Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Compelling Distractions: Another “Service” of the Amplifying Unconscious

Originally posted on January 24, 2011

In a recent series of blogs I laid out my provisional theory of the amplifying unconscious, a way of speaking about psychic energy that notes its capacity to intensify our intentions, whether they be for good, evil, or what most folks do, which is to pursue childish illusions. To that list I would add a fourth purpose: Become caught up in compelling distractions. These are also illusions, and they overlap with the others, but are more collective in nature.

Indeed, even the intentions for good and evil are illusory insofar as they involve archetypal forces and their implications and effects cannot be fully foreseen. I remain unconvinced that claims of enlightenment are non-illusory. Perhaps so, but perhaps they represent more sophisticated forms of illusion laced with positive ideals. My hunch is that the best we can do, and my own ideal,  is to creatively construct a positive philosophy that includes the value of re-creating, revising, and re-working its own becoming. In an era characterized especially by an increasing rate of change in many if not most arenas of life, creativity becomes a powerful value.

Back to the theme of this blog: I am impressed with the way people get caught up in illusionary endeavors. The power of media, especially, has become far stronger and pervasive than it had a century or two ago. It’s more accessible, easier, cheaper, and enveloping. One can lose oneself in someone else’s story, a story that carries archetypal themes of striving, searching, longing, losing and winning, rising, falling, and rising again, bouncing back, redemption, and so forth. These stories, plays, movies, video games, hobbies, sports, politics, economics, business, academia, all can consume the soul.

I suspect a certain amount of opening to stories—history, fiction, biography, science, etc.—may be just fine, may stimulate imagination and offer inspiration. When is it too much and there isn’t time left over for personal engagement in the collective challenges?

I don’t know that I want to be too moralistic in pronouncing either activities or people virtuous and that one flawed. I suspect that there may be a lot of room for mix-and-match, for diversification and balance. I think my bias is mainly towards the activity of reflection and choice, meaning that what we should do is at least stop and ask ourselves certain questions every once in a while:

Are we helping the world be a better place? Even a little? Are we even asking this question seriously? Given that we spend much of our life on selfish pursuits, is there some balance in what we do to help others? Can we give a bit beyond our closest relationships, and if so, how? Are there any abilities, talents, things we do easily and well that give us a sense that we are authentically engaged in life, doing what we do best, perhaps what only we can do? Can part of our many-fold life adventure be devoted to doing this, or at least searching for it?

Perhaps what I’m suggesting is that a certain amount of mid-life and late-life vocational guidance should be part of our life plan. (Morality is the introduction of the “should” or “ought” into human discourse. I’ll comment on the idea of an optimal level of moralizing in another blog entry.)

In summary, let’s become more sharply aware of the way people distract themselves or allow themselves to be distracted, and appreciate how very compelling such distractions can be. Only by recognizing the power of illusion can we begin to learn the skill of resisting them. I suspect it might be necessary to construct an even more compelling yet consciously chosen illusionary system, one more laced with higher ideals.

One Response to “Compelling Distractions: Another “Service” of the Amplifying Unconscious”

  • John Swardstrom says:

    We have 24 hours a day to do something. Why do anything that is not necessary? How can I decide what is good, better, or best?

    Why do you spend all the time and energy you do writing these blogs?

    As Charlie Brown in the comic strip once asked: “I am supposed to help others? Who is helping me?”

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