The Limits and Potential of Internet Discourse in the Facebook Environment
First some back-story …
In the earlier thirties of my physical, astral, and ethereal bodies (1971 and following), I was unaware of being a different personality, from the one that had previously been their occupant.
I was aware of changing rather dramatically, but initially believed I was the same person as before, given that all the memories of the first inhabitant were present in my mind, or as I was later to learn: the ethereal body.
The changes were radical, mostly due to the presence of new intuitional capabilities, owing to my spirit’s qualitative nature. These transformations – in the three bodies – happened because I began to be aware of my inner life, in a way my body-brother had not known.
The marriage he had been in was effected, because I saw that relationship in a more awake fashion. She had dominated him – he in many ways an innocent (1), with the result that she made most of the family decisions. I was quite different, and began to demand marital equality. This tension was extreme, in a way, because he had left the marriage a few years before, and I (believing I was he) did not want to repeat that mess, as there were now three children who would be effected if I left the marriage again.
Inwardly I experienced a kind of moral gridlock, which led to a serious depression. One morning I left the house where we were living, and started walking, aimlessly. I walked about ten miles, and ended up at the base of what was called Albany Hill, finding a path to the top, where a large concrete Cross was situated among a forest of eucalyptus trees.
I sat on a nearby rock, and prayed. He/we had not prayed in years, given a certain experience he had at a seminary, where he/I encountered the intellectual arid desert of scholarly research on the Gospels. As an innocent, he had expected this course on the Gospels to be about the mysteries of their teachings, when in fact it was all about why the Gospels had not been written by those who he had been taught to believe were the authors.
This experience had shattered his faith.
Still, the emotional depression/tension had left him much in need of “something”, so prayer was all he/I had. Immediately, with the mood of prayer evoked, the depression was lifted. Not by him, obviously, but by Another. Included in this Gift was an Idea, which was that either choice (to leave again, or stay in the marriage) would be okay. The problem was about not-choosing, not about the nature of the choice that was to be made.
I left the marriage.
About four months later a family friend, seeing my continuing distress, suggested I go to a psychological group-system to which she had been going. This was in the early ‘70’s, in California, and mostly amateurs ran these groups.
I very much benefited, given the need to go deep into the psychology of my soul, and that the system itself was very dynamic and transformative. I was profoundly helped/healed, and about four months into this work, I asked if I could be trained to become a leader.
It turned out that even as a “client”, I had displayed remarkable intuitional insights, and the leadership of this work was quite in favor of my becoming a group leader.
A main feature of this group work was rooted in the writings of Eric Berne, the author of “Games People Play”, and was called “Transactional Analysis”. Basically we attended to how people spoke to each other, and what was revealed if we attended carefully to the details of our conversational gambits.
I was very good at the necessary listening, but at the same time inwardly troubled by the fact that my body-brother had been taught that one went to school to learn how to do “psychology”.
I needed a justification for accepting my intuitions, although to others I was quite skilled. This led me to self-observation, where I ran into the riddle of what is the relationship between thought and experience, and central to that riddle was the question of morality in such a context. Over a decade later, I came to realize that this is the same riddle Steiner worked with in his: “A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception.”
During this inner exploration, I read a book about Native Americans, where I encountered the idea of thinking with the heart. Over time I developed a “technique”, where I learned to pause the inner dialogue (empty mind) after which I would move my conscious attention to my heart, and let myself love the “client”.
I would let them show me who they were, and what they might need from me, via my heart’s intuitions, which I would try to grasp as a “wholeness”, or given the times, I used the words “form a gestalt”.
I was very good at this kind of work … although my destiny lay elsewhere.
As a consequence, I have been quite aware of “conversational” styles. However, like most of us, I assumed we could have a conversation via these internet venues, yet over time I began to see that it was a grave error to believe that we were having a real human to human conversation.
The best imagination I have come up with is that we are all at sea – in a sense, and each posting is better grasped as a kind of message in a bottle, set free to roam among currents that mostly hid the personalities from one another.
We were not “meeting”. When I was on the Ark, where the Culmination (2) happened, we discussed this dilemma, and concluded that what was happening was a kind of exchange of astral and egotistical reflections, whereas a real conversation would include the physical and ethereal bodies normal to face to face conversations in the physical.
Much depends upon seeing the face and the gestures of the “other”. Absent those clues, and the ability and time to share our back-stories, no connection is possible, although we like to act as if it was otherwise.
People would write that they didn’t like the “tone” of our post, for example. Forgetting that “tone” is a function of the ear, not of the words on a page. Further, honest reflection notices that our mind engages in an interpretive activity, as if the writer we are reading would be writing like we would, if we used those those words, and in that order.
Many of the words we use are so vague and generalized, that we tend to imagine something in the “other” that is not there at all. This interpretive activity is akin to a mirror, and in our use of it, without noticing this fact, means that the meaning is from us, not from the writer.
This does not mean there is no “value” in the exchanges. Each of us have a world-view, formed from long term biographical experiences. Unfortunately, the differences in these personal experiences tend to be treated as if there was a right way to think and cogitate, instead of an individual way.
For example, my experience is that Karl Rove is Ahriman incarnate. Also, that Rudolf Steiner was not perfect, and could make mistakes. The egotistical element appears when we try to insist the “other” should think like we do.
People, apparently fighting over meaning and truth, will try to persuade the “other’, and sometimes the dialogues become heated due to the strength of our belief. Factually, however, we only can “know” what our life has taught us, and lacking the back-stories, strive to make not-okay the “other”, in order to have a reason to think differently.
Wendt must be flawed to assert what is contrary to our views.
The whole matter is made worse, by our assumption that a few lines of text, on a page, means to us what the writer of those words understood … without recognizing that there is a whole life behind the use of those words, and many times we use words that are so abstract, we mean something entirely different than what the writer meant when using the same words.
Our internet exchanges would become a lot healthier, if we shared the back-stories instead of the very different conclusions with which life experience has gifted us.
We do not need to eliminate those experiences. Their existence can be useful, for it teaches just how unique each one is, and that these differences are not only a wonder, but also can be a source of humor, given the sometimes wild nature of the unusual ways we interpret meaning, using text, even such text as what has come to us from Rudolf Steiner.
It is the ahrimanic-mind that believes that facts can be nailed down, fixed and unchangeable; while the luciferic mind holds that the truth is immutable, and the same for all. (3)
(3) See MacCoun’s On Becoming an Alchemist