Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

My Quiet Rebellion

Originally posted on October 23, 2013

Me? a rebel? No way. I was so intimidated by everyone who was so sure of themselves and I certainly wasn’t. But on the other hand, as mind is wont to do, I did secretly rebel. I didn’t know that it was a rebellion until a few decades ago. It was disguised as a simple interest in folly, in self-deception.

Certainly I wasn’t a rebel in the image of the mid-1950s kid, a hot-rod-driving, greased-duck-tailed-haircut, low-slung jeans-wearing, near juvenile delinquent. My big brother caught hell for that. (He did drive a bit fast and had a few dent-accidents, but back then that was real bad. He really wasn’t all that wicked, just a tinge.)

I didn’t even consciously enjoy the thought of being a rebel, but I did enjoy, as Puck said in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “What fools these mortals be!” I was fascinated with learning about how whole countries and popular crowds got caught up in folly: I discovered propaganda analysis in Junior High School and Semantics in High School and I strongly suspect this theme affected my choice of major in college, Cultural Aspects of Religion.” Looking back, it was not that big a leap to my choice of specialty in medical school—i.e., psychiatry. (That was back when psychiatrists did therapy, as there were few medicines prescribed back in the 1960s.)  And indeed, I have always been more interested in the cultural aspects of neurosis than any other aspect of this field: I wanted to know what there is in common beliefs that feeds into folks getting messed up?

The rebelliousness is a psychological analogue of the little boy’s sexual curiosity, the desire to peek under a girl’s skirt, not to see a woman’s genitalia or even panties (big thrill of the forbidden!); well, I had my share of enjoying naughty magazines. But at another level, I sublimated my scoptophilia—the forbidden urge to peek—aiming it at (or under?) the outward show of confidence and exposing the underlying illusion.

I’ve vaguely sensed that the world is not what it’s made out to be, but few people admit this, or explain how it’s so. Some folks go into science to discover the hidden workings of nature; I was curious about the hidden workings of mind, individually and collectively.

My quest continues to expose layer upon layer of self-deception, collectively and individually. This is more than psychoanalysis. This reaches over into culture-wide illusions, basic tendencies of human nature to become overly fixated on this primal symbol or that experience. All illusions! Yikes! But also fun! I do think it’s valuable, exposing this. Wise men in the East spend lifetimes pursuing ways to better dissolve the subtle nets of Maya, the Goddess of Illusion. But I confess to realizing there lies at the heart of this impulse just an edge of the snickering kid who recognizes that it’s fun seeing the forbidden when all around people are pretending it’s not there. (To Be Continued.)

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