Are you really autonomous?

Autonomy*

The attainment of autonomy is manifested by the release or recovery of three capacities: awareness, spontaneity and intimacy.

Awareness

Awareness means the capacity to see a coffeepot and hear the birds sing in one’s own way, and not the way one was taught. It may be assumed on good grounds that seeing and hearing have a different quality for infants than for grownups (1), and that they are more aesthetic and less intellectual in the first’ years of life. A little boy sees and hears birds with delight. Then the “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.” The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. He has to see and hear them the way his father wants him to. Father has good reasons on his side, since few people can afford to go through life listening to the birds sing, and the sooner the little boy starts his “education” the better. Maybe he will be an ornithologist when he grows up. A few people, however, can still see and hear in the old way. But most of the members of the human race have lost the capacity to be painters, poets or musicians, and are not left the option of seeing and hearing directly even if they can afford to; they must get it secondhand. The recovery of this ability is called here “awareness.” Physiologically awareness is eidetic perception, allied to eidetic imagery (2). Perhaps there is also eidetic perception, at least in certain individuals, in the spheres of taste, smell and kinesthesia, giving us the artists in those fields: chefs, perfumers and dancers, whose eternal problem is to find audiences capable of appreciating their products.

Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future. A good illustration of possibilities, in American life, is driving to work in the morning in a hurry. The decisive question is: “Where is the mind when the body is here?” and there are three common cases.

1. The man whose chief preoccupation is being on time is the one who is furthest out. With his body at the wheel of his car, his mind is at the door of his office, and he is oblivious to his immediate surroundings except insofar as they are obstacles to the moment when his soma will catch up with his psyche. This is the Jerk, whose chief concern is how it will look to the boss. If he is late, he will take pains to arrive out of breath. The compliant Child is in command, and his game is “Look How Hard I’ve Tried.” While he is driving, he is almost completely lacking in autonomy, and as a human being he is in essence more dead than alive. It is quite possible that this is the most favorable condition for the development of hypertension or coronary disease.

2. The Sulk, on the other hand, is not so much concerned with arriving on time as in collecting excuses for being late. Mishaps, badly timed lights and poor driving or stupidity on the part of others fit well into his scheme and are secretly welcomed as contributions to his rebellious Child or righteous Parent game of “Look What They Made Me Do.” He, too, is oblivious to his surroundings except as they subscribe to his game, so that he is only half alive. His body is in his car, but his mind is out searching for blemishes and injustices.

3. Less common is the “natural driver,” the man to whom driving a car is a congenial science and art. As he makes his way swiftly and skillfully through the traffic, he is at one with his vehicle. He, too, is oblivious of his surroundings except as they offer scope for the craftsmanship which is its own reward, but he is very much aware of himself and the machine which he controls so well, and to that extent he is alive. Such driving is formally an Adult pastime from which his Child and Parent may also derive satisfaction.

4. The fourth case is the person who is aware, and who will not hurry because he is living in the present moment with the environment which is here: the sky and the trees as well as the feeling of motion. To hurry is to neglect that environment and to be conscious only of something that is still out of sight down the road, or of mere obstacles, or solely of oneself. A Chinese man started to get into a local subway train, when his Caucasian companion pointed out that they could save twenty minutes by taking an express, which they did. When they got off at Central Park, the Chinese man sat down on a bench, much to his friend’s surprise. “Well,” explained the former, “since we saved twenty minutes, we can afford to sit here that long and enjoy our surroundings.” The aware person is alive because he knows how he feels, where he is and when it is. He knows that after he dies the trees will still be there, but he will not be there to look at them again, so he wants to see them now with as much poignancy as possible.

Spontaneity

Spontaneity means option, the freedom to choose and express one’s feelings from the assortment available (Parent feelings, Adult Feelings and Child feelings). It means liberation, liberation from the compulsion to play games and have only the feelings one was taught to have.

Intimacy

Intimacy means the spontaneous, game-free candidness of an aware person, the liberation of the eidetically perceptive, uncorrupted Child in all its naïveté living in the here and now. It can be shown experimentally (3) that eidetic perception evokes affection, and that candidness mobilizes positive feelings, so that there is even such a thing as “one-sided intimacy” – a phenomenon well known, although not by that name, to professional seducers, who are able to capture their partners without becoming involved themselves. This they do by encouraging the other person to look at them directly and to talk freely, while the male or female seducer makes only a well-guarded pretense of reciprocating.

Because intimacy is essentially a function of the natural Child (although expressed in a matrix of psychological and social complications), it tends to turn out well if not disturbed by the intervention of games. Usually the adaptation to Parental influences is what spoils it, and most unfortunately this is almost a universal occurrence. But before, unless and until they are corrupted, most infants seem to be loving (4), and that is the essential nature of intimacy, as shown experimentally.

REFERENCES

  1. Berne, E. “Primal Images & Primal Judgment.” Psychiatric Quarterly. 29: 634-658, 1955.
  2. Jaensch, E. R. Eidetic Imagery. Harcourt, Brace & Company, New York, 1930.
  3. These experiments are still in the pilot stage at the San Francisco Social Psychiatry Seminars. The effective experimental use of transactional analysis requires special training and experience, just as the effective experimental use of chromatography or infrared spectrophotometry does. Distinguishing a game from a pastime is no easier than distinguishing a star from a planet. See Berne, E. “The Intimacy Experiment.” Transactional Analysis Bulletin. 3: 113, 1964. “More About Intimacy.” Ibid. 3: 125, 1964.
  4. Some infants are corrupted or starved very early (marasmus, some colics) and never have a chance to exercise this capacity.

 

* Adapted from: Eric Berne M.D. (1910-1970). Games People Play – The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964). Chapter 16, page 158.

We and They

Father and Mother, and Me,

Sister and Auntie say

All the people like us are We,

And every one else is They.

And They live over the sea,

While We live over the way,

But-would you believe it? – They look upon We

As only a sort of They!

 

We eat pork and beef

With cow-horn-handled knives.

They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,

Are horrified out of Their lives;

While they who live up a tree,

And feast on grubs and clay,

(Isn’t it scandalous? ) look upon We

As a simply disgusting They!

 

We shoot birds with a gun.

They stick lions with spears.

Their full-dress is un-.

We dress up to Our ears.

They like Their friends for tea.

We like Our friends to stay;

And, after all that, They look upon We

As an utterly ignorant They!

 

We eat kitcheny food.

We have doors that latch.

They drink milk or blood,

Under an open thatch.

We have Doctors to fee.

They have Wizards to pay.

And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We

As a quite impossible They!

 

All good people agree,

And all good people say,

All nice people, like Us, are We

And every one else is They:

But if you cross over the sea,

Instead of over the way,

You may end by (think of it!) looking on We

As only a sort of They!

 

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Alberto Caeiro’s way

A. Caeiro’s way

The invisible hand of the wind

skirts over the grasses

When it lets go,

jumping between the green intervals

crimson poppies

yellow daisies together

and some other blue flowers

that you couldn’t see straightaway

 

I don’t have whom to love

nor life that I want

nor death that I steal

Through me

like through the grasses

a wind that only bends them

to let them be what they were

passes

Also through me

a desire uselessly blows

the stems of my intentions

the flowers of what I imagine

and everything turns to what it was

with nothing that takes place.

 

Non-official translation from the original in Portuguese: “A mão invisível do vento…(À la manière de A. Caeiro)”, Ricardo Reis (Fernando Pessoa, 1888-1935).

If you want to read the Spanish version of this poem, follow this link:

https://elmatallana.com/2015/10/12/la-mano-invisible-del-vientoa-la-manera-de-a-caeiro/

 

For more information, visit:

http://arquivopessoa.net/textos/2162

http://www.pessoa.eu/

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/fernando-pessoa

 

Pupila mortal – Mortal pupil

05.10.2016

 

No es el lugar

soy yo y mis múltiples duelos

mis agazapados, sordos deseos

y el más oscuro anhelo

del abismo más allá de nuestros cuerpos

en la pupila mortal que observa el miedo

o la oscuridad voraz que engulle el tiempo.

 

It is not the place

it is me and my multiple griefs

my crouching, deaf desires

and the most obscure longing

for the abyss beyond our bodies

in the mortal pupil observing fear

or the voracious darkness swallowing time.

 

El Matallana

Flowers and love

25.09.2016

 

There were flowers

before I thought about flowers

when I went back to valleys and gardens

all was already long gone

 

There was love

before I knew about love

when I understood what had happened

I found myself on my own

 

El Matallana

 

Public pervert

If time is my vessel, then learning to love

might be my way back to sea

The flying, the metal, the turning above,

these are just ways to be seen…

 

We all get paid,

yeah some get faith before they die,

then through stars we will navigate

through the holes in your eyes…

 

How many days will it take to land?

How many ways to reach abandon?

Oh, abandon

 

Oh, so swoon, baby, starry nights,

may our bodies remain

You move with me, I’ll treat you right, baby,

may our bodies remain

 

There is love to be made,

so just stay here for this while.

Perhaps heartstrings resuscitate,

the fading sounds of your life…

 

How many days will it take to land?

How many ways to reach abandon?

Oh, abandon

 

So swoon baby starry nights,

may our bodies remain

As deep we move, I’ll feed you light, baby,

may our bodies remain

Oh yeah in history, I’ll treat you right, baby,

I’m honest that way, hey!

 

Swoon baby starry nights,

may our bodies remain…

 

Interpol (1997) – Public Pervert, Antics (2004)

Life with luck – Vida con suerte

10.09.2016

It seems that many people see life as the occasion to find love. Life for me is the event where you find out what your own life is (if you get lucky).

Parece que la vida para muchas personas es el acontecimiento donde uno encuentra el amor. Para mí la vida es el evento donde uno encuentra lo que su propia vida es (con suerte).

El Matallana