I’ve been tremendously inspired of late by The Negative Psychologist — a doppelganger of Neg. Geo it seems. In every essay he finds a way to draw attention away from the conceptual level and back to what is actually happening in our heads (the function of thinking, as opposed to the abstract content of thought. Which is to say it tends towards “proprioception.”) Somehow he casually side-steps the trap of knowledge accumulation (of constructing an ego).
In his work I find countless heuristics in the form of amusingly critical observations. And his observations have a lovely sense of humor, a bemused detachment. “Ken and Barby Land”, for instance, makes me laugh. It describes that diabolically mundane work-a-day wold, the superficial world of constructs and images. This is from Gaining Perspective”, by The Negative Psychologist:
Such a mental condition might be called ‘Ken and Barbie land’, and another fitting image is that of the ‘Stepford Wives’. The scary thing is that, if we had our own way, we would probably opt for this as a full-time mode of being because it is so very ‘non-challenging’. We love not to be challenged. Easy is good! Easy is good! If you do not believe this, then just watch yourself for a day or two and see where your head is at for most of the time – are you in one of your various comfort zones (in the realm of the known), or are you somewhere new, somewhere challenging?
This Ken and Barbie Land is what I tried to refer to as a self-aggrandizing badge of honor in a quickly written post from yesterday:
“Sometimes self-knowledge is an escape from honesty. It’s like a badge of honor that provides a false cover, confirming our tired old convictions. But real self-knowledge is honesty, which is self-critical awareness….”
It’s this distinction between reality and unreality that I was trying to call attention to in an essay that took me an ungodly year to write — What IS Real. But The Negative Psychologist always seems to write from a broad enough perspective to make this distinction between reality and Ken and Barbie Land particularly clear.