Childhood Memory

It feels almost like my childhood was a mashup of the movie It,* and Never Let Me Go.**

I've been coming to terms with just how much of my childhood self is inaccessible to me. Last night I had an apparently deeply triggering conversation with a childhood friend. Afterwards, a more recent friend managed to clarify the extent to which I had simply lost access to my perspective as a child.

Today I made some progress, and got some detail on things like:

There wasn't a binary compartmentalization between books (real) and mundane life (fake), there was some kind of more complex thing going on where I was conditioned to let reality slide out of focus for my intellect so that I could implement a Pass As Normal procedure. Passing As Normal isn't actually an opinion about reality, just a behavior.

My friends and I were definitely aware that something was wrong with the grownups, but it somehow didn't feel available to discuss the problem directly. We were being kept in this locally humane setting by adults who were trying to be kind to us now but definitely expected us to eventually go and participate in the world that had dimmed their inner light.

I fantasized about how maybe as an adult, if I could hold onto memory, I might use my power to interact with children in a more real way. I've clearly betrayed that fantasy at critical points in my life by allowing myself to be distorted by the imperative to Pass, though perhaps I'll recover some of what I lost.

Another childhood friend recently found an old diary where on one page he had literally just written the word "remember," over and over.

There was a shared attitude that you just couldn't expect adults to listen to reason, sometimes they just Did Things and you had to accept that even if they weren't making sense

My memories are probably still distorted, but it seemed like mutual knowledge that adults were on autopilot a lot of the time in ways we weren't, I didn't have the sense that my peers Just Did Things, or power tripped in triggered ways (though I didn't have that language at the time) the way adults did.

Crucially, the drive to Pass As Normal isn't actually an opinion, just a behavior; though when trying to remember what else there was, I initially confabulated opinions to justify my behavior. Its actual function was to go along with power, grooming me to assume a position of privilege among the Gentry by playing Werewolf.

I'm reminded somehow of another friend's champagne socialist mother, who claimed to "not understand" Agnes Callard's excellent New York Times essay on total silencing, and said that it was "burdening" her by making it all about Callard's feelings (the exact opposite of what the text explicitly says!).

Careful questioning revealed that what she actually meant by this was, "I resent that I don't know a stereotyped conversational response to get out from under the burden of understanding this." (That's a near-verbatim quote of a characterization she explicitly agreed to.)

So it's not that adults don't listen to kids. It's that among the privileged classes I interact with, being an adult means not listening ever, and - relatedly - imagining that the impostor procedure for Passing As Normal and Going Along With Power is the true mind, suppressing the processes responsible for generating true answers and correcting errors. No wonder the light has dimmed.

Before we can figure out how to rekindle the old lamps with untainted oil, we have to purify the temples of our souls, nonjudgmentally distinguishing the clean from the unclean, mind from impostor, light from darkness. Happy Hannukah, everyone.


* A demon with an affinity for water that takes the forms of a clown and a giant spider terrorizes a group of children (killing some), who band together to defeat it, and commit to rejoin each other at some specific date in the future. Years later, as adults, they remember their commitment and come back, but can't quite remember what happened in their childhoods or why they wanted to reconnect. Despite their denial, people start dying again, and they have to recognize and face the clown-demon once more.

** Clones are specially bred for the purpose of harvesting their organs in adulthood, for transplanting. They are brought up in special boarding schools in order to give them some semblance of a normal life while they physically mature.

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memory

  1. Pingback: The Trauma Coup | Compass Rose

  2. e061137

    Hey Ben,

    I came across an old comment of yours from 2017 on a post by Zvi about the public education system. It sounded so much like me I wondered if I hadn't written it!

    I know from reading this that you're a person of surpassing intellectual and spiritual beauty. I can see how finely the gears of the mind work on this blog. Forgive me if what I'm offering here is somewhat in the spirit of an intellectual collision or worldview collision - I want to offer some input that is a few degrees askance of where your mind was pointing when you authored this piece. I do this because I see similarities to earlier thought patterns I have had, which I since amended.

    >It feels almost like my childhood was a mashup of the movie It,* and Never Let Me Go.**

    I think a person has to have fallen deeply under the influence of, for lack of a better term, the psychotherapeutic mythos - in order to be authoring thoughts like this.

    According to this mythos, our childhood forms this vast web of impactful events that we are seeking to heal, which get stored in the subconscious. They can then be used to tell a tale of sadness and woe, which I think is what is going on here. The fineness of the perception here and the subtlety of the thought is amazing - the feeling tone is something I would rather not wish for myself.
    And I think there is a hopelessness there which need not be. Let's see if I can say anything at all useful.

    >I've been coming to terms with just how much of my childhood self is inaccessible to me. Last night I had an apparently deeply triggering conversation with a childhood friend. Afterwards, a more recent friend managed to clarify the extent to which I had simply lost access to my perspective as a child.

    This viewpoint also partakes highly of the psychotherapeutic mythos - in that it thinks that integration and development of oneself has to proceed by some kind of wholistic investigation of past memories and their subsequent integration.

    In fact, all of our present internal soul-content is mirrored accurately in the world we find surrounding us. If I want to know what my soul thinks about political conflict between groups, I don't need to look to a memory: my current perception is an accurate window into the content of my mind.

    The same is true, I believe, across all areas of life. Past reflections are generally not important and digging around in past memories is a misguided search. The life that is right in front of one is the perfect mirror for the realization of the content of one's mind and also it's ongoing perfectment.
    I can say after having done years of therapy, float tanks, solo MDMA trips, all that good stuff: There is no "Great Safari into the Subconscious" and these ideas are the inheritance of Freud and Jung. Man's hopeful first shoots of introspective knowledge and of triumphant importance, but not ultimate clarity or precision.

    >Today I made some progress, and got some detail on things like:
    There wasn't a binary compartmentalization between books (real) and mundane life (fake), there was some kind of more complex thing going on where I was conditioned to let reality slide out of focus for my intellect so that I could implement a Pass As Normal procedure. Passing As Normal isn't actually an opinion about reality, just a behavior.

    I see, you are using this paradigm to rediscover a validation of the fundamental importance of the underlying emotional and imaginational reality which underpins all things, and is prior to physical reality.

    >My friends and I were definitely aware that something was wrong with the grownups, but it somehow didn't feel available to discuss the problem directly. We were being kept in this locally humane setting by adults who were trying to be kind to us now but definitely expected us to eventually go and participate in the world that had dimmed their inner light.

    The lights of the higher energy centers, and one's overall excitment, do become dimmed in a way so that one can "sync up" with the rest of humanity, who are operating on lower levels of consciousness than the one's native to us.

    This is alternately perceivable as a tragedy, and also a learning process. Since we have both discovered that part of the coin already where we lament it as tragedy, it would behoof us to explore the other side where we can acknowledge its tremendous benefits: the sense in which it is a learning process.

    I'm writing this to myself I think as much as to you, heh.

    If one retained one's full original spark and glow, through being saved via the wise intercession of highly aware adults - one would indeed shine and glow, and illuminate the world. One could thrive in areas of mental exertion, and maybe in other areas as well. But one would not be particularly well "synced" with others.

    This world is a world of sorrow, and to be amongst humans is to know their sorrow, and their profound sense of personal limitations. They share it with you, and you absorb it. It is part of the cost of living. Insofar as you have absorbed sorrow, you have grown closer to all those who also live in this sorrow. It's not necessary to stay there, its not necessary for this to even happen in the first place - but we should recognize the benefit of doing this. We now speak a common language. We know a common pain. We are down in the dirt together - and yes our emotions don't work as well as they should, and it may be hard to get out of bed in the morning. But in that we are united with our fellow man.

    If we had grown up as more isolated, home-steaded geniuses - we would glory in our power and happiness, but not be able to share so deeply in the human story. Each interaction with humans who were otherwise-tuned would shock, depress, or annoy us. That may not have been the merging-with-others exprience that our souls have dreamt of. They may have dreamt for something bigger than wellbeing.

    I say this not as a defense of mental/emotional child mutilation, but just to say that we ought to value all our experiences, because they all teach us something.

    >Careful questioning revealed that what she actually meant by this was, "I resent that I don't know a stereotyped conversational response to get out from under the burden of understanding this." (That's a near-verbatim quote of a characterization she explicitly agreed to.)

    Ah, I detect notes of the Cult of the Victim. Here we have found a Bad Guy - someone's champagne socialist mother!

    This is not freedom - to name and blame people who don't offer you an experience of the therapeutic moment. Or whose empathy you judge is not up to your standard.

    Freedom is knowing the power that resides within the Self, and so not needing to spin stories like these.

    For more on this, there's a great book called "The Nature of Personal Reality" by Jane Roberts aka Seth.

    I wish you great things and will continue to enjoy your written material.

    Reply
    1. relative ghee

      As I know that you are wise and that we are kin, as I delight in reading you speak of reality, I too hope for your forgiveness.

      > Then have him imagine plucking out the resentment by the roots and replacing it with a positive feeling. But he must imagine the plucking-out process.

      The introduction rings with truth. Yet, it is using the Barnum effect. Weil writes "With those who have had a Christian education, the lower parts of the soul become attached to these mysteries when they have no right to do so. That is why such people need a purification of which Saint John of the Cross describes the stages. Atheism and incredulity constitute an equivalent of this purification." and I tell you this book is screaming to the lower parts of the soul, drawing them into trances.

      It goes on to say
      > In quiet moments the word "O-O-O-O-O-M-M-M-M-M," said slowly, mentally or aloud, will be of
      benefit in toning up your general physical condition. The sounds contain within them a built-in
      impetus toward energy and well-being, as I will explain shortly.

      Reply
    2. Benquo Post author

      It seems to me like you're fixating on (your projection of) the feelings I've had, to the exclusion of investigation of facts and mechanisms.

      If I have a severely distorted memory of my past, then I don't know what's going on, and - critically - until I investigate the distortion, I can't know its extent or severity. If, as it seems, these distortions have been introduced by a process of conditioning from others, then I want to investigate not whether I feel good or bad about that process, but how it works and why it's there.

      Reply

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