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The entrenched individual

“When something out of the ordinary happens, it is ridiculous to say that it is a mystery or a portent of something to come. Eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, clouds that flutter like flags, snow in the fifth month, lightning in the twelfth month, and so on, are all things that occur every fifty or one hundred years. They occur according to the evolution of Yin and Yang. The fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west would be a mystery, too, if it were not an everyday occurrence. It is not dissimilar. Furthermore, the fact that something bad always happens in the world when strange phenomena occur is due to people seeing something like fluttering clouds and thinking that something is going to happen. The mystery is created in their minds, and by waiting for the disaster, it is from their very minds that it occurs. The occurrence of mysteries is always by word of mouth.” ~Yamamoto Tsunetomo

It’s interesting how words, phrases, ideas, and behavior go through multiple stages of metamorphosis within the context of a culture, subculture, and individual level.

Metamorphosis in insects ends with a self-sufficient organism able to consume energy and reproduce. After reproduction, the insect soon dies leaving it’s offspring to fulfill both an environmental and reproductive purpose. But metamorphosis is a linear process; there is a beginning and an end. What emerges from the cocoon is something refined for a specific purpose. Words, phrases, ideas, and behavior tend to have a linear development, but follow circular patterns of refinement until their meaning becomes either precise or meaningless.

Nutrition is difficult to define. For some it is lists of safe foods. For others it’s all about having energy to do what one wants to do in life for as long as possible. And there are a majority of people who don’t concern themselves with defining it.

It is the commercialization of nutrition and my interest in psychology that eventually interested me (besides my own self-experimentation and observations) in the psychological impact of nutrition, pre- and post-, on behavior.

I have found, in observation, that an idea a culture is attempting to define follows a process with patterns that can be developed into behavioral frameworks, which predicts the refinement process. It is the process of refining the definition of an idea that isolates or unites different groups of people. This process is similar to Max Weber’s idea of “rationalization” in the context of religion.

One cannot be down on people who are led to and fro by different dietary paradigms. This process is a consequence of rationalization driven by the unconscious. Likewise, one cannot be down on an entire culture defined by its government officials or religion. Its nature is what has allowed us to survive without the interconnection that now defines our world. Developed personality and individuality in the Jungian sense is a unique occurrence.

In the modern world there is less need for reliance on others. But there is still a need for passing on of knowledge, tradition, and wisdom, suitable for survival, social interactions, and going about daily activities. Science and the Internet are impacting cultural instinct, traditions, and wisdom through exposure. I view this exposure neutrally. Complete confidence on what others deem as fact is often a mistake just as being overly self-reliant and reinventing the wheel again is inefficient. There is a cautious balance to be struck, especially in a time when there is a shift in consciousness and the process of cultural diffusion is active.

An intelligent, thinking, and reasoning being must strike a balance between the two. It is this balancing act that allows cultural evolution to occur and new paradigms to develop which will be tested by successive generations. What works stays, what doesn’t work leaves; better ways of doing things slowly filter out older ways of doing things. New ways of thinking philosophize old traditions and religions. For example: Thomas Aquinas, applying Greek philosophy to biblical texts, or Martin Luther, nailing his grievances to the Catholic cathedral door.

These events happen when there is a shift in unconsciousness. And what follows is a revolution in cultural knowledge to try and rationalize why we did things the way we did in the past and why it is justified to change things for the future. Radicals entrenched in their beliefs usually, but not always, die in these shifts of thinking; literally or by sacrificing the personality. Being a martyr for a particular paradigm has never been a personally natural inclination. When the individual is cornered and experience is conflicted with lacquered beliefs, the individual is faced with options of entrenching themselves behind belief or taking steps to evolve in another direction. It is the collateral damage of opposing extreme views in groups of people that often drive cultural evolution. At some point we must put aside belief and continue moving forward. A fight to the death is not a viable option except for the delusional.

“We should not let ourselves be burnt for our opinions: we are not that sure of them. But perhaps for this: that we may have and change our opinions.” ~Nietzsche

What is difficult for the entrenched individual is not the new shift, but the shift that points to years or a life wasted and genuine interests forsaken. There is a saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Few people are so downright stubborn. But these defining qualities are common enough that most of us are familiar with these individuals.

Entrenching is not the new idea but rather the aversion to self-confessing an error approaching things in a new way.  The conflict does not arise out of the new idea but arises out of the individual. These individuals place too much power in words and ideas. These people are the real dangers in society—not the originators of new ideas. It takes much more than an individual to do anything with a dangerous idea, just as it takes much more than an individual to do something with a useful idea. Ideas have to be stated and different people must implement them before they can become a useful or dangerous reality.

Despite modern man’s large brain, the rational portion seems atrophied in most. This allows erroneous thought to pervade in popular culture and society, causing harm. Capitalistic,  mechanistic, and authoritarian thinking makes this easy to do.

Some ideas tend to have cyclical natures occurring and reoccurring throughout history, often shifted or changed slightly but still keeping their original essence or philosophy. Observations have personally demonstrated that ideas are cyclical simply because what is current is not satisfying and causes gas and bloating. When enough people smell the stink they become uneasy and start to look for new solutions.

People try old ideas, not simply for the sake of the new, but for the promise of something better (or curing chronic boredom).

Old ideas come and go and are cyclical for many reasons. One reason assumes there is validity to the idea, yet for whatever reason remains underdeveloped in that period of time. There have been plenty of ideas left undeveloped because of a requirement for a different field of science. Later, some of these ideas ended up being game changers in the modern era.

Another reason is simply that the idea was not valid. When people do try old, invalid ideas in their life, you will often find that these people are constantly trying to justify the validity of their dug up treasure. Foolishness is the virtue of the wise.

There is nothing vain about exploring history through a modern perspective and trying old approaches when modern and fringe approaches fail. Trying is one thing. Trying is not miserably “riding it out”. Loosely illustrated, trying means taking an interest in the cello and with every passing lesson there is improvement in both technical aspects and style; persistently trying means taking up the cello and despite best efforts never being able to complete the first lesson, despite trying for several weeks, months, or years. For those, the cello, despite intense interest, will always remain just an interest.

When something does not work for you, be bold, ask questions and seek answers.

“Possessing opinions is like possessing fish, assuming one has a fish pond.  One has to go fishing and needs some luck—then one has one’s own fish, one’s own opinions.  I am speaking of live opinions, of live fish.  Others are satisfied if they own a cabinet of fossils—and in their heads, convictions.” ~Nietzsche

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