Posts tagged ‘psychoanalysis’

September 23, 2008

Log 9

Read Chie Nakane’s Japanese Society a couple of days ago and Erich Fromm’s Psychoanalysis and Religion today.
Japanese Society is an excellent read, and what left the strongest impression is the utter rationality with which the Japanese society and the Japanese individual are analyzed. After all the stereotypes of “The Japanese are so mystical and incomprehensible”, it’s a strange feeling to read a book which makes you truly, rationally understand some of the fundamental attributes of Japanese society. Also has several examples from India and the Western world, which makes for some great comparisons of different social dynamics.

Fromm’s Psychoanalysis and Religion is a great read. Basically, He explores the essence of an individual’s search for meaning and happiness and the place of psychoanalysis and religion in this search. The hard (but so true) conclusion is that there’s no easy path or 12-step (or in fact a 1200-step ) program to getting there, but rather what is required is that we, through careful observation of our thoughts and actions, finally realize how misguided the “official” story of how a life should be lived is (in the modern, predominantly capitalist societies, or what he calls “the ‘marketing orientation’ of modern man”); from there, by accepting this method of constant, honest introspection, we should devote ourselves “to the realization of the highest principles of life, those of love and reason, to the aim of becoming what [man] potentially is, a being made in the likeness of God”.

Yes, I know it’s very difficult to paraphrase over a 100 pages of philosophical thought in 2 sentences and show why it shouldn’t be dismissed as hippie-talk (this stereotyping of almost any mention of searching for life’s meaning and brotherly love as some misguided bullshit for naive, misguided flower-children is a whole another story). But what’s in this book is, for the most part, very true or very near the truth, and while not offering an easy solution (since there isn’t one), it gives some good pointers to what’s not good with today’s world – and after reading it I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of the workings of today’s capitalist society and the individual trapped in it.

I’ll stop here, because this topic requires a whole new post (or three). Just a last random observation: I’m happy to say that my reading concentration is visibly improving – even though I should now probably be, for various reasons, very emotionally stressed, not only am I mostly successfully overcoming the stress (again, for various reasons), but I’m amazed to notice that my attention while reading was almost constantly on a very high level. There were several moments when I had to go back and read a sentence 10 times, like trying to start an old car, until the words started registering in my head, but my motivation never wavered and I always regained my attention. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.