What Would Enkidu?

Yesterday I was sort of kicking around some ideas about evolutionary psychology, and the trickiest idea was the question of whether or not moral behavior has any genetic basis. Some moral behavior certainly has evolutionary value in context, but out of context, probably not. For example moral behaviors based on mating and reproduction make sense when you need to expand the population, but if you're taxing the environment with too many people, those morals can be an evolutionary dead end. So moral choices become relative, which almost sounds immoral, doesn't it? Actually it's amoral.

"The Night of the Generals," with Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, centered around the criminal prosecution of a general who liked to murder prostitutes. This was against the rules and a horrible crime. On the other hand he arbitrarily destroys, by fire, a Jewish ghetto and murders anybody who was hiding there after he ordered them out, to be sent to death camps. On the one hand he is a war hero, and on the other, he is a sex criminal. The ego shadow position isn't determined by the act of killing, but by the social perception of the act.

Among the Chinese in Mosuo Province, the fathers might never know which children are theirs, because they are the males who take care of their sisters' children. Their relationships with their children isn't one in which they exercise power, and so the patriarchal father son relationship doesn't exist to transfer power. When your mother wants to let somebody share her bed, she does. On the other hand you have the entire village before you on Saturday night, and no pit bulls guarding the yards.

When this arrangement is viewed from the perspective of a patriarchal structure, it is immoral. The impression that it is immoral is so strong that patriarchal Chinese men who take a vacation to Mosuo Province try to treat the women like they are prostitutes. The Mosuo women are of course insulted by these men, who behave as if women are property. But these men have no other references than the ones which are framing their moral choices. For the women and men the ego was adapted to a different social structure than was the ego of the patriarchal men and women.

Robert Johnson (a Jungian writer) described the process of ego (choosing) and shadow (rejecting) as two people on a teeter totter. The shadow and ego have to exactly counterweight each other. If you put more weight on one side you simultaneously get more weight on the other side. If the ego begins to think it's god, and distances itself from the shadow, you get too much weight on the extremes and it breaks in the middle.

"What happened to you?"

"I had a nervous breakdown."

If by some device you manage to defeat the system and get more weight on one side than on the other, it flips, and the ego and shadow change positions."

"I hear you've joined the Young Republicans."

"I was mugged."

When I am thinking about this sort of thing the question I'm asking, is: if I have two separate brains and I want them to work together, then "I" has to be the mediator. There has to be a self aware part which takes the responsibility for mediating between the two minds and keeping them in good relationship. I think the yin yang symbol shows this process.

One of my favorite representations was in an American Indian woodcut. There is a bird which has a fish by the tail and is trying to pull it out of the water, but the fish has simultaneously grabbed the bird by the tail and is trying to pull it out of the air.

Yesterday I was talking to an old friend who is going through a divorce and she was saying how hard it is to remember how to hold to the center and not feel hate and anger toward somebody she honestly, objectively, observes being a dickless preener. I was reminding her of the difference between identifying with the shadow, and relating to it. Relating to the shadow is a way of acknowledging it so that it doesn't go unconscious Identifying with it means it is in charge of your behavior.

The image she used to remind herself to not identify with the shadow was, "when I'm pointing at somebody else I've got three fingers pointing back at myself."

The logical system processes the finger pointing admonition as something like, "People in glass houses mustn't throw rocks."

The amoral story telling system will observe this in a larger context and relate the shadow to it so that it doesn't become an ego inflation. For example it might relate the three fingers as growing bored with simply pointing out the villain and taking to poking and prodding her in an increasingly obscene assault on her equanimity. This is the mind which creates dreams to counterbalance the conscious attitude. Any morality seen in a dream is projection and interference from the conscious system.

When I was in junior high I would imagine that there was a person behind my eyes driving me like a harness racer, and that there was another part that was instinctual and pure sensation. It led me into a long exploration.

In Indian Shadow, there is a large, instinctual man who has no real memory of himself, and a small man who sits on his shoulders and who might shoot your balls off, because he has the little man syndrome of thinking he has to be tough. It never occurs to him that this simply relegates him to the company of toughs. The tough is by definition excluding emotional sensitivity, his unconscious, which in the story is Paris. Louis and Paris appear as the double aspect characteristic of a ego shadow system. Jules is the evolutionary process accelerated to a consciousness of itself.

The story is at its core the same story I began to explore when I was twelve or thirteen. What am I? Am I Thing One or am I Thing Two or am I both?

One mind has a simple but powerful guidance system. When the rod begins to glow the man is powered up and ready to rock. He has to be trained to live in a family and then in a community and then in a society.

Likely story. He will go away.

He will go away like Enkidu went away from Gilgamesh. The wild man was seduced with women set out for him like rabbits on a stake. That was the first time he went away. It was when he went toward Gilgamesh, the King, to live inside a culture.

In the end of the story he goes away from Gilgamesh, into the land of the dead, and only with the key to immortality can he be redeemed. Unfortunately, Gilgamesh loses this overboard in a storm and it sinks to the bottom of the sea.

There is no happy ending in the sense that no god in the machine pulls it out of the fire. There is no final battle between good and evil and there's no magic ending where the Gilgamesh and Enkidu embrace and meld into a god. There's just the bitter sweet sadness of life and the way it tends to go ... for a man, at least.

The other guidance system is from a prototype designed by Hammarabi, with a few refinements to allow for labor management disputes.

Posted: Tue - October 28, 2008 at 03:48 PM