By S. A. W
We humans have a common tendency to revolve the entirety of existence around our own being and the human experience in general. Thinking that our personal sense of existence or beliefs are far above all else. Not all do, but it is the case for the majority and it is crucial we collectively drift away from this view of existence if we desire to move forward. Thinking beyond the human experience and in a sense to detach from the present idea of human nature to gain a crucial perspective. Our character armor must be shed, character armor was termed by William Reich. This character armor is a defense mechanism, which we develop over our lifetime that unconsciously distracts and protects an individual’s ego against the truth of life’s enveloping existential despair. This armor consists of relationships, ideologies, cultural symbols, social associations, experiences-memories, personal identity, self-interests, genetics, and the unrelenting primal drives for procreation and bodily nourishment. It produces an illusionary veil for reality, a prison of the mind. A constrained box of thinking. In order to reach a fundamental state of awareness, one’s character armor, the dogmatic and indoctrinated self, has to be temporarily pushed aside. In doing so enables one’s mind to not resort to clinging desperately to things that are fundamentally foreign to us. It leads one to consider a vast variance of potential possibilities that inevitably arise. The unrelenting pressure to define ourselves falls away. It allows us to detach from our own sense of identity, not to where it’s lost and we become a mindless drone. More so it is an acknowledgement that all the things we desperately attach ourselves to, really aren’t us at all, but in fact a defense mechanism. This perception amounts to weakening our chains to the human condition.
This is the human condition, the daunting reality that we’re in a constant state of decay, our time to be alive is limited, and there is nothing we can do about it. Brought into existence vulnerable and are subjected not only to its effulgent beauty, but along with its infinite horror. Shackled by unwavering fragility, ignorant of what follows our death. Subconsciously driven by survival, procreation, and desire which is heavily influenced by our environment and overall, the needs of the arbitrarily assigned societal environment we’re born into. The human brain is an image, symbol, conceptual, and overall information processor that is a servant to the wellness of the body. Our bodies require constant maintenance and time waits for none of us. There comes a point where our bodies inevitably fail and many others who were never lucky to experience health. The majority in their formative or adolescent years during our age are shrouded by ignorance and moreover palpable stupidity. “Youth is wasted on the young,” George Bernard Shaw.
These character defenses that we develop in a sense imprison us from further understanding ourselves. Detrimental life experiences and suffering can tear down this mental armor, bringing about this mode of awareness. Amidst the destruction of an individual’s character armor this will be seen as a moment of tragedy, but reduces them to being pure potential and opens a door to critical spheres of thought that can greatly enhance survival. This often happens when an individual is faced with the raw horror of existence, the armor ultimately fails to protect the ego and leads to its disintegration. This armor protects us, yes and Ernest Becker makes it out how it’s a vital lie to be accepted into a tailored and structurally molded cultural group, which amounts to enhancing an individual’s survival prospects to a certain degree. Aligned with the finite benefits that comes along with being a part of a societal group, but it hinders cognitive and ideological potential, ultimately the human potential and doing away with it actually enhances survival even further. The indoctrinated and cultural self in a sense is a roadblock to acquiring this perception. It creates arbitrary boundaries and limitations that obstructs an individual’s growth.
This process is captured wonderfully in the movie V for Vendetta when Evy showed a desire to be strong minded like V, but was bound to fear due to her cultural conditioning. For those that haven’t watched the film it is centered around the UK and its government became a totalitarian dictatorship. Their citizens’ day to day life was micromanaged down to the core. Evy decided to go somewhere at night past the nightly curfew and thugs of the state tried to have their way with her in an alleyway. V intervened and saved Evy from an abhorrent experience. V is a rogue revolutionary living in self preferred isolation. What brought V to this was due to abominable crimes of the state. During a time of revolution and global unrest the UK engineered a virus with which they experimented on a monolithic amount of people, treating them like lab rats and released this virus into their population. This led to the populace handing over their rights for pseudo security. The government had the cure the entire time and used it to expand their power.
V was one of the people who were experimented on; mass graves were commonplace and this entire operation was covered up extensively. A fire broke out in the facility which allowed for V to escape, but with terrible burns. During Evy’s and V’s second interaction, Evie was an intern at a news station. V hijacked the emergency channel to convey a message and during his escape he was cornered by a police officer. Evy came across this encounter and wasn’t seen by the policeman. She was driven to knock out the policeman, securing V’s escape. She could no longer live the life of a common citizen due to this act being caught on camera. She ended up unconscious due to a gas released in their occupied area and V smuggled her to his hideout knowing he couldn’t leave her. She stayed with V for a while, as recently stated Evy showed a desire to be strong minded like V, but was bound to fear due to her cultural conditioning. She shortly after left V’s dwelling in an effort to return to normalcy and to go see a friend. While there the place was raided and she hid successfully. During her escape she was kidnapped by what was believed to be the State police. To summarize it all, V kidnapped her and put Evy through the same Hell he went through at that experimentation facility, minus the biological experimentation in order to break Evy out of her psychological prison from cultural conditioning. At the end of this transformational ordeal Evy was faced with death by the firing squad and was at peace with facing death. She no longer was bound by fear and cultural conditioning. Upon this notion V knew Evy’s transformation was near complete and left her desolate cell with the door wide open. She left her prison cell, and as she walked through this makeshift facility Evy slowly took into consideration what actually happened and nearly broke down. She found V in the central and normal living space that she had seen her first time there. After an exchange of words between the two Evy felt compelled to get some fresh air. She went out on the terrace and it was raining, Evy uttered, “God is in the rain.”
In short, the road to heaven passes straight through hell. Until one is left to realize that all they have is their mind in the end and it’s all they’ve ever had. What’s being put on the table is just a matter of breaking free from our societal mold. Tragedy can be a poetic ordeal; our character defense mechanisms are like the shell of a seed and then when fertilized the contents within it sprout. That is when real growth begins.
In modern psychology this process is known as self-actualization and in Jungian psychology it is known as Individuation. The following is an excerpt taken from a SpringerLink article on Individuation, “C. G. Jung defined individuation, the therapeutic goal of analytical psychology belonging to the second half of life, as the process by which a person becomes a psychological individual, a separate indivisible unity or whole, recognizing his innermost uniqueness, and he identified this process with becoming one’s own self or self-realization, which he distinguished from “ego-centeredness” and individualism. The self, the totality of personality and archetype of order, is superordinate to the ego, embracing consciousness and the unconscious; as the center and circumference of the whole psyche, the self is our life’s goal, the most complete expression of individuality. The aim of individuation, equated with the extension of consciousness and the development of personality, is to divest the self of its false wrappings of the persona, the mask the personality uses to confront the world, and the suggestive…”
There are 4 major archetypes in Carl Jungian psychology; the self, persona, shadow, and anima-animus. We’ll go into detail on all of these as they become more relevant.
For the majority of human history, we’ve been plagued by pseudo superiority due to our species’ domination of the earth. We think highly of ourselves and yet are incapable of comprehending many avenues of existence. Our arrogance deceives us into believing we see existence for what it really is when in actuality we are confined to the human senses and like animals can only experience a splinter of existence. Animals’ minds are constrained to what is in front of them. They run off instinctive impulses and have no comprehension of even the most basic of concepts. For humans it is our lives and the experience of our species. It is impossible for us to step outside of our conceptual and sensory bubbles. They’re like a survival filter and we’re bound to it. We think we are the apex in the circle of life, but that is a relative matter.”The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” H.P. Lovecraft. We are very fragile organisms and cling to whatever we conclude will enhance or guarantee our survival. Most people are often self-serving towards their own survival. Many people in today’s age try to portray themselves as genuine or altruistic, but most often it is just a front. An individual’s relationships with people in life can greatly enhance their survival and they require maintenance or else those avenues will fade. The majority of us humans are absent of free will.
Subconsciously governed by our environmentally programmed ego and the human condition. This all goes back to the elementary notion that we are products of our environment. We are basically socially conditioned biological survival machines. Societal conditioning from birth and morals are highly malleable, tending to be culturally calibrated. The majority of history has proven morality to be glass framed and can become totally negated in an instant. There was an abundance of countries and areas of the world where morality was seen as something that would weaken their survival prospects, so it was thrown away.
Our way of thinking is governed by cause and effect. The choices we make rest solely upon our societal conditioning and the effects we are exposed to from the external world. An individual’s choices in life are being embedded into them from birth. Their environment shapes according to its desires. Free will is the illusion and deception of our egos to distract the mind from the mental prison we are all bound to.
The individual’s environment administers an input, their future choices will then be dictated by that potentially true or false information/experience. Our actions are entirely dependent on the information that is available to us and the circumstances that fall upon us, cause and effect. We go to work every day, because if we didn’t there would be no food on the table. We need food, because our body demands it and there is no compromise on the matter. We want to find a mate, because the sexual drive within us commands it and with having a partner we are more inclusive towards the herd. Some guy accidentally gets some chick pregnant that was supposed to just be a fling and now they’re bound to each other, because of the child and their survival drive extends to this family they’re cultivating. We strive after an esteemed form of transportation, because the society we live in has shown us it’s a way for us to display our power. The masses are programmed to believe compulsively that they need to have the latest technological gadgets, clothes, bodily physique, and characteristic personality attributes. All of our actions we think to be of free will are actually bound to what society wants and the human condition. The ego likes to believe it’s in control and is nothing more than a survival mechanism so it pampers itself on the idea of validation, significance, and holds onto achievements as their defining characteristics to be not seen as expendable in the eyes of the herd. The ego is just character armor for societal survival. The devaluation being put forth threatens the ego and disempowers it, so it is natural for this survival mechanism to resist such ideas. It desperately wants to believe it is in control, even though that control is only an illusion and goes to great lengths to reinforce this illusion. Here’s one more cause and effect example. A gunshot sounds off, it’s a cause which leads to an effect upon an individual. The effect triggers their body’s fight or flight response. Why? Because we’re conditioned to associate such a sound with death and fear. Little did they know it was actually a group of mischievous teenagers carrying around a portable subwoofer Bluetooth speaker and were using it to amplify realistic gunshot sounds from an app store. There was never really any danger, it was all deception, but the chance that the danger is real drives us to preserve our lives.
“We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” Edward Bernays, Book: Propaganda, Chapter One. What is the source of why we do what we do? Every ideological and personal trait we claim to be our own were actually impressed upon us at some point in our lives.
Various media outlets are constantly bombarding us with what we should own and devote our lives to. From the moment we wake up we reach for our phones or some type of electronic device to give us our daily dose of information. We are addicted to our pocket computers and advertisements exploit this to unfathomable lengths. Advertisement exploits the subconscious mind. The short little tidbits of auditory and visual information our brains register when we are awake, directly or indirectly, seeps its way into our thought process. An image, a voice, or video tailored and utilized in a certain way can leave a lasting mental imprint on just about any human. An advertisement for food from earlier in someone’s day can become triggered when their body desires nourishment. An advertisement for clothing can become triggered when a pair of their pants or several pants endure freys, rips, become worn, and discolored, which deems them not socially acceptable. This can be applied to an individual’s power tools, one of their tools broke, was lost, or they’ve had the same set for a decent while and they just saw an excellent deal on a new set several days ago, so after this loss they decided to purchase a whole new set. This same principle can be applied to just about all products, need for a new vehicle, jewelry for their significant other, toys for their kids, vacation destination, entertainment and entertainment technology, and so on. Our search history, interests, and personal information are being blatantly exploited right in front of our faces. We search for something on Google and shortly after there are related ads showing up on our Facebook feeds. This social feature certainly has its pros and cons. It drastically helps stimulate the economy, but is a detriment to those who aren’t financially savvy or are without self-control. A significant reason people struggle financially is the wide variance of social dynamics ranging from clothing, entertainment devices, status defining forms of transportation, social events we are pressured to attend, the desire to stay relevant, and all the boundless products that can be found in a supermarket and to the infinite edge of the internet, which detracts people from taking more ideal and long term minded financial routes. This exploitation feeds off of a human’s desire to be whole. We hope that this next achievement or thing we obtain will close that void within ourselves. The pleasure we receive is rather short lived and there are so many things to experience during this age, so we hang onto hope that one of them is it.
Arthur Schopenhauer, book: Studies of Pessimism, chapter 2.
“Of how many a man may it not be said that hope made a fool of him until he danced into the arms of death! Then again, how insatiable a creature is man! Every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of each individual will.”
There is no way to completely quench our desires. We set out goals and upon reaching these milestones the satisfaction obtained is ephemeral. The illusion that once we acquire this next thing in life we’ll be happy, but the desire of man is paradoxical in nature and is a fathomless void. “For every battle won, a greater battle takes its place and so it goes until we fall. And in the end we all fall. Even the gods have their time.” video game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
Insecurities are character armor flaws and overall weak points. Social media and the media in general go to unfathomable lengths to inflate people’s insecurities and social media especially actually cause people to develop new insecurities at a rampant speed, which corporations exploit relentlessly for financial means. Insecurities often arise in someone when they fail to obtain societal expectations and they are often curated to be unobtainable. Most pop-stars, rockstars, rappers, celebrities, etc are algorithmic marketing ploys. Nothing more than a fabricated image to be sold like any other mass produced goods, which are superficial in depth. One of the main insecurities people are burdened with is financial success. Success is a subjective ordeal, culturally calibrated like morality, and historically circumstantial to a societal time period. It is not stagnant and fluctuates. It is another fragile social construct that a cataclysmic asteroid or a massive human conflict could literally extinguish in a microsecond, we would be absent of resistance, like the U.S. military armed with new aged flamethrowers set out to conquer a common ant hill. A lot of people are superficial with their perceptions of others, often negating the monolithic composition of a human and viewing them to be lesser life forms. All too often it’s on matters someone has no control over like their cognitive capacity.
The animalistic factors we carry forth, which have a tendency to be biologically repulsive, are altogether suppressed, making immense strides to keep it out of mind. Buried under a mountain of illusions, character armor. We don’t like to acknowledge our inherent animal attributes. They make people feel insignificant and tainted. We humans have such a desperate desire to be divine and significant. Insignificance is another highly prominent insecurity within modern society. That’s why so many turn to various indoctrination systems varying from politics, pseudo sciences, spirituality, and religion. They offer significance and purpose, which many of these ideologies are just widely accepted delusions that they’ve adopted to cope with the egregious potential of biological existence and to be aligned with these social spheres to enhance their survival. One more highly prominent insecurity that could be examined readily was on the internet and that was intelligence. So many are desperate to be seen as intelligent or superior to their peers especially in politics or anything that requires debate. They have to make it known to the herd that they know things too and don’t want to be seen as expendable, which often amounts to an inflated superiority complex. Social media forces people to make their alliance known and have to in order to deter suspicion from being allied with a particular group’s opposition or to sustain an ideological status. Many are culturally conditioned to be fearful or insecure of those endowed with true intelligence due to them being a threat via competition for both job occupations, which is linked to survival prospects and they’re also strong competition for sexual partners.
Arthur Schopenhauer, book: Studies of Pessimism, chapter 2. “The scenes in our life resemble pictures in a rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful. That is why to attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and why, though we live all our lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past. The present, on the other hand, is regarded as something quite temporary, something to be put up with and serving as the only road to our goal. That is why most men discover when they look back on their life that they have been living the whole time at interim, and are surprised to see that what they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, was precisely that in expectation of which they lived.“ We look back on our past with rose colored glasses most often. Shackled by bias, altogether forgetting about the little trivial matters that eat away at us daily and remember only delusional fragments of what once was. We attach ourselves to these delusions and let them be our defining factors in social affairs.
Let’s touch on social constructs and language. Social constructs serve a substantial purpose and are there for a reason. They keep the vast majority of evil at bay. Many try to do away with or invalidate social constructs due to just being fragile human concepts that hold no fundamental grasp on existence, all the while they serve as a critical line of defense to enforce social consequences for certain behaviors and create an environment to be more nurturing to the majority of its members who prefer peace.
The following is actually an excerpt taken from a later chapter, Masks of censorship. Language and words in themselves are totally arbitrary at their very foundation and definition. Language isn’t fundamental, we dictate words with arbitrarily assigned meanings. We aren’t born knowing a particular language. It takes a long time to learn and be fluent. We don’t just wake up one day and know a foreign language, because it doesn’t work that way. Language is basically a cultural code to convey information. It has excelled our evolutionary potential to a monolithic degree and is another vital social construct that greatly improves our lives. It’s all semantics, the definition of a word tends to change over time and certain words are exploited due to the irrational emotions they can trigger within people. Phrases or select words can trigger intense emotions within people aligned with circumstance and context. The purpose of such an exploitation is if you can control language, you can control a population’s thoughts and in turn control their behavioral patterns.
Lastly, ideas can be like a psychological virus, they have the potential to warp an individual’s perception of reality. They cannot be bombed or barraged with gunfire out of existence and at points can be futile to control. There is no containing seeds of curiosity once they’ve been planted in an individual’s mind, they’re there to stay. An idea can be likened to opening Pandora’s box, once opened, there is no closing it or putting the genie back in the bottle. Actions and expressed thoughts are contagious by nature. Being exposed to an idea is irreversible and we are subjected to being influenced by it against our own will.
1 thought on “Essay: The Human Condition”