more angry and abusive they become. He has come to the conclusion that the shapes forming on the cave wall are not reality at all but illusions, and that reality is what exists beyond the cave. Plato is trying to describe the problem that all philosophers have, that is convincing people that what they know is only a fraction of a universal whole and are only allowed to believe in so much, which may or may not be the truth, but that there is so much more to learn if only they would be enlightened by men such as philosophers.

Surely we are meant to learn about our world, why things exist and behave as they do, and investigate those things that don’t make sense. Far too many accept things as they appear,  and are happy to live life, their life, without inquiry and curiousity, and of course it is their right to do so. However, such a life is an anathema to me. I regard my life as the most precious gift, a chance to live a life of maximum potential, one that I can say at the end of it that I have made the most of this wonderful opportunity. I attempt to absorb experiences, realise what they mean, and endeavour to use them to better my self. I cherish my individuality, and become angry when I am denied this. I abhore the influences of institutions whose main purpose is to stunt my growth as an individual human being. They control the fate of many, who just give up and accept their unconscious overtures and become human sheep herded insidiuosly to their designated penns. They are shown the path that does not stray too far from birth to death. I am reminded of my ancestors, quarrymen who were bred to work for the owners of quarries, rich entrpreneurs who lived in luxury curtesy of the long, dangerous and often bloody toil of men who were totally dependant on paltry wages. The rich and the influential are ironically dependant on the worker turning up for work to produce the goods that create the wealth that their class demands. Again there is this fine balance. The Apollonian being represented by the loyalty of the worker and his devotion to earn money to feed his family, against the Dionysian of the resentment of the worker having to suffer the knowledge that those who employ him enjoy a better, decadent life. I often wonder what my forebears thought of life, did they have dreams of a better life, which some did through emigration, as I flicked through each census. In a matter of minutes, I had encapsulated a whole life, spanning five decades or more, of the same, unchanging situation, a whole life lived in the same proximity, never a hint of a life fulfilled.

Being kept from the truth, or not being given the real reasons as explanations for what is happening is a common occurance. In our time the rationale of political policies is an example of ‘being kept in the dark’ about something. Hidden agendas are rife and is surely behind every politician’s brainchild. Conspiracy theorists have become our unappointed philosophers and forever try to convince the general public that all is not what it seems. Surely Shakespeare couldn’t have put it any better with his ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’ line in Hamlet. I believe that the stench of dirty politics is becoming more rank, and soon the game will be up, and the politicians who claim to have our best interests at heart will no longer be able to hide their Dionysian traits.

I think Nietzsche realised something was not right with the world when his alter-ego ran down from the hills and started asking the townfolk if they had seen God, which eventually, when no one had, transpired that therefore he must be dead. Is it blasfamous to pronounce the death of our Creator even when some of us don’t believe he ever lived? He was probably trying to tell us that God and religion meant nothing to him anymore, although he was raised within the influence of the protestant church.

My posts will explore my developing beliefs and my observations on reality as I see it, and how it fits in with the beliefs of philosophers such as Nietzsche. I’d like to think that at last I am emerging from my cave and becoming enlightened with the reality of my own making, as do all of us of course.

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